2023 Best Traditional and Online Bachelor’s in Science Education Programs

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The best way to strengthen our society is through development and innovation. Science educators pave the way for this future innovation, teaching students how to think critically and understand the science behind issues ranging from climate change to medicine. Unfortunately, a 2009 survey revealed that the United States ranked just 17th out of 34 developed countries in terms of science literacy among fifteen-year-old students. These poor numbers reveal one thing: we need more committed, talented science educators.

A science education degree may provide a narrow selection of careers, but it is an integral degree that allows you to teach at the elementary, middle, high school, or postsecondary level. Jobs for science educators are expecting to rise, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consider enrolling in one of these top ten on-campus and online programs to advance your knowledge and experience as a science teacher of tomorrow.

Best Traditional Bachelor’s in Science Education Programs

  1. Princeton University

The program in teacher preparation at Princeton allows students to serve as teachers, educational leaders, and researchers. The science education program partners with a range of local schools to provide hands-on student teaching experiences, and enables students to obtain New Jersey State teaching licensure. This licensure is usually transferable to other states.

Princeton’s unique program, accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, is small and flexible, allowing each student to obtain his or her bachelor’s degree in a separate area while pursuing teacher certification. The program includes a strong liberal arts core so that students are well prepared to enter into the field as experienced professionals. Required classes include material in teaching strategies, classroom management, and educational psychology.

To be eligible to apply, interested applicants must have a minimum grade point of average of 2.5. They must also submit letters of recommendation and personal statements. Most students will apply to a general undergraduate program of study, such as Biology, and then indicate interest and apply separately for the teacher preparation program within their freshman or sophomore years. 120 total credit hours are required.

  1. Brown University

Brown University prepares students for teacher certification in the state of Rhode Island. This program is top-ranked because Rhode Island has Interstate Certification Compact approval, meaning that once students obtain teacher certification upon graduation, they can receive certification in forty-four other states.

Any student can be in this teacher education program, accredited by the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education, so long as they complete course requirements for certification in science along with a few education courses. A total of one hundred and twenty credit hours are required, including Literacy across the Curriculum, Methods of Teaching, and the Psychology of Teaching and Learning. A field practicum experience is also required. Certifications for prospective Chemistry, Engineering, Physics, or Biology students are available.

To apply, students must submit a personal statement, resume, and transcript, along with two letters of recommendation. In most cases, an interview is also required.

  1. Rice University

The teacher education program at Rice University is offered through the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. This thirty-hour program fulfills all state requirements for a Texas Standard Teaching Certificate and provides students with an unparalleled amount of personal coaching, mentoring, field experience, and course content.

Each student in this program is granted his or her own field supervisor, mentor, and cooperating teacher for several semesters of student teaching experiences. Other classes expose students to curriculum development, psychology, and school culture. Science students may pursue certification in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, Environmental Science, or Astronomy. This program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education.

To apply, students must have already earned twenty-four credit hours of content area courses. They should submit SAT or ACT scores and evidence of at least a 2.5 grade point average.

  1. Duke University

Duke’s education programs explore a wide range of issues that affect schools and children, including social, psychological, historical, cultural, and economic issues. This program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation as well as the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Students in this program take a core set of seven education courses, along with one psychology course and twenty-four credit hours in science. An additional set of credits are required in education. Each student will also complete a teaching internship to give him or her the opportunity to apply his or her knowledge in a hands-on setting.

Duke is well-known for the academic rigor of its programs, but it is also affordable. In addition to state and federal aid offered to all students, the education department also hosts a range of teacher-specific awards, such as the Continuing Studies Scholarship, which covers up to ninety percent of the tuition needed to fulfill teaching licensure requirements.

  1. Vanderbilt University

This program prepares students to teach at grades 6-12 in a variety of curriculum areas, including Chemistry, Biology, Earth Science, or Physics. It can be completed in one or two years, in addition to core content coursework leading to one hundred and twenty credit hours.

Students work closely with faculty to collaborate on research and engage in field placements. This program emphasizes education of diverse, historically marginalized students. Core courses include:

  • Advanced Social and Philosophical Aspects of Education
  • Classroom Ecology
  • Introduction to Literacies in Science

To apply, students must include transcripts and a personal statement indicating reasoning for pursuing this program. It is highly successful in producing successful teachers: 98% of secondary education graduates were employed or attending graduate school within just four months of graduation. This program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Best Online Bachelor’s in Science Education Programs

  1. University of North Texas

This interdisciplinary, online program prepares teaching candidates for grades 4-8 certification in science education. It requires two days per week of coursework and two days spent in an internship at a nearby school, with a full fifteen-week student teaching placement later on in the course of study. It is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

While most of this program can be completed online, some elements do need to be completed on campus. One hundred and twenty credit hours are required. Required classes include:

  • Biology for Educators
  • Family, School, and Community
  • Environmental Processes and Assessment
  • Environmental Science

This institution is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission, as well as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

  1. University of Northern Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa offers science education programs in Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, General Science, and Physics at grade 5-12 levels. Most are available in 2+2 online settings, allowing students to earn Associate’s degrees from other institutions before attempting online education courses. Graduates of these programs become leaders in the field and receive practical, hands-on experience. These programs, each of which require one hundred and twenty credit hours, are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Developing teachers will take have access to a variety of opportunities, including clinical experiences, internships in partner schools, collaborative and project-based classwork, workshops, and professional development experiences. To apply, students must complete the Common Application. Students are ranked and admitted based on a combination of their high school grade point averages, ranks, core courses taken, and ACT composite test scores.

  1. Western Governors University

Western Governors University offers teaching degrees that are recognized for certification requirements in all fifty states. Its science education programs have been ranked as the top online programs in the country, helping the university rise to the top ten percent in teacher preparation. Western Governors’ degrees are based on competencies, not credit hours, but most students will complete around one hundred or more credit hours in core courses.

These programs are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, making them highly respected. For students who are interested in continuing their studies to receive the credentials for permanent certification in some states, Western Governors also offers a Master of Arts in Science Education for grades 5-9 as well. These programs are affordable and can be completed at a flexible pace.

  1. University of Nebraska-Kearney

The University of Nebraska-Kearney has educated teachers for over a hundred years, making it a leader in the field of teacher education. It offers a range of online and on-campus programs that lead to certification in science education at a variety of grade levels.

Students in this program will take core coursework in their content area, as well as foundational courses such as:

  • Teaching in a Democratic Society
  • Inclusive Practices for Students with Exceptionalities in PreK-8 Classrooms
  • Partnerships with Families
  • Methods in Secondary Science Teaching

The program is accredited by both the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). 120 credit hours are required.

To apply, interested students must complete an application for admission and pay a nonrefundable $45 application fee. They should send ACT or SAT test scores along with high school grades, and also supply college transcripts if any previous college credits have been attempted.

  1. University of North Carolina-Wilmington

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington offers several on-campus and online programs in science education. The online program, requiring one hundred and twenty credit hours, is taught through a unique combination of on-site, two-way interactive video and Internet courses. To be eligible for this version of the program, each student must have at least an associate’s degree. Required coursework for this program covers topics in curriculum design, learning assessment, and relativity to a global society. It is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Students must submit a specific application to the teacher education program. These applications are reviewed under three admission cycles per year, with requirements including passing Praxis scores, several prerequisite courses, and submission of background questions.

How to Choose the Right Program

A bachelor’s degree in science education can prepare you for a range of jobs. These programs prepare students for rewarding careers helping students acquire the scientific research, inquiry, and study methods needed to make a real difference in the world. Many states are experiencing severe teaching shortages, meaning it’s important to increase enrollment in science education programs.

However, it can be tough to choose the right degree. While searching for a program, you should examine how it is accredited and approved by that state’s board of education, as well as how it is ranked by the state in which you intend to pursue certification. Not every bachelor’s degree is approved for teacher licensure, nor is it approved for the grade level you might want to teach. You should also examine factors such as tuition cost and program flexibility.

Who accredits a bachelor’s degree in science education program?

Accreditation for bachelor’s degrees in science education varies depending on the state. Since each state has individual licensure requirements and regulations, each will rely on a different set of standards when determining program competency. The most common accrediting agency is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (formerly the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education).

How long does it typically take to get a degree in science education?

Although a bachelor’s degree in science education generally only takes about four years, this can vary depending on a number of factors. Many universities require that students first complete a related set of courses in the content area before pursuing teacher education. Therefore, you might have to take several semesters of courses in a subject like Biology or Chemistry before pursuing teacher-preparation classes. Then, many states might also require you to pursue an additional graduate degree in education or science to be eligible for a full-time career.

What does the curriculum include?

A science education curriculum will include a range of courses that will increase your proficiency in the subject area (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, etc) as well as in teaching strategies and methodology. You might take courses that cover developmental psychology, learning strategies and behaviors, disabilities, classroom management, and professional behavior.

How can I finance my education?

Obtaining a degree in science education can be a daunting task, not only because it takes up to six years to complete the full pathway as an educator in some states, but also because there are other associated fees with this program. As an education student, you will be expected to engage in lengthy field experience placements. These placements are conducted during school hours, meaning you can’t work an outside job during those times to help make ends meet.

Therefore, it’s important that you consider all financial aid options that may be available to you. File your FAFSA on January 1st of each year so that you can be eligible for scholarships, grants, work study, and student loans. Some states have special programs or tuition discounts for educators. For example, in New York State you may be eligible to apply for the TEACH Grant, which awards up to $4,000 a year to students planning to become teachers in a high-need field. Other awards are available to specifically fund teachers who are planning to work in a STEM-related field.

What are the employment prospects for a bachelor’s in science education graduate?

While these figures vary from state to state, employment prospects are relatively good for graduates. Jobs are expected to grow by 8% from 2016 to 2026, which is slightly faster than average. Students’ enrollment is only expected to grow in most districts, and with a national demand for STEM-educated graduates, science teachers will find themselves with a steady supply of eager new students to educate.

As a science educator, you will likely work in the middle or high school setting. Some will go on, with additional education, to become university instructors.

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