Teacher Education Programs In America
Areas of Study
Teachers play an essential, foundational role in building our society. Therefore, the variety of undergraduate teacher education programs in the USA prepares students for all kinds of career options.
At 4-year institutions, students begin by applying to the university or college in a baccalaureate degree such as Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Science (BS) or Bachelor of Music (BMus) and then those who plan to complete certification requirements for teaching make special application for admission to the university's Teacher Education Program. Teacher education programs can usually be found in an institution's College or School of Education. This approach ensures that students get a solid general education as well as a focused professional education. Teacher education programs often take longer than 4 years because of the required student teaching component, which usually lasts between 12-16 weeks.
The main choice in teacher education programs is between elementary or secondary education. Within each of these streams there are a number of possible majors and concentrations. For example, those studying elementary education can major in talented and gifted student education, physical education, ESL, art, language arts, math, music, science, reading, social science, theatre, and speech communication. Within secondary education you can major in many of the same areas, like art, math, music, English, science, second languages, speech communication and theatre. Some universities divide their courses according to subjects rather than age group: for instance you might be able to take your degree with a specialization in art or music education from pre-K to grade 12. Other subjects for specialization are early childhood education, ESL, special education, educational psychology, and higher education administration. A number of minors in education are also available for those who want to study education but don't want to go on to student teaching and certification. Colleges or Schools of Education also offer teacher licensure/certification programs for elementary and secondary education. Note that different states may have different requirements for teacher certification. For those who want to continue their studies, teacher education programs can also lead to graduate study in education.
Many community colleges offer university transfer programs for those wanting to pursue teacher education programs. In fact, the National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs (NACCTEP) is an organization that works to develop new programs. In addition to offering the first two years of requirements for a baccalaureate degree, community colleges provide coordinated programs for transfer, certificates and 2-year associate degree programs, such as the Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT), Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in early childhood education and Associate of Arts (AA) in elementary education. Some colleges also offer specialized degrees such as the Associate in Science (AS) in educational interpreting for hearing-impaired students. Certificates, such as the Child Development Associate Certificate or Alternative Certification Program, may be designed to prepare students for national credentials and to provide the necessary skills to obtain entry level employment. Many community colleges have agreements with 4-year colleges and universities to facilitate the transfer into a bachelor's program, so be sure to check out an institution's agreements.
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