The best bachelor’s in elementary education programs

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Importance of a bachelor’s degree in elementary education

If you’re interested in inspiring and shaping the minds of children up to the age of 13, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education can turn this interest into a career. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to become a teacher in all U.S. states, and most programs prepare you for state certification needed to enter the workforce as a teacher.

The majority of programs equip you with the knowledge, skills and experience to work in any general education class in an elementary school from kindergarten to grade 5.  There are also some programs that can provide you with the expertise to teach children up to the end to eighth grade. Teaching careers suit people who are patient, practical, strong communicators, can collaborate well, and are empathetic.

Most degree holders begin their careers in the field as full-time or substitute teachers. A growth rate of 4% is expected for these positions between 2019 and 2029, which is around the national average for all occupations. Some graduates return to college to earn their master’s degrees. A master’s degree can give you more specialized teaching skills and in-depth subject knowledge, typically preparing you for more senior positions that come with higher salaries.

Requirements for bachelor’s degrees in elementary education usually include:

  • high school transcripts with a minimum GPA of 2.8 or GED scores
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • letter of recommendation
  • personal essay

The best bachelor’s programs will equip you with the necessary tools and knowledge to educate young people. They’ll also give you experience in educational settings. We’ll provide you with crucial information, such as internship opportunities, course length, and specializations to help you decide which school is best for you. Read on to discover the top programs in elementary education, program costs, and teaching approaches.

Best programs for a bachelor’s degree in elementary education

  • University of Michigan

    University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan
    University of Michigan

    The School of Education at the University of Michigan offers a bachelor of arts (B.A.) and bachelor of science (B.S.) in education. Students in their junior year are admitted to the elementary education program after completing general education requirements. Students can choose between the following endorsement areas:

    • Integrated science
    • Language arts
    • Mathematics
    • Social studies

    The program is taught in person at the main campus in Ann Arbor. As part of the program, you’ll complete student teaching experiences, including a practicum and a seminar. Coursework includes digital technologies for kindergarten to grade 8, children as sense makers, and teaching students with exceptionalities. The program is designed to prepare students for certification in Michigan.

    Program nameBachelor of science or bachelor of arts in elementary education
    Name of school (dept)School of Education
    AccreditationYes, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
    LocationAnn Arbor, Michigan
    CostTuition in-state: $8,760 per full term
    Tuition out of state: $27,750 per full term
    Finance office
    Program formatOn-campus
    Program length4 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more
  • Vanderbilt University

    Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tennessee
    Vanderbilt University

    Through Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, you could earn a B.S. in early childhood and elementary education. Typically students choose the elementary education track to specialize in teaching kindergarten to grade 5 students and a second major, usually through the Blair Music School, the College of Arts and Science, or the School of Engineering. This second subject is needed for licensure and all students are expected to meet state requirements upon graduation.

    The program involves a significant amount of fieldwork in elementary school classrooms. Coursework modules comprise society, school, and teachers, managing instructional settings, theory and methodology of reading instruction.

    Program nameBachelor of science early childhood and elementary education
    Name of school (dept)Peabody College
    AccreditationCouncil for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
    LocationNashville, Tennessee
    Cost

    Tuition: $54,840 per year

    Finance office

    Program formatOn-campus
    Program length4 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more
  • Michigan State University

    Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan
    Michigan State University

    The College of Education at MSU offers an undergraduate degree with a major in elementary education. The B.A. degree is designed as a teacher preparation program, which equips you to teach from kindergarten to grade 5, and from grade 6 through to grade 8 in a specific subject. The program culminates with a year-long, supported internship in an elementary public school. Students can choose from the following teaching majors:

    • integrated science
    • language arts
    • mathematics
    • social studies

    The program, which is taught in person at the MSU campus in East Lansing, also includes an endorsement for English as a second language, and minors in languages such as Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, French, and German. Coursework includes diverse learners in multicultural perspectives, reflections on learning, and pedagogy and politics of justice in education.

    Program nameBachelor of arts elementary education
    Name of school (dept)College of Education
    AccreditationCouncil for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
    LocationEast Lansing, Michigan
    Cost

    Tuition in-state: $14,524 per 2 semesters

    Tuition out of state: $39,8307 per 2 semesters

    Finance office

    Teaching approachOn-campus
    Course length5 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more
  • Wake Forest University

    Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    Wake Forest University

    The Department of Education at Wake Forest delivers a B.A. in elementary education. The program has 2 pathways — one to licensure and a second non-licensure route that includes electives instead of the internship. To be eligible for licensure to teach kindergarten to grade 6 in North Carolina, students must major in elementary education and choose a second major or minor from another department.

    Students need to take prerequisite courses and have an interview to be admitted to the licensure pathway. Coursework includes assessment for positive student outcomes, school leadership, learning and cognitive science. 

    Program nameBachelor of arts elementary education
    Name of school (dept.)Department of Education
    AccreditationYes, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
    LocationWinston-Salem, North Carolina
    CostTuition: $59,770 per year
    Finance office
    Program formatOn-campus
    Program length4 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more
  • University of Wisconsin

    University of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin
    University of Wisconsin

    At the School of Education at UW-Madison, you can earn a B.S. in education. The program has 4 specialism options:

    • early childhood and English as a second language
    • middle childhood to early adolescence and English as a second language
    • middle childhood to early adolescence and special education
    • middle childhood to early adolescence and content minor focus

    The program is designed to meet the licensure requirements for Wisconsin, and eligible students will receive endorsement from the faculty.

    Students will have multiple opportunities to gain teaching experience, including a practicum and a semester with a student teaching assignment. Coursework includes human development from childhood through adolescence, history of American education, and strategies for inclusive schooling. 

    Program nameBachelor of science elementary education
    Name of school (dept)School of Education
    AccreditationHigher Learning Commission (HLC)
    LocationMadison, Wisconsin
    CostTuition in-state: $10,766 per year
    Tuition Minnesota resident: $14,812 per year
    Tuition out of state: $38,654 per year
    Finance office
    Program formatOn-campus
    Program length4 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more
  • Washington University

    Washington University St Louis, Missouri
    Washington University

    The College of Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St Louis is home to the Department of Education. It has several programs in teacher education, including a major in elementary education. The program is structured around 3 elements — professional elementary education, general educational pedagogy, and a second major or minor.

    Following the in-person teaching module at the St Louis campus, you will hopefully be prepared to teach grades 1 to 6. Students gain field experience through various settings, including a student teaching placement in an elementary school. The program prepares you for recommendation for licensure in Missouri.

    Program name                Bachelor of arts elementary education
    Name of school (dept.)Department of Education at the College of Arts and Sciences
    AccreditationYes, Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
    LocationSt. Louis, Missouri
    CostTuition: $57,750 per year
    Finance office
    Program formatOn-campus
    Program length4 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more
  • University of Georgia

    University of Georgia Athens, Georgia
    University of Georgia

    The Mary Frances Early College of Education at the University of Georgia offers a bachelor of science in education (B.S.Ed) in elementary education. It includes a minimum 400 hours of teaching experience plus a semester spent on a student teaching placement. The program aims to equip you for licensure to teach children in kindergarten through to grade 5 in Georgia.

    The program is also available as a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree, which can be completed in 5 years. Coursework involves investigating critical and contemporary issues in education, physical education, and professionalism in teaching.

    Program nameBachelor of science in education in elementary education
    Name of school (dept)Mary France Early College of Education
    AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
    LocationAthens, Georgia
    CostTuition in-state: $12,080 per year
    Tuition out of state: $31,120 per year
    Finance office
    Teaching approachOn-campus
    Course length4 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more
  • University of North Carolina

    University of North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina
    University of North Carolina

    You can earn a B.A. in elementary education through the Cato College of Education at UNC Charlotte. The program is designed to qualify students for the Professional Educator’s License for K to grade 6 elementary education. The program content is divided between general education, foundation modules, major courses, an arts module, and electives. Minors in reading education, teaching English as a second language, and child and family development are also available.

    The program includes a full-year internship. Students also complete a student teaching placement in an elementary school classroom. Coursework involves theories and practice for equity in urban education, creating an effective environment in the elementary school classroom, and applied literacy and practices.

    Program nameBachelor of arts elementary education
    Name of school (dept)Cato College of Education
    AccreditationYes, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
    LocationCharlotte, North Carolina
    CostTuition in-state: $3,812 per year
    Tuition out of state: $20,623 per year
    Finance office
    Program formatOn-campus
    Program length4 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more
  • University of Virginia

    University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia
    University of Virginia

    Through the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia, you can apply for admission to the B.S. in elementary education program. The program is designed to prepare students for licensure for pre-K to grade 6. Students complete their general education requirements before starting the professional teaching education program in their 3rd year.In the final year of the program, students complete a half-time and full-time teaching internship in local elementary schools.

    Program nameBachelor of science in education elementary education
    Name of school (dept)School of Education and Human Development
    AccreditationYes, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
    LocationCharlottesville, Virginia
    CostTuition in-state: $14,188 per year
    Tuition out of state: $48,036 per year
    Finance office
    Program formatOn-campus
    Program length4 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more
  • Boston College

    Boston College Boston, Massachusetts
    Boston College

    The School of Education and Human Development at Boston College offers a B.A. in elementary education. Students combine their studies with a major or interdisciplinary major from the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences. The program is designed to prepare students to teach grades 1 to 6. It’s also intended to exceed the minimum state licensure requirements and guides students through the Massachusetts process as they prepare to graduate.

    The program includes a practicum, which students take in their senior year to gain hands-on experience in the classroom. Coursework includes teaching about the natural world, bilingual students, and working with special needs students. 

    Program nameBachelor of arts elementary education
    Name of school (dept)Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education and Human Development
    AccreditationCouncil for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
    LocationBoston, Massachusetts
    CostTuition: $59,050 per year
    Finance office
    Program formatOn-campus
    Program length4 years, 120 credit hours
    Read more

Financial support

Whichever bachelor’s program you choose, you need to consider the cost of attendance, including tuition and other fees. Your university or college might provide scholarships or financial assistance. Another helpful resource to consider your options is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You can look into federal aid or getting a loan and determine your eligibility.

Alternatively, you might consider funding in the form of scholarships, grants, and awards. For example, there’s the federal fund TEACH Grant, which is a support-for-service program. There are scholarships specifically aimed at elementary education majors, such as the Nancy Larson Foundation College scholarship. It’s an annual award for juniors, and senior recipients receive around $1,000.

Career options with this degree

A bachelor’s degree in elementary education is a crucial step towards licensure and a career as a teacher. Most programs are designed to prepare you for a career in teaching in your state, as they give you hands-on experience in the classroom. For that reason, the most common career path for degree holders is as an elementary school teacher. However, there are non-licensure paths that could lead to other careers. Potential roles include: