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BAES vs. Licensure Program

Ready to Level Up in Your Career in Education?
Get started on a BAES degree or bachelor's degree leading to licensure from WGU.

Educational Studies Degree or Licensure Program?

Are you wondering whether you should pursue a degree in educational studies or a degree that leads to teaching licensure? What’s the difference? Which is right for you? 

Either a Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies (BAES) degree or a bachelor's program that leads to licensure would provide you with teaching skills needed for specific subject areas and grade levels. However, choosing between these degree options may depend on your goal. If you’re interested in education but unsure whether you want to become a licensed teacher, a bachelor’s in educational studies may be best. An educational studies degree gives you a good foundation should you decide to pursue teacher licensure later. It also prepares you for non-teaching roles within education or jobs in other fields that require a knowledge of education. An educational studies degree does not include demonstration teaching. If you’re set on being a public-school teacher, it’s best to pursue a degree that leads to licensure.

What is an Educational Studies Degree?

A bachelor’s in educational studies provides you with general knowledge and skills in specialized areas. It doesn’t prepare you for teacher licensure, and it doesn’t include demonstration teaching. This type of degree is best for those who want to gain a solid baseline understanding but aren’t looking to become licensed teachers. They may pursue other careers in education or might be able to teach at non-public schools that don’t require a state teaching license. There are many specialties even in educational studies degree programs. For instance, you could pursue a BAES in anything from elementary education to special education or math education for secondary students.

What are Bachelor’s Degrees Leading to Licensure?

Bachelor’s degrees leading to licensure prepare you to become a licensed teacher in your state. Much like educational studies degrees, these programs are specialized by subject and even grade level. For example, if you want to teach high school math, you’d pursue a different degree than if you’re interested in teaching middle school science. Upon completing a degree program that leads to licensure, you’ll be ready to pass your state certification exam. WGU degrees prepare you for licensure in any of the 50 states.

Program Similarities

There are similar degree specializations for both educational studies and licensure degree programs. WGU offers 10 education bachelor’s degree programs that lead to licensure, each with a BAES version. These include specializations such as elementary education, math, and science at certain grade levels. Apart from demonstration teaching and licensure preparation, the content of the educational studies and licensure degree programs is the same. Both give you extensive learning in the subject areas where you focus, preparing you for a related career.

Program Differences

There are some key differences between educational studies degrees and those leading to licensure. An educational studies degree will not prepare you to become a licensed teacher. While the program curriculum of the two kinds of degrees is the same, the degrees leading to licensure include additional coursework and demonstration teaching, which involves you going to a classroom to get actual experience teaching. This is required in all states in order to become a licensed teacher.

Tracks in the Educational Studies Program

  • Elementary Education—B.A. Educational Studies
  • Elementary and Special Education—B.A. Educational Studies

  • Mild to Moderate Special Education—B.A. Educational Studies

  • Secondary Biology Science Education—B.A. Educational Studies

  • Secondary Chemistry Science Education—B.A. Educational Studies

  • Secondary Earth Science Education—B.A. Educational Studies

  • Secondary Physics Education—B.A. Educational Studies

  • Middle Grades Science Education—B.A. Educational Studies

  • Secondary Mathematics Education—B.A. Educational Studies

  • Middle Grade Mathematics Education—B.A. Educational Studies

Demonstration Teaching Courses

Degree programs leading to licensure are more rigorous since they prepare graduates to become licensed teachers. They contain additional courses, requirements, and observations that are not part of the BAES programs. These include:

  • A teacher performance assessment

  • A professional teaching portfolio

  • Six supervised demonstration teaching observations 

  • A weekly cohort seminar

Educational Studies Career Options

While an educational studies degree won’t prepare you for teacher licensure, it will give you a solid start should you choose to pursue a license later. It can also serve as a springboard for future graduate work in other fields where an understanding of education is key. Jobs you can pursue immediately with an educational studies degree include:

  • Classroom tutor

  • Teaching aid

  • Community outreach partner

  • Private or charter school teacher (depending on your state)

  • Teaching roles outside of traditional public education

Licensure Degree Career Options

A degree leading to licensure will prepare you to become a public-school teacher in a specific subject at a certain grade level. Possible careers include:

  • Elementary special education teacher

  • Middle school math teacher

  • Middle school science teacher

  • High school physics teacher

  • High school biology teacher

  • High school earth science teacher

Programs at a Glance

Educational Studies – B.A.

These online, non-licensure educational studies degrees prepare you to...

These online, non-licensure educational studies degrees prepare you to make a difference in a field that interests you.

Based on your career goals and interests, you can choose an educational studies program in one of 10 content areas that meets your needs while working toward employment in school settings, corporate training, or instructional design. These programs do not lead to a teaching license.

  • Time: Completion time varies depending on the specialty track you choose.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • This bachelor's degree allows students to learn about education but does not include student teaching and it does not lead to a teaching license.

Focus areas of this educational studies degree program include:

  • Elementary Education
  • Elementary and Special Education
  • Mild to Moderate Special Education
  • Secondary Biology Science Education
  • Secondary Chemistry Science Education
  • Secondary Earth Science Education
  • Secondary Physics Education
  • Middle Grades Science Education
  • Secondary Mathematics Education
  • Middle Grade Mathematics Education

Students in this program will be prepared for careers including:

  • Instructional support
  • Community outreach
  • Training
  • Education staff (museums, learning centers, etc.) 
  • K-12 opportunities that do not require a teaching license

Special Ed and Elementary Ed (Dual Licensure) – B.A.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring K–12 special education teachers. Leads to dual licensure—elementary education teaching license and special education teaching license.

  • Time: 61% of grads earned this degree within 27 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 46 total courses in this program.

(Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.) If your state offers a single K–12 special education teaching license and you are interested in focusing on teaching students with mild to moderate exceptionalities, consider the B.A. Special Education (Mild to Moderate) online teaching degree. 

Candidates for this online teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring special ed teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This special education teaching online degree program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. 

Mathematics Education (Middle Grades) – B.S.

An online teacher certification program for aspiring middle school math...

An online teacher certification program for aspiring middle school math teachers. Leads to teaching license in states that have a middle-grades math teaching license.

Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching licensure in your state.

  • Time: 62% of grads earned this degree within 29 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 39 total courses in this program.

Candidates for this science teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high math teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for math
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This science teaching degree program includes requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This science teaching degree prepares you to be eligible for a teaching license in any of the 50 states.

Mathematics Education (Secondary) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle school math teachers and high school math teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 63% of grads earned this degree within 27 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 44 total courses in this program.

Candidates for this math teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high and high school math teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for math
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This online math teaching degree program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This online math teaching degree program helps students become eligible for math teaching certification.

Science Education (Middle Grades) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle school science teachers. Leads to teaching license in all states that have a middle-grades general science teaching license.

Specific grade levels you are qualified to teach will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 61% of grads earned this science teaching degree within 31 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.
  • Courses: 40 total courses in this program.

Candidates for this online science teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or middle school science teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for science
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This science teaching degree program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

Science Education (Secondary Biological Science) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school biology teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 63% of grads earned this online biology degree within 31 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.
  • Courses: 39 total courses in this program.

Candidates for this online teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school biology teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for biology
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This biology teaching degree program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

Science Education (Secondary Chemistry) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school chemistry teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 66% of grads earned this online chemistry degree within 32 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.
  • Courses: 41 total courses in this program.

Candidates for this online chemistry degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school chemistry teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for chemistry
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This chemistry teaching degree program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. Earn a chemistry degree online and be eligible for a teaching certification.

Science Education (Secondary Physics) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school physics teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching license options in your state.

  • Time: 62% of grads earned this online physics degree within 38 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.
  • Courses: 41 total courses in this program.

Candidates for this online teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school physics teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for physics
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This physics teaching degree program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. Graduates of this online teaching degree program will be eligible for teaching certification.

Science Education (Secondary Earth Science) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school earth science teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching license options in your state.

  • Time: 62% of grads earned this middle school teaching and high school teaching degree within 29 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.
  • Courses: 39 total courses in this program.

Candidates for this science teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school geoscience teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for earth science
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This geosciences teaching degree program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This high school teaching degree program prepares you for teaching licensure in any of the 50 states.

Special Education (Mild to Moderate) – B.A.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring K–12 special education teacher. Leads to your teaching license in states that offer a single teaching license in K–12 special education.

  • Time: 62% of grads finish similar online teaching degree programs within 29 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 41 total courses in this program.

 If your state requires—or if you're interested in—dual licensure in both elementary education and K–12 special education, consider the B.A. Special Education (K–12) program.

Candidates for this special education degree program often include:

  • Aspiring special ed teachers who currently lack a teaching license.
  • Substitute teachers.
  • Career-changers.
  • School paraprofessionals.
  • Others who feel the call to teach.

This online degree program includes a preclinical experience with face-to-face observation hours and a Demonstration Teaching component hosted by an experienced teacher and directed by a clinical supervisor.

Why WGU?

There are many reasons MBA and MSML students pick WGU. Here area few:

Earning Potential

A teaching degree can dramatically impact your earning potential. After graduation WGU students report earning $15,729 more per year.

On Your Schedule

Competency-based education means you can move as quickly through your degree as you can master the material. You don't have to log in to classes at a certain time—you are truly in the driver's seat of your education

Entirely Online

You can do your coursework at night after working at your full-time job, on weekends, while you're traveling the world or on vacation—it's entirely up to you.

"Not only was I single mother of three, I was also having to work and attend school full-time. Thankfully, WGU made it possible for me to succeed!"

Amanda Ogle
B.A. (Dual Licensure), Special Education and Elementary Education

COST & TIME

An Affordable Bachelor's Degree

By charging per term rather than per credit—and empowering students to accelerate through material they know well or learn quickly—WGU helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. The faster you complete your program, the less you pay for your degree.

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”The thing I am most proud of in my career is when my students tell me they love me. This proves to me that I have accomplished more than just teaching them math. WGU gave me these tools.”

—Tabitha Shelly
B.S., Math Education (Middle Grades)

Prepared for Success
on the Job

From a 2021 Harris Poll of 300 employers of WGU graduates

97% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.

95% of employers said that they would hire another WGU grad.

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.