Education Degrees Explained

Education graduates in their gowns holding diplomas

Not everyone who goes into education plans on becoming a teacher. Some may aspire to become principals or superintendents. Others may want to go into educational research or are interested in working in education technology and curriculum development. No matter what your education career goals are, there is a degree out there that can help you develop your skills, interests and talents as you work toward finding the right job.

In This Article:

Associate Degrees

An associate degree in education may help you become a preschool instructor or a paraprofessional. In these roles, you can still work with students without being fully in charge of a classroom. Generally, preschool instructors will work with other teachers. A paraprofessional will work under the guidance and supervision of a certified teacher. An associate teaching degree can help you lead the way toward becoming a certified teacher if you decide to transfer your credits to a bachelor's degree program.

Bachelor's Degrees

A bachelor's degree, along with teacher certification, can potentially lead directly to a classroom teaching job. After you earn your bachelor's degree in education or teaching, your state determines if you are qualified to become a classroom teacher through teacher certification tests and other related requirements.

It is possible to earn a general education bachelor's degree. You can earn a specialized bachelor's degree in areas such as English, biology or history. When you earn a specialized bachelor's teaching degree you may be qualified to teach in a classroom setting. These requirements can vary by state, so be sure to review the department of education website for the state in which you plan to teach in and seek clarification from state credentialing offices.

Master's Degrees

A master's degree can help teachers potentially develop the skills needed to position themselves in a new leadership role. While some master's degrees do focus on teaching, most specialize in a broader educational area. For example, you can earn a master's degree in curriculum development and instruction. You can also earn a master's degree in administration which may qualify you for an administrator role.

Doctoral Degrees

Administrative roles and superintendent roles generally require at least a master's degree.1 Additionally, those with a doctoral-level degree may become a college professor.1 Someone who earns a doctoral degree in education typically completes a research study and writes a dissertation. They may then use their new doctoral status to potentially position themselves for a leadership role in education. Or they may choose to continue their role as a researcher and try to improve the knowledge base for other educators and teachers.

At Grand Canyon University, you can earn a bachelor's degree, master's degree or doctoral degree in teaching and education. No matter where you are on your path to becoming a qualified educator, the College of Education at GCU can help you get there with quality classes and hands-on teaching experiences.

 If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023, Sept. 6). Postsecondary Education Administrator: How to Become a Postsecondary Education Administrator. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2023.

Approved by the Assistant Dean of the College of Education on Dec. 18, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.