Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

Becoming a teacher: undergraduate versus graduate degree

According to the Digest of Education Statistics, in 2010-11 there were 104,000 bachelor’s degrees in education and 185,000 master’s degrees. This has left me wondering how many out of that large number of master’s are credentialed teachers going back for more training and how many are students seeking a first-time certification. The AACTE gives the first helpful numbers I’ve seen on the subject. Here’s a snippet copied from their recent report.

AACTE certification level

The AACTE numbers say that initial certification for education students comes at the bachelor’s level by about 8-to-5 over coming at the graduate level. That suggests that two-thirds of those master’s degrees are going to already-certified teachers.

Two-thirds of master’s going to already-certified teachers is my best ballpark guess, but it’s probably off some for at least two reasons I can think of. First, not all “post-baccalaureate or master’s degrees” are master’s degrees. Second, AACTE covers 800 of the 1,400 schools of education and about 30 percent of education students are outside of coverage of the  AACTE survey–so the AACTE bachelor’s versus master’s percentage might not be nationally representative. Still, the two-thirds number is the best estimate I’ve been able to come up with.

Research on student outcomes pretty uniformly shows that teachers with master’s degrees perform no better than those without, as you probably already knew. The numbers above suggest it would be real interesting to know if there is a performance difference between teachers initially certified at the master’s level and those who’ve gone back to school for additional training. So far as I know, no one’s looked at this yet.

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