What is the Best Degree for Becoming a High School English Teacher?

The nature of a high school teaching position is that it’s a great deal more specialized than a position teaching students in elementary school or in the “middle grades” that come immediately before a student enters his or her freshman year of high school. For English teachers, that means choosing from fields like literature, linguistics, and more. Unlike several other specialties for high school teachers, English is actually pretty broad and it represents some of the most unique teaching possibilities based on the degree an aspiring teacher chooses.

Choosing the Right Program: Best Degrees for an English Teacher

Today’s students need to learn and understand everything from great grammar to sound punctuation and the numerous ways to dissect a classic work of literature. English teachers can accommodate these students by choosing one of several available degree options:

B.A. in English

A broad bachelor’s degree in English will expose an aspiring teacher to American and British literature, basic linguistics, and courses that focus almost exclusively on the semantics of the English language. As a result, the English graduate will be able to help students write better papers, choose better sentence structure, and turn another author’s work into something of real meaning via careful exploration of the topic.

B.S. in Linguistics

Some English teachers are more adept at dealing with matters of linguistic origin than they are at handling the various topics within a work of literature. That’s perfectly fine, and it’s why the field of linguistics exists. Those who pursue this topic while at the undergraduate level will be excellent at teaching writing classes as well as classes in vocabulary, helping students prepare for the SAT and for their college pursuits.

B.S. in English Education

This combined program teaches students the essential skills they need to teach high school students about the rules and authors of the English language, and that means going above and beyond content knowledge. Those who choose this major will also learn how to mange a classroom, how to handle students who are falling behind the rest of the class, and how to prepare a proper lesson, pacing guide, and more. Students will also engage in student teaching opportunities, which are instrumental when learning how to put these skills into practical, everyday use.

B.A. in Literature

This degree is essentially the exact opposite of one in linguistics. Undergraduate students will explore literature intensely, with required courses and electives that focus on American and British authors, international texts, and the future of the written word. The result is a new teacher who can effortlessly teach high school students about symbolism, themes, and even the implications of an author’s life on their work.

Dual Major in English and a Second Language

Though English is a broad topic, it’s generally not as in-demand as teaching positions that cover math, science, and technology. One way to stay competitive in a growing pool of English teaching candidates is to choose a dual major, with the second major focusing on a foreign language like Spanish. At the end of the program, graduates can opt to be dual certified for teaching both English and the language of their choice, giving them more ways to serve students, compete for job positions, and provide context for each of their specialties.

English Teachers Have Plenty of Good Options

From literature and linguistics to foreign languages and beyond, today’s undergraduate students have no shortage of ways to pursue the knowledge and experiences necessary to land a rewarding teaching position. Be sure to choose the program that is both interesting to study and relevant to today’s schools, and success will be a bit easier to find.

Further Reading:

30 Great Small Colleges for a Teaching Degree

What is the Difference Between a BA and a BS?

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