Best Schools for Education Majors
If you are interested in a career in which you can make a difference in the lives of children and adults alike, helping them to reach their full potential, then teaching might be right for you. Teachers are often creative, enjoy variety, strive to inspire others, and feel passionate about the subject and/or the students they teach. Whether your ultimate goal is to be a high school political science teacher, a music teacher, an 18th-century literature professor, a preschool teacher, a special education teacher, or a school librarian, the first step is almost always to choose a school.
At Teacher Certification Degrees, we strive to help potential teachers reach their educational goals by finding the teaching preparation school that is best for them. With so many options out there, choosing a teaching school can be tricky. We’ve researched the top education schools and programs for prospective teachers using a variety of metrics so that you can quickly and easily read about each one below and then visit the websites of the ones that interest you most later.
Teacher Preparation School Facts
- There are 1,875 not-for-profit four-year colleges and universities that offer a teacher preparation program in the United States.1
- 1,228 not-for-profit colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in education.1
- 1,186 not-for-profit colleges and universities offer a certificate, master’s, or advanced degree in education.1
- Over 800 teacher programs are accredited by the NCATE, TEAC, or CAEP (see below).*
*For 4-year colleges and universities with teacher degree programs.2,3
Research Teaching Schools and Programs by State
If you would like to research the best education schools near you, click on your state below. On each state school page, you will find school profiles, top-rated teacher preparation programs, and a directory of teaching schools in your state.
- Select One
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington DC
- West Virginia
Steps for Becoming a Teacher
While each state has its own requirements for teacher qualifications, becoming a teacher almost always requires the same general set of steps, which includes attending a school of education. With both the traditional route and the alternative route to becoming a teacher, you will need to become certified.
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree.
- Complete a teacher certification program, including either an undergraduate, master’s, or alternative program.
- Obtain a state certification to teach.
Teaching School Tuition and Cost
The cost of attending a teacher preparation school will depend on a variety of factors. In-state students will typically pay less than out-of-state students; undergraduate programs may be cheaper than graduate programs; online education programs may cost less than traditional ones; and public schools may be more affordable than private schools. Keep in mind that these are trends, not hard and fast rules, so make sure you check with the school(s) of your choice to see what they charge students for tuition and other fees. Also, be sure to check with each teaching school’s financial aid department to see what types of loans, grants, or other financial assistance you may be eligible for. Finally, don’t forget to factor in additional costs, like room and board (if you are going to live on campus), textbooks, parking, and other fees.
Teaching School Admission Requirements
Admission requirements vary by school, so you will need to check with each school you are interested in to find out more. Typically, undergraduate education programs require a high school diploma or GED with a minimum grade point average, in addition to letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and transcripts. Schools offering graduate teacher preparation programs usually require an undergraduate degree from an accredited school, which may or may not have to be related to education or your teaching subject of choice. Prospective students applying to graduate school may need to submit transcripts from undergraduate school, GRE scores, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.
Typical Courses in a Teacher Preparation Program
While each teacher preparation program will vary depending on the school, the program, and the emphasis, following is a list of typical courses in education that may be offered as part of an education program.
- Advanced Processes and Acquisition of Reading
- Best Practices in Teaching
- Child Care Management & Admin
- Classroom Management
- Clinical Practice
- Clinical Teaching
- Cultural Perspectives in Education
- Development of Infants, Children and Adolescents
- Diagnosing and Correcting Reading Difficulties
- Discipline and Classroom Management
- Educating Exceptional Students
- Educational Psychology
- Foundations for Early Childhood Development
- Human Growth and Development
- Instructional Assessment
- Instructional Technology
- Integrated Literacy
- Introduction to Teacher Certification
- Kindergarten Education
- Pedagogy of Language Arts
- Pedagogy of Math
- Pedagogy of Reading
- Pedagogy of Science
- Pedagogy of Social Studies
- Primary Education
- Schooling in America
- Supervised Demonstration Teaching
- Teaching Special Populations
Schools of Education Profiles: Methodology
Since prospective teachers have hundreds of colleges for teaching to choose from, including both online and traditional campuses, the choice can be overwhelming. We have reviewed the top education schools rated by several third-party services and have researched schools using metrics from other performance indicators. We considered rankings by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) in their latest Best Teacher Preparation Programs Review, rankings in US News & World Report’s 2017 Best Education Schools, and other factors. Let us help you learn more about the best colleges for education majors, and identify one that will meet your individual needs.
Traditional Campus-Based Teacher Preparation Schools
Undergraduate Teaching Programs
Following are some highly-ranked programs for aspiring teachers who are either just getting their start in higher education or who already have some coursework or a two-year transfer degree under their belts. Undergraduate programs are typically four-year programs resulting in a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in some area of education.
Best Colleges for Education Majors in Elementary Education
Ranked number one in elementary education by the NCTQ in their 2014 Best Teacher Preparation Programs Review, Dallas Baptist University is a private institution that was founded over a century ago.2 With a total undergraduate enrollment size of fewer than 3,500 students, DBU integrates faith into all aspects of academics and student life. Courses in the Early Childhood through Grade 6 Generalist Teacher Certification program include Development of Infants, Children & Adolescents, Best Practices in Teaching, Pedagogy of Science, and Diagnosing and Correcting Reading Difficulties. The university offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in early childhood education, as well as a variety of related master’s programs.
Texas A&M University was ranked second in elementary education by the NCTQ in their 2014 Best Teacher Preparation Programs Review.2 It has a large undergraduate population of over 40,000 students. Texas A&M’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) was established in 1969 and boasts that many of their graduates take on leadership roles at the schools where they teach. The college is among the top five for producing teachers who specialize in high-needs fields like bilingual education and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math subjects (STEM). The school’s certification programs in EC-Grade 6 Generalist, Middle Grades 4-8 Language Arts/Social Studies, and Middle Grades 4-8 Math/Science all award a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (INST) and require graduates to complete between 122-127 required credit hours. A STEM minor is also offered, which requires 18 credit hours to achieve.
Best Colleges for Education Majors in Secondary Education
Lipscomb University was ranked second in the category of secondary education by the NCTQ in their 2014 Best Teacher Preparation Programs Review.2 Lipscomb, a private college, was founded in 1891 and has a total undergraduate student population of fewer than 3,000 students. It is accredited by NCATE as well as the Tennessee State Board of Education, and it was one of only four teacher prep colleges in the nation to receive the highest rating (four stars) from the NCTQ. The school offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in the area of secondary education. Secondary education students are expected to select one of the 24 different content subject area certification options as a specialty. Some more focused areas of study include Interdisciplinary Teaching, Pre K-3 Licensure, Special Education Interventionist K-8, and Interdisciplinary Non-teaching.
Founded in 1902, Fort Hays State University holds the number three ranking in secondary education and is ranked 12th in elementary education in the 2014 NCTQ Best Teacher Preparation Programs Review.2 FHSU’s program combines theory and pedagogy with real-world, hands-on experiences for future teachers. A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in secondary education is offered for double majors who have one major in secondary education and another in their own chosen field of study. Fort Hays Department of Teacher Education also offers a BS in Early Childhood Unified and Elementary Education K-6. The total number of credit hours for prospective graduates varies based on the chosen field of study, but all education majors complete 55 credit hours of general education coursework, 19 credit hours of in secondary education core work, and 12 credit hours of student teaching, with additional credit hours in their chosen field of study.
Graduate Teaching Programs
In the field of education, there are two primary types of master’s programs. First, there is the Master of Education (MEd or EdM), which is commonly for existing teachers or administrators seeking a specialization to improve their career path and opportunities for advancement. Second, there is the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), which is primarily for those possessing a degree in a field unrelated to teaching who are looking to change careers to the teaching field. These programs give aspiring teachers the curriculum, field experience, and certification they need in a given state.
Master of Education (MEd or EdM) Programs
Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development was ranked number five in US News & World Report’s 2017 Best Education Schools and number 43 in graduate-level secondary education in the 2014 NCTQ Best Teacher Preparation Programs Review.3,2 The Peabody College is fully accredited through NCATE and many of its programs have been consistently ranked among the top education schools in the nation, including its MEd program. Peabody was also ranked first for Administration/Supervision, second for Special Education, and fourth for Education Policy. To be considered for admission into the graduate program at Peabody, submit an online application, transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate work, three letters of recommendation, a Statement of Purpose, and recent GRE scores. Major fields of study offered for the MEd include English Language Learners, Reading Education, Learning and Design, and Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies. All MEd students will take the same core courses, a major, and electives, to complete a total of 31 semester hours.
Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has been in existence for nearly 100 years. HGSE offers students an array of degree programs including 13 distinct master’s degrees, three doctoral degrees, and several professional education programs. The school had just under 1,000 degree-seeking students in the 2013-2014 academic year. US News & World Report tied the school for second in Best Teaching Colleges at the Graduate Level in 2017.4 Courses offered are practical in nature and focus on leadership. Courses of instruction include Learning from Practice, Leading through Difference, Politics and Education Policy in the US, Teacher and Teaching Quality, Building a Democratic School, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Learning, and Planning and Strategy in Education. To apply to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, you will need to submit an online application, resume/CV, Statement of Purpose, three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, transcripts, and a fee. Areas of study include Arts in Education, Education Policy and Management, Human Development and Psychology, and International Education Policy, among others.
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Programs
Established in 2007, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education (SOE) has fast become one of the best colleges for education majors in the nation. Focusing on being a national leader in education reform through research and teaching, the SOE offers a variety of programs that focus on education for children and adults alike. In fact, US News & World Report tied Johns Hopkins University’s SOE for number two in the nation for Best Graduate Schools for Education Majors in 2017.4 The school offers doctoral programs, master’s programs, and graduate certificate programs, and typically enrolls around 2,000 students. The SOE’s MAT program consists of 39 credits and prepares students for initial certification in the state of Maryland, as well as most other states, in the category of elementary or secondary education. The MAT program is designed for recent graduates and career-changing professionals who want to become teachers.
Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education ranked first in US News & World Report’s Best Education Graduate Schools for 2017.3 The Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) of the Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) holds core values including promoting social justice, understanding in a diverse student population, and dedication to equality for all students. STEP is committed to preparing graduates for practical and intellectual challenges of the profession. The school is accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) as well as the National Council for Accreditation of Teachers of Education (NCATE). Stanford offers undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs for educators. The Graduate School of Education’s 12-month full-time STEP program offers areas of study in Elementary Education or Secondary Education, which includes subcategories in English, History/Social Science, Math, Science, or Languages.
Best Online Teacher Preparation Schools
In addition to traditional schools of education, there are also many schools that offer teacher preparation programs that can be completed partially or fully online. If you are considering pursuing an online teaching program, you should read more about the nuances of online programs on our Online Teaching Degree Programs Resource page. Following is a list of well-known or acclaimed teacher preparation programs that can be completed online. These online schools offer a range of programs, including four-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs, Master of Education (MEd) programs, and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs. Visit any school’s website to find out more information on the programs it offers both online and on campus.
Western Governors University (WGU) was ranked first in the secondary school category for the best teaching colleges by the NCTQ in their 2014 Best Teacher Preparation Programs Review.2 WGU’s Bachelor of Arts in mathematics (grades 5-9 or 5-12) positions students to become qualified teachers of middle school or high school mathematics. WGU is also proud to be the first exclusively online university to receive National Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (NCATE) accreditation for degree programs leading to teacher licensure. WGU’s Teachers College offers a variety of teacher preparation programs including Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees, post-baccalaureate teaching programs, and a variety of Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS) degrees. All teaching degree programs at WGU are nationally accredited by the NCATE and designed to prepare graduates for certification in all 50 states.
The University of Southern California (USC) Rossier School of Education is one of the most popular online education programs for prospective teachers. Its mission is to improve learning in urban education and it focuses on field-based, not theory-based, work. USC’s Rossier School considers itself a leader in cutting-edge technology, and the larger USC is one of the world’s leading private research universities. USC Rossier offers several doctoral degrees: a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in urban education policy, a Doctor of Education (EdD) in educational leadership, a Doctor of Education (EdD) in organizational change and leadership, and a global executive Doctor of Education (EdD). The school also offers a range of master’s degree programs, including a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and a Master of Education (MEd) in learning design and technology.
The University of Houston (UH) is tied for number one in the 2017 Best Online Graduate Education Program by US News & World Report for its online graduate education programs.4 UH is known for being one of the nation’s most ethnically-diverse schools and has been designated a Tier One Research University by the Carnegie Foundation. With just over 100 total graduate students enrolled in its programs, UH’s online graduate degrees can be an excellent choice for students who are working their way through school, have families, or otherwise cannot attend classes during regular daytime hours. UH offers a variety of graduate degrees in education, including an MEd in administration and supervision in higher education, an MEd in curriculum and instruction in mathematics education, an MEd in special education, as well as a certificate in online teaching and learning.
Florida State University’s (FSU’s) College of Education provides over 40 academic programs for students, including bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and various certifications. Tied for number one in the 2017 Best Online Graduate Education Programs by US News & World Report for its online graduate education program, FSU’s programs focus not only on academic preparation, but also on classroom experience.4 Established over 150 years ago, FSU offers top-notch faculty and award-winning research in the education field. Some of the graduate degrees offered are a master’s in early childhood education, a master’s in education leadership and policy, and a master’s in learning and cognition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Should I attend a teaching school online?
Answer: There are many choices for people considering attending a teacher preparation program, including traditional, on-campus programs and online teacher preparation programs. The choice of which type of school you go to depends on your unique needs. If you are self-motivated and have restraints keeping you from attending a traditional program, an online teaching school may be a good fit for you. Read more about online educator preparation programs on our Online Teaching Degree Programs Resource.
Question: Why should I go to teaching preparation school?
Answer: If you are interested in becoming a teacher, you will likely need to go to some kind of teaching preparation school as part of your training and to prepare you to get certified to teach in your state. You can read more about the process of becoming a teacher and what to expect on our Beginner’s Guide on How to Become a Teacher.
Question: What type of degree should I pursue at my teaching school?
Answer: The type of degree you should pursue at teacher preparation school depends on a variety of factors, including your teaching background, educational background, and your goals. Typically, people who are new to the teaching field will choose a four-year degree in education or in the field in which they want to teach. Those who already have an undergraduate degree in another subject and want to become teachers or existing teachers who want to specialize in a certain subject will typically pursue a master’s degree in teaching. You can read more about the different types of education degrees available on our Degrees page.
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. US News & World Report, 2014 Teacher Prep Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/education/nctq
3. US News & World Report, 2017 Best Education Schools: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools
4. US News & World Report, Best Online Graduate Education Programs: https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/education
5. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation: http://caepnet.org/