Palo Alto College among best colleges for associate degrees in teaching

May 28, 2020

Marketing and Strategic Communications

Grad Reports recently honored Palo Alto College on its list of 25 Best Associate Degrees in Teaching for 2020, ranking the institution at number 20 among colleges and universities nationwide. 

"This designation means a great deal. I think it is a validation of our hard work," said Dr. John Hernandez, behavioral sciences department chair. "It starts with a dedicated faculty, led by Dr. Amie Deleon, who are very passionate and dedicated in their work, in their love for the teaching profession, and trying to share that skill set and knowledge with our students."

In their methodology, Grad Reports looked at annual tuition and median debt in its rankings, as well as a median annual salary in the first year after graduation, as reported by the U.S. Department of Education.

Students in the Teacher Education program get hands-on experience in the classroom thanks to an initiative called JA (Junior Achievement) in a Day, which enhances student learning and makes students more employable after graduation. 

"What is unique for Palo Alto, is that we have elected to immerse students in their field experience by spending an entire day at area public schools," said Hernandez.

This year, due to school closures resulting from COVID-19, teacher education students completed their required 16 hours of in-classroom experience virtually.

"The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) have worked around the requirement by putting together a series of videos of teachers in action for our students to watch," said Hernandez. 

He attributes part of the program's success to building collaborative partnerships that ensure students are receiving sound advice to make the best decisions according to their academic, career, and personal goals. 

"Dr. Deleon has also established a tight connection with our certified advisors, who have been instrumental in complementing what the instructors do in the classroom by guiding students' next steps," said Hernandez.

From the 2019-2020 school year, the program had one of the largest graduating cohorts, with 110 students obtaining their Associate of Arts in Teaching. The program consists of freshman- and sophomore-level courses that are fully transferable to all Texas public universities. To learn more, visit