Degree Programs & Majors
Thanks to distance learning, aspiring teachers have a wealth of education opportunities available to them. Whether searching for an associate degree to jump-start a teaching career or a doctoral degree to take it to the next level, there is a wide range of post-secondary educational options online. However, narrowing down which program is best suited for one’s specific education and career goals can be challenging. To help with the process, this guide provides an overview of the broad field of education, including its specializations, and in-depth insight into the kinds of online degree programs available to tomorrow’s educators and administrators.
Online Teaching Colleges
|School||Tuition||Acceptance Rate||Student Population||School Type||see Programs|
Teaching and Education Degrees
For many people, education is a calling. The opportunities to learn are dynamic and abundant, compelling interest from people of all fields, backgrounds, and education levels. Students, however, are not the only learners. Educators continually strive to enhance their knowledge and skill set. Education methodology, policy, management, pedagogy, and technology create an ever-evolving landscape and thus a need for teachers and administrators to stay current with the latest changes.
While things such as tuition, faculty expertise, financial aid, and academic reputation all play an important part in the search for the right school, flexibility and accessibility can also be top factors in the decision process. Many of today’s learners need flexible academic options that will allow them to keep their jobs while they earn a degree. As a result, many major universities, small private colleges and even community colleges have developed components or entire degree programs that can be completed online.
Online Teaching and Education Degrees
Online programs in education give students the opportunity to take academic coursework online, for example, classes in educational psychology or research methods. Professors assign coursework through a course management system, and students complete and submit assignments through the system. Online schools utilize audio and video presentations, chat rooms or forums, Skype and webinars for instruction and communication purposes, allowing students to interact with professors and classmates. Online students gain exposure to the use of technology in teaching.
Because student teaching is a requirement for teacher certification, some online programs in education use a hybrid model of delivery, combining Web-based study, on-campus instruction, and observation and experience in the field. Online graduate degrees in education may be particularly appropriate for teachers pursuing studies while balancing work responsibilities.
Teaching and Education Program Highlights
Technology has begun to positively influence—and change—the classroom experience for both students and educators. Online degree programs in teaching offer an array of academic options, from certifications to undergraduate and graduate degrees, to help facilitate training and advancement of teachers and administrators. Distance degree programs place courses at the fingertips of students who, for a number of reasons, may not be able to attend a traditional campus college.
With so many options, however, extensive research is required for prospective students to find their optimal post-secondary educational program. There are many teaching programs that offer online opportunities for distance learners. So which is right for you? This guide examines the different types of degrees available online within the field of teaching, how these degrees map to careers, and which degree programs are the best match for specific goals.
However, before diving deeper into the details, below is a list of 10 teaching degree programs for an idea of what is currently available:
Chadron State CollegeMaster of Education – Curriculum and Instruction
Chadron State College offers several online and hybrid graduate degrees in education, one of which is a master of education – curriculum and instruction. Students can choose from among several program options, including elementary education, elementary field option (with a concentration in a subject area), secondary education, reading specialist or special education. To be accepted into the program, students must hold a bachelor’s degree in education or have earned alternative teaching certification. Chadron State’s Master of Education program gives students advanced background in curriculum, research, leadership, and teaching. Many of the courses are offered in condensed 8-week formats, allowing students to complete this degree at an accelerated rate.
Mississippi State UniversityBachelor of Science in Technology Teacher Education
Aspiring technology teachers can earn the coursework necessary for their teaching credentials through Mississippi State University’s Bachelor of Science in technology teacher education program. With the exception of the required practicum and internship within a school setting, this degree can be earned completely online. Graduates are prepared to teach a variety of tech-related topics at the middle or high school levels, or at community technology centers. Students may add a business minor or social studies concentration to this degree, allowing them further flexibility in their future career.
North Carolina State CollegeMaster of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: New Literacies and Global Learning
North Carolina State College has embraced the quickly changing communication modes and developed a program to help teachers utilize these methods in their instruction. The master of education in curriculum and instruction: new literacies and global learning is a unique program that shows teachers how to incorporate things like text messaging and social networking into a traditional classroom. Students can take six to nine credit hours online per semester for the duration of the 30-credit program. This online master’s program offers concentrations in K-12 reading, English language arts, and social studies.
New Mexico State UniversityDoctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction
This hybrid program at New Mexico State University allows prospective school administrators the flexibility to complete their doctor of philosophy in curriculum and instruction online, with condensed two-week on-campus classes in the summer. Graduates are prepared to apply theoretical perspectives of teaching and learning to school environments. Students gain invaluable professional leadership skills through service, research, grant writing, and networking. Admission requirements include a master’s degree in an education field and an interview with NMSU’s learning technology’s faculty. Online classes are delivered through web-based technology, interactive television, and faculty exchanges.
Northern Arizona UniversityMaster of Educational Leadership
Students looking to affect educational policy can earn an online master of educational leadership from Northern Arizona University. The degree has three specializations available: community college/higher education, educational foundations, and instructional leadership. Coursework prepares graduates for leadership positions, allowing them to serve as school administrators, lead curriculum initiatives, serve as chairs of education departments, and more. The degree varies from 30 to 36 credit hours, which students can take completely online. Most online classes are asynchronous, so students can balance busy personal and professional schedules with their course load. NAU also provides a host of support resources for online learners, including 24/7 technical support, tutoring, and access to traditional on-campus resources.
University of Massachusetts (UMassOnline)Bachelor of Arts, Children’s Learning and Development
The University of Massachusetts’s online Bachelor of Arts in children’s learning and development provides a flexible path to a degree. This degree is not a teacher licensure program, but rather is geared toward those who serve children and families in an agency setting. It is also a starting point for those interested in pursuing a teaching career, and UMass allows students to customize their program of study to meet their own individual needs and goals. Graduates pursue careers in education, child advocacy, youth and family program, and administration. Courses include teaching methods, behavior management, multi-cultural education, and child psychology.
University of CincinnatiAssociate of Arts and Science, Early Childhood Care and Education
The University of Cincinnati’s online associate degree in early childhood care and education is available with three different focus areas: infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and administration. This online program is designed for aspiring head start and preschool teachers, infant and toddler specialists, and early childhood program administrators. While students can complete coursework online, there is a fieldwork experience requirement. Those already working in a classroom setting may be able to use their own classroom for student teaching and practicum requirements, after approval by the university. Students videotape their own teaching for review by UC faculty and an on-site mentor.
University of FloridaMaster of Education or Specialist in Education: Teacher Leadership for School Improvement
Designed specifically for full-time, practicing educators, the University of Florida’s Master of Education in teacher leadership for school improvement empowers teachers in teaching, research, leadership, and advocacy. Students can adapt the program to meet their needs and earn either a Master in Education (M.Ed.) or a Specialist in Education (Ed.S.) in curriculum and instruction. This is a job-embedded program, which means that students take what they learn in their coursework and immediately apply it to their own school. Students develop a portfolio of work and affect change in their own school community, documenting growth and change as they earn their degree.
University of HoustonMaster of Education in Curriculum and Instruction – Health Science Education
Although designed specifically for educators who teach in academic health science settings, this online master’s degree is also helpful for researchers, program coordinators, residents and fellows or anyone interested in furthering their career in academic medicine. Students learn how to develop curriculum in the medical setting and gain a background in teaching K-12 science. Most online classes have no required campus visits; however, some instructors may require proctored exams. Students access course materials via Blackboard Learn, UH’s online course management system, asynchronously. They also have the flexibility to complete coursework on their own schedule.
University of Nebraska at KearneyBachelor of Arts in Education, Early Childhood Inclusive
A Bachelor of Arts in education, early childhood inclusive at the University of Nebraska at Kearny is a teacher licensure program for those interested in working with children from birth through third grade. Because it is a fully online degree (with the exception of supervised school-based hours and student teaching), students can work full time while completing coursework. It is also a degree completion program, which means that students to earn most of their general studies credits prior to enrollment—either at UNK or another accredited college or university. Online courses are asynchronous and highly interactive. Students communicate with peers and instructors regularly via email, discussion forums, and chat groups.
Name: DAWN H.
Degree: MASTER’S DEGREE IN EDUCATION – READING SPECIALTY
What has been the biggest benefit of distance learning at your college?
I can take graduate-level classes and I am not limited by time or location. I can work on my classes anytime of the day or night. This is especially helpful when working full time and having children at home. I can work full-time and still be home for my son when he gets home from school, and I can wait until he goes to bed to work on my classes. I live out of town and love the flexibility of taking classes online instead of having to drive to classes several time per week.
What role has technology played in your online program and courses?
The flexibility of the online format is great. I am able to read lectures, communicate with classmates and professors, and do my coursework at any time during the day or night. I can get the information more efficiently without having to sit through lectures. I am a rather shy person and in a regular classroom format I would be less likely to speak in front of others but I don’t have that problem online. I am able to communicate very well with my professors and classmates because all of our comments are posted on the discussion boards and all of our “voices” were heard. It’s easy to ask questions and get feedback from my professor using messaging on blackboard as well as email.
How does your online program help prepare you for a career after graduation?
I have to be a self-starter and be able to monitor my own time and learning. I have to make sure I kept up with what assignments were due and when they were due. This is a very valuable skill to have in the field of education with the multiple tasks that are assigned to educators on a daily basis. Not only have I learned a lot about the theories of literacy instruction, I have gotten a lot of practical ideas that I can use to enhance my teaching and abilities as a literacy coach to other teachers. I now have a firm grasp on my philosophy and methods of teaching reading and writing. I believe that I am very well prepared for a career as a reading specialist and literacy leader in schools.
Online Associate Degrees in Teaching and Education
An online associate degree in teaching or education can take two years to complete and may offer specializations in early childhood or elementary education. Upon completion of the program, students may be eligible to apply for a CDA (Child Development Associates) Credential. At this level, online programs offer basic knowledge in teaching and working with infants, toddlers, pre-school, and kindergarten students. Program curriculum combines general education with fundamental courses in education and instruction methods. Since a bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum requirement for employment, this degree option serves to build the foundation for a four-year degree program.
The table below describes several of the courses offered in an associate degree in education program:
|Intro to Early Childhood Education||Overview of early childhood development. Government standards and regulations, historical perspectives and current trends.|
|Creative Activities for Young Children||Creative, developmentally appropriate practices in a child care environment. Materials and activities that help foster children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development, with an emphasis on activities that encourage independence, exploration, risk-taking and opportunities to think and act creatively.|
|Young Children with Special Needs||Strategies to address learning differences. Common learning differences and disabilities encountered in the classroom. Value of early identification of special needs and the importance of intervening early, in accordance with relevant federal legislation.|
|Early Childhood Curriculum Planning||Teaching methods for educational settings that serve young children. Developmental domains, strategies for planning, organizing the learning environment, facilitating teacher-child interactions, guiding children’s behavior, conducting lessons, assessing, caregiving, supporting play and addressing standards through integrated and emergent curriculum.|
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Teaching and Education
Bachelor’s programs in education typically take four years to complete. Coursework introduces students to the contemporary educational system and education-related issues in public policy. Coursework to prepare aspiring instructors covers teaching methods and guidelines for discipline and classroom management. Students may also explore statistical methods used in educational research. Students can earn their Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in general K-12 curriculum with subject specializations in special education, mathematics, science, physical education, English, early childhood development and more.
Most teaching online programs require fieldwork or a student teaching component. Individual state requirements vary, but all states require bachelor’s degree holders in education to obtain licenses before assuming their classroom duties. In an online bachelor’s teaching degree program, students learn about education theory and best practices, instructional methods, and gain tools that will help them become effective leaders and educators in a K-12 environment. Online degrees may also cover topics such as race, ethnicity, and culture to help aspiring teachers thrive in a diverse, multicultural classroom.
The table below includes typical courses in a bachelor’s degree program:
|Classroom Management||Classroom management techniques including physical space, behavioral norms, time management and safety.|
|Foundations of Education||Introduces historical foundations, professionalism, the role of technology, and trends and issues in education. Development of personal philosophy of education.|
|Child Development||Explores the development of the child from birth through eighth grade. Physical, cognitive/intellectual, social/emotional and moral development. Defines various stages as they impact instructional practices and decisions in a preschool environment.|
|Models and Theories of Instruction||Theoretical models that underlie teaching and learning for all learners. Examination of effective teaching strategies that promote student learning. Explorations of various lesson plans.|
|Legal and Ethical Issues in Education||Provides students with the opportunity to examine and apply legal and ethical issues within the context of an educational setting. Discuss and analyze legal issues and their consequent impact on educators.|
|Assessment in Elementary Education||Identifies what assessment is and how formative and summative assessments are used in the classroom. Analysis of reliability and validity, standardized assessments and assessment frameworks.|
|The Exceptional Child||Overview of the categories of exceptionality for elementary-age students with special needs. Differentiated methods and techniques used for the identification, assessment and instruction of diverse populations. Historical perspectives and information related to special education law and current policies and practice.|
Online Master’s Degrees in Teaching and Education
Experienced teachers who want to take their career to the next level can choose to pursue an online master’s degree in teaching. This degree helps students enhance their current education and teaching knowledge as well as develop more specialized skills. Master’s teaching programs usually offer various specialization areas, such as multiple subject teaching or individual subject teaching. Students also explore the latest developments in pedagogy and instructional technology so that they can create classrooms that are not only highly academic, but also engaging.
While much of the coursework for a teaching master’s degree can be completed online, it is important to note that a majority of quality degree programs will require hands-on, fieldwork experience. This is an important part of teacher curriculum as it allows students to take what they have learned and apply it to everyday, real world classroom challenges. Additionally, such experience is often necessary to earn a teaching credential.
Below are some of the courses possible in a master’s program, although the curriculum can vary considerably.
|MASTER’S PROGRAM CORE COURSES||OVERVIEW|
|Contemporary Issues in Education||Viewpoints on contemporary issues and trends in education theory and practice. School and national education perspective.|
|Educational Technology||Explores how computers, web-based resources and multimedia are used to engage K-12 school students in problem-solving, creative inquiry and collaborative learning.|
|Educational Research||Skills needed to critically review, assess and evaluate educational research using both quantitative and qualitative approaches.|
|Educational Measurement and Assessment||Examines theories and techniques of educational measurement and assessment for curriculum planning, development, delivery, feedback and improvement.|
|Developmental Psychology||Cognitive development from the prenatal period through adolescence. Theoretical, methodological and empirical issues such as neurobiological plasticity, infant cognition, theory of mind, memory, language and executive functions.|
|Cultural Psychology||Relationship between culture and psychological processes. Historical and contemporary treatments of cultural psychology. Deficit models, cross-cultural psychology, ecological niches and role of race and power.|
|Urban Education||Social science and historical perspectives trace the major developments and policy issues of urban education.|
|Social, Emotional and Personality Development||Developmental processes that account for psychological adaptation in social relationships, schools and other interpersonal settings.|
Online Doctorate Degrees in Teaching and Education
The most advanced education degree is a doctorate, for example, the PhD in Education or Doctor of Education (Ed.D or D.Ed). Students choose an area of concentration within the discipline of education, such as policy, leadership, human development or research. To enroll in a doctoral program, students need a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a related field. Most programs require students to submit and defend a dissertation. It typically takes at least four years to complete a doctoral program, although this varies if students are teaching part-time or working as a graduate research assistant.
Core classes could include organizational leadership, qualitative research methods and educational policy. However, the curriculum is shaped by the student’s choice of concentration. University professors hold a doctorate in their specialty, whether it’s Spanish or economics, and a doctorate in education is typically required to teach education-related courses at the postsecondary level. Educators with a PhD often spend time on scholarly research and publishing in addition to, or instead of, classroom instruction. School administrators such as district superintendents often have doctoral degrees. Other potential positions span nonprofit organizations and the federal government.
Top U.S. Colleges & Universities for Teaching
|College Rank||College Name||#Programs||Tuition||Total Enrollment||City||State|
|1||Teachers College at Columbia University||77||$31,962||6,535||New York||New York|
|2||New York University||76||$39,344||50,444||New York||New York|
|3||Eastern Michigan University||72||$7,409||28,511||Ypsilanti||Michigan|
|4||Rhode Island College||72||$6,240||10,939||Providence||Rhode Island|
|5||Pace University-New York||71||$33,962||15,402||New York||New York|
|6||University of Toledo||70||$7,598||25,597||Toledo||Ohio|
|8||University of Georgia||69||$6,676||38,822||Athens||Georgia|
|10||Florida State University||66||$3,100||45,876||Tallahassee||Florida|
|11||Hofstra University||65||$32,500||13,128||Hempstead||New York|
|13||Texas A & M University-Commerce||63||$4,490||13,264||Commerce||Texas|
|14||Central Michigan University||63||$9,716||33,352||Mount Pleasant||Michigan|
|15||Nova Southeastern University||62||$22,650||39,245||Fort Lauderdale||Florida|
|16||Bridgewater State University||61||$910||13,561||Bridgewater||Massachusetts|
|17||University of Akron Main Campus||60||$8,004||32,183||Akron||Ohio|
|18||Western Michigan University||60||$8,762||28,517||Kalamazoo||Michigan|
|19||Northern Arizona University||59||$6,514||28,561||Flagstaff||Arizona|
|20||University of Minnesota-Twin Cities||59||$11,650||64,349||Minneapolis||Minnesota|
|22||Concordia University-Chicago||58||$24,944||6,513||River Forest||Illinois|
|23||East Carolina University||56||$3,348||31,334||Greenville||North Carolina|
|24||University of Iowa||56||$6,436||33,952||Iowa City||Iowa|
|25||CUNY Queens College||55||$5,130||25,743||Flushing||New York|
|26||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||54||$11,847||47,146||Champaign||Illinois|
|27||University of Arizona||53||$8,364||42,779||Tucson||Arizona|
|28||Saint Xavier University||53||$26,280||5,805||Chicago||Illinois|
|29||University of St Thomas Saint Paul||53||$31,504||12,164||Saint Paul||Minnesota|
|30||Wayne State University||52||$9,381||36,749||Detroit||Michigan|
|32||Wayne State College||51||$4,058||4,377||Wayne||Nebraska|
|33||Saint Ambrose University||51||$24,680||3,954||Davenport||Iowa|
|34||Bowling Green State University-Main Campus||50||$8,614||20,442||Bowling Green||Ohio|
|36||Kent State University at Kent||49||$9,346||32,075||Kent||Ohio|
|37||Southern Illinois University Carbondale||47||$7,337||22,814||Carbondale||Illinois|
|39||Minot State University||46||$4,587||4,810||Minot||North Dakota|
|40||Youngstown State University||46||$7,222||18,058||Youngstown||Ohio|
|41||Wright State University-Main Campus||46||$7,781||22,378||Dayton||Ohio|
|42||Niagara University||46||$25,300||4,846||Niagara University||New York|
|43||Chadron State College||45||$4,058||3,771||Chadron||Nebraska|
|44||University of Northern Colorado||45||$5,300||15,503||Greeley||Colorado|
|45||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||44||$5,153||40,165||Raleigh||North Carolina|
|46||Northern Michigan University||44||$7,776||11,185||Marquette||Michigan|
|48||Andrews University||44||$22,680||4,573||Berrien Springs||Michigan|
|49||Salem State University||43||$910||14,149||Salem||Massachusetts|
|50||Westfield State University||43||$970||6,881||Westfield||Massachusetts|
|51||Brigham Young University-Provo||43||$4,560||40,203||Provo||Utah|
|52||CUNY Brooklyn College||43||$5,130||21,565||Brooklyn||New York|
|53||CUNY Hunter College||43||$5,130||28,392||New York||New York|
|54||Union College Schenectady||43||$43,131||2,260||Schenectady||New York|
|55||Appalachian State University||42||$3,153||18,911||Boone||North Carolina|
|56||University of North Carolina at Greensboro||42||$3,454||22,740||Greensboro||North Carolina|
|57||University of Nebraska-Lincoln||42||$6,248||27,443||Lincoln||Nebraska|
|58||University of Maine||42||$8,370||13,369||Orono||Maine|
|59||Bethel University||42||$11,592||5,178||Saint Paul||Minnesota|
|60||Anderson University IN||42||$24,540||3,047||Anderson||Indiana|
|61||Westminster College New Wilmington||42||$26,712||1,690||New Wilmington||Pennsylvania|
|62||Olivet Nazarene University||42||$26,750||6,448||Bourbonnais||Illinois|
|63||Boise State University||41||$3,724||29,520||Boise||Idaho|
|64||North Dakota State University-Main Campus||41||$6,135||17,001||Fargo||North Dakota|
|65||University at Buffalo||41||$5,270||32,412||Buffalo||New York|
|66||Augustana College SD||41||$33,363||1,941||Sioux Falls||South Dakota|
|67||Syracuse University||41||$36,300||31,780||Syracuse||New York|