Masters in Education or Teacher Certification with Masters?

Updated on September 09, 2015
S.S. asks from Seattle, WA
13 answers

I would like to start teaching and have a Bachelors degree in a non education field. I would like to start my
Masters, but need help deciding where I should go? I need something afforadable and preferably online, so I can
continue working. Has anyone gone through a Online affordable education program? I am currently a licensed substitute teacher and subbing 2-3 days a week within the district. This is my fifth year subbing and do have experience in a classroom setting.

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Thank you for all the feedback and will take the positive ones.

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answers from Springfield on

I'm actually very surprised that so many people have suggested that you speak with the principal or superintendent. Chances are, they won't have a clue what you need to do. They don't analyze college transcripts when they interview candidates. They simply ask to see your teaching certificate. They don't usually know what the requirements are.

You need to get a teaching certificate. Unless your state specifically says you must have Master's Degree in order to teach (Illinois does not), then right now is not the time to focus on earning a degree. Now is the time to figure out what classes you need to take to get a certificate.

I earned my bachelor's degree and then went back to get my teaching certificate. I met with an advisor who looked through my transcripts and made a note of each class I had taken that fulfilled a requirement. Then he made a list of the classes I still needed to take. My degree is in Math. I needed some math classes that my degree did not require, I needed education classes (since I hadn't taken any originally) and I needed to pick up a government class and a biology class (I think). Some of the classes might seem random, but states are funny that way. You're also going to need to student teach, and that's usually the only thing you do that semester.

Call the education department at a university (UW would be a good place to start) and ask to talk to someone about what it would take to be certified. After you have a job, you can consider a Master's Degree. Many schools have on-line classes. Just because UW is a residential school does not mean it doesn't offer plenty of on-line classes. But first, find out which classes you need to take.

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm finding it funny how a few are being so negative and nasty when you are asking about online degrees. My undergrad and MBA are both from Southern New Hampshire University. I obtained them while raising my family and working full-time, so they are both from online. I can assure you they are not crappy or invalid.

My mom has her Masters from Concordia University in some form of education and is nearing the end of her EdD program, also online. I believe that is through Walden University. She works as a full-time permanent professor at the local community college.

I think it's great you want to get your education and online is a real possibility. You will have to do student teaching and programs towards teaching, but you can find some of those resources at your local school/college/district.

I basically just wanted to say to ignore the people who say online degrees are crappy and invalid...they are not. And you can certainly obtain your education there towards teaching.

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answers from Boston on

Most public school teachers in my state obtain a Master's degree within so many years of becoming certified to teach and most do on-line classes so that they can continue to teach during the day and finish this requirement at night and on weekends. Most of the teachers I know have done this through local colleges/universities because those schools were carving out special schedules for teachers long before distance learning became popular. If you do this at a college near you, you will make valuable contacts who may help you find work as you transition into your new career - your professors, teaching assistants and fellow classmates will already be working in the field and could help with leads on job openings or recommendations. I would recommend that you look locally before going to some anonymous on-line school, as there are many benefits and you may find the flexibility you need.

Also know that there are grants/loan forgiveness programs if you will be teaching in a subject area that is a designated teaching shortage in your state. Shortages vary by state but that info is available online.

Good luck with your career change!

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answers from Austin on

There also may be Alternative Certification programs in your state. There are at least 2 different alternative certification pathways in Texas, and I completed one of those.

The program I did was through a university, and we had classes/seminars once a month, with weekly homework and projects. It was a 1 year program, with a student teaching program included.

I did get my certification through that program, but held off applying at districts other than the one I lived in, and then things fell apart in public education, and they were laying off teachers.

Well, I also got 2 more certification classes added to my certificate, and, at age 58, I am a first year teacher! (I have been working as a para for the last 5 years in the school I am now teaching in. I finally got 'brave' enough to go ahead and apply for a teaching position, and I love it!)

I would talk to someone in the HR department at your local district office to see what type of alternative certification programs are available in your state (that they accept teachers through). It is possible!

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answers from Rochester on

In most states, you will need to get a teaching certificate before you can teach. That teaching degree includes basic education courses and student teaching experience. You may be able to take some courses online, but you will have to do student teaching and probably some practiccum work that will have to be done in a classroom setting. Some states do have certification programs that allow people without a teaching degree to become certified, but I have heard very few positive things about those programs. It depends a lot on if you are wanting to teach at the elementary or secondary level. And if there is a teacher shortage in your area of expertise.

Take a look at the web page for the state superintendent in your state. A Google search for teaching licenses in your state will take you to a link. You will be able to find what the requirements are to be a licensed teacher. Once you know that, you can start looking at universities in your area and what their classes are like. You can probably find some online and evening classes, but practiccum classes and student teaching would be held during the school day.

Having been on hiring committees in a couple of different districts, I can tell you that at least in the elementary setting, the more hands on experience you have working with kids, the better chance you have of being hired. Having a Masters without teaching experience is not necessarily going to help you get hired. School districts don't necessarily want to pay for the Masters degree if they aren't sure you have the practical skills to make it in the classroom. School budgets are tight. If they are hiring a brand new teacher with no teaching experience they will likely go with the one they can pay less. When I didn't find a teaching job after I first graduated I thought about going right for my masters. I had several different people tell me that wouldn't be the best career move. I'm glad I listened. With a masters AND experience, I was much more marketable.

I don't think I know any teachers who started teaching with a masters. They all started with a bachelors degree and started working on their masters while they were teaching. Some school districts will hire a teacher who has a BA and the district partners with a university. The district pays the teacher a living stipend and the teacher gets a break on tuition for their masters work. All of the course work is evening/weekend/summer. Many of the assignments and course work can be done in the teacher's classroom. The program is usually 2 summers and 1-2 school years. Our district calls it a graduate induction program. But you have to already have a teaching degree.

I really think you need to start with a teaching certificate. You could also talk to the HR department in the school district and ask them what they look for in teacher candidates. It's entirely possible that it could be a district that does put a lot of weight on having a masters. Good luck!

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answers from St. Louis on

Why on earth would any school hire you if you got an online degree and have never taught before? It just doesn't sound like you are asking yourself that so I thought I would throw it out there. Teaching jobs in good schools are very hard to find, why would they hire you over someone who has a degree in teaching and willing to work on their masters while they teach?

Usually state universities are the best way to go for online masters.

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answers from Dayton on

Talk to some of the teachers where you are currently subbing. Ask for their advice. Can you make an appointment to speak with the Superintendent of your current district? I'm sure he/she can guide you in the right direction. Good luck!

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answers from Portland on

I looked up the state requirements at the official state website and this is what is required for the initial certificate to begin teaching. If you only want a substitute license the requirements are different. I am in Oregon, and I know that we have universities here, like Concordia, where you can do the majority of your classes online, but you do have to go to the school occasionally, and you do have to do student teaching in person.

Residency Certificate
Washington issues the Residency Teacher Certificate to most first-time applicants for a regular teaching certificate.
The candidate must have:
Earned a bachelor's or higher degree from any regionally accredited college/university.
Completed any state's approved teacher preparation program. This would be either an approved program through a regionally accredited college or university, or an approved alternative-route program. (Form 4020E Verification of Program completion and Character or Form 4020E-1 Verification of Alternative Certification Program Pathway Completion and Character)
If you have not completed a state approved program, individuals may verify at least 3 years of K-12 teaching experience outside Washington (Form 4020F-1 Verification of Experience), and hold a regular certificate in another state. (In Washington there are 21 Washington colleges/universities with state-approved teacher preparation programs.
Out-of-state applicants must pass a basic skills test (WEST-B) within 12 months of receiving a temporary permit. See teacher assessments.
Out-of-state applicants must pass an endorsement content knowledge test (WEST-E) within 12 months of receiving a temporary permit. See teacher assessments.
The first certificate issued is the Residency Certificate (First Issue), which is valid until the holder is reported as employed by a Washington school district as a teacher with 1.5 FTE or more experience. This certificate must then be reissued with a three year expiration date.

ETA: This does NOT say you need a Master's Degree, nor does it say you need to earn one within a certain amount of time, but it still might be the case. Here in Oregon, I had 7 years after my teacher program to finish my MEd. But, it was only 1 summer more with 2 classes, so I just did it. I did mine though Portland State and it was not online at all. But, my reading endorsement was, and it didn't matter that it was online.

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answers from San Francisco on

Requirements vary by state.
I'm really surprised though, if you are already subbing, you should know EXACTLY what's required in your state.
I mean if you haven't bothered to check the state/district website haven't you even talked to the teachers and principal/s you work with???
I was a sub and an aide for only three years and learned about teaching requirements pretty much the first week I started.
In CA you must have a BA/BS from an ACCREDITED university, not some crappy online program, in a pretty specific subject (liberal arts for K-6, single subject, math, science, history, language, whatever you plan to teach, for middle/high school.) Once you meet that requirement you can apply for the masters/grad school program which takes about 18 months combined classwork and student teaching, then you apply for your credentials.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

A substitute doesn't usually have to have the same credentials as a fully employed teacher.

My father in law has his Bachelors in education and taught elementary grade deaf students on the Gallaudet campus in Washington. He moved back to Oklahoma and went to a university program and got his Master's degree in special ed.

When he moved back here to our town he went to apply for a teaching position in our elementary schools he was told he wasn't hireable in the state of Oklahoma. He could substitute all he wanted, over the maximum allowed for non teachers. Even I could go substitute for 20 hours per month or something like that.

He was told the state of OK had different undergrad requirements and he would have to go back to college and take those classes in OK. So he never got his teaching credentials in OK.

So you must go to the horses mouth on this. If one of those degrees is useless in your home state then the other isn't even an option.

I'd say you need to go to a college campus for a master's degree anyway, you'll have to do student teaching and even some undergrad classes if your bachelors doesn't meet the state's minimum requirement for a teaching job.

I suggest you contact your nearest university with a college of education department. You can make an appointment with an undergrad and grad school counselor and ask them what you have to take to be qualified to teach.

You do know that with a master's degree and a teaching degree you can teach anywhere? Elementary school, Jr. High, High School, Jr. College, Vo-tech, and even in a college classroom as an adjunct or an associate professor.

I would like to teach at a Jr. College so I can teach both traditional and non traditional students and have a lot of interesting discussions.

You have a degree already so if you go to the college of education at a nearby university you might be able to get a teaching degree in a semester or 2 if you can get the student teaching part done during that time frame.

But my main point is this:

You can have a trail of letters after your name indicating multiple degrees but if your state requires you to have a certain math or a certain statistics class or a certain sociology course you won't be hire-able in your state. You have to go back and complete any classes that their degree requires for the teaching jobs in your state.

If you move to another state you'll face the same thing again. If they require a special class and you don't have it you'll have to go take it before they can let you go to work.

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answers from Washington DC on

do you need a masters to START teaching? i'm betting that your bachelors and your subbing experience is enough to get you into a classroom, and you can then discuss the requirements with your HR and the other staff and take it from there.
i don't know which online programs are the best, but i'm pretty sure the folks at your school do. there are good accredited online universities these days (along with a slew of crappy ones so do your due diligence) and i think most teachers who go on to get their post-grad degrees do so WHILE teaching.

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answers from Asheville on

Many states have a lateral entry program. Basically, you work on coursework towards certification while teaching in the classroom. Mainly psych and education courses are what you need to complete along with the tests to become certified (which aren't cheap). While I do feel like continuing your education is important, you probably won't get the return on investment in the masters degree, unless you want to teach at a community college level or a private or junior college.

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answers from Detroit on

Hi S.,

I didn't read the other entries so forgive me if this is redundant.

My philosophy on education has always been two fold. First education is never a wasted effort. Second, if you're going to spend the money, time and undergo the inevitable sacrifices, you should obtain the most flexibile degree possible. This will avoid closed doors in the future and will provide you with as many opportunities to find a best fit for you in terms of employment.

I say go for it with the Masters. And don't forget that this degree is one of the foundational elements of your future career. This means you need to cultivate as many networking relationships, both with peers and professors as possible. I would also evaluate the university, irrespective of its setting, with respect to their ability to offer job/carrer placement post graduation.

my 2cents. hoping they helpful. :-) S.

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