Can You Become a Teacher with a Sociology Degree?

You majored in sociology as an undergraduate, but now, you’re beginning to find yourself drawn toward a career in education. Maybe you’ve been wondering: is it too late for you to switch careers? Can you teach elementary, middle, or high school with a sociology degree in California? If so, are you limited to teaching sociology only? And are there different rules for schools outside of the state’s public education system, such as private or parochial schools?

We’ll explore the answers to these and other questions, explaining how you can leverage your sociology degree to help transition into a successful career as an educator. We’ll talk about California’s education and credentialing requirements for teachers, review mandatory teaching exams like the CBEST, and discuss some of the potential paths you can take if you have a sociology degree and want to become a licensed teacher

For additional information about becoming a sociology teacher or other type of educator in California, we recommend exploring our articles on teaching without an education degree, becoming a teacher in California, or, if relevant to your interests, becoming an elementary school teacher. You can also get in touch with our admissions office to request information or discuss our accredited education programs and CTC-approved credential programs with an enrollment counselor, who can help you compare program options like our Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (BAECE), Master of Arts in Education (MAE), Clear Education Specialist Teaching Credential, and more. Whether you have extensive or minimal experience in education, we offer an online or on-campus program that will help you reach the next stage of your teaching career. 

Can You Teach with a Sociology Degree in California? 

Have you been thinking about becoming a teacher in California? The good news is that your sociology degree can help make it possible. That’s because your degree helps to fulfill part of California’s requirement that public school teachers possess a bachelor’s degree and complete five years of higher education. 

Traditionally, most teachers have fulfilled this requirement by obtaining a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. However, thanks to the passage of recent legislation, it is now also possible to participate in a “blended” program, or undergraduate teacher preparation program, as an alternative. If you are not able to commit to a master’s degree program at this stage of your career, a teacher preparation program might offer a faster and more cost-efficient alternative. In a blended program, you can work on your degree and earn your teaching credential at the same time, helping you meet another requirement — California’s credential requirement — which we’ll discuss shortly. 

It’s important to select a program which has been approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), which, in the CTC’s own words, functions “as a state standards board for educator preparation for the public schools of California.” National University offers dozens of CTC-approved teaching credential programs, including the Inspired Teaching and Learning with a Preliminary Single or Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, the Preliminary Education Specialist Authorization Teaching Credential, the Reading and Literacy Leadership Specialist Credential, and the Clear Education Specialist Teaching Credential. 

Your degree in sociology may help prepare you for various master’s programs in teaching. However, some master’s degree programs might require you to have a bachelor’s degree in education, and/or expect applicants to have prior classroom experience. It depends on the program and university, which is one of the reasons it’s important to compare program details with help from an enrollment counselor. 

What Subjects Can You Teach with a Sociology Degree? 

Perhaps you’ve been wondering: What can you teach with a sociology degree? The answer depends in part on your credentials, which are an important aspect of becoming licensed to teach in California. Critically, the credentials you need vary depending on what and whom you wish to teach. 

For example, if you wish to teach any single subject, you will generally need to earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential. For example, you might need this type of credential if your goal is to become a high school or secondary school teacher. As the CTC explains, this type of credential “authorizes the holder to teach the specific subject(s) named on the credential in departmentalized classes, such as those in most middle schools and high schools, in grades preschool, K-12, or in classes organized primarily for adults.” 

Per the CTC’s most current list, that includes subjects like Agriculture, Art, English, Mathematics, and Music. With a sociology degree, you will likely be pursuing your credential in Social Sciences, unless you also hold another degree in a different subject. As the CTC states, “[The applicant’s] degree major must be in the subject area being sought,” which means that a sociology major generally could not pursue a credential in chemistry, physics, or other unrelated subjects (unless, for instance, the person double-majored in sociology and chemistry). Be advised that you will be rigorously tested to demonstrate your knowledge and competency, making it crucial to carefully choose which sort of credential you will pursue. 

If you see yourself becoming an elementary school teacher — in which case, you’ll be teaching your students many different subjects on a daily basis — it makes more sense for you to pursue a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. As the CTC explains on its website, “Individuals who want to teach in elementary school in California must earn a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential,” a process we’ll discuss more in the next section. 

How to Become a Sociology Teacher or Teach Other Subjects in California

The traditional pathway to becoming a teacher in California is to earn a bachelor’s degree (including a sociology degree), then pursue a master’s degree related to teaching or education. However, as we have also discussed, there is an alternative option to complete a blended program to earn your degree and your teaching credential together in one simplified and accelerated process. So what does this process involve? 

To receive your credential and become certified to teach, you must be able to demonstrate proficiency in certain skills, which are generally tested via one of the following exams: 

  1. California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) 
  2. CSET Multiple Subject  Plus Writing Skills Examination
  3. CSU Early Assessment Program (or the CSU Placement Examinations) 

Passing one of these exams will show that you meet the state’s “basic skills requirement,” which is rooted in Title 5 of the California Education Code. You will also need to demonstrate your subject matter competency through one of six methods discussed by the CTC here. National University’s career-oriented teaching programs are specifically designed to help students prepare for the CSET, CBEST, and related required exams, a topic you can further explore with some of our tips on studying for the CSET

Apply to NU to Earn Your Teaching Degree and Credential in California   

California is experiencing a teacher shortage crisis, which is disproportionately impacting its most vulnerable and underserved communities. Make a positive difference by earning your teaching degree or credential and contributing your talents where they’re needed most. 

Find out what you can do in 30 days. Get in touch with an enrollment counselor to discuss which program is the best fit for your goals. Start the process today by requesting information from our admissions office. When you’re ready to apply, you can begin the process online via our secure portal. 

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