If You Build It Will They Come? The Teacher Shortage and Student Demand

January 19, 2023

US schools are facing challenges in filling their teaching positions. As of March 2022, almost half (44%) of US schools reported job vacancies for full-time and part-time teachers. It is unclear whether enough students are interested in the required Master’s of Education or in becoming a teacher. Is there enough student interest to fill seats for your programs?

Gray looked at job postings in education, specifically for preschool to grade 12 teaching from January 2021 to November 2022. Job growth year-over-year was high from January to July 2022 before slowing down in August. 

US Job Postings in education* Preschool-Grade 12 by SOC Code

The areas of greatest opportunity are special education at the middle and preschool levels. More than half of the top 14 job postings are at the middle school level or below.

Job Postings Volume, preschool - Grade 12 * Trailing six months

Enrollment in Master’s of Education Programs

Enrollment is a current indicator of student demand, and we looked at the highest enrollment volume and growth for master’s programs to see if education made the top 10. In both volume and growth, education made the list.

Education was the sixth highest-enrolled program in the academic year 2021-2022 at 17,993 students. Special Ed in Teaching (a high employment demand area) also made the list, with 16,741 enrollees, followed by Curriculum and Instruction with 16,150.

Highest New Student Enrollment - Master's Programs, Academic Year 2021-2022

Among the fastest-growing programs, Teacher Ed, Multiple Levels grew 49%, beaten only by Data Science in year-over-year growth.

Fastest-Growing New Student Enrollment* Master's Programs - Academic Year 2021-2022

Within master’s programs in education, which disciplines have the most opportunity for growth? Three special education programs grew, and another employer high-demand discipline – bilingual and multilingual education – had flat growth.

Academic Year 2021-2022 Year-Over-Year Enrollment Growth - Master's in Education Disciplines 92-Digit CIP Code)

IPEDS Completions

While IPEDS Completion data lags two to three years behind (when students likely chose the program), it remains an important source for measuring student demand, especially when combined with employment metrics. School librarians and health teachers had the highest job openings per graduate.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Highest Job Openings per Graduate - Educational Disciplines by CIP Code

The good news for public schools with unfilled vacancies is that, according to our data, enrollment in education programs is growing, and some are in high-need areas like special education. 

Monica Bilson


Monica produces webinars and conference presentations, contributes to blogs, and manages internal projects for senior leadership. She is the designer and manager of Gray’s course with Bay Path University, Academic Program Evaluation and Management.

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Gray Associates, Inc. is a software and services firm focused on higher education. We help education clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies that maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.

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