10 US colleges with the most students studying education

Teachercertification.com used data from the Education Department College Scorecard to present the 10 U.S. colleges with the most students graduating with a bachelor's degree in education.

Leesa Davis
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Education remains among the most popular majors at colleges and universities across the nation despite a teacher shortage plaguing many school districts. More than half of U.S. public schools reported they are understaffed for the 2022-23 academic year, according to a National Center for Education Statistics report.

During the 2019-20 school year, 85,057 students graduated with bachelor's degrees in education, a 19% decrease from 2000-01, according to the most recent data. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the low pay and high-stress working conditions deterred many prospective students who considered studying education.

Educators had to navigate virtual and hybrid learning during the pandemic without proper training or direction from school districts while managing apprehension about their physical and mental health. Teachers have been frustrated with the industry for years, but the pandemic further exacerbated working conditions with longer hours, more responsibilities, teacher shortages, and stagnant salaries. Some colleges and universities have been rolling out new programs with online certification options and other incentives that may pique the interests of those considering a career in teaching but may not have an education degree.

Teachercertification.com used data from the Education Department College Scorecard to present the 10 colleges with the highest percentages of students graduating with a bachelor's degree in education. Only colleges with 1,000 enrolled students or more were examined. The colleges were then ranked by their percentage of education degree graduates to overall graduates. Some information on each college and the degrees it offers is also included for each ranked school.

#10. Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies

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- Location: Fayette, Missouri
- 24% of degrees awarded in education
--- Associate program: not offered
--- Bachelor's program: offered exclusively as an online program
- Enrollment: 1,659
- Average cost of attendance per academic year: $18,200
- Tuition & fees: $6,430 in-state, $6,430 out-of-state

Central Methodist University offers various educational programs no matter the grade students are interested in teaching. It provides certifications for early childhood education, special education, and technology and engineering education. To recruit and retain teachers, 119 school districts in Missouri have adopted a four-day school week to combat high turnover rates, with another 18 planned to make the transition next year. For some teachers, the day off allows extra time to prepare their curriculum.

#9. Wayne State College

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- Location: Wayne, Nebraska
- 24% of students are pursuing education
--- Associate program: not offered
--- Bachelor's program: offered
- Enrollment: 3,021
- Average cost of attendance per academic year: $19,521
- Tuition & fees: $7,428 in-state, $13,008 out-of-state

Wayne State College—featuring three locations in Nebraska and one in Iowa—offers flexible online courses for aspiring educators or administrators. Students can learn about the education field through the early childhood education program or earn a master's in school administration without taking an entrance exam. The school's special education program could benefit Nebraska's school districts, which have struggled to fill positions. According to a fall 2021 survey from the Nebraska Department of Education, more than 19% of special education positions are unfilled in the state's public school system, topping the list along with language arts, elementary education, and science.

#8. Athens State University

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- Location: Athens, Alabama
- 25.2% of students are pursuing education
--- Associate program: not offered
--- Bachelor's program: offered exclusively as an online program
- Enrollment: 2,629
- Average cost of attendance per academic year: not available
- Tuition & fees: not available

Education majors at Athens University have seven undergraduate teacher certification programs, 13 bachelor's degree programs, an online graduate program, and options to minor in education online. Alabama is no stranger to having a lot of vacancies for teaching positions. Despite an average salary of $52,090 for public school teachers as of October 2022 and a $10,000 signing bonus—and easing requirements to become a certified teacher—the state's public school system still had more than 3,000 vacancies in the 2021-22 school year, according to an August 2022 Brown University report.

#7. Niagara University

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- Location: Lewiston, New York
- 25.4% of students are pursuing education
--- Associate program: not offered
--- Bachelor's program: offered
- Enrollment: 2,719
- Average cost of attendance per academic year: $47,384
- Tuition & fees: $35,240 in-state, $35,240 out-of-state

Niagara University, accredited since 1984, boasts new facilities with its College of Education building's staged pre-K classrooms and upgraded technology. From undergraduate programs such as early childhood education to adolescence education (grades 7-12), students can gain firsthand experience with technology resources. The General Education curriculum centers on nine foundation courses, such as social sciences, cultural diversity, and mathematics.

#6. SUNY Cortland

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- Location: Cortland, New York
- 26% of students are pursuing education
--- Associate program: not offered
--- Bachelor's program: offered
- Enrollment: 6,243
- Average cost of attendance per academic year: $25,585
- Tuition & fees: $8,677 in-state, $18,587 out-of-state

The State University of New York, Cortland, boasts the largest comprehensive educator program in New York and ranks high in the state for preparing teachers. In addition to initial teacher certification programs in subject areas such as math, physics, English, and Spanish, the college also offers advanced teacher education programs where educators can obtain a master's in literacy education or physical education.

In January 2022, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state would need 180,000 additional teachers over the next decade to meet educational needs. Plans have been made to resolve the teacher shortage, such as increasing funding for K-12 teachers.

#5. Concordia University-Nebraska

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- Location: Seward, Nebraska
- 27% of students are pursuing education
--- Associate program: not offered
--- Bachelor's program: offered
- Enrollment: 1,203
- Average cost of attendance per academic year: $45,672
- Tuition & fees: $34,900 in-state, $34,900 out-of-state

Concordia University-Nebraska was founded by a Lutheran church in 1894 and today has several teaching education programs. The school offers programs such as agricultural education, history, and middle-level education for students interested in education. There may be hope for overworked Nebraska educators who feel they aren't compensated enough for their hard work. For example, Omaha Public School's ruling will grant an annual $4,500 stipend to educators in the state for the next two years, after which teachers will return to their regular base salary.

#4. Emporia State University

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- Location: Emporia, Kansas
- 29.03% of students are pursuing education
--- Associate program: not offered
--- Bachelor's program: offered
- Enrollment: 3,081
- Average cost of attendance per academic year: $19,526
- Tuition & fees: $6,971 in-state, $21,215 out-of-state

As the third oldest public university in Kansas, the Emporia State University Teachers College offers undergraduate programs in such subject areas as art education for grades pre-K-12. For those curious about Emporia State's graduate programs, certifications are provided in autism spectrum disorders, clinical counseling, and various other subject areas.

Data has shown a declining teacher stability in Kansas, with educators less likely to stay at their jobs. The state's education department has explored ways to mitigate Kansas' teacher shortages and vacancies, especially in substitute teaching. A possible solution is creating an emergency program where anyone can receive a substitute license with a background check. There's also the possibility of allowing retired teachers to return by creating a legacy license.

#3. University of Maine at Farmington

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- Location: Farmington, Maine
- 37% of students are pursuing education
--- Associate program: not offered
--- Bachelor's program: offered
- Enrollment: 1,509
- Average annual cost: $22,802
- Tuition & fees: $9,572 in-state, $20,282 out-of-state

The University of Maine at Farmington has one of the most prestigious teaching programs in New England with six certification options offered. The university takes a unique approach toward preparing future educators with the First Year Experience program, where teachers get hands-on introductory training for the age group they wish to teach. During the second year of training, called the Practicum, learning is conducted in a public classroom setting. For their senior year, students participate in a 16-week program where they can work in a public school or early childhood environment.

Despite a nationwide teacher shortage, University of Maine System students still show strong interest in pursuing an education career. In the fall of 2020 and 2021, first-year student enrollment as an education major held steady at 375 and 377, respectively. Though down slightly from the 404 enrolled in fall 2019, these figures show the pandemic didn't hinder students' interest in the field. The University of Maine System boasts an enticing 4+1 accelerated program to help students obtain a bachelor's and master's in education in just five years.

#2. The University of Montana-Western

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- Location: Dillon, Montana
- 40% of students are pursuing education
--- Associate program: offered exclusively as an online program
--- Bachelor's program: offered exclusively as an online program
- Enrollment: 1,281
- Average cost of attendance per academic year: $17,790
- Tuition & fees: $5,747 in-state, $17,790 out-of-state

The University of Montana-Western implemented a post-baccalaureate teacher program to help combat teacher shortages in rural areas. The online certification program is geared toward people who don't have a teaching degree but are interested in pursuing a career in education. The intention is for students to complete the program within three years.

Montana at one point had the highest number of rural schools in the country with small class sizes but recently has had to grapple with a population boom. More people moved to the state for technology and construction jobs, and the population boomed when the pandemic brought in a wave of remote workers from Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest. As more families moved to Montana, that meant more students, which required additional state funding to hire more teachers.

#1. Valley City State University

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- Location: Valley City, North Dakota
- 68% of students are pursuing education
--- Associate program: not offered
--- Bachelor's program: offered exclusively as an online program
- Enrollment: 1,004
- Average cost of attendance per academic year: $18,712
- Tuition & fees: $7,942 in-state, $12,532 out-of-state

Sprawling 64 acres in a rural setting, Valley City State University offers several opportunities for people interested in pursuing a career in education, including myriad options for K-12 teaching with specialized areas such as English, library and media studies, and STEM education. North Dakota's education system has struggled with a teacher shortage, especially in special education, where an uptick in behavioral problems and evaluations has led the state to offer enticing perks to those interested in becoming educators. These include signing bonuses, tuition stipends, and even allowing teachers to be hired without the full credentials normally required.

This story originally appeared on Teachercertification.com and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.