Accelerated Secondary Education Degrees for High School Teachers

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Ari­zona State Uni­ver­si­ty and Texas Chris­t­ian Uni­ver­si­ty offer a fast-track sec­ondary edu­ca­tion program.
  • These pro­grams can be com­plet­ed in 1–3 years, allow­ing for faster entry into the teach­ing work­force com­pared to tra­di­tion­al four-year programs.
  • Accel­er­at­ed pro­grams empha­size essen­tial skills and knowl­edge, often allow­ing cred­it trans­fer from pre­vi­ous degrees, which reduces redun­dant coursework.
  • Many pro­grams offer online or hybrid for­mats, pro­vid­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty for work­ing adults and career changers.
  • Grad­u­ates can quick­ly tran­si­tion into teach­ing roles, ben­e­fit­ing from strong net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and job place­ment services.

Most high school teach­ers get their edu­ca­tion in a tra­di­tion­al four-year degree pro­gram. But, accel­er­at­ed sec­ondary edu­ca­tion degrees are becom­ing more and more pop­u­lar. The pri­ma­ry ben­e­fit of accel­er­at­ed teach­ing degrees is that you can fin­ish the pro­gram in less time.

Here’s an example…

Let’s assume you have a bachelor’s degree in psy­chol­o­gy, but want to be a sec­ondary social stud­ies teacher. Rather than com­plet­ing an entire sec­ond degree, you can enroll in a bachelor’s in edu­ca­tion fast-track pro­gram and fin­ish the require­ments in about two years. 

This is just one exam­ple, though. There are many sce­nar­ios in which inten­sive teacher train­ing pro­grams can ben­e­fit you and help you achieve your career goals. If you’re ready to make a dif­fer­ence as a high school teacher, this guide is for you!


What Are Accelerated Secondary Education Degrees?

An accel­er­at­ed sec­ondary edu­ca­tion degree is just as it sounds. The pro­gram focus­es on the essen­tial edu­ca­tion and train­ing you need to be a high school teacher, but does so in a short­ened time frame.

As not­ed ear­li­er, tra­di­tion­al sec­ondary edu­ca­tion pro­grams require four years of under­grad­u­ate work. How­ev­er, accel­er­at­ed pro­grams might take one to three years, depend­ing on your edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence. Like­wise, a typ­i­cal edu­ca­tion master’s degree is usu­al­ly two years, but an accel­er­at­ed degree might only take one year.

In many cas­es, online edu­ca­tion degrees like this are cohort-based, mean­ing you advance through the pro­gram with the same class­mates. The pro­gram struc­ture includes class­work, practicum expe­ri­ences, and stu­dent teach­ing place­ments, just like tra­di­tion­al pro­grams. How­ev­er, unlike tra­di­tion­al pro­grams, you are like­ly to take more class­es each semes­ter or have sum­mer class­es (or both) to accom­mo­date the short­er timetable for grad­u­a­tion. Online course­work is also common.

Learn­ing in an accel­er­at­ed for­mat is chal­leng­ing, giv­en the pace and inten­si­ty of your stud­ies. How­ev­er, you’ll reap many ben­e­fits from your accel­er­at­ed pro­gram, includ­ing the following:

  • Improved hard skills for teach­ing, such as instruc­tion­al design, class­room man­age­ment, and sub­ject-mat­ter expertise.
  • Improved soft skills for teach­ers, such as bet­ter writ­ten and ver­bal communication.
  • Improved abil­i­ties to jug­gle mul­ti­ple tasks simultaneously.
  • Less time spent get­ting your degree and faster entry into the workforce.

Types of Accelerated Programs Available

The table below sum­ma­rizes some of the most com­mon online edu­ca­tion degrees avail­able in an accel­er­at­ed format:

Degree/Program TypeDegree/Program Fea­tures
Accel­er­at­ed Bachelor’s Degree▪️ Three years or less.
▪️ Spe­cial­iza­tions in core areas like math, sci­ence, social stud­ies, and Eng­lish.
▪️ Ide­al for first-time col­lege stu­dents or stu­dents with a non-edu­ca­tion bachelor’s degree.
Com­bined Bachelor’s and Master’s Programs▪️ Five years (four years for under­grad­u­ate work and one year for grad­u­ate work).
▪️ Seam­less tran­si­tion from one degree to the next.Helps you imme­di­ate­ly move up the pay scale.
▪️ Ide­al for first-time col­lege stu­dents who want to fast-track a master’s degree.
Online and Hybrid Accel­er­at­ed Programs▪️ Online pro­grams offer max­i­mum flex­i­bil­i­ty with online course­work and field expe­ri­ences in approved loca­tions near where you live.
▪️ Edu­ca­tion degree pro­grams for pro­fes­sion­als like this are ide­al for work­ing adults seek­ing to start a new career and learn­ers who work well inde­pen­dent­ly.
▪️ Hybrid pro­grams com­bine in-per­son and online learn­ing with field expe­ri­ences in approved loca­tions near where you live.
▪️ Hybrid pro­grams offer more flex­i­bil­i­ty than on-cam­pus pro­grams yet still pro­vide more inter­ac­tive learn­ing than online programs.
Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion-Focused Accel­er­at­ed Courses▪️ Typ­i­cal­ly one year or less.
▪️ Empha­size course­work and expe­ri­ences for spe­cif­ic cer­ti­fi­ca­tions (e.g., spe­cial edu­ca­tion, admin­is­tra­tion, cur­ricu­lum and instruc­tion).
▪️ Ide­al for teach­ers seek­ing a dif­fer­ent type of certification.

Admission Requirements and Eligibility

If you want to make a career change to teach­ing, you must first meet some basic pre­req­ui­sites. The spe­cif­ic pre­req­ui­sites you have to meet depend on your pri­or aca­d­e­m­ic expe­ri­ence. How­ev­er, some gen­er­al require­ments you might have to meet include the following:

  • Com­plete basic course­work in spe­cial edu­ca­tion, child devel­op­ment, and learning.
  • Have a 3.0 GPA or high­er in your col­lege coursework.
  • Earn a pass­ing score on the rel­e­vant sub­ject mat­ter Prax­is test.

Fur­ther­more, some pro­grams require you to have expe­ri­ence in edu­ca­tion. For exam­ple, you might need a cur­rent sub­sti­tute teach­ing license. For grad­u­ate pro­grams, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accred­it­ed col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty as well.

You may have to par­tic­i­pate in an inter­view as part of the appli­ca­tion process. Some fast-track teacher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams con­duct these inter­views remote­ly; oth­ers require you to par­tic­i­pate in person.

Curriculum and Learning Outcomes

By and large, pro­grams lead­ing to an accel­er­at­ed high school teach­ing degree focus on spe­cif­ic top­ics — math, sci­ence, Eng­lish lan­guage arts, social stud­ies, and so forth. This is espe­cial­ly true at the under­grad­u­ate lev­el. Master’s pro­grams might offer more spe­cif­ic spe­cial­iza­tions, such as biol­o­gy, Span­ish, or his­to­ry, to name a few.

The course­work you com­plete is accom­pa­nied by numer­ous field expe­ri­ences. Usu­al­ly, the first field expe­ri­ence is strict­ly obser­va­tion­al. For exam­ple, if you’re a sec­ondary math edu­ca­tion major, you might spend two or three morn­ings a week shad­ow­ing an expe­ri­enced math teacher. This expe­ri­ence is usu­al­ly close­ly fol­lowed by a sec­ond practicum, in which you get actu­al stu­dent-teacher inter­ac­tion time (e.g., teach­ing a les­son with­in a larg­er unit of study).

The major com­po­nent of your expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing is stu­dent teach­ing. Typ­i­cal stu­dent teach­ing place­ments last about a full semes­ter. Dur­ing this time, you’ll devel­op lessons, grade papers, take part in pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, and oth­er activ­i­ties required of a ful­ly cre­den­tialed teacher. Again, you’ll be super­vised by a men­tor teacher. But as time goes by, you’ll even­tu­al­ly work with your stu­dents inde­pen­dent­ly — many men­tor teach­ers make them­selves scarce in the class­room after the first month to six weeks of your stu­dent teach­ing expe­ri­ence (pro­vid­ed you’ve demon­strat­ed the skills nec­es­sary to work independently).

Examples of Accelerated Programs

Short-term teach­ing degrees are avail­able from insti­tu­tions around the nation. In fact, a quick Google search of terms like “edu­ca­tion degree online accel­er­at­ed” or “master’s in edu­ca­tion accel­er­at­ed” gen­er­ates dozens of options. Below is a short list of notable pro­grams worth your consideration:

Insti­tu­tion & DegreeKey Fea­tures
Ari­zona State Uni­ver­si­ty — MEd Sec­ondary Education▪️ 30 cred­its
▪️ Remote course­work with in-per­son practicum and stu­dent teach­ing expe­ri­ences
▪️ Tra­di­tion­al and alter­na­tive cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are avail­able for teach­ing grades 6–12 in Ari­zona
▪️ Can be com­plet­ed in as few as five semesters
Texas Chris­t­ian Uni­ver­si­ty — Accel­er­at­ed Master’s Degree▪️ 156 cred­its
▪️ 4+1 for­mat for a com­bined bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years
▪️ Leads to sec­ondary teacher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in Texas
New York Uni­ver­si­ty — Accel­er­at­ed BA/MAT Teacher Edu­ca­tion Program▪️ 146 cred­its
Three con­cen­tra­tions avail­able: Eng­lish, social stud­ies, and math
▪️ Part-time and full-time options
▪️ Hands-on teach­ing expe­ri­ence in the New York Pub­lic Schools sys­tem
▪️ Can be com­plet­ed in five years
Uni­ver­si­ty of Evans­ville — Accel­er­at­ed Tran­si­tion to Teach­ing Licen­sure Program▪️ 18 cred­its
▪️ Sup­ple­ments an exist­ing bachelor’s degree in a non-edu­ca­tion field
▪️ Spe­cial­iza­tions are avail­able in high-need areas like spe­cial edu­ca­tion, nat­ur­al sci­ences, and math
▪️ Can be com­plete in one year
Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­si­ty of Ann Arbor — Accel­er­at­ed Bach­e­lor of Arts in Sec­ondary Education▪️ 120 cred­its
▪️ Con­cen­tra­tions in social stud­ies and Eng­lish lan­guage arts
▪️ Pre­pares you for a sec­ondary teach­ing license (grades 4–12) in Wis­con­sin
▪️ Can be com­plet­ed in three years

Advantages of Accelerated Degrees for High School Teachers

There are numer­ous advan­tages of com­plet­ing a high school teach­ing degree in an accel­er­at­ed format:

  • The cur­ricu­lum focus­es on con­tent area exper­tise and real-world skills development.
  • The short­er time­frame is more cost-effective.
  • Most schools offer career place­ment ser­vices to help you find a teach­ing job.
  • The con­nec­tions you make with edu­ca­tors dur­ing your stu­dent teach­ing can lead to employ­ment after graduation.

Many accel­er­at­ed pro­grams also offer the advan­tage of com­plet­ing under­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate degrees back-to-back. Some pro­grams also allow you to com­plete your course­work online (though most are hybrid teach­ing pro­grams with remote course­work and in-per­son field experiences).

Career Outcomes and Opportunities

Once you com­plete a high school teacher train­ing pro­gram and have a sec­ondary edu­ca­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, you can start your teach­ing career. Accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics, more than 67,000 teach­ing jobs are open each year, so your job prospects can be quite good. And with a medi­an annu­al salary of $65,220, you can earn decent pay as well.

Teach­ing comes with many ben­e­fits, too:

  • Hol­i­days, nights, week­ends, and sum­mers off (unless you take added assign­ments like teach­ing sum­mer school or chap­er­on­ing after-school activities)
  • Excel­lent ben­e­fits packages
  • Room for pro­fes­sion­al growth and career advancement
  • Abil­i­ty to have a pos­i­tive impact on kids’ lives

To con­tin­ue teach­ing, you must com­plete the con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment require­ments. The num­ber of hours and type of train­ing you need varies from one loca­tion to the next, but gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, com­mon activ­i­ties include the following:

  • Edu­ca­tion work­shops from school dis­tricts, teach­ers’ unions, and sub­ject-mat­ter pro­fes­sion­al associations
  • Earn­ing col­lege credit
  • Tak­ing spe­cial­ized pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment cours­es (e.g., cur­ricu­lum and instruc­tion, ped­a­gogy, lit­er­a­cy training)
  • Coach­ing and peer observation
  • Nation­al Board Certification

Under­tak­ing these and oth­er pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment activ­i­ties is a cru­cial com­po­nent of stay­ing up-to-date on the lat­est prac­tices in edu­ca­tion. Doing so allows you to con­tin­ue learn­ing and grow­ing as a pro­fes­sion­al to enhance your stu­dents’ learn­ing experience.