25 Best Online Teaching Programs 2021

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Aspiring teachers need a bachelor's degree before starting their career. Applicants to most bachelor's programs need a high school diploma, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and acceptable ACT or SAT scores. Some programs require applicants to submit entrance essays and recommendation letters. Some schools request placement tests and interviews.

Many schools offer online teaching degrees for added flexibility. Coursework varies by focus. Students can specialize in many areas, including elementary and secondary school education. Other popular specializations include special education and physical education.

Graduates can work as teachers or administrators in private or public schools. Some students who earn an online education degree work in adult education.

This page highlights the best online teaching degrees, including common courses and costs.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching

true Q. What kind of teaching degrees are there?

Students can pursue an online education degree at the associate, bachelor's, or graduate level.

true Q. Can I get a teaching degree online?

Yes. Many schools offer fully online teaching degrees. These programs run asynchronously, allowing learners to complete coursework around their schedule.

true Q. Do I need a bachelor's degree to teach?

Yes. Teachers need at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for professional certification and teach in K-12 public schools. However, an associate-level degree can qualify graduates for teacher's aide positions or jobs in preschools or daycares.

Why Get a Teaching Degree?

Many regionally accredited bachelor's in education programs contain state-approved teacher preparation programs. These programs meet minimum educational requirements for K-12 teaching certification. Educators need this certification to teach in public schools. Online teaching degrees also train learners for teaching or administrative work in private schools.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn a median annual salary of $60,660. Middle school and high school teachers make similar salaries. School principals earn a median of $98,490 annually.

How Much Does a Teaching Degree Cost?

The cost of a teaching degree varies by school and program. As of August 2021, students spend an average of $35,720 annually on tuition and fees, according to EducationData.org. In-state students at public institutions pay the most affordable tuition. Education costs also vary by state.

Online teaching degrees often cost less than on-campus degrees. Distance learners also save money by avoiding campus parking and room-and-board expenses. However, some online programs require in-person fieldwork, such as student teaching.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online learners should budget for books and supplies. They also need a reliable computer and internet access. Students may need to pay for device repairs or assistance. Other possible expenses include graduation and distance learning fees.

Some online education programs require short, in-person residencies on campus. Students should budget for travel and lodging expenses.

How Much Do Teaching Graduates Make?

Salaries vary by teachers' position, credentials, and employer. Teachers with advanced education and professional experience can move into high-paying administrative positions. Some teaching graduates create programs for private companies or nonprofits. Bachelor's in education graduates can also pursue a master's or doctoral degree.

Courses in Teaching Programs

Courses in teaching programs vary by school and specialization. Aspiring elementary teachers complete courses in early childhood education and assessment of young children. Prospective high school teachers take courses on older students' learning.

Most education programs cover topics such as instructional technology and current curriculum and instruction research. Online teaching degrees build skills in lesson planning, communication, and classroom management. Students complete specialized elective coursework in areas such as special education or physical education.

See below for common courses in teaching programs.

  • Child Development

    Learners study human development from birth through adolescence. They learn about how cognitive and physical development intersect with social and emotional development. The course discusses influencing factors such as culture, gender, and socioeconomic status. Students conduct field observations during and outside of class sessions.
  • Introduction to Classroom Management

    This core course explores classroom management theory. Enrollees learn how to meet students' essential psychological needs and create positive peer and student-teacher relationships. Coursework covers classroom behavior standards. Degree-seekers learn how to collaborate with parents and increase student motivation. Enrollees also learn how to keep students on task and create behavior change plans.
  • Instructional Technology in Education

    This required course introduces learners to application technologies that support student learning. Enrollees learn how technology can enhance achievement, improve accessibility, and fulfill curriculum needs. The course includes technology-based projects that allow learners to show their course learnings.

How to Become a Teacher

Most aspiring teachers start by earning a bachelor's degree from a state-approved teacher education program. Learners may major in early childhood education, middle school education, and secondary school education. Schools may require a content area specialization such as math or reading.

Next, learners apply for state-issued teaching licensure or certification. Candidates must pass background checks and professional examinations. Required examinations usually include one general teaching certification test and one subject-area test. Some high school teachers need a master's degree.

Prospective teachers receive feedback and training during supervised student teaching fieldwork. Teachers spend their days planning lessons and conducting classes. They also collaborate with families and school administrators.

Licensure for Teaching

Public school teachers need a state-administered teaching license or certification. All states require teachers seeking licensure or certification to complete a state-approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited school.

Approved teacher preparation programs build key skills in student progress assessment, classroom behavior management, and curriculum development. These programs include at least one semester of supervised student teaching.

Teaching licensure costs $75-$200. To maintain licensure, teachers must complete continuing education hours every few years. Licensure renewal includes a fee. New teachers in some states receive a provisional license. They can apply for full licensure after a trial period.

Prospective teachers can learn more about teaching licensure at AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org.

25 Best Online Teaching Programs 2021

Purdue University View School Profile $$ West Lafayette, IN

Located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue ranks among the nation's top public research institutions. The university serves learners who cannot attend on-campus courses through its comprehensive online school, Purdue Global.

Purdue's online master of education presents current educators with four options of study: applied behavioral analysis, curriculum and instruction, design and technology, and special education. The options take 18-22 months, depending on which route students select. Also, while current educators or those working within the education industry benefit most from the master of education, not all programs require educational experience. For example, the master's in learning design and technology only requires a bachelor's degree, resume, personal statement, three recommendation letters, and official transcripts.

After selecting an education major for their master's, some learners can further specialize their degrees. The master's in special education allows for six different concentrations. Course requirements vary based on students' selected route.

Johns Hopkins University View School Profile $$$$ Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins, one of the world's most well-respected schools, offers many options for students who want to pursue a degree in teaching. The university focuses heavily on graduate programs for current professionals who want to advance their careers.

Those interested in an online teaching degree can enroll in Johns Hopkins' global doctor of education. Created for working students, the online doctoral program is only available part time and takes 3-7 years to complete, depending on required credits and student focus. The program begins every fall and only accepts applicants once per year.

Enrollees complete 90-93 credits to graduate. However, some students can transfer up to 37 credits completed during their master's degree. Applicants need a master's degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA. Other application materials include a personal statement, a resume or CV, and three recommendation letters.

North Carolina State University View School Profile $$ Raleigh, NC

One of the state's premier public universities, Raleigh-based NC State provides learners with an affordable education. Over 36,000 students attend NC State and enjoy connections with local employers.

NC State's 36-credit online master of education features a specialization in adult and continuing professional education, community college teaching, or health professions education. The degree leads to careers within community colleges, vocational schools, and trade schools. NC State charges the same per-credit tuition rate for all learners, regardless of residency.

Applicants must demonstrate a background in education. Aside from a bachelor's degree, NC State only requires learners to submit their undergraduate transcript, work history, and reason for applying for the master's degree.

University of Georgia View School Profile $$$ Athens, GA

Chartered in 1785 as one of the earliest public institutions of higher education, UGA uses its years of experience to educate learners for modern careers. The school emphasizes hands-on learning and research, two factors that extend to the university's online programs.

The online master of education features multiple focuses, including educational philosophy, reading education, science education, and middle grades education. Requirements and program length vary by option, but learners can anticipate completing 36 hours over two years. While online learners do not gain hands-on experience in person, UGA builds upon students' professional experience with scenarios and group learning.

UGA allows students to transfer up to six hours, reducing program duration and cost. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and must complete a statement of purpose and demonstrate professional experience.

Indiana University-Bloomington View School Profile $$ Bloomington, IN

IU in Bloomington, the school's main campus, offers more than 550 academic programs. Across all of the university's campuses, including the growing online school, IU educates more than 110,000 learners each year.

Those interested in an online master's degree in education can choose from 14 programs, each with specific career outcomes. Many of IU's online education degrees focus on a specific subject, such as liberal studies, English, or chemistry. These 100% online options require 30-36 credits and prepare students to become high school teachers. Other options, such as the adult education master's degree, teach students to educate specific groups or secure niche positions within the industry. These options require 36 credits and some only run 80% online, meaning learners must gain in-person experience.

Regardless of students' chosen degrees, IU charges a per-credit tuition rate with Indiana residents receiving a lower in-state tuition rate.

LeTourneau University View School Profile $$$$ Longview, TX

Located in Longview, Texas, LETU enrolls just 3,150 learners, 288 of whom are enrolled in a graduate program. Despite its small size, the private school extends its programs to students outside of Longview through its online degrees. As a Christian school, LETU implements Christian teachings into its master of education degree. This experience could prepare learners for teaching careers within private schools.

Designed for individuals with a bachelor's degree but no teaching experience, LETU's online teaching degree qualifies students for teacher certification in Texas. Learners can choose from three options: grade four, grades 4-8, or grades 7-12. All three routes require 36 credits and run entirely online. LETU only allows students to complete one course at a time, though courses last just 3-7 weeks.

Michigan State University View School Profile $$$ East Lansing, MI

Consistently ranked among the nation's top public research universities, MSU teaches nearly 50,000 students and maintains a low 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

MSU offers five graduate-level education degrees online, four of which only come through online school. The options require at least 30 credits to complete, and most learners take up to two years to earn their degrees. Most online learners continue working full time.

Application requirements vary by degree, though applicants should first earn professional educational experience related to the degree. MSU prefers candidates with a 3.0 GPA or higher, and the university does not set GRE requirements. Each program accepts new students twice per year.

University of Central Florida View School Profile $$ Orlando, FL

One of the state's leaders in public education, UCF offers an affordable education, as half of its first-time students graduate with no debt. Learners across the nation can take advantage of affordable tuition through UCF's online school.

UCF offers several online master's degrees for students interested in education, including a master of exceptional student education. The 33-credit online degree prepares learners to work with K-12 students. Most students take two years to graduate, though part-time learners who continue working might take longer. Graduates are qualified to work with exceptional students at all levels, including internationally.

To qualify for the master of exceptional student education, applicants should first become certified to work with exceptional students. Other application requirements include relevant professional experience, GRE or GMAT scores, official transcripts, and a professional resume.

Texas A&M University View School Profile $$$ College Station, TX

Established in 1889, TAMUC is part of the extensive Texas A&M University system. Despite the school's small size relative to the system's other universities, TAMUC enrolls roughly 4,000 graduate students, many of whom study online.

TAMUC offers a variety of master's degrees in education, some of which run entirely online and others in a 50-50 hybrid format. Each degree leads to specific career outcomes, such as educational administration, college education, or high school education. Most options take two years to complete and require 30-36 credits. Some options also allow for a focus. For example, the master of higher education allows for a focus in either administration or college teaching.

All applicants need a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher and must submit GRE scores. They must also prove a professional background in education. Some programs require that applicants obtain a teaching license in Texas.

California State University, Fullerton View School Profile $ Fullerton, CA

An integral part of the CSU system, CSUF provides affordable higher education to enrollees in southern California. The university enrolls nearly 40,000 students from around the world and ranks among one of the state's most diverse schools.

Best for current educators, particularly those who live and work in California, CSUF's online master's degrees in education lead to various careers and teach new skills to current teachers. Each option takes two years to complete the 30 or more required credits. After selecting a degree, learners can also choose a specialization. For example, the master's program in secondary education offers a mathematics foundation or a general education option.

CSUF requires applicants to hold accredited bachelor's degrees with a 3.0 GPA on all related academic work. During the application, learners submit a current resume, a statement of purpose, two recommendation letters, and proof of a teaching credential.

University of South Florida View School Profile $$ Tampa, FL

USF, the state's top public research university, teaches students across the Tampa Bay regions through its multiple campuses and online school. The fast-growing university continues to attract talented learners with its low costs and quality educational programs.

Online learners at USF can choose from 10 different master's-level online teaching degrees. Most of the programs build upon prior teaching experience, so applicants should first become certified educators and teach for several years. Learners complete the programs entirely online and complete at least 30 credits over a two-year period. Programs culminate either with a thesis or comprehensive exam.

During the application, individuals submit a current resume that proves teaching experience, a statement of purpose that explains how the program aligns with professional goals, and two recommendation letters. Applicants who do not meet the admission requirements could still qualify for the programs as long as they hold National Board Certification.

Drexel University View School Profile $$$$$ Philadelphia, PA

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel focuses on providing practical knowledge that leads to careers. Aside from the university's connections in the Philadelphia area, Drexel also provides a tight-knit global alumni network.

Drexel offers two teaching degrees online: a bachelor's in elementary education and a non-certification bachelor's in education. The bachelor's in elementary education requires 188 quarter-credits completed over four years. Aside from student teaching and special education student teaching seminars, the entire program runs online. The non-certification bachelor's degree requires 180 quarter-credits completed entirely online. Drexel uses four 10-week quarters during the year, ideal for working students who want to study part time.

Transfer students can bring in up to 90 quarter credits (equal to 60 semester credits) if they completed the credits with a C grade or better. Other admission requirements include ACT/SAT scores and official transcripts.

University of Arizona View School Profile $$$ Tucson, AZ

UArizona, one of the nation's top public research universities and a regional leader in education, maintains connections with some of the country's top employers.

Intended for individuals without a teacher certification, UArizona's master of teaching and teacher education uses online courses and takes just one year to complete. However, enrollees must study full time, including during the summer. This full-year program also includes a student teaching internship, a requirement to become certified in Arizona. Graduates qualify to teach grades 7-12.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. UArizona also requires a 3.0 GPA. If an applicant's GPA falls under 3.0, the university looks at the 60 semester credits most recently completed.

Kansas State University View School Profile $$$ Manhattan, KS

Located in Manhattan, Kansas, K-State teaches more than 22,000 students from across the nation. The public school serves as a regional leader in education, and learners who graduate with a master's degree enjoy a 97% job placement rate.

K-State's online master of education programs provide many options for students with different professional backgrounds. For example, current educators can enroll in the adult learning and leadership master's degree while those without licenses can choose from various hybrid programs. The hybrid programs offer courses online, though learners must complete a student teaching internship to graduate and become a certified educator in Kansas.

The online master of education programs take 12 months of accelerated study to complete. Part-time learners take longer to earn the degree. Application requirements include a bachelor's degree, resume, statement of intent, and recommendation letters.

Florida International University View School Profile $ Miami, FL

FIU, a public research school in Miami, teaches subjects that prepare learners for a global workplace. Aside from its two campuses, FIU also extends many of its programs to learners around the world through its online school.

Prospective students should note that FIU's online bachelor's degree in early childhood development does not lead to a teaching certification. However, some employers, including schools abroad, may not require a certification. Regardless, the program teaches all skills necessary to begin working with children from birth to age eight. Enrollees complete 120 credits, 30 of which count as major requirements.

FIU requires applicants to submit official SAT or ACT test scores and high school transcripts. Transfer students may bring in 60 credits but must submit recent college transcripts. To qualify for the early childhood development program, learners must earn a 2.5 GPA or better on their lower-division coursework at FIU.

University of Iowa View School Profile $$$ Iowa City, IA

UI, the state's oldest institution of higher education, teaches over 31,500 students, including over 6,000 graduate learners. The storied university has developed a reputation for its arts and sciences programs, and graduates enjoy the benefits of an extensive alumni network and local connections.

UI offers several online teaching degrees at the master's level, including a 33-credit master's in teaching and learning and a 36-credit master's in educational policy and leadership studies. While program lengths vary depending on students' enrollment status, most learners graduate in two years. Most coursework runs entirely online. However, the master of educational policy and leadership studies includes an in-person clinical component.

Before applying, prospective students should first secure a teaching license and gain at least three years of full-time teaching experience. Application requirements include a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, two recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose.

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College View School Profile $$$ Baton Rouge, LA

LSU, the state's flagship university, serves learners well beyond Shreveport through its online programs. LSU offers over 80 programs online, including graduate-level teaching degrees.

LSU's three master's degrees in teaching focus on educational leadership, educational technology, and higher education administration. Each option leads to specific career outcomes and takes fewer than two years to complete. The programs require 36-39 credits, and LSU allows learners to study part time. All three options cater to current educators looking to advance their careers and learn new skills.

Aside from a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA, LSU requires three recommendation letters, a personal statement, and a resume. LSU does not set GRE requirements, though learners can strengthen their applications with strong GRE scores.

Ohio State University-Main Campus View School Profile $$$ Columbus, OH

Recognized worldwide for its quality programs, Ohio State consistently ranks among the nation's top public universities. Students attend courses at campuses throughout Ohio, though many learners choose to complete their studies online.

The online associate of arts in early childhood development and education provides a quick route to a teaching license in Ohio. The coursework in the two-year degree runs completely online, though learners must gain in-person experience through student teaching to become licensed educators. To complete the program, students must earn 60 semester hours. Graduates qualify to teach pre-kindergarten students in Ohio.

OSU only requires applicants to hold a high school or GED diploma. While the program sets no specific GPA requirements, higher GPAs help applicants secure a spot in the program. After graduating, students can also apply their credits toward a bachelor's degree in early childhood education.

Clemson University View School Profile $$$ Clemson, SC

Founded in 1889, Clemson is one of the region's top public institutions of higher education. While many of its 26,000 learners study onsite in Clemson, South Carolina, others choose to study online. Clemson also offers an array of graduate programs, including the online master of education in teaching and learning.

Intended for current K-12 teachers, the teaching and learning program runs entirely online and takes just 18 months to finish. Enrollees choose a specialization in STEAM, instructional coaching, experiential learning for early childhood, or effective and reflective learning. The program helps teachers advance their professional standing and potentially earn higher wages.

Clemson only accepts students into the online teaching program during the fall semester. Applicants must submit transcripts with a 3.0 GPA, a current resume, three recommendation letters, and a personal statement. Applicants who do not meet the GPA requirements must submit GRE scores.

University of Redlands View School Profile $$$$ Redlands, CA

Located in Redlands, California, Redlands provides students with a private education. The school maintains a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio that helps learners excel in their courses, even if they choose to study online.

College graduates looking to become licensed educators can enroll in Redland's online education programs, including the online master's in learning and teaching. The master's degree requires 36-39 credits and takes 18 months to complete. Enrollees complete all courses online, except for the 18-week student teaching experience required for a California teaching certification.

Redlands offers a flexible format for its online courses, allowing busy learners to continue working while earning their degree. The program also uses accelerated seven-week courses that learners complete one at a time. Upon graduating, students qualify for the California Education Specialist Preliminary Credential. Redlands does not require GRE scores from applicants.

San Diego State University View School Profile $$ San Diego, CA

As one of California's leaders in public education, SDSU strives to offer a quality and affordable education to learners. Those who cannot regularly commute to campus or relocate to the San Diego area can take advantage of SDSU's robust online program.

Created for educators and school administrators working at the PK-12 levels, the master's degree in teacher leadership runs entirely online. Full-time learners complete this program in one year. The program covers school improvement leadership, visionary leadership, and organizational structure. Graduates often find leadership positions within public and private educational institutions.

Only those with at least three years of professional teaching experience can apply to the master's in teacher leadership. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 2.85 GPA. While not explicitly required, SDSU's program best serves those with teaching certifications in California.

Appalachian State University View School Profile $$ Boone, NC

Boone, North Carolina-based Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, making it a large part of the University of North Carolina System. While many learners choose to study at Appalachian's scenic campus in the Blue Ridge Mountains, others take advantage of the university's esteemed online programs.

Appalachian offers several undergraduate teaching degrees online, including bachelor's degrees in elementary and middle grades education. Both options lead to licensure, so students must commit to an in-person student teaching internship. Aside from these onsite requirements, both programs run entirely online. After completing lower-division prerequisite courses elsewhere, students complete 70-73 credits to earn the bachelor's degree.

New college students complete the undergraduate teaching degrees in nine semesters, which includes the required student teaching internship. Appalachian only accepts transfer students with at least 30 credits into these programs.

Loyola University Chicago View School Profile $$$$$ Chicago, IL

A private, Catholic school located on the coast in Chicago, Illinois, Loyola maintains a low 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and small class sizes.

Loyola's unique master of education in international higher education prepares graduates for various careers in education, administration, and study-abroad opportunities. Most courses run online, though two courses require blended study. Loyola only offers the in-person requirements in Rome, Italy, and Vietnam. Enrollees must complete an internship to gain field experience. The 36-credit program culminates with a capstone course.

The international higher education program uses a cohort system and takes two years to complete. Because of the program's international requirements, applicants should live in or near the locations where Loyola offers courses. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and must submit a personal statement.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln View School Profile $$$ Lincoln, NE

Chartered in 1869, UNL is one of the state's top institutions of public education. UNL enrolls nearly 26,000 learners, most of whom pursue undergraduate degrees.

While the program does not lead directly to licensure, the online bachelor's in child, youth, and family studies with an emphasis in early childhood in a mobile society prepares students to work with children from birth through age eight. The 120-credit program runs entirely online. Graduates find positions working at childcare centers, preschools, and Head Start programs in the Great Plains region.

Applicants must meet requirements set by UNL and the program, including completing 30 credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA, providing ACT or SAT scores, and submitting recommendation letters.

Saint Joseph's University View School Profile $$$$$ Philadelphia, PA

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, SJU follows the Jesuit tradition of full-person education. Despite its small size, the private school's alumni network consists of over 66,000 individuals, many of whom help connect recent graduates with career opportunities.

SJU's online master's degree in secondary education leads to teaching certification, making it an ideal option for bachelor's degree-holders looking to become educators. The program runs entirely online, and the courses flex around the schedules of working students. Graduates are qualified to earn a Pennsylvania teaching certification for English, math, science, or citizenship for grades 7-12.

The program best serves students with a background in English, math, science, or citizenship. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and must demonstrate at least 30 credits in one of these fields. Those without ample experience must complete prerequisite coursework.

Written by:

Sarah Gardam holds a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in women's and gender studies. For many years, Sarah taught English and interdisciplinary courses at various colleges on the East Coast. She now lives in Washington State and works as a freelance writer for nonprofit organizations and for HigherEducation.com. Sarah also writes creatively and does volunteer communications work for environmental protection campaigns and organizations. She backpacks in the wilderness whenever she can.

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