Obtaining an elementary education degree qualifies graduates for a rewarding career working with children. At this age, pupils are enthusiastic and energetic, which allows educators to spend each day in a positive environment. Unlike secondary education that requires teachers to choose one subject, elementary educators teach several subjects to one class. Elementary teachers work with the same group of children throughout each day, leading to the formation of authentic relationships between students and educators. Rising student enrollment has also increased the demand for elementary teachers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% increase in elementary education jobs by 2026.

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Elementary Education?

Elementary education degrees cover content needed to be successful in public school systems and other academic institutions. Students focus on the core subjects that elementary school children study, such as foundational math, science, language arts, and social studies. Additionally, elementary education programs include courses that examine appropriate teaching methods by grade level and subject.

Students attending college for elementary education can complete their degree online or on campus. However, recent high school graduates may prefer in-person programs for the interactive experiences. Elementary education students may find it easier to complete their education online if planning to work full time throughout schooling.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Elementary Education?

While an elementary education degree prepares students for classroom teaching, it also qualifies students for other interesting roles within primary education. For instance, educators may work in support roles, such as teacher assistants or preschool directors. An elementary education bachelor's degree also prepares graduates to be effective communicators, which can lead graduates to become special education teachers at the primary level who present material in alternative ways that meet student needs.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Primary education teachers create lesson plans for multiple content areas and observe students as they complete tasks to identify academic strengths and weaknesses. These teachers communicate with parents about student progress. Elementary educators also manage classrooms and student behavior. This profession requires a bachelor's degree and a teaching license.

Median Annual Salary: $56,900
Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with students at primary age levels to provide additional assistance to general education teachers. Students often require alternative teaching strategies due to leaning, mental, emotional, or physical disabilities. Special education teachers must hold a bachelor's degree and a state-issued license to qualify.

Median Annual Salary: $58,980
Projected Growth Rate: 8%

Preschool Teachers

Preschool educators work with young children to prepare them for kindergarten. Preschool teachers provide students with foundational information and skills related to numbers, letter recognition, sight words, colors, and shapes. Teachers also assist children with adapting to routines outside their homes and screen children for developmental issues that may begin to present themselves.

Median Annual Salary: $28,990
Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

Directors hire, train, and provide professional development for all staff members. These professionals outline all policies and communicate them to parents and staff to ensure instructional excellence and safety for students and teachers. Most states require candidates hold a bachelor's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $46,890
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants review material one-on-one or in small groups to reinforce learning. Assistants also manage grades and maintain student records. Classroom teachers may also reach out to teaching assistants to supervise students between classes or on field trips. Students with at least two years of completed college coursework in a related area qualify for this position.

Median Annual Salary: $26,260
Projected Growth Rate: 8%

How to Choose a Bachelor's in Elementary Education Program

A bachelor's degree remains the basic requirement to obtain a teaching license. While the number of credit hours varies by program, an elementary education degree typically includes 120 semester hours and takes four years to complete if students attend school full time. If students cannot attend class full time, most schools offer part-time options. Part-time students should note that program lengths may double.

Alternatively, online schools often offer accelerated elementary education bachelor's degrees. In these programs, semesters last eight weeks instead of the standard 16 weeks. Classes take place throughout the summer, which allows students to complete their degrees in less time.

Regardless of the learning format, all teaching degrees require students to complete a practicum and student teaching experience. Many schools also mandate other field experiences in methods courses. Online students should plan ahead for location flexibility.

Cost also factors into choosing the right education program. Learners who plan to take out student loans should consider their future salary, as monthly repayments begin shortly after graduation. Students may also want to apply for scholarships to reduce overall tuition costs.

Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Elementary Education Programs

Accreditation is a process universities undergo to ensure their academic quality. The most popular accreditation form, regional accreditation shows the institution's approval in a particular section of the country. Students should also check that programs hold approval by their state board. Each state includes its own board of education that sets state requirements for emerging teachers. Students can also look for elementary education degrees supported by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, a nationally recognized accreditor for education programs.

Bachelor's in Elementary Education Program Admissions

Once students identify their desired programs, they must examine the application process, as requirements vary by school. Standard admissions processes include submitting various test scores, writing essays, gathering pertinent academic documents, and payment.

Some counselors suggest applying to six to eight schools, meaning application costs can add up. Students may want to look into application fee waivers so they can apply to all programs of interest. Most importantly, students should make sure they meet all program prerequisites prior to application.

Applications usually require the student's high school transcripts, extracurricular activities, accolades, SAT and/or ACT scores, FAFSA information, and entrance essays.


  • Minimum GPA: A student's GPA plays a vital role in the application process. An average GPA score stands at a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Admission Materials

  • Application: Schools seek students who meet the institution's academic standards. Most of the application process involves displaying the student's academic history, while the essay portion speaks to the student's personality and writing abilities.
  • Transcripts: Some programs require prerequisites prior to enrollment. Transcripts indicate how well a student has performed academically in the past. Students can request official transcripts from school counselors.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Students often need three letters of recommendation. Letters should come from teachers or professionals who can elaborate on the student's skills and work ethic.
  • Test Scores: Some schools opt to use ACT and/or SAT scores for enrollment, each setting their own minimum score for admission.
  • Application Fee: Admissions offices spend a lot of time reviewing applications and often charge for this service. College application fees average $40, though students can request a fee waiver under certain circumstances.

What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Elementary Education Program?

Because education standards vary by state, some programs emphasize content that other programs do not. Elementary education degrees can also be rigorous, exploring content areas in great depth. In addition, accelerated programs may condense content to meet graduation timeline expectations.

Concentrations Offered for a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education
Concentration Description Careers
Special Education A concentration in special education prepares teachers to provide specialized care for mentally, socially, physically, or emotionally delayed children. Due to the amount of students with special needs, this concentration provides a competitive advantage over teachers who do not specialize in this area. Primary Special Education, Teacher, Elementary Teacher
Gifted and Talented Students who display high achievement in intellectual, creative, or academic fields require educators who can provide services and activities not typically provided by the school to develop their capabilities. Gifted and talented students often suffer from lack of engagement if professionals do not provide them with challenging educational experiences. Gifted and Talented Teacher
Curriculum and Instruction Students learn the newest theories of instruction, how to diversify teaching methods for any content area, and gain exposure in curriculum development for any subject. Emerging professionals with this concentration position themselves to take on head teacher or administrative roles. Elementary Teacher, Preschool Director
Grade Level Specialization Students majoring in elementary education can choose two grade levels to specialize in. This provides graduates with additional techniques and tools for managing students at that grade level. Elementary Teacher
English Language Learners Students minoring in ELL learn foundational information and skills that help students who do not speak English as their first language. Students living in an area with a high immigration population should consider this minor. ELL Teacher, Elementary Teacher

Courses in a Bachelor's in Elementary Education Program

Bachelor's in elementary education coursework differs by state requirements or the development level of the school's education program. However, elementary education programs all work to prepare teachers for future classroom encounters.

Child Development Psychology

Students examine theories that influence developmental research, covering children's biological, emotional, social, and cognitive development. Students also evaluate current and classic research to identify both normal and abnormal aspects of child development. This course is mandatory for teaching at all age levels.

Curriculum Development

Students learn methods to determine curriculum priorities, scope and sequence, objectives, and organizational patterns. Examining standards, benchmarks, and curriculum assessments help students understand how curriculum design facilitates student learning. Students also get exposure to how local and state governments impact school culture and diversity.

Educational Technology

In a digital era, teachers must encourage media literacy in the classroom. In this course, students explore how electronic and digital technology can assist with class engagement. Students also learn fundamental theories of communication, evaluation, and research that help teachers compose lesson plans.

Classroom and Behavior Management

This course prepares students to manage behavior in appropriate ways through time management, organization of class materials, classroom culture, transitioning techniques, and classroom arrangement. Effective implementation of classroom and behavior management ensures classrooms are productive and harmonious learning environments. This course also helps teachers advancing to administrative roles.

Evidence Based Methods for Students with Disabilities

Students develop a framework for understanding instructional strategies that help students with special needs understand educational content. This course provides students with interdisciplinary learning tools and instructional methods for small and large group learning environments.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Elementary Education?

An elementary education bachelor's degree typically comprises 120 credit hours. Students who wish to accelerate coursework can take more classes each semester, though students pay the same price for up to 16 credit hours. Taking more than 16 credits may require permission from an adviser. Students can also take accelerated classes during the summer months.

Distance learning generally involves shorter semesters, and students take classes throughout the summer. Asynchronous formats allow students to complete their work independently before a scheduled deadline.

How Much Is a Bachelor's in Elementary Education?

The average cost of an elementary education degree ranges from $39,000 to $79,000. Private schools often cost more than public schools. However, many community colleges hold good standing with nearby universities, allowing students to complete general course requirements and transfer to another university to obtain their degree.

Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Elementary Education Prepares For

National Board Certification

Educators seeking recognized teaching licenses must complete National Board for Professional Teaching Standards' requirements. Candidates need extensive teaching experience and must successfully complete a rigorous peer review process. Professionals will submit lessons, video documentation of student interaction, and other paperwork to qualify.

Certification Exam for Educators of Reading Instruction

Teachers who obtain this certification must provide specialized instruction for developing listening and reading comprehension, spelling, word identification, and vocabulary. Elementary teachers may become reading specialists and work with small groups or one-on-one with students throughout the day.

Certified Dyslexia Practitioner

The International Dyslexia Association prepares teachers to work with students who have difficulty reading due to dyslexia. This certification makes a great supplement for elementary teachers planning to specialize in reading instruction.

Visually Impaired Teacher Certification

These specialists find creative methods and resources to help visually impaired students meet general education requirements. Professionals need a valid teaching license to apply.

American Sign Language Teacher Certification

American Sign Language (ASL)-certified teachers can help shape school culture and positively assist students in need. The ASL certificate ensures teachers understand professional standards to provide quality education.

Resources for Elementary Education Students

National Education Association

As the largest nationally recognized professional organization for educators, NEA provides support for emerging professionals. Students receive assistance with online master's programs, access to job postings, and professional fellowship.

Association for Childhood Education International

This organization uncovers solutions for challenges in education and helps create stimulating learning environments. Emerging professionals gain access to helpful information and other professionals who can share their knowledge.

National Association for the Education of Young Children

NAEYC promotes quality learning for young children. Members can access digital resources, discounts on books, additional online coursework, and VIP events.

Division for Early Childhood

DEC helps advance evidence-based practices for young children with developmental delays or disabilities. Students can access professionals for resources and mentoring.

National Association for Bilingual Education

NABE specifically represents ELL and bilingual education professionals.

Professional Organizations in Elementary Education

Professional organizations can help educators stay on top of current field practices and often provide members with career and legal advice, job assistance, and insurance. Members can access networking opportunities online, through seminars, or at symposiums. Some professional organizations even offer continuing education courses at discounted rates.