Teaching Degrees in Colorado

Teaching in Colorado is an excellent option for entry-level professionals. As one of the fastest-growing states, Colorado needs more teachers to serve its growing population. The state's high number of teaching vacancies means there are plenty of opportunities for individuals entering the teaching field. Additionally, the state prioritizes education; Colorado ranks second in the country for the number of residents with at least a bachelor's degree.

Many teaching programs in Colorado offer online options. Online teaching programs provide scheduling flexibility and opportunities to reduce costs. Plus, earning a degree remotely allows students to choose from a greater selection of programs. Online students generally complete coursework and watch lectures at their convenience, which is ideal for working professionals and those with personal responsibilities.

Individuals with an out-of-state teaching license undergo the same process to obtain licensure as those who earned their teaching degree in Colorado.

Students who earn a teaching degree from a regionally accredited online program in another state can apply for a teaching license in Colorado. Individuals with an out-of-state teaching license undergo the same process to obtain licensure as those who earned their teaching degree in Colorado. However, the requirements for teaching licensure vary by state, so students considering earning a teaching degree outside the state should ensure their program meets the requirements set by the Colorado Department of Education.

For individuals pursuing a teaching license, Colorado sets unique educational and professional requirements. Each state has specific requirements for teaching licensure. Because education is primarily a state and local issue, each state sets standards for curricula, teacher licensure, and teacher compensation. State teaching licenses do not automatically transfer between states; licensed teachers who move to another state must earn licensure in the new state.

The process for transferring a teaching license between states varies. However, teachers transferring their license to Colorado must meet licensure requirements for out-of-state applicants before applying for a Colorado teaching certificate.

Educational Requirements

Candidates for teaching licensure in Colorado must hold at least a bachelor's degree and must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. Most bachelor's in teaching programs include a teacher preparation program as part of the curriculum. Prospective teachers who hold a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field must complete an authorized teacher preparation program through Colorado's alternative teacher certification process. All Colorado teachers must also complete a student-teaching experience, practicum, or internship.

The amount of time necessary to become a teacher depends on the individual's pathway to licensure. Most students take four years to earn a bachelor's degree in teaching. Candidates who hold a bachelor's in another field generally need one to two years to complete an alternative teacher certification program. Full-time students typically complete an associate degree in teaching in about two years, and a master's degree requires two additional years following completion of a bachelor's program.

Prospective teachers with an associate degree are eligible teach in Colorado in the following areas: career and technical education, adult basic education, substitute teaching, and educational interpreting. Individuals seeking employment in these areas must meet additional requirements to become licensed.

Teachers moving to Colorado must apply for a new teaching license and complete any additional requirements for licensure.

For out-of-state professionals with a teaching degree, Colorado offers an accessible transfer process. Teachers moving to Colorado must apply for a new teaching license and complete any additional requirements for licensure. However, Colorado's membership in the NASDTEC Interstate Reciprocity Agreement simplifies the transfer process. The agreement outlines each participating state's licensure requirements, ensuring teachers know which of their qualifications meet each state's requirements.

Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Colorado

Associate Degree in Teaching

Introduction to Adult Education This course introduces students to the field of adult education. Students explore theories of adult education, basic education services and providers, and the instructional environment.
Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to Adults Learners study basic methods for teaching English as a second language to adults. The course focuses on the language acquisition process, lesson planning, and technology in the classroom.
Multicultural Education This course explores the importance of respecting diversity in the classroom. Students explore the ways in which ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds impact individual learning.

Bachelors Degree in Teaching

Elementary Reading Assessment and Instruction Students build on teaching strategies and knowledge learned during introductory elementary education courses. The class addresses critical components of reading learning and instruction.
Education and Practice Students reflect on their student-teaching experiences. This course takes place during the same semester as the student-teaching practicum. Topics include classroom management and organization, assessment, and lesson planning.
Learning with Technology in and Out of School This course explores how to effectively use technology to help students learn. The course examines recent research into the ways digital media and tools change how students learn.

Masters Degree in Teaching

Advanced Child Growth and Educational Development Students explore historical and recent theories related to child growth and educational development. Topics include social, cognitive, and emotional development and their implications for classroom teaching.
Culture and Ethnography in Education Using an anthropological perspective of the classroom, students explore tools for classroom research. Topics include cultural reproduction, cultural transmission, and theories of culture.
African American Education in the United States This course focuses on the contemporary and historical struggle of African Americans for education in the U.S. Students explore the changes to educational policy and practice.

Certification and Licensing Needed to Become a Teacher in Colorado

To earn teaching certification, Colorado candidates first apply through the Department of Education for the appropriate Colorado teaching credential. General requirements for an initial teacher's license include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, completion of an approved teacher preparation program, and completion of a student-teaching practicum or internship. Prospective teachers must demonstrate content area knowledge to work in a specialty area, such as early childhood education, grades 7-12, or special education. Applicants can demonstrate content area knowledge by taking a content area exam or earning a degree in the subject. The Colorado Department of Education outlines specific endorsement requirements.

An initial teacher's license is valid for three years. After earning an initial teacher's license, candidates can apply for a professional license, which is valid for five years. Candidates for a professional license must hold or meet requirements for an initial Colorado license and must complete an induction program approved by the Colorado State Board of Education. Colorado waives the induction program requirement for out-of-state applicants with at least three consecutive years of full-time licensed teaching experience. The highest level of teaching license in Colorado is the master license, which is valid for seven years. Candidates for a master license must hold a professional license and a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certificate.

The highest level of teaching license in Colorado is the master license, which is valid for seven years.

Candidates can also earn a Colorado teaching license through an alternative teacher preparation program. To qualify for an alternative teacher license, candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, demonstrate knowledge in an approved endorsement area, work as a classroom teacher, and be enrolled in an approved alternative teacher preparation program. An initial teaching license in Colorado requires a $90 fee for applicants who completed one of the Colorado teaching certificate programs and a $110 fee for applicants who completed an out-of-state program.

Prospective students choosing an online teaching program should consider factors including cost, location, program length, and available specializations. Tuition for online programs is typically similar to that of on-campus programs, but distance learners save money in transportation costs and student fees. Additionally, pursuing an online education increases students' options by reducing the significance of geographic location. However, students should consider the impact of proximity on access to support resources along with the ease of finding a student-teaching placement.

Students should also consider the time required to complete their teaching degree online. Program length varies by degree type, transfer credits, and enrollment status. Some online programs offer a fast-track option. Available specializations also vary by program. Students who plan to specialize in a specific area of education, such as English as a second language or special education, should ensure their chosen program offers the specialization.

Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Colorado?

Students can earn their teaching degree online in Colorado. Many of the state's colleges and universities offer online bachelor's in teaching programs. The process of applying for a Colorado teaching license is the same for graduates of both online and on-campus programs.

Like on-campus students, those earning an online teaching degree must complete a student-teaching practicum or internship. Candidates for a Colorado teaching license must have completed student-teaching hours. Online students typically complete student-teaching requirements at a local school and may make arrangements themselves or with help from program faculty.

To qualify for a Colorado teaching license, candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee six regional accrediting agencies. The Higher Learning Commission awards regional accreditation to both online and on-campus teaching programs in Colorado.

Directory of Teaching Schools in Colorado

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Paying for an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree can seem overwhelming. However, students earning an on-campus or online teaching degree in Colorado have numerous options for financing their education. Financial aid options include scholarships, loans, grants, tuition reimbursement, and loan forgiveness programs for teachers.

Many teaching students choose to take out student loans. The ED offers a variety of subsidized and unsubsidized loans for undergraduate and graduate students and defers interest for these loans until after graduation. The federal government offers a loan forgiveness program for teachers who meet certain requirements. Full-time teachers who work five years in a low-income school can qualify for up to $17,500 of student loan forgiveness. Teaching students should also apply for scholarships and grants available through their school, private corporations, and public organizations.

Every teaching student should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine whether they are eligible for need-based federal financial aid.

Loan Forgiveness for Colorado Teachers

Loan forgiveness programs pay back all or part of a teacher's student loan balance in exchange for the teacher's work in a high-need area or subject. Loan forgiveness programs recognize that teachers often sacrifice higher earning potential to contribute to the public good.

Teaching students in Colorado who take out federal student loans may qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. Teachers who complete five years of full-time work in a low-income school may be eligible for up to $17,500 of loan forgiveness. Teachers who work at least one full academic year in an elementary or secondary school may qualify for Federal Perkins Loans cancellation. The percentage of loan cancellation increases with each additional year of teaching.

The Colorado Department of Education website provides information about teacher loan forgiveness programs in the state.

Scholarships for Colorado Teaching Students

Scholarships are an ideal way for prospective teachers in Colorado to finance their education. Nonprofit groups, corporations, and private foundations award significant amounts of scholarship money to teachers in Colorado each year. Below is a sampling of some scholarships available to teaching students in the state.

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship 95% of tuition

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports early childhood education professionals pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree in Colorado. Applicants must meet income guidelines. View Scholarship

Winifred R. Reynolds Educational Scholarship $1,500-$7,000

Who Can Apply: This award supports students currently enrolled in a master's or doctoral program related to early childhood education or child development. Applicants must be a Colorado resident or have been a resident for two years between 2006 and 2018. Applicants must have a minimum 3.5 GPA and must demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

Peters Foundation, Corp. Scholarship $10,000-$20,000

Who Can Apply: The Peters Foundation awards this scholarship to high school seniors planning to study education at an accredited Christian college or university in Colorado. The foundation selects recipients based on academic potential and financial need. View Scholarship

Painter Service for Others Scholarship Fund $1,500-$5,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be a full-time junior or senior pursuing a K-12 teaching certificate at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, the University of Denver, or Colorado State University. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and must demonstrate financial need and participation in volunteer activities. View Scholarship

The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program $20,000

Who Can Apply: The National Science Foundation runs this national scholarship program for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing teaching careers in STEM fields. Recipients must teach at least two years in a high-need school district after graduation. View Scholarship

The Zell Family Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: The American Montessori Society awards this scholarship to students enrolled in or accepted to an AMS-affiliated teacher education program. View Scholarship
Location Employment Annual Mean Wage
Colorado 144,710 $52,480
United States 8,636,430 $54,520

Source: BLS

The job and salary outlook for teachers in Colorado is competitive with the national average. Colorado's increasing population drives demand for teachers. Nearly 145,000 teachers work in Colorado. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Colorado teachers earn a mean annual wage of $52,480. Although Colorado's mean wage is slightly less than the annual mean wage for teachers in the United States, the Colorado Department of Education is studying ways to improve teacher salaries in the state.

Salaries for teachers in Colorado vary based on teaching level. Teaching salaries generally increase at higher grade levels. Secondary school teachers have average salaries more than $23,000 higher than preschool teachers. However, positions teaching higher grade levels also require higher degrees. Teaching students should consider the salary differences and the required education when choosing a specialization.

Average Annual Salary by Teaching Level in Colorado
Preschool Teachers $30,170
Kindergarten Teachers $49,330
Elementary School Teachers $51,360
Middle School Teachers $51,800
Secondary School Teachers $53,640

Source: BLS

  • Colorado Education Association (CEA) CEA comprises K-12 teachers, education support professionals, retired education employees, and pre-professional college students. Founded in 1875, CEA's mission is to provide the best education possible for every student in Colorado. The group promotes the professional interests of public education employees by advocating for restored education funding. CEA members have access to professional development resources and scholarship opportunities.
  • Professional Association of Colorado Educators (PACE) PACE is the Colorado state chapter of the Association of American Educators. The non-union, nonpartisan group represents professional educators and advocates to advance the education profession. Member benefits include access to grants and scholarships, newsletters, discounts, and professional resources.
  • Colorado Department of Education (CDE) CDE supports the advancement of Colorado's education system, with the goal of preparing students to succeed in the workplace. The department oversees more than 56,000 teachers in 1,836 schools. CDE provides teachers with licensing rules, job openings, professional development opportunities, policy information, and a variety of resources related to education and teaching in Colorado.
  • Colorado Association of Science Teachers (CAST) CAST is a member organization comprising Colorado science teachers. The association's goal is to improve science education for students throughout the state. Members receive access to professional development opportunities, grants, program discounts, and classroom activities. Teaching students receive a discounted membership rate.
  • Colorado State Music Teachers Association (CSMTA) Affiliated with the Music Teachers National Association, CSMTA works to advance music education in Colorado and fosters networking among music teachers in the state. Members have access to publications, teacher enrichment opportunities, professional discounts, teacher grants, insurance programs, and mentorship opportunities.
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