The average 15-year-old American lags behind their international peers in science, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Consequently, teachers in K-12 science classrooms are in demand. Students need teachers who are experts in the field and passionate about sharing their knowledge with others. If you plan to pursue an undergraduate degree in science and you enjoy working with young people, a bachelor's degree in science education may be ideal for you.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Science Education?
The in-depth study required of K-12 educators means that most bachelor's in science education degrees, especially for primary and secondary teaching, are on-campus programs. High school graduates and first-time college students who plan to enter the teaching field immediately after graduation will usually find on-campus programs fit best. Online programs in a science education degree tend to be geared toward students who intend to pursue graduate studies and teach at the university and community college level, or in a more informal environment, like a museum or zoo.
Making connections and building relationships with professors, many of whom are experienced K-12 educators, allows aspiring teachers to network, which increases their chances of finding full-time science teacher jobs after graduation. Programs for science education also cover the necessary content knowledge and preparation for teacher licensure exams in a respective state.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Science Education?
Teaching is a profession that complements a range of personality types, though individuals who enjoy sharing their passion for science are ideal candidates. There is ongoing demand for qualified and committed science teachers at all age levels, from early childhood to post-secondary classrooms, in addition to science education jobs outside the classroom.
In general, successful teachers are lifelong learners, strong collaborators, and empathetic listeners. Teaching is not a job with standard hours, as educators often work extra hours in the evenings, over weekends, and during the summer to plan engaging lessons and take advantage of professional development opportunities. Seasoned teachers may choose to make a career change over time and move into instructional lead or administrative roles or work as science educators in public organizations like local museums.
- High School Teacher
High school teachers are experts in their subject matter and prepare students in grades 9-12 for college and encourage potential career paths in the sciences after graduation. In addition to a bachelor's degree, high school teachers must apply for certification in their academic area.
Median Annual Salary: $59,170*
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher
A bachelor's of science in education is particularly desirable for teachers in higher elementary grades and for STEM and STEAM programs. Public elementary school teachers must hold teaching certification through their state in addition to a bachelor's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $56,900*
- Middle School Teacher
At the middle school level, teachers are experts in their subject area and introduce students to higher-level concepts in life science and other domains. Middle school teachers also prepare students for the rigors of a high school curriculum. In addition to a bachelor's degree, middle school teachers must have a state-issued teaching certification.
Median Annual Salary: $57,720*
- Instructional Coordinator
Instructional coordinators direct organization and implementation of a school, district, or state curriculum. They may work with elementary or secondary schools, colleges, or other educational organizations. While a master's degree in teaching or administration is usually required, a bachelor's degree in education provides the foundation for further study and career advancement.
Median Annual Salary: $63,750*
- Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers
Science museum workers create educational programs and curate exhibits about science for children. In addition to a degree, having experience at a museum through an internship or volunteer experience makes you a more competitive candidate.
Median Annual Salary: $47,360*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Science Education Program
The average bachelor's in science education degree can be completed in four years, though this depends on several factors, including whether you attend full- or part-time, whether you're a first-time freshman or transfer student, and whether you enroll in an on-campus or online program.
All bachelor's degrees require a minimum number of general education credits, which include courses like calculus, languages, and public speaking. Education courses usually look similar across science education programs, which target individuals planning to teach students in grades 6-12. Most science education degree candidates choose an area of specialization, like chemistry, physics, or earth science.
The total cost of your degree in science education will vary based on your school. Consider whether you plan to attend a public or private institution, whether the school is in- or out-of-state, if you'll commute from home or live on campus, and whether you're eligible for scholarships or other financial aid. Tuition may also vary based on online or on-campus enrollment.
Most programs require a field placement experience in a classroom, which can last from three months to one year, depending on state requirements. If you're currently working full-time in another career or as a teacher with temporary certification, consider an accelerated online program. On-campus programs are usually a good fit for recent high school graduates or transfer students comfortable with the in-person lecture format.
Coursework may vary by state. Most students attend a program in the state that they'd like to teach in after graduation, so research job availability, as some states have significant teacher shortages.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Science Education Programs
Associations that provide programmatic accreditation evaluate programs to ensure they meet standards of educational and professional excellence. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is the leading accrediting institution for education programs in the U.S., recognized by both the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Programs with NCATE accreditation must set goals and benchmarks for their students and demonstrate a continual commitment to improved teaching practices. In addition to educational quality, programmatic accreditation is particularly important for teachers who want their science education degree to be recognized by employers across state lines.
Bachelor's in Science Education Program Admissions
Many schools require prospective students to apply to the institution's College of Education after they've applied and been accepted to the institution. If choosing an online program, students may also need to schedule an interview with an enrollment counselor and complete a skills assessment.
Apply to at least four or five science education degree programs, including a mix of "safety" and "reach" programs. If applying to online programs, especially those in states outside your own, investigate whether field placements can be completed in your state or if they must be done in the institution's home state.
- Minimum GPA: Most bachelor's programs establish a minimum high school GPA of 2.5 for prospective students. Once a student is accepted to a university, they must also typically maintain a GPA of 2.5 in all science and education prerequisite courses in order to apply for a science education program.
- Application: University applications are typically submitted online. The Common App is a virtual platform that allows students to submit one application to multiple colleges. Each school's specific deadline will vary.
- Transcripts: As part of the application process, first-time applicants must send high school transcripts and transfer students must submit all post-secondary transcripts. High school students should contact their administrative offices to send transcripts, while transfer students must order official transcripts from their institution for a fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: While many schools offering bachelor's of science degree programs do not require a letter of recommendation for first-time students; most will accept a letter of recommendation from a teacher or other professional mentor as optional evidence of a student's qualifications.
- Test Scores: Most schools require SAT or ACT scores. Students who did not graduate high school may have the option of submitting high school equivalency test scores.
- Application Fee: A typical application fee is $55 per school, though this will vary between schools. In some cases, you may be able to waive this fee.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Science Education Program?
Most students pursuing a science education degree are required to choose a specialization, and some programs allow students to double major in education and a science field. Other coursework components, like practicum requirements, program length, and cost also vary.
|Biology||In a biology concentration, students study topics like biochemistry and cell biology. A biology-focused curriculum often includes courses in organic chemistry.||Primary or secondary science teacher|
|Chemistry||In the chemistry emphasis, students investigate elements and chemical interactions, including large matter and elementary particles.||Primary or secondary science teacher|
|Earth/Space Science||Earth and space science concentrations teach students about geography, geology, oceanography, and astronomy.||Primary or secondary science teacher|
|Physics||Students specializing in physics study the behavior of energy and matter, the various forms that each take, and how these make up our world.||Primary or secondary science teacher|
|Environmental Science||Courses in the environmental science track pull from all fields of science to better understand manmade and natural environments.||Primary or secondary science teacher|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Science Education Program
Though specific course offerings vary depending on school and concentration, science education programs typically offer common major courses across specializations.
- Educational Psychology
Educational psychology teaches a research-based framework to understand student learning and development. Students study theory and practical applications of effective teaching methods and learn about the effects of cultural trends on youth development.
- Laboratory Methods for Teaching Science
Students learn to teach lessons in a lab setting in this methods-based course, merging scientific principles with a hands-on experience in the lab, including how to oversee students' handling of materials and tools.
- Adolescent Growth and Development
In this course, students study the development of human beings from infancy to adolescence. Content draws on research about physical, cognitive, social, and emotional phases of development. Learning about child growth provides teachers with the background necessary for effective mentorship and classroom management.
- Evolutionary Biology
Evolutionary biology explores the evolution of single-cell organisms into the myriad species that populate the earth. Common topics include natural selection, DNA and genetics, and extinction.
- Science, Technology, and Society
This course draws from history and sociology to examine the impact of science and technology on society through human history. Issues examined may include the environment, global relations, and the economy.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Science Education?
Bachelor's degrees in science education generally require students to complete four years of study, with most major requirements completed in the third and fourth years. Though there are few online programs in teaching, those offered provide a more flexible format, and some may allow students to take extra credits per semester to finish more quickly.
Most science education degree programs require 120 credits. Many colleges charge tuition per credit hour, though some may set a fixed term cost. In a competency-based program, students with some education or previous college experience may also test out of general education courses and finish their degree faster. Students with an associate degree may also transfer credits for general education classes and start higher-level coursework more quickly.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Science Education?
The average total cost for attending a bachelor's of science education program in-state is $64,000, though this number will vary widely across programs and schools. Total program costs are dependent on several factors. Attending a program out of state, for example, can double your annual tuition costs. Some schools charge higher tuition for part-time enrollment, and online courses often require additional technology fees.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Science Education Prepares For
- Science Teaching Certification and License
In addition to a science education degree, most teachers, especially those teaching in a public school setting, must apply for a teaching license. The requirements for certification vary by state, but a typical process includes passing select Praxis exams, including science-specific subject tests, and passing a background check.
- Special Education Certification
Some science educators may choose to work with special needs students and must pursue a special education certification. Similar to a teaching certification, requirements to earn a special education certification vary by state and require an examination. Some schools allow students to take additional coursework during their bachelor's program, which prepares students for a state's special education certification exam. Many schools also offer this program as an extension to professional educators.
- English as a Second Language (ESL) Teaching Certification
Science educators may work with diverse student populations and may choose to pursue an ESL certification. This requires bachelor's students to complete prerequisite courses and pass an examination at the state level.
Resources for Science Education Students
The National Science Foundation offers a variety of classroom resources for teachers and aspiring educators, including lesson plans and a database of news sites. Resources are organized by subject area for easy searching.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers access to interactive science and technology lesson plans, as well as classroom resources for kindergarten through university levels.
The GeneEd website is particularly useful for biology majors, offering helpful animations, charts, articles, and tutorials on genetics, cell biology, and biostatistics. A "top issues" section also organizes topics in research and innovation.
A nonprofit organization committed to providing objective information to the public, Common Sense curates a list of top science websites for all grades and ages.
With content organized by subject, including environmental and life sciences, HowStuffWorks offers news and information via articles and podcasts that address thought-provoking inquiries in the sciences.
Professional Organizations in Science Education
National professional organizations provide helpful learning and professional development resources, like articles and podcasts on topics in education. Members can network at local and national meetings as well as access to journals and other resources.
The National Science Teachers Association is a leading organization for science educators, offering its more than 50,000 members access to online classroom and professional development resources, classroom planning materials, and events like an annual STEM forum.
A global nonprofit organization, the Association for Science Teacher Education provides professional development for science teachers. Members can join local chapters and serve on association committees.
Geared toward middle school educators, the National Middle Level Science Teachers Association provides members with access to teaching tools, resources, and networking opportunities nationwide. Educators can also take advantage of travel opportunities and funding awards for classroom initiatives.
The National Center for Science Education is a research-based organization that provides more than 6,000 science educators with peer-approved resources on topics across scientific domains. Members can also join their local Science Booster Club for involvement in community initiatives.
One of the longest-standing professional organizations for educators, the School Science and Mathematics Association provides members opportunities to present research at its national convention and access to its international journal, which includes lessons and resources for many science disciplines.