Do I Need a Masters Degree to Be a Teacher?

Teachers at the postsecondary level are usually required to have a master's degree or higher. While the same is not required in order to teach K-12, prospective public school teachers must have a bachelor's degree from an approved teacher education program to become licensed.

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Educational Requirements for Teachers

Primary and Secondary Education Teachers

Teachers at the kindergarten, elementary, middle or high school levels are not required to have a master's degree to teach, though many go on to pursue a master's degree while employed to increase their knowledge or pursue a pay raise. Public school teachers are required to have a bachelor's degree from an approved teaching education program and a state license. Private school teachers are not required to be licensed, but must have a bachelor's degree.

However, due to shortages of teachers in certain subjects and in urban and rural areas, some states offer alternative licensing options. These options allow teachers with a bachelor's degree specific to a subject but not from an approved teaching program to earn licensure and begin teaching.

Postsecondary Education Teachers

The majority of postsecondary teachers teach at colleges and universities. Most 4-year colleges require teachers to have a doctoral degree, although some schools hire doctoral candidates who hold a master's degree to teach a certain subject or fill part-time positions. Some 2-year college faculty positions are held by those with only a master's degree.

Teachers at the undergraduate and graduate levels instruct students in a variety of academic or vocational subjects. In addition to teaching courses in their academic subject, such as history, literature or biology, postsecondary teachers at 4-year schools often conduct a considerable amount of research in their academic field.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with children from preschool through the 12th grade who have mental or learning disabilities or behavioral disorders. All states require a bachelor's degree and the completion of an approved training program in special education to earn licensure. Some states, however, require a master's degree in special education as well.

Adult Education Teachers

These instructors teach adult basic education to adults with skills below the eighth-grade level, adult secondary education to those earning their GED and English to individuals who speak other languages. Most adult education teachers are required to have at least a bachelor's degree, although some states require a master's degree in adult education or in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) instruction. Licensing requirements vary by state as well; some states accept a public school teacher license, while others require an adult education-specific license.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
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    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants to master's programs at the University of Kansas must have already earned a bachelor's degree.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Master
        • Master's - Curriculum and Instruction

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Curriculum and Instruction
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • Educational Evaluation and Research
      • ESL Teaching
      • Philosophical Foundations of Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
        • English Teacher Education
        • Foreign Language Education for Teachers
        • Mathematics Teacher Education
        • Science Teacher Education
        • Social Studies Teacher Education
        • Teaching, Reading
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Education
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • ESL Teaching
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
        • Social Studies Teacher Education
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • International and Comparative Education
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
        • English Teacher Education
        • Mathematics Teacher Education
        • Music Teacher Education
        • Teaching, Reading
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Curriculum and Instruction
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • Educational Evaluation and Research
      • Philosophical Foundations of Education
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
        • Agricultural Education for Teachers
        • Art Teacher Education
        • English Teacher Education
        • Foreign Language Education for Teachers
        • Mathematics Teacher Education
        • Music Teacher Education
        • Physical Education and Coaching
        • Science Teacher Education
        • Social Science Teacher Education
        • Teaching, Reading
  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Cornell University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
        • Agricultural Education for Teachers
        • Biology Education for Teachers
        • Chemistry Teacher Education
        • Home Economics Teacher Education
        • Mathematics Teacher Education
        • Physics Teacher Education
        • Science Teacher Education

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