All Future Professors: Best Colleges for Aspiring Teachers

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A female teacher in the classroom with blackboard as background.

Attention All Future Professors: These Are the Best Colleges for Aspiring Teachers

Teaching is a rewarding, meaningful, and exciting profession that many high schoolers have a desire to pursue. When you’re in high school, your primary focus is on getting excellent scores, nailing your exams, and earning the highest GPA possible. Learn more about the best colleges for teaching degrees.

As you approach college, your focus begins to shift towards choosing the best college. Aspiring teachers will want to find a school that can provide the courses, programs, curriculum, and majors that make it possible for graduates to pursue a career as a professor.

A teacher carrying a tablet with her students in the background.

Earning a degree is a must if you want to become a teacher anywhere in the United States and even in most countries for those considering teaching abroad.

Finding the best-fit school based on your future goals can make college a fulfilling and valuable experience.

Here, we’ll take a look at the top colleges for aspiring teachers so you can spend less time conducting research and spend more time and energy on improving your application as much as possible to catch the attention of admission officers at these top schools. Let’s go!

1. Harvard University – Cambridge, MA

There’s no surprise that one of the top-rated schools in the world would also be considered one of the best colleges for teaching degrees.

With the single largest student endowment of any school, Harvard can offer more opportunities in terms of majors, research opportunities, and world-class faculty than other schools.

Although there is no shortage of undergraduate degrees aspiring teachers can pursue in their specific area of interest, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE) is the school’s most prestigious offering for future professors.

It offers over a dozen different master’s degrees and focuses on providing students with a comprehensive teaching education focused on leadership and practical abilities.

2. University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA

UPenn isn’t just known for being part of the highly esteemed Ivy League, it’s also widely regarded as a prime teaching college. The school has various teacher education programs focusing on equity, inquiry, and practice along with rich research opportunities for students pursuing a degree in education.

The Graduate School of Education at UPenn offers 26 unique programs in a wide range of fields including literacy, reading, teacher education, linguistics, culture and society, education, educational policy, counseling and mental health – just to name a few. Graduating from UPenn with a degree in education will put you on a great path towards a successful career in the field.

3. University of California–Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA

UCLA offers a wide range of teaching-related minors and majors designed to equip undergraduates with the skills, knowledge, and theory they need to succeed in professional teaching careers.

These extensive yet focused programs are taught by world-class professors which adds to the richness and quality of the education.

Here are the primary undergraduate degrees offered by UCLA:

  • Science Education Minor
  • Mathematics for Teaching Minor
  • Math for Teaching Major
  • Education Studies Minor
  • Education and Social Transformation Major
  • Civic Engagement Minor

UCLA undergrads looking to further their education in teaching can attend the renowned Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.

4. University of Wisconsin–Madison – Madison, WI

If you’re looking for the best colleges for teaching degrees in all of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin’s Madison branch takes the cake.

It offers the widest variety of teaching degrees with a wide range of focuses, giving aspiring teachers more flexibility to choose classes and focuses on their desired specializations.

The goal of the teaching undergraduate programs at the University of Wisconsin are to help students achieve a rewarding and fulfilling career in education as a leader in the field. Here are some of the various education degrees available from this university:

  • American Sign Language
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary and Middle Education
  • English Education
  • Mathematics Education
  • Science Education
  • Social Studies Education
  • Second Language Education
  • Special Education

5. Vanderbilt University (Peabody) – Nashville, TN

Recognized as a leading private college in the country, Vanderbilt has also earned a spot as one of the best colleges for teaching degrees.

Aspiring teachers can receive a Bachelor of Science in education through various majors including secondary education, elementary, education and early childhood education.

All education majors combine a professional education and liberal arts with specific stress on experiential learning.

During the comprehensive program at Vanderbilt, students will get valuable field experiences by participating and observing real classrooms to gain a better understanding of how the teaching theory plays out in real life.

6. New York University (Steinhardt) – New York, NY

NYU is home to the respected and well-established Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development which is the premier school of education in the area. It’s one of the largest subschools of NYU with more than 6,400 students each year.

Unlike many of the other best colleges for teaching degrees, this school caters to undergraduates and graduates.

NYU offers various undergraduate programs in education, giving aspiring teachers some flexibility and control over their curriculum.

The Steinhardt School is well-known for its cutting-edge and unique programs that provide students with the real-world experience in classrooms needed to prepare undergrads for entering the teaching profession.

7. Stanford University – Stanford, CA

Despite not offering a specific education major, Stanford is still one of the best colleges for teaching degrees.

The university’s world-class Graduate School of Education offers a wide range of graduate-level education courses that high-achieving undergraduates are more than welcome to take if they’re up for the challenge and interested in learning more about education.

There are some education minors and honors programs specifically offered to undergraduates, but majors are focused on specific fields instead of teaching.

Aspiring professors attending Stanford are encouraged to receive a major in a specific field in which they would like to teach before pursuing a graduate degree specifically in education.

8. Northwestern University – Evanston, IL

If you’re looking for a small student-to-faculty ratio for earning your education degree, Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy is the best place to attend.

It’s known as one of the smallest undergraduate schools in the entire region with just over 500 students spread out among five educational concentrations: Social Policy, Learning Sciences, Learning and Organizational Change, Human Development in Context, and Secondary Teaching.

The size of SESP provides undergrads with a unique academic experience including hands-on learning opportunities, small yet vibrant discussions, and greater attention from faculty members.

The educational programs feature an interdisciplinary curriculum with practical experiences and plenty of research opportunities for a well-rounded and comprehensive education.

9. Columbia University – New York, NY

Columbia University offers three primary tracks for students seeking a degree in education: Urban Teaching-Secondary/Adolescent Education, Urban Teaching-Elementary/Childhood Education, and Educational Studies.

The first two are minors while the Education Studies major is designed as the overarching undergraduate teaching degree.

It’s important to note that these are only available for students who make it into the Barnard Education Program of Columbia, so make sure you apply there if you intend to pursue these degrees.

No discussion of the best colleges for teaching degrees is complete without mentioning Columbia’s Teachers College which just happens to be the oldest and largest graduate school for education in the entire country. If you’re pursuing a master’s or PhD in education, this is the place to go!

10. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor – Ann Arbor, MI

The University of Michigan offers a Bachelors of Science and Arts in both elementary and secondary education, giving undergraduates a choice for further specialization.

Both programs provide graduates with a teaching certificate to teach in the state of Michigan, allowing students to find work quickly and effectively.

A male teacher supervising a group of children who are working on digital tablets.

In fact, within just 10 months of graduation, 100% of graduates from the University of Michigan’s undergraduate elementary teacher education landed a job with their qualifications. That alone could make this one of the best colleges for teaching degrees

11. Arizona State University – Phoenix, AZ

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is ASU’s primary teaching department which is focused on creating knowledge, mobilizing people, and taking action to boost the quality of education for as many people as possible.

In this school, undergraduates have the opportunity to learn how to succeed as educators and professors in schools in a wide range of environments.

ASU offers a variety of bachelor’s degrees, minors, and certificates in education, giving students a lot of flexibility and control over their undergraduate journey.

These opportunities easily make ASU one of the best colleges for teaching degrees no matter what direction you take in the teaching market.

12. University of Southern California (Rossier) – Los Angeles, CA

USC Rossier consistently ranks among the best colleges for teaching degrees and frequently earns the number one spot in U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The USCR School of Education offers a wide range of minors designed to expose students to the social and cultural components of education.

Undergrads who select an education minor will have the chance to work alongside Rossier’s world-class instructors and faculty members to learn more about the teaching profession. Some of the minors offered by the USCR School of education include:

  • Dynamics of Early Childhood
  • Education and Computing
  • Education and Society
  • Mathematics Education
  • Multilingualism and Multiculturalism
  • Education Policy

13. University of Washington – Seattle, WA

The University of Washington’s Education, Communities and Organizations (ECO) undergraduate degree explores the expansive realm of education through specific areas such as public policy reform, youth development, business, and healthcare – just to name a few.

The program is designed to train undergraduates to use the principles and practices of education and to help the youth in communities across the world reach their goals.

The ECO degree requires students to take 67 credits which include a 15-credit capstone course that’s essentially a teaching internship where students have the ability to put their learning to the test.

The program covers a wide range of important topics including community-based research strategies, human development, and educational equity.

14. University of Oregon – Portland, OR

As one of the best colleges for teaching degrees in the entire northwest, the University of Oregon offers both a bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts in educational foundations.

These comprehensive degrees provide students with a foundational understanding of the cultural, political, and social elements of teaching as well as learning so graduates get a holistic view of the whole process.

The program doesn’t begin until a student’s junior year and takes just two years to complete. Students of the educational foundation’s degree have the flexibility to choose their classes during their freshman and sophomore years.

There are five fundamental areas covered in the program: technology, literacy, equal opportunity, curriculum theory and learning, teaching, and assessment.

Tips for pursuing a degree as an aspiring teacher

Who knew you’d fall in love with teaching as a student? But, you chose a great field. The work is highly rewarding, meaningful, and well-paying (if you can find the right position). Of course, having a degree from one of the aforementioned universities can help to increase your earning potential.

A male teacher teaching grammar on a whiteboard.

Now that you’re clear on your intended area of study and you have a great list of appropriate colleges to choose from, it’s time to think about some ways you can improve your chances of getting into these awesome colleges.

Many of these prestigious schools are more selective about which applicants they choose when compared to the average college.

At AdmissionSight, we’re always focused on giving you professional advice and tips so you can achieve your academic goals.

Here are some actionable ways you can (and should!) improve your chances of getting into a great school for aspiring teachers.

Take high-level courses.

Unlike science or math classes, there are no high school courses that are related directly to a teaching degree…at least at most high schools.

Of course, if your high school does offer education or teaching-focused courses, you should, by all means, take it. In lieu of that option, however, it’s advisable to take high-level courses overall.

For example, honors and AP classes are more difficult than standard high school courses. Although it depends on the high school, you can either test into these classes or work your way up by performing well in lower-level classes within the same subject.

Two students in a classroom raising their hands showing they are ready to answer.

Since there aren’t any teaching-based upper-level honors or AP courses, you can simply take a handful that are most interesting to you.

The key is simply to have these classes in your high school transcript to catch the attention of officers at the universities we just talked about. Why does it help you exactly? Great question!

First and foremost, it shows admissions officers that you’re to push yourself by taking harder classes. It also demonstrates to colleges that you’re comfortable and capable of handling collegiate-level coursework.

Perhaps the best reason overall is these classes (assuming you perform well) boost your GPA which is essential for getting into your desired college, which leads us to our next tip…

Focus on earning a high GPA

Before we dive into this deeper, let’s clarify that, yes, it is possible to get into college with a low GPA. If you find yourself applying to colleges with a less-than-ideal GPA without the time to improve it, you should focus on improving other aspects of your application. But, back to our main point.

Improving your GPA is a fantastic way to improve your chances of getting into your desired college as an aspiring teacher.

A student in glasses writing down notes from a book.

As an average of your overall academic performance throughout high school, this number provides admissions officers with a quick, accurate, and clear indication of your academic prowess.

Of course, there are a wide variety of additional factors colleges take into account when determining an applicant’s eligibility, but GPA is one of the most important indicators of a student’s chances of getting accepted.

Work with a college entrance specialist.

One of the most effective ways to increase your chances of getting into one of these top schools for aspiring teachers is to work with a college entrance specialist.

What is that? A college entrance expert is a professional focused on supporting students during their college admissions journey.

The transition between high school and college is an uncertain and daunting time for many students due to the lack of clarity and helpful information.

As an expert in the field, a college entrance expert can provide you with the specific tips and suggestions you need to get on the path towards graduation.

AdmissionSight is a highly talented college entrance specialist with over a decade of experience helping students just like you get into the school of their dreams.

Whether you’re an aspiring teacher, want to pursue another degree, or still don’t know what you want to study, we can help guide you through your college admissions journey towards success.

A whopping three-fourths of the students we work with getting into Ivy League or Top 10 schools, so we have the expertise to help you get into any school you want – no matter how prestigious or selection. If you’re interested in learning more about our services, feel free to contact us today!



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