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A complete guide to teaching degrees

Passionate about education? Learn about the different types of teaching degrees, how to apply, and which careers you could go into with our ultimate guide.

Teacher and student

If you love working with people, sharing knowledge, and helping to shape future generations, a degree in education could be the perfect springboard into an impactful career. You may already have hopes of being a teacher, but there are actually plenty of other directions you could go with an education degree under your belt.

From curriculum development and education policy to child psychology and youth work, there are so many exciting paths to go down, and a teaching degree will give you a solid foundation of skills, knowledge and experience. 

As long as you believe in the power of education, and know you’d like to contribute to its development, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to learn about different types of education degrees, how to apply, and what your future prospects might look like.

What does a teaching degree involve?

If you’re wondering what kind of topics you’ll be studying on an education degree, we’ve got some example modules listed below. However, this will depend on the specifics of your program.

  • Diversity in the classroom
  • Developmental psychology
  • Philosophy of education
  • International education
  • Language and literacy
  • Critical debates in education.

Skills you’ll learn on a teaching degree

Education can be quite complex, especially because you have to apply your skills to all kinds of contexts. You could be working with people from different age groups, with different backgrounds, interests and strengths, so it’s important to learn both hard and soft skills that will help you navigate an ever-changing environment.

Hard skills:

Soft skills:

  • Communication 
  • Leadership
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Creativity
  • Time management
  • Resilience
Online Degree

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE): PGCE with QTS (Salaried)

  • 1-2 years
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning
Apply now

Types of education degree

Just because you’re studying teaching, it doesn’t mean you have to teach. There are many careers that require knowledge and expertise in educational theory and practice that aren’t school teacher jobs. To reflect this, teaching and education degrees vary widely depending on what you’re hoping to get out of it.

On the whole, though, bachelor’s degrees are designed for people starting out in their careers, and master’s degrees are for people who already work in education and are hoping to develop their skills further or reach more senior positions.

Below, we’ve listed the most common types of education degrees, but keep in mind that there are other more niche education degrees too, particularly in the postgraduate space.

  • BA Primary/Secondary Education with QTS. Aimed specifically at wannabe teachers, these degrees are 3-4 year courses that offer Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) upon completion, and specialise in either primary or secondary level.
  • BA Education. These offer more generalist educational knowledge and skills, drawing upon subjects including sociology, psychology and history to prepare students for a myriad of careers in education.
  • MA Education. Aimed at educational practitioners and researchers, this type of degree encourages critical thinking about the role of education.
  • MA Educational Leadership. This kind of degree is aimed at educators interested in obtaining management or leadership positions within their field, including Head of Department, Education Consultant or even Headteacher roles.

How long does it take to get a teaching degree?

Most teaching degrees are the same length as other degrees in the UK, though you can choose to study either part-time or full-time, depending on the amount of free time you have to commit to university. 

  • Bachelor’s degree: 3-4 years
  • Master’s degree: 1-2 years 

Entry requirements for a teaching degree

Maybe we’ve captured your attention, but do you have the right qualifications to pursue an education degree? The requirements depend on the program and institution you’re applying for, but you do need to be somewhat academic to get onto a teaching degree – after all, you’ll be passing your knowledge onto others. 

For example, if you want to study secondary education, you’ll be expected to have an A-level or equivalent qualification in your chosen subject, to prove that you’re able to teach it. For education degrees more generally, it’s common for them to require GCSEs at grade 4/C or above in English, Maths and Science.

In addition, you’ll need to pass a Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) check if your degree includes a placement where you’ll work with children or vulnerable adults. Take a look at the average grade requirements listed by UCAS for education degrees at bachelor’s level.

A-level: BBB

Scottish Highers: AABBB

BTEC: DDM

For master’s degrees in education, you’ll most likely need to have a 2:1 bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, such as education or a social science. Additionally, you may need to already have several years of relevant work experience (in a school, for example), though this will depend on the specific program you apply for. 

Must-haves 

  • Relevant academic qualifications
  • Passion for education
  • Desire to make a difference
  • IT proficiency
  • Great communication and interpersonal skills.

Good-to-haves 

  • Work experience or shadowing in a school
  • Knowledgeable about UK education system
  • Volunteering with children’s clubs
  • Lesson observation practice
  • Summer school experience.

How much does a teaching degree cost?

Unfortunately, bachelor’s degrees aren’t free in the UK (unless you’re a Scottish student at a Scottish university), but students can get their tuition fully covered by Student Finance. That tuition fee is £9,250 per year on average, though it’s roughly half of that in Northern Ireland. 

Master’s degrees cost somewhere between £12,000 and £25,000, depending on the specific program and whether you commit to full-time study or not. For both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, some students are eligible for student loans and grants to support living costs, but this is often dependent on your parents’ income and how many years you’ve already received loans. 

Funding options for teaching degrees

Luckily, there are additional routes you can go down when it comes to funding your degree. You may be eligible for a scholarship or grant, and it’s also worth looking into financial aid packages and payment plans at your chosen institution. 

Where to look

How to get into a degree in education

To apply for a teaching degree in the UK, you’ll need to submit an application through UCAS for undergraduate programs, or apply directly to your chosen university for postgraduate degrees. 

Once you’ve decided on your degree and university choices, you’ll need to write a personal statement that really convinces the institution that you’re passionate about education and well-suited to a career in the field. We give our specific tips for a teaching personal statement below.

Online Degree

MA Educational Leadership

  • 2 years
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning
Apply now

Personal statement tips

  • Explain what education means to you. This is your opportunity to get to the heart of your passion for education. How do you hope to make an impact through your work?
  • Dive into your experience. Do you have any hands-on teaching experience, perhaps as a tutor, in a classroom, or at a youth club? Whatever the setting, your experience will show you’re suited to an education degree.
  • Reflect on your own learning journey and growth. In education, it’s really important to be able to reflect on your previous experiences teaching and learning, as it shows your commitment to lifelong learning and growth.
  • Highlight your interpersonal skills. You’ll be working with other educators, students, parents and more, so it’s important to show off your communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Showcase your educational knowledge. If you’re already familiar with any particular teaching methods and approaches, or have a strong opinion about an educational issue, this is your chance to discuss.

How will you be assessed on a teaching degree?

It will depend on the ins and outs of your particular degree program, but education degrees tend to implement a wide range of assessment methods for students, allowing them to try their hand at several different things. These assessments include essays, exams, portfolios, presentations, reports, and often a final year dissertation.

How difficult is a degree in teaching?

While a teaching degree can be hard work, you should enjoy it as long as you’re passionate about education. Despite there being a lot of ground to cover, you’ll get to learn about a wide variety of interesting topics, engage in educational debates, pick up new skills, and learn from experts in the field. So, if you’re committed to bettering education, and ready to put some effort in, you shouldn’t experience too much difficulty.

Job satisfaction and prospects for education graduates

When it comes to job satisfaction, it varies widely depending on the specific job you land. As a schoolteacher, it’s likely that you’ll experience heavy workloads, which can be very stressful, but hopefully the reward of positively impacting the lives of children will help balance out any negatives.

In terms of career prospects, things look pretty good for you as a recent education degree graduate. A promising 63% of education graduates work in the field of education within 15 months of graduating, including 35% of them working as teachers, and 16% working in teaching and childcare support roles. It is also quite common for education graduates to pursue further study.

What can you do with an education degree?

It turns out there is a long list of potential careers you could get into with an education degree. Remember, if you want to move into a career that’s closely related to education, like educational psychology, you will need further training. Take a look at our extensive careers list below.

Teaching careers

  • Primary or secondary school teacher
  • Teaching assistant
  • Early years educator
  • Higher education teacher
  • Special educational needs teacher
  • Further education tutor
  • Headteacher

Other careers in education

  • Education manager or adviser
  • School inspector
  • Outdoor education leader
  • Behaviour and inclusion manager
  • Education policy and campaigns officer
  • Education welfare officer

Related careers

  • Educational psychologist
  • Family support worker
  • Play therapist
  • Social worker.

Salary prospects: How much do teaching graduates earn?

Upon graduation, you can expect a starting salary of approximately £18,000-£24,000, but how this progresses will depend on your specific role. The average UK classroom teacher earns between £30,000 and £41,333, but this can skyrocket to highs of up to £123,000 for headteachers of schools.

In other roles, salaries vary, but are often between 20k and 40k annually. For example, the average salary in the UK for a play therapist is £37,561 per year, and Outdoor Education Managers are paid £38,829 per year, on average.

Senior educational psychologists can earn upwards of £70,000 per year. So, as you can see, your salary will really depend on your career choice and level of experience.

Why choose a degree in education?

Just in case you’re still um-ing and ah-ing about whether to apply for an education degree, let’s recap some of the reasons you should go for it, and confirm whether a teaching degree is right for you at this stage of your life.

  • Impactful careers. Make a difference by ensuring everyone receives a good education, whether you become a practitioner, researcher, or something else.
  • High demand for teachers. There are plenty of jobs available for those working in education, with there even being teacher shortages at present. 
  • Satisfied graduates. In the UCAS subject survey 2023, 80% of students studying teaching said they would recommend the subject to others.
  • Networking opportunities with other educators. Who better to learn from than your fellow educators, and the experts who’ll be leading your degree modules?
  • Continuous professional development. In the field of education, there is always something new to learn, whether that’s a new theory, teaching approach, or educational innovation.

Get an online teaching degree with FutureLearn

If you’re already an educational practitioner, we have some incredible postgraduate courses on FutureLearn. They allow you to study a degree in your own time, so you don’t have to give up your current job to further your professional development and seek more senior positions. 

From online degrees in educational research to online education, get ready to expand your expertise and positively impact the UK education system.

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