The Best Undergraduate Majors for Becoming a Teacher
Becoming a teacher does not require getting an undergraduate degree in education. In fact, getting an undergraduate degree in another subject and then pursuing a master’s degree in education may be a wise option — particularly if you want to teach at the secondary level. Majoring in a subject other than education provides you with content knowledge and skills that can better equip you as a teacher in your chosen subject area.
Here are a few undergrad majors that lend themselves to teaching:
STEM teachers (those that teach science, math, engineering and technology) are in high demand. Schools are not looking for just anyone to fill their science and math positions; they want teachers who know their content well and understand more than just the basics.
If you want to become a science teacher, a degree in chemistry, biology, physics or even a pre-med track provides you with in-depth content knowledge and an understanding of laboratory and scientific research procedures that are valuable in the classroom.
If you want to teach math, a degree in mathematics is an option. A Bachelor of Science in Mathematics will cover higher-level math skills, but a bachelor of arts (BA) may be even better for teaching. A BA in Mathematics goes into the philosophy and reasoning behind math skills, helping future teachers understand math in a way that will make it easier for them to explain difficult concepts to students.
Humanities degrees provide undergraduates with an understanding of different cultures and promote the development of critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills. These versatile competencies are ideal for educators planning to become certified to teach social studies, language arts or a foreign language. For example, as a social studies teacher, you could be asked to teach on a range of topics, from U.S. history or U.S. government to ancient civilizations. An undergraduate degree in history or anthropology will not only provide you with the facts you need to understand these courses, but will give you an understanding of how the events of a particular time period are connected to the history of a group of people, a particular country and the world as a whole.
Those seeking to teach language arts will benefit from earning an English degree. Becoming an English teacher is about more than just reading and writing; it involves learning to communicate in unique ways and analyze texts to understand their deeper meanings. Taking higher level English courses will help you build the critical and higher order thinking skills that will serve you well in a master’s degree program and when they enter the teaching profession.
While content is an important component of teaching, understanding students and helping them grow and develop is also critical. Teachers who prefer to work at the elementary level may benefit from pursuing a degree in human development, child development or family studies. These degrees provide future teachers with the opportunity to learn about how children grow and to develop strategies for handling the challenges faced by elementary school educators.
Benefitting from an Undergraduate Degree
Whatever you aspire to teach, getting an undergraduate degree in an area other than education can help you become proficient in your subject matter, making you more desirable when it comes to being hired as a teacher. In-depth knowledge of your subject area will also serve you in the classroom as you design lesson plans and think of unique ways to help students access course material. Pursuing an undergraduate degree in an area other than teaching can also lead to opportunities for positions outside the classroom, such as curriculum design or educational policy.