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What Is a Bachelor’s in Secondary Education Degree?

The history of education in the United States goes back to our Puritan forefathers. They established schools in every town becoming, according to the late cultural critic Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death, the most literate society in history. 

In that time it goes without saying life was unique. From the mid-17th through the late 19th century, education in America was not compulsory and went through 8th grade and focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic.

In 1852, the first compulsory education law passed in Massachusetts and in 1892 our nation adopted the K-12 model. This was when secondary education came into existence as we know today.

Today secondary education, which refers to grades 9-12 and sometimes 7-12, still retains a liberal arts structure but primarily focuses on forming productive citizens and college preparation.

High school teachers are required by law to be certified in public schools. To attain licensure, our colleges offer programs that include or lead to licensure. In general, high school teacher certification requirements include passing state mandated tests of basic skills, usually during the sophomore year, completing a teacher education program, and then passing content and education tests in particular subject areas such as the Praxis.

The Bachelor of Secondary Education is the meat of training required to teach in public schools. This training consists of general education classes, education courses with field work, and the final year or semester dedicated to student teaching.

Secondary education programs are four-year degrees that are approximately 120 credits. General education courses vary according to the institution but in general, are liberal arts based.

Education courses, as well as fieldwork, differs from place to place as well; for example, some schools sequence their education courses starting in year one through year four coupled with fieldwork that corresponds to coursework while others do a core of general for two year and the educational sequence in years three and four. Education course titles take from schools ranked in our Most Affordable Bachelors in Secondary Education include:

  • Communicating Effectively
  • Multicultural Education
  • School, Society, and Teachers
  • Education in Modern Society
  • Secondary Orientation & Classroom Management
  • Technology in the Classroom
  • Foundations of Education
  • Educational Psychology and Measurement
  • Introduction to Teaching
  • Educational Applications of Technology
  • Principles of Instruction and Behavioral Support

High School education is specialized according to the subject. A Bachelor’s in Secondary Education always has a subject emphasis, and sometimes double-majors are required. For example, my degree was a B.S. in Secondary Education, Social Studies.

Whatever your subject, expect there to be a big portion of your classes to be in that. This is an area we here at Best Education Degrees recommend noting when examining colleges. The more content you know, the more confident you’ll be teaching high school students.

The National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a research organization dedicated to improving our schools and used in many of our rankings including our 10 Best Online Bachelor's in High School Education, ranks programs in Content Area Preparation, Student Teaching, and more.

Fieldwork, something the NCTQ scores as well, is included in every high school teacher program. Programs usually have multiple experiences beginning with observation and increasing in duration and responsibility to the culminating and vital full-time student teaching in the fourth year.

Activities in fieldwork include observation, reflection, planning, bulletin boards, sitting in on parent/teacher conference, grading, and lesson planning.