Study Education & Teaching: The Ultimate Student Guide (2023)

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Have you considered studying an education degree abroad? Whether you want to be a teacher, an educational advisor, or an instructional designer, you can find all you need to know about how to study education programs abroad using our guide.

Are you passionate about learning? Is your dream job to become a teacher? Or, maybe you're wondering about jobs in education that are not teaching? Regardless, if you want to turn your passion for knowledge and learning into a career, continue reading to discover why an education degree or a teaching degree might be right for you.

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What is an education degree?

Essentially, education programs prepare students to become deliverers, designers, or coordinators of systematic instruction and learning. Though often taken for granted, the ways in which we strategically pass information to each other, whether the information involves the laws of gravity, the structure of haiku poems, or ancient history, are incredibly important. Education is one of the most important elements of modern society, and any career path in the field will lead students to a meaningful career.

What is a teaching degree?

If you're wondering, 'What is a teaching degree, and how is it different than an education degree?', you're not alone. There's a lot of overlap between a teaching degree and an education degree in areas such as pedagogy, learning theory, curriculum development, educational management, and educational assessment. However, an education degree typically takes a broader focus on education systems, administration, curriculum development, and policy while a teaching degree prepares students to become teachers, and has a narrower focus on teaching skills and classroom management.

Which areas of education can you study?

If you’d like to study education programs abroad, one of the first things you’ll notice is that you have many options. In order to get further in your student journey, you’ll need to choose what kind of education or teaching you want to study.


If you’re interested in teaching:

Perfect for all the art-lovers out there who want to share their passion with new generations of students.

Focus on the critical educational development of young children.

Pursue disciplinary knowledge in scientific fields and become a science teacher.

Join a career as a teacher in classrooms with specific learning needs.


Educational science applied to classroom instruction:

Join an analytical and creative career in designing educational and professional learning programs.

Curriculum 📚

Gain foundational knowledge of curriculum theory and learning objective planning.

Pedagogy 🧑‍🏫

Learn about the aims and methods applied to how people are taught and trained in academic contexts.


Study education through a systemic lens:

Education Management 👩‍💼

Get valuable leadership and management skills for a career in education systems.

Prepare yourself for a career in the regulatory and legal framework of education systems.

Pursue knowledge about education in international and intercultural settings.

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How long does it take to get an education degree?

There are many types of education degrees out there. Ensure that you understand what your future career path requires, and plan your future accordingly.

Education certificate

certificate in education takes around one year or less, and gives students specialized skills in certain learning environments and age groups. For example, a certificate might focus on early childhood education, art education, or adult education.

A graduate certificate often functions as a supplement for students who already have teaching knowledge and would like professional development. These typically will specialize in areas such as education administration or instructional design.

Teaching certification

In order to be a certified teacher, students must obtain a teaching credential, certificate, or license from an authoritative source such as a national government. Credential programs vary, but the standard program takes about year and a half, where the first semesters are usually classes and the final semesters are student-teaching. 

There are significant differences as to the qualifications that different teaching jobs require in different countries. The credential will often require the completion of courses, student teaching hours, observed lessons, and other state, regional, or national requirements or exams. The most important thing is to ensure that your qualifications are accredited by the relevant education agency in the country and region you would like to work in.

Most teaching certificates are not accepted as a universal qualification for teaching. Many are more national or local, where a person gets certified to teach in a particular country and need to pursue an additional qualification to work elsewhere. Only some teaching certificates can be international, such as with International Baccalaureate teaching certifications, where a person can get certified in any licensed country to teach in any school around the world that offers that specific program.

Education bachelor's degree

A bachelor’s degree in education will usually take around three or four years. At the bachelor’s level, students typically learn core concepts such as pedagogy, developmental psychology, and instructional design. Some teaching credential programs can be completed concurrently with an undergraduate degree, but the student teaching portion is usually done after completing bachelor's degree. 

Master's in education

A education degree at the master’s level takes around one or two years. This degree type is usually focused on a specialization, such as Higher Education or Educational Leadership. Students interested in specific career paths, roles, or research should look into a master's degree in education.


Why study education abroad?

If you want to join the growing number of international students who study education programs or teaching degrees abroad, find more country-specific study abroad information in our country guides. Here are some reasons why studying an education degree abroad might give you the edge you're looking for.

1. Get a teaching job abroad

It is best to pursue teaching certification in the country or state where you want to get a job. If you're aiming to start an international teaching career, then studying education abroad could be perfect for you. Whether you hope to become a teacher in the formal education system or spend some time teaching english abroad, a teaching degree can open doors to a wide variety of opportunities. 

2. Learn how pedagogical approaches and instruction vary around the world

Exposing yourself to different ways of teaching and classroom management is a sure way to become an incredible educator. Learning about the structure and practices of education in different countries will give you a wide range of skills to cater your own teaching to students' diverse learning styles. 

3. Join a career in international education

Whether you aim to teach students in an IB program or hope to coordinate study abroad programs, there are many careers to look forward to in international education, especially at the higher education level. Studying education abroad could be ideal for those who want to work with global educational programs or even international education at home.

4. Take advantage of an education degree's versatility

Education is a very versatile field that can be connected to careers in a variety of other fields and industries. Knowing how to teach someone effectively is a universally monetizable skill that applies everywhere. Whether you become a math teacher, a corporate trainer, or a life coach, education skills learned alongside intercultural communication skills while studying abroad will be endlessly useful.

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Careers in education

Teaching jobs

If you're interested in a teaching job, be clear about which subject you want to teach and which level of education you want to work at (primary, secondary, etc). Ask yourself whether you want to pursue your favorite subject as a field of study/research or you want to learn to teach that subject - studying how to teach a subject is completely different from studying the subject itself.

Think about which subject you like, rather than which subject you’re best at. Be ready to 'learn by doing' in classrooms outside your university. Teaching courses involve a lot of 'learning by doing' through on-site training in actual education institutions. Teacher training courses (the courses that you have to take to get a teaching license) are more about 'learning to do' rather than 'learning to know'. 

You will also eventually need to decide whether you want to work at a public school, a private school, or a charter school. Consider the differences in what worker's rights you'd have, union protection, tenure, and pension between the different school types. Either way, it's best to get a full time job and clear your credential as soon as possible. The time it takes to clear your preliminary credential will vary depending on your location.

Consider these job factors when deciding on a teaching degree:

  • The cost of living and average salary in the location you want to live and work in
  • The demand for multi subject or single subject teachers in different locations
  • The demand for specific subjects in different locations (subjects like Math and Science might be easier to get a job in than English, Physical Education, or History)

You can test different types of classrooms by becoming a substitute teacher before you commit to a specific degree or certification. Figure out who you are as a teacher to set yourself up for success. You might think you want to be a secondary school teacher now, but substitute teaching could show you that you actually prefer primary school. 

Keep in mind that it's an emotionally taxing thing to get a credential and to go through your first year or so of teaching. Keep your head down, work hard, and document everything you do. Our insights from recent teaching graduates tell us that everything starts to feel much easier after the third year. From then, you'll know who you are in a classroom and what you should be teaching at which grade level, and everything feels like it fits.

Other education jobs

Some students might be wondering, what is an education degree useful for? Why study education if you don't want to become a teacher? Beyond becoming a university professor or lecturer, there are plenty of jobs in education that are not teaching.

Here are some potential jobs in education that are not teaching:

• Academic Advisor

• Education Administrator

• Educational Consultant

• Educational Psychologist 

• Educational Researcher

• Instructional Designer

• School Counselor

• School Principal

• Student Affairs Coordinator

• Teaching Assistant

Tons of career paths focus on supporting students and educators, managing education systems, researching facets of education, mentoring and coaching, and designing education itself. Think of modern schools and universities. Everyone from your school principal to the admissions officers approving your university application is a professional in the field of education. Academia is another option for those who want to exclusively research education.

Outside of educational institutions, career paths in education only seem to be growing. There are more and more professionals involved in designing educational material used in professional development training, educational textbooks, and gamification, referring to the application of game design elements to education. The surge in online learning has also brought a high demand for the development of new technologies that could be used to enhance learning.

The field of international education is another huge area of opportunity. You can use your educational expertise in a variety of organizations that focus on international standardized testing, educational system management, and international development.

International organizations with education jobs:

  • UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
  • UNESCO IIEP (International Institute for Educational Planning)
  • OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
  • IIE (Institute of International Education)
  • USAID (United States Agency for International Development)
  • EAIE (European Association for International Education)
  • World Learning

If you'd like to take your education degree back home, look into local NGOs or government education agencies. There are many national and regional organizations that work with education in ways that are closely related to skills in communications, community building, development, and project management. For example a career in your national government's education department could be ideal if you're interested in improving public school programs.

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What are salaries for graduates of an education degree?

Expected salaries for careers stemming from a degree in education vary widely. We’ll provide some expected salaries of a few of the most popular career choices and the average salary for bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Primary Education graduates

🧑‍🏫

UK (GBP)    BEd: £31k/year   
USA (USD) BEd: $54k/year  
Germany (EUR) BS: €23k/year
Australia (AUD) BA: $70k/year

Secondary Education graduates

✏️

UK (GBP)    BEd: £40k/year   
USA (USD) BS: $60k/year  
Canada (CAD)  BA: $50k/year
Australia (AUD) BS: $87k/year

 Educational Leadership graduates

📖

UK (GBP)    MEd: £55k/year   
USA (USD)  MEd: $64k/year  
Australia (AUD) MEd: $150k/year
Canada (CAD) MEd: $58k/year

 

International Education graduates

🌎

UK (GBP)    MA: £43k/year   
USA (USD) MEd: $60k/year  
Switzerland (CHF) MEd: $66k/year
Canada (CAD) MEd: $66k/year

Early Childhood Education graduates

🧒

UK (GBP)    BEd: £22k/year    MEd: £40k/year
USA (USD) BEd: $49k/year   MEd: $52k/year
Canada (CAD)  BA: $45k/year MA: $85k/year
Australia (AUD) BEd: $78k/year MEd: $63k/year

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Tips for choosing an education degree

Do some self-reflection on your own goals and priorities before you start looking for a program. Once you have a better idea of what kind of program to study and where, you’ll be able to choose an education degree more easily, whether that be an online program, an undergraduate degree abroad, or a graduate program at home.

Answer the following questions when choosing an education degree:

  • How much time and money can I devote to a program?
  • Do I need to travel or relocate to study a program?
  • What skills do I hope to gain?
  • What kind of certification or degree do I want to receive?
  • What will I be qualified to work with after I graduate?
  • Where do the alumni of the program work?
  • What is the reputation of the program?
  • Does the program focus on research skills and theory or practical skills?

Extra questions for choosing a teaching degree or certification:

  • Do I want to focus on a particular subject or grade level?
  • Will I be certified to teach in the location I want to work in after completing the degree?
  • Will I have in-classroom experience after completing the degree?

A bachelor’s degree will be less specialized than a master’s degree, but that doesn’t mean you can’t specialize in a particular area. Check out our degree guides to learn more about the requirements and benefits of different degrees, and consider your career goals in the process. Match different programs to what your dream job may require. While education and teaching jobs require a university degree, the requirements will change significantly according to your specific role and location.  

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Helpful advice from degree graduates

We talked with some graduate students who had recently completed their programs in education or are currently undertaking it to see what they thought about their program and if they have any advice to share with you.

"Try to get an internship or volunteer experience that is related to the area of education you want to work in. Network with your professors and attend research group meetings in your education department to learn about the most pressing issues in the field. These connections and the insight they can give you will be pivotal for your future career path in international education."

-  Summer, MS in International Education from Stockholm University

"Become a substitute teacher first to figure out who you are in a classroom, what subject(s) you’d be open to teaching, and what grade level you’d want to work with. You can either get a multi-subject credential (grades K-5) or a single subject credential (grades 6-12) that focuses on one thing. I knew I wanted to teach high school history, so I have a single subject social science credential. And subbing is what proved me right."

-  Cole, Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Science from California Lutheran University

"When deciding on a subject you want to teach, don’t care too much about how good you were (are) at the subject. This is simply because you are not necessarily best at teaching your best subject. If you teach a subject that you like but are not so good at, you would more easily understand how your students are feeling, what problems they may be facing, how they can be motivated in their process of learning that subject, etc. This makes you a better teacher, meaning that someone who is most knowledgeable in a subject is not necessarily the best teacher in that subject."

-  Yuto, BA in Education from University of Tsukuba; National Teaching License in Foreign Language (English) for Lower and Upper Secondary School; MS in International Education from Stockholm University

"A PGCE is a great way to, within one year, go from being a graduate in a particular field to teaching it to children in schools (in the UK). You learn both the theory of education and gain lots of experience of actually teaching in schools. "

-  Joel, Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGSE) in Secondary Religious Studies from Brighton University


What questions should you ask a university to find the right education program?

We also asked graduate students if there were any questions they asked or wished they had asked during the research and application process to determine which program was right for them. Here were the most common and helpful questions they think you should be asking universities before you apply.

  • What connections do the professors have to potential employers?

  • Does the program actively connect students with job opportunities?

  • Where do the program alumni currently work?

  • Are there opportunities or support for publishing your own educational research during the program?

  • How diverse are the staff and students in the program?

  • Does the program balance theoretical and practical knowledge?  

  • What are the expected goals and outcomes of the programs upon graduation?

  • Is a mandatory teaching internship included as a part of the program curriculum, and is there an established framework for it?

For teaching degrees and teacher credential programs:

  • What kind of courses are prepared for students to attain a teaching credential?

  • What school districts (or equivalent) are located around the teaching program and what kind of partnerships do they have with the districts?

As mentioned earlier, teacher education courses usually focus on hands-on or practical knowledge and skills more than academic knowledge and skills. Yet, while some education programs encourage students to study education as an academic field alongside teaching training courses, other programs solely focus on education as an object of research.

Ask questions to understand how a program is balanced (or not) between hands-on and practical knowledge as compared to a program intended for students to study education as an academic discipline and field of research.


What should I look for in a university for studying education?

Fundamentally, students should always look for what they think a good university should have in general. However, there might be some features of a good university for studying education to look for.

General program reputation

With all the teaching and education programs out there, the reputation of the program might be worth looking into. Find reviews and ratings written by current and previous students, and message students about their experiences. If you cannot find program alumni by yourself, email the program administrator to ask for an alumni or current student emails to contact.

Professors’ professional profiles

Look for professors with the right profiles to achieve your goals. In the field of education, sometimes school teachers or former teachers work as professors. They are, of course, teaching professionals, but they may not really be professional researchers. This can be either good or bad depending on your goals and what you want to learn.

Small class sizes

To get the most out of your program, look for a program that keeps the classrooms small. Engaging in discussions and exploring learning theory in a more personal way will enhance your experience.

Scholarships and funding

Finding the finding for your program is ideal for an education degree. Depending on where you study, it could get quite expensive. If that’s the case, ask about scholarship opportunities within the program and the school or find external scholarship funding. There may be some opportunities to work for the school, for example as a graduate assistant, that would significantly lessen the financial burden.

Practical experience

A great way to level up your education skills is to put them to practice. Universities who invest in partnerships with education institutions where you can do your teaching practicum will be extremely helpful if you choose to study in a teaching program.

For those interested in jobs in education that are not teaching, look for universities with significant connections to educational organizations or that offer student involvement in educational activities. This could look like a mentoring program where you would advise younger students, career panels with alumni who are working in relevant educational institutions, or perhaps a yearly seminar where you could share educational research and network in your field.

Career placement

An ideal teaching degree program will help you find a teaching job after you graduate. Take a look at where program alumni are working, and prioritize high job placement rates for an easier transition to working life after the program.

Career counseling services are also important resources that will help you later on. However, be prepared to not get a job where you student teach. Although it does happen and it is an absolute dream if it works out like that, not everyone can be so lucky.

Alumni career paths

How many of the program alumni actually got jobs in the field of education? How many of them became educational professionals in their desired field? Do their profiles fit your future career goals? Find program alumni on LinkedIn to understand how a program might translate into reality.

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Teaching accreditation

Accreditation is incredibly important for any teaching degree. Not only does it ensure high-quality education, it's necessary for employment after graduation. When it comes to which teaching accreditation you need, it depends on where you want to work. Every country has a different accrediting body, and different regions and/or states within countries may also have unique accreditation requirements. 

Though teaching accreditation bodies vary depending on the location of the school, here are some examples of what to look for:

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is a nationally recognized organization that accredits teacher education programs in colleges and universities in the United States.

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) accredits teacher education programs in the Australian State and Territories.

Any valid teacher education program should be accredited by a relevant organization, and you should be able to find information about teaching accreditation on the teacher education degree programs' websites.


Popular universities to study education

University College Birmingham

Location: United Kingdom

Courses available in: Childhood Education Studies, Early Childhood Studies

University of Pretoria

Location: South Africa

Courses available in: Educational Leadership, Higher Education, Teaching Degrees

Southern Utah University

Location: Utah, United States

Courses available in: Art Education, Dance Education, Elementary Education, English - Teaching Emphasis, Music Education, Physical Education, Theater Arts Education

Universitat de Barcelona

Location: Spain

Courses available in: Education Research, Educational Leadership, Educational Technology, Teaching

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Last update: 30 Dec 2022

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