Regulations surrounding education degrees vary across the United States. In the state of Connecticut, Education is a certification program, not a major, which means that students interested in teaching as a career field would need to choose an academic major as an undergraduate student and may concurrently complete the education certification and masters programs for either the elementary or secondary level. The benefit of this requirement is that the teacher-graduate possesses a more diverse skill set and greater professional competency as a result of a solid and varied academic background.
In Connecticut, students may major in any academic discipline if planning to apply for a graduate education program and become certified in Elementary Education. Upon completion of the program requirements the student will be able to teach in Connecticut public schools grades K-6. If the student wishes to complete a Graduate Education program and Secondary Education Certification (grades 7-12), the undergraduate academic majors must be related to a high school academic discipline such as: Business, English, History/Social Studies, Mathematics, Science (several options), and Foreign Language. Graduate programs differ slightly on these offerings (for example, Art Education, Physical Education, and certain foreign language certifications are offered at some universities and not others), so please check the specific requirements and offerings at the institutions in which you are interested in applying.
Since each state has its own certification requirements, it is wise to attend a graduate education program in the state in which you wish to teach upon your graduation. This ensures that you will be immediately eligible to work in the public school system of that state upon your graduation and certification achievement. Some states such as Connecticut have exceptional reciprocity agreements, which means that if you become certified to teach in Connecticut, you will also be eligible to teach in 48 other states across the country with limited additional requirements (usually passing the state's certification exam). This is not the case in many states, so if you are not certain which state you will be working in upon your certification/graduate degree achievement please make sure to obtain all reciprocity agreement facts in the states that you are considering before applying to graduate education programs.
In addition to general admissions requirements for graduate education programs (i.e. successful completion of undergraduate program, GPA, recommendation letters, personal statements, etc.) a state mandated entrance exam is required as is the certification exam upon completion of the graduate education program to become certified to teach. 80% of states utilize the Praxis I and II Exams http://www.ets.org/praxis/ for these purposes. These exams measure the academic achievement and proficiency of individuals entering and completing teacher preparation programs.
Sacred Heart University offers the Master of Arts in Teaching program and certification at both the Elementary and Secondary levels. For more information about this program, contact SHU Graduate Admissions. To access the Education Graduate Program Directory in the United States, go to: http://www.gradschools.com/edu.html.