Generally, teachers must receive regional certification before they can formally instruct students within a classroom. Regional standards for teacher certification vary, but they typically require the teacher to have earned at least a bachelor's degree and also have completed a teaching degree or certificate program that is administered by an accredited college or university. Teacher degree requirements can vary depending upon the standards of an individual college's standards and program guidelines. Typically, teacher degree requirements include obtaining a certain grade point average and completing a set number of courses. They can also include working a set number of hours in a student teaching program that provides in-class room training to aspiring teachers.
As ultimately regional regulations determine who can receive certification to become a teacher, many teacher degree requirements are based upon existing laws and standards. For example, some areas require a teaching degree to contain specific coursework in history or mathematics. Other areas allow the school to determine all of the teacher degree requirements themselves and simply ask that teachers have at least an undergraduate degree. Some regions require a master's degree before an individual is allowed to teach in any classroom.
Many schools allow aspiring teachers to major in a subject of their choosing in addition to completing the necessary teacher degree requirements. In these cases, students generally pick a degree area that focuses on the type of material they wish to teach in the future. For instance, students who want to teach history can choose to major in general history, or pick a particular field such as ancient history or European history. Students wanting to be science and math teachers can choose to specialize within their fields as well, and can focus on subjects such as biology, chemistry, or calculus.
For some schools, part of the teacher degree requirements include completing a degree within the education department at the university. The degree may be earned in addition to another subject or it can be the sole degree earned toward graduation from college. At some programs, the level of school an individual desires to teach at can determine the teacher degree requirements with lower grades requiring an education degree specifically. Towards the end of most programs, students typically undergo a student teaching period conducted in a classroom under the supervision of experience teachers. The student-teaching internship program is generally required for students to complete before they can graduate and earn a teaching degree.