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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.

Best Value Teaching Schools with On-Campus Programs

We researched the top schools in the US with an on-campus undergraduate teacher preparation program to come up with our best values list below. To make our list, a school had to have a high graduation rate of 80% or higher and a low net price of less than $20,000 per year. A high graduation rate at a college or university is a traditional marker of student success, while a low net price is an important factor for most people. In the table below, we have included these as well as other quality markers, including retention rate, transfer out rate, student loan default rate, and the percentage of faculty with tenure. We’ve also included national and regional rankings from US News & World Report. Click on the header to sort the table by any given value. Some schools are profiled across our site; click on a linked school name to view the profile.

SchoolGrad Rate1Retention Rate*1Transfer Out Rate**1Student Loan Default Rate1% Tenured Faculty2US News National Rank3US News Regional Rank4Net Price1
University of Washington-Seattle Campus84%94%N.Av.2.5%51%#59 tieNR$9,443
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill91%96%3%1.5%43%#30 tie#34 tie$11,100
Brigham Young University-Provo83%90%N.Av.1.3%46%#66 tieNR$12,979
University of California-Irvine85%94%N.Av.1.9%57%#33 tieNR$13,944
Principia College84%88%N.Av.N.Av.0%NRNR$14,300
University of California-San Diego85%94%N.Av.2.1%55%#41 tieNR$14,616
University of California-Los Angeles91%97%4%1.8%48%#19 tieNR$14,760
University of Florida88%96%3%1.9%52%#35 tieNR$15,283
University of Wisconsin-Madison87%95%N.Av.1.7%49%#49 tie#43 tie$15,910
University of Georgia85%95%6%2.4%54%#46 tie#34 tie$15,934
University of Delaware82%91%N.Av.2.8%57%#89 tieNR$16,286
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor92%97%N.Av.1.5%35%#27 tie#19$16,408
University of California-Davis85%93%N.Av.2.0%57%#38 tie#24 tie$16,446
Florida State University80%94%7%3.4%43%#70 tie#52 tie$16,450
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign85%92%N.Av.2.2%51%#46 tie#43 tie$16,638
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities80%93%12%2.0%59%#76 tieNR$16,808
University of Maryland-College Park85%96%5%2.1%44%#63 tieNR$17,241
Ohio State University-Main Campus83%94%10%5.0%45%#56 tieNR$18,042
University of Connecticut83%94%12%2.5%39%#63 tieNR$18,699
Clemson University82%93%6%1.9%47%#66 tie#16 tie$18,757

*See Table Notes and References at bottom of page.

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.

  1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Complete a teacher certification program, including either an undergraduate, master’s, or alternative program.
  3. 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 Teacher Prep Review, rankings in US News & World Report’s 2020 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

Dallas Baptist University

Dallas Baptist University (Dallas, TX)

Ranked in the 99th percentile nationally by the NCTQ in its 2016 Teacher Prep Review for traditional undergraduate elementary education programs and ranked #195-258 in US News & World Report’s Best Education Schools, Dallas Baptist University is a private institution that was founded over a century ago.2,3 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

Texas A&M University (College Station, TX)

Texas A&M University was ranked in the 99th percentile in traditional undergraduate elementary education programs by the NCTQ in their 2016 Teacher Prep Review and its College Station campus was ranked #33 in the US News Best Education Schools list.2,3 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

Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN)

Lipscomb University was ranked in the 99th percentile in the category of undergraduate secondary education by the NCTQ in its 2017 Teacher Prep Review and #195-258 by US News in Best Education Schools.2,3 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 27 schools to earn an A+ rating (for selection and diversity) 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.

Ohio Wesleyan University logo

Ohio Wesleyan University (Delaware, OH)

Ohio Wesleyan University was ranked in the 99th percentile by NCTQ in undergraduate secondary education in the 2017 Teacher Prep Review.2 Offering multiple undergraduate degrees in education, including early childhood education, middle childhood education, special education, and integrated science for teachers, Ohio Wesleyan’s secondary education major is focused on imparting competency to teach grades four to nine. Providing students with a balance of theory and practical experience, this degree program requires a mix of liberal arts and professional education coursework. Students pursuing their middle childhood education license must specialize in two areas of concentration, including reading/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

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

Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)

Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development was ranked sixth in US News & World Report’s 2020 Best Education Schools.3 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

Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

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 ranked the school number one in its 2020 Best Education Schools list.2 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

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

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 seven in the nation for Best Education Schools.4The NCTQ ranked its graduate elementary and graduate secondary programs in the 99th and 95th percentiles respectively in its 2018 Teacher Prep Review.2 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

Stanford University (Stanford, CA)

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education is tied for third in US News & World Report’s Best Education Schools ranking and it was ranked in the 82nd percentile for graduate secondary education in the NCTQ’s Teacher Prep Review of 2018.3,2 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 can read more about the nuances of online programs on our Online Teaching Degree Programs Resource page. To find out more about online master’s teaching degrees, read our Online Master’s in Education Programs 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. We considered rankings from US News & World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs, its 2020 Best Education Schools ranking, and the NCTQ Teacher Prep Review. Visit any school’s website to find out more information on the programs it offers both online and on campus.

Michigan State University logo

Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)

Michigan State University offers a Master of Arts in Education (MAED), a Master of Arts in Teaching and Curriculum (MATC), a Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET), a Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Analysis, a Master of Arts in Special Education, and an Educational Psychology and Educational Technology (EPET) Hybrid program that can be completed fully online. MSU is ranked #5 in US News’ Best Online Graduate Education Programs and #20 in its Best Education Schools rankings.4,3 The MAED is open to current educators who would like to enhance their practice with coursework in teaching, learning, and leadership in P-12 schools. Concentrations are offered in Special Education, Sport Coaching and Leadership, Technology and Learning, P-12 School and Postsecondary Leadership, Literacy Education, and Science and Mathematics Education. In addition to the master’s programs, Graduate Certificates are also offered, in Online Teaching and Learning and Teaching and Learning in Postsecondary Education, among others.

Clemson University logo

Clemson University (Clemson, SC)

Clemson University in South Carolina offers a Master of Education (MEd) in Teaching and Learning that is offered 100% online and geared towards current K-12 teachers. US News & World Report tied Clemson for first place in its Best Online Graduate Education Programs.4 It was also ranked in the 98th percentile for undergraduate secondary education by the NCTQ in its Teacher Prep Review.2 Teacher Certification Degrees ranked Clemson number one in our Top Schools with Online Master’s in Education Programs list. Clemson’s MEd takes just 18 months to complete, and students can specialize in STEAM, Experiential Learning for Early Childhood, or Instructional Coaching. Students must complete 18 hours of core pedagogical coursework and 12 hours of specialization courses in an asynchronous learning environment. Clemson also offers an MEd in Administration and Supervision and an MEd in Literacy that can both be completed fully online.

University of Florida logo

University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

The University of Florida offers several teacher preparation programs online, including an EdD in Teachers, Schools, and Society, an MEd in Reading Education, and an MEd and EdD in Educational Leadership, as well as certificate programs in Early Childhood Education, Secondary Teaching Preparation, and Educational Technology (which includes certificates in K-12 Teaching with Technology, Instructional Design, Managing Distance Education Environments, and Online Teaching and Learning). The Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Education is offered fully online and comprises 12 credit hours, while the MEd in Reading comprises 36 credit hours and students can pursue it either online or on campus in a traditional format. UF was tied for first place by US News for Best Online Graduate Education list, #25 for Best Education Schools, and was ranked in the top 86th percentile for undergraduate elementary education by the NCTQ in its Teacher Prep Review of 2016.4,3,2

Virginia Commonwealth University logo

Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)

Virginia Commonwealth University offers several teacher preparation programs that can be completed 100% online. Among the online program options are a Doctor of Education in Leadership, an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction, and Post-master’s Certificates in Educational Leadership, Reading Specialist, and Special Education, K-12 Teaching. VCU is highly-ranked, coming in tied for #3 in US News & World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs, #20 in US News’ Best Education Schools, and ranked in the 97th percentile for graduate secondary education and the 94th percentile for graduate elementary education by the NCTQ in its Teacher Prep Review.4,3,2 The MEd in Curriculum and Instruction is aimed at veteren teachers, offers concentrations in instructional technology, online teaching, and teaching and learning, and is comprised of 33 credit hours. The fully online Certificate in Special Education, K-12 Teaching is offered to conditional and provisionally licensed special educators in the Virginia school system and comprises 27 credit hours.

Accredited and Online Teaching Schools

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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.

References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. National Council on Teacher Quality. (2018). Top Programs. Teacher Prep Review. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/review/search/topTen
3. US News & World Report Best Education Schools: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools/edu-rankings
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/

Table Notes and References:
All data is based on undergraduate statistics.
*The retention rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who continued to a second year of study at the same institution.
**The transfer out rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who transferred their credits to another institution within 150% of the normal time to complete their degree.

1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
3. US News & World Report National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
4. US News & World Report Best Undergraduate Teaching National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/undergraduate-teaching