The Best Accredited Online Teaching Programs for 2018

Updated on: 12/20/2017

From elementary school classrooms to college campuses, teachers are vested with the responsibility of preparing society’s future generations. Depending on their personal interests and aptitudes, they may gravitate to helping kindergarteners master the alphabet, or they may pass down hard-earned knowledge in a specialized field. In this guide, current and future teachers can get information to carve out the path that best suits their educational preferences and occupational goals. Learn more about available online degree programs and outcomes, salary expectations, and career opportunities.

How Much Do Teachers Make?

Especially at public institutions, teachers’ salaries are dictated in part by local or state guidelines; however, there are still multiple factors that influence overall pay. Typically, educators at the collegiate level can expect substantially higher incomes than those teaching at the elementary level, and those with specialized training or additional certifications can also expect a higher pay grade. Other important determinants affecting pay include geographic location and experience. On average, teachers receive a salary commensurate with number of years worked in the field.

Occupation Median Annual Salary: Entry-level Median Annual Salary: Mid-level Median Annual Salary: Late-career
Elementary Ed $39,440 $44,416 $56,405
High school/secondary ed $41,392 $47,909 $60,487
Professor/post-secondary $59,109 $69,623 $98,813

Source: Payscale

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What Online Teaching Degrees Are Available?

Prospective and active teachers can earn an online degree in education from the associate on up to the doctoral level, with concentrations in many subjects. At the associate level, teachers learn the basics of early childhood or elementary education, and these graduates can expect to work in preschools and as teaching aides. Online Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees in education prepare teachers for the K-12 classroom. These degrees are offered in early childhood, elementary, middle and high school education, and undergraduates can select a concentration in areas such as reading, history, biology, art, English, mathematics or music. Those looking to achieve the next level of expertise in their field can earn a master’s degree and seek employment as assistant professors, school principals or researchers. Often, individuals making a career move to teaching can earn a master’s in education, even if they hold a bachelor’s degree in a different field.

An associate degree in education is typically a two-year commitment, and equips students for entry-level employment or for continuing education. Many students begin their studies at community colleges, which are more affordable than four-year institutions, and then matriculate into a larger university to complete a bachelor’s degree. Those searching for immediate employment can apply for their CDA (Childhood Development Associate) credential.

  • Intro to Early Childhood Education

    Analyzes childcare history, government regulations and current childcare theories and practices.

  • Early Childhood Curriculum

    Develops and examines early childhood lesson plans, teaching methods and strategies for class organization and assessment.

  • Creative Activities for Young Children

    Explores activities and materials which use a creative environment to help develop children’s cognitive, social and emotional responses.

Teaching Programs with an Associate Degree

Preschool Teacher

Job Outlook: 10%

Childcare Worker

Job Outlook: 7%

Teacher Assistant

Job Outlook: 8%

Source: (2016–2026 growth data from BLS)

To teach in a public elementary, middle or high school classroom, a four-year bachelor degree in education is requisite, as well as passing state licensing tests (specifications vary by state). Expect licensing to cost a few hundred dollars.

  • Classroom Management

    Overview of classroom management, including topics such as behavioral issues, health and safety, time management and physical space.

  • Assessment in Elementary Education

    Studies summative and formative classroom assessment agendas and how assessment is appropriately used.

  • Models and Theories of Instruction

    Explores theoretical models of teaching strategies and their effectiveness for students. Examines how to create successful lesson plans for all students.

Teaching Programs with a Bachelor’s Degree

High School Teacher

Job Outlook: 8%

Health Educator

Job Outlook: 16%

Special Education Teacher

Job Outlook: 8%

Source: (2016–2026 growth data from BLS)

An online master’s degree in education takes about two years to complete, with costs varying greatly by institution. A master’s degree unlocks more career opportunities for educators and is often used as the foundation for doctoral studies.

  • Cultural Psychology

    Looks at the connections and interplay of culture and psychology, including environmental influences and the roles of race and power. Examines modern and historical treatments of cultural psychology.

  • Educational Research

    Develops analytical skills to evaluate educational research. Encourages both qualitative and quantitative critiques.

  • Contemporary Issues in Education

    Focuses on current events and issues in education that affect institutions nationwide. Discusses trends and their impact on educational policies.

Teaching Programs with a Master’s Degree

Instructional Coordinator

Job Outlook: 10%

Postsecondary Teacher

Job Outlook: 15%

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal

Job Outlook: 8%

Source: (2016–2026 growth data from BLS)

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How Do I Get an Online Degree in Education?

No matter where you envision yourself after graduation—teaching anatomy in a high school science lab, developing a new math curriculum for elementary students, or discussing American literature at the collegiate level—the first step is deciding whether an online degree is the right path to prepare you for the teaching career you ultimately want.

Since many careers in teaching are intensively hands-on, students should be aware that many degrees billed as “online” still involve some in-person components. Because much of the work is remote, however, students may be able to take advantage of specialty courses that would be out of reach in their home geographical area. Consider the following steps when deciding how to organize and execute your educational plan:

Don’t rely on impressions you’ve gotten from your experiences as a student. Before devoting yourself to a teaching career, take the time to discuss the profession with those in the field to get a firsthand account of what’s entailed.

As early as possible, start researching various online programs and schools to see which fit your financial and personal requirements. Take note of course requirements and any obligations to attend class on-campus. Also, ensure the programs are accredited by a reputable agency, as this could affect both your financial aid eligibility and your future employment opportunities.

Apply to schools in the state you ultimately want to work in. This will prepare you for licensure, as each state operates on a different set of criteria, but in-state schools will sync their curricula with state requirements. After narrowing down the contenders, finish the applications.

Depending on your state, an assessment such as the Praxis exam may be required before enrolling and beginning coursework in an education degree program.

Take classes that can benefit your area of concentration, or can help you choose one if you are still undecided.

Determine your area of expertise — orchestra? speech therapy? — and what grade levels you want to teach.

For virtually any job working with students, it’s necessary to complete a fingerprint and background check. If you have student teaching requirements, you’ll likely need to do this before you graduate.

Student teaching is the practical application of learned skills. It typically lasts one to two semesters, during the final year of the program.

Passing a series of exams, such as the Praxis, is necessary to become a teacher. Be aware of which tests you must complete to teach in your region and/or specialty. Allow ample time to study, and go in prepared. Certification tests have associated fees, so a successful first try will save you money.

Receive your test results and complete the certification process in your state.

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The 48 Best Online Accredited Teaching and Education Degrees 2018

Choosing a reputable, high-caliber online teaching program can seem like an overwhelming task. Fortunately, our method for ranking online programs simplifies the weeding-out process. To establish our top choices among education degrees, we evaluated schools and their online programs based on factors such as student-teacher ratio, tuition fees, graduation rates and financial aid availability. Going beyond the numbers, our analysts also examined a school’s student services, such as academic advising and job placement assistance, to round out our rankings. We’ve tallied the numbers and created our list; use it in conjunction with your own criteria, such as location and program duration.

When deciding between colleges and online program offerings, accreditation is the first standard to follow. The following ranked programs are fully accredited by organizations certified by the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

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Methodology

Accredited Schools Online uses a proprietary blend of cost, quality, and student support services to determine overall rankings.The supporting data comes from reputable sources including the schools themselves. We focus our rankings on accredited and no-for-profit institutions.

Our data analysis team and higher education experts have worked together to create a scoring system that includes key qualitative and quantitative measures. The data attributes are then weighted based on relevance.

The scoring methodology includes factors such as:

  • Cost & financial aid
  • Number of programs and program offerings
  • Student-teacher ratios
  • Graduation rates
  • Placement and support services offered
  • Academic/Career counseling services
  • Employment services
  • And many others

These factors are assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost.  PBV denotes the overall value or “bang for your buck” of a college or degree program.

Rank University Location Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience University Information
1 Clarkson College Omaha,NE 99.64 $$$$$ 59% 3 11:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
2 Valencia College Orlando,FL 99.57 $$$$$ 16% 3 31:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
3 Weber State University Ogden,UT 99.54 $$$$$ 50% 3 21:1 45% Yes Yes Yes
4 Idaho State University Pocatello,ID 99.46 $$$$$ 37% 2 16:1 31% Yes Yes Yes
5 Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Carbondale,IL 99.39 $$$$$ 79% 4 15:1 48% Yes Yes Yes
6 Santa Fe College Gainesville,FL 99.35 $$$$$ 5% 2 22:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
7 Saint Catharine College Saint Catharine,KY 99.08 $$$$$ 85% 2 10:1 43% Yes Yes Yes
8 Palm Beach State College Lake Worth,FL 98.88 $$$$$ 9% 2 30:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
9 Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville,FL 98.60 $$$$$ 15% 2 22:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
10 University of Sioux Falls Sioux Falls,SD 98.32 $$$$$ 100% 2 14:1 48% Yes Yes Yes
11 Broward College Fort Lauderdale,FL 98.06 $$$$$ 23% 2 27:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
12 La Roche College Pittsburgh,PA 98.00 $$$$$ 75% 2 12:1 47% Yes Yes Yes
13 LIU Post Brookville,NY 97.94 $$$$$ 92% 2 11:1 42% Yes Yes Yes
14 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill,NC 95.57 $$$$$ 45% 3 13:1 89% Yes Yes No
15 Minot State University Minot,ND 95.53 $$$$$ 70% 1 13:1 33% Yes Yes Yes
16 Southwestern Oklahoma State University Weatherford,OK 95.18 $$$$$ 63% 1 18:1 35% Yes Yes Yes
17 Vincennes University Vincennes,IN 94.81 $$$$$ 18% 1 17:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
18 Daytona State College Daytona Beach,FL 94.72 $$$$$ 24% 1 18:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
19 State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota Bradenton,FL 94.70 $$$$$ 11% 1 22:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
20 Pensacola State College Pensacola,FL 94.69 $$$$$ 23% 1 21:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
21 Siena Heights University Adrian,MI 94.69 $$$$$ 99% 1 11:1 43% Yes Yes Yes
22 Bluefield State College Bluefield,WV 94.69 $$$$$ 33% 1 15:1 25% Yes Yes Yes
23 South Florida State College Avon Park,FL 94.62 $$$$$ 10% 1 17:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
24 St Catherine University Saint Paul,MN 94.54 $$$$$ 99% 1 11:1 59% Yes Yes Yes
25 University of St Francis Joliet,IL 94.53 $$$$$ 100% 1 11:1 56% Yes Yes Yes
26 Missouri Southern State University Joplin,MO 94.53 $$$$$ 51% 1 18:1 33% Yes Yes Yes
27 Shawnee State University Portsmouth,OH 94.53 $$$$$ 34% 1 16:1 20% Yes Yes Yes
28 Eastern Florida State College Cocoa,FL 94.51 $$$$$ 9% 1 24:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
29 Briar Cliff University Sioux City,IA 94.45 $$$$$ 100% 1 12:1 43% Yes Yes Yes
30 Notre Dame of Maryland University Baltimore,MD 94.37 $$$$$ 100% 1 11:1 48% Yes Yes Yes
31 Suffolk University Boston,MA 94.37 $$$$$ 77% 4 11:1 56% Yes Yes No
32 Arkansas State University-Main Campus Jonesboro,AR 94.36 $$$$$ 65% 2 17:1 39% Yes Yes No
33 Boise State University Boise,ID 94.35 $$$$$ 33% 1 19:1 29% Yes Yes Yes
34 University of Jamestown Jamestown,ND 94.31 $$$$$ 98% 1 13:1 50% Yes Yes Yes
35 College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas,NV 94.23 $$$$$ 20% 1 24:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
36 Newman University Wichita,KS 94.19 $$$$$ 99% 1 14:1 43% Yes Yes Yes
37 St Petersburg College Clearwater,FL 94.16 $$$$$ 23% 1 22:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
38 Gulf Coast State College Panama City,FL 94.15 $$$$$ 28% 2 19:1 N/A Yes Yes No
39 University of Hartford West Hartford,CT 94.14 $$$$$ 97% 1 10:1 52% Yes Yes Yes
40 Mount Aloysius College Cresson,PA 94.08 $$$$$ 99% 2 12:1 33% Yes Yes No
41 Concordia University-Wisconsin Mequon,WI 94.03 $$$$$ 98% 1 13:1 59% Yes Yes Yes
42 University of Charleston Charleston,WV 94.01 $$$$$ 90% 1 15:1 41% Yes Yes Yes
43 Florida SouthWestern State College Fort Myers,FL 93.97 $$$$$ 18% 1 27:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
44 St Luke's College Sioux City,IA 93.90 $$$$$ 100% 1 5:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
45 Bellevue College Bellevue,WA 93.74 $$$$$ 16% 1 18:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
46 Morehead State University Morehead,KY 93.71 $$$$$ 70% 2 18:1 43% Yes Yes No
47 Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences Memphis,TN 93.71 $$$$$ 33% 1 12:1 60% Yes Yes Yes
48 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale,FL 93.68 $$$$$ 77% 1 12:1 60% Yes Yes Yes
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2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience University Information
1 Pitt Community College Winterville,NC 99.81 $$$$$ 11% 2 17:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
2 Owensboro Community and Technical College Owensboro,KY 99.42 $$$$$ 4% 2 13:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
3 Somerset Community College Somerset,KY 98.76 $$$$$ 8% 2 18:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
4 Washtenaw Community College Ann Arbor,MI 98.63 $$$$$ 14% 2 19:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
5 Chattanooga State Community College Chattanooga,TN 98.60 $$$$$ 9% 2 18:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
6 Bunker Hill Community College Boston,MA 98.60 $$$$$ 1% 2 17:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
7 Lakeland Community College Kirtland,OH 98.48 $$$$$ 13% 3 16:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
8 Southern Union State Community College Wadley,AL 98.43 $$$$$ 32% 3 23:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
9 Hillsborough Community College Tampa,FL 98.43 $$$$$ 9% 2 23:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
10 Galveston College Galveston,TX 98.42 $$$$$ 30% 2 15:1 N/A Yes Yes No
11 Western Nebraska Community College Scottsbluff,NE 98.22 $$$$$ 60% 1 15:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
12 Columbus State Community College Columbus,OH 98.18 $$$$$ 20% 2 19:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
13 Western Wyoming Community College Rock Springs,WY 97.46 $$$$$ 39% 1 16:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
14 North Arkansas College Harrison,AR 97.36 $$$$$ 32% 1 16:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
15 Georgia Northwestern Technical College Rome,GA 96.89 $$$$$ N/A 2 19:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
16 Tulsa Community College Tulsa,OK 96.85 $$$$$ 39% 1 17:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
17 Cape Fear Community College Wilmington,NC 96.73 $$$$$ 9% 1 13:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
18 Sinclair College Dayton,OH 96.72 $$$$$ 28% 1 15:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
19 South Arkansas Community College El Dorado,AR 96.64 $$$$$ 4% 1 14:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
20 Southeast Arkansas College Pine Bluff,AR 96.63 $$$$$ 4% 1 14:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
21 Hagerstown Community College Hagerstown,MD 96.24 $$$$$ 17% 2 18:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
22 Community College of Denver Denver,CO 96.13 $$$$$ 9% 2 25:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
23 Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College Cumberland,KY 95.99 $$$$$ 6% 2 15:1 N/A Yes Yes No
24 Northeast Community College Norfolk,NE 95.95 $$$$$ 38% 1 17:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
25 Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College Bowling Green,KY 95.93 $$$$$ 5% 1 15:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
26 Ashland Community and Technical College Ashland,KY 95.89 $$$$$ 7% 1 14:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
27 Cuyahoga Community College Cleveland,OH 95.88 $$$$$ 2% 2 21:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
28 West Virginia Northern Community College Wheeling,WV 95.72 $$$$$ 15% 1 16:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
29 Southeast Community College Lincoln,NE 95.63 $$$$$ 47% 1 18:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
30 Owens Community College Perrysburg,OH 95.62 $$$$$ 12% 1 16:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
31 Truckee Meadows Community College Reno,NV 95.55 $$$$$ 22% 1 19:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
32 Mountwest Community and Technical College Huntington,WV 95.54 $$$$$ 12% 1 18:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
33 Roane State Community College Harriman,TN 95.52 $$$$$ 7% 1 16:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
34 Northwest Mississippi Community College Senatobia,MS 95.47 $$$$$ 26% 1 23:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
35 Eastern Maine Community College Bangor,ME 95.43 $$$$$ 21% 1 14:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
36 Bluegrass Community and Technical College Lexington,KY 95.41 $$$$$ 2% 1 16:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
37 Technical College of the Lowcountry Beaufort,SC 95.33 $$$$$ 9% 2 17:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
38 Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College Orangeburg,SC 95.28 $$$$$ 2% 2 16:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
39 Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire,WI 95.14 $$$$$ 2% 1 12:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
40 Lakeshore Technical College Cleveland,WI 95.13 $$$$$ 19% 1 13:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
41 Rhodes State College Lima,OH 95.12 $$$$$ 15% 1 14:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
42 Rend Lake College Ina,IL 95.08 $$$$$ 44% 2 15:1 N/A Yes Yes No
43 SUNY Broome Community College Binghamton,NY 95.02 $$$$$ 14% 2 20:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
44 Lorain County Community College Elyria,OH 94.95 $$$$$ 25% 1 20:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
45 Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee,FL 94.87 $$$$$ 13% 1 24:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
46 Lone Star College The Woodlands,TX 94.86 $$$$$ 13% 1 18:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
47 Jefferson Community and Technical College Louisville,KY 94.81 $$$$$ 1% 1 16:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
48 East Central College Union,MO 94.77 $$$$$ 6% 1 19:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
49 Middlesex Community College Middletown,CT 94.73 $$$$$ 28% 1 17:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
50 Guilford Technical Community College Jamestown,NC 94.70 $$$$$ 5% 1 20:1 N/A Yes Yes Yes
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How Do I Find the Best Online Education Program?

When searching for the best online education program, it’s important for students to look for one that is best-suited to fulfill their own ambitions and needs—which may not be the number one spot on rankings. Reviewing course management systems and other aspects of online learning can help you decide what works best for you. For example, some students may desire a hybrid program with some face-to-face interaction with their professors, while other students simply may not have the availability to attend on-campus classes.

It’s vital that prospective teachers choose an online program that meets the regulations for obtaining licensure in the state they want to teach in, and that students understand how the program accomplishes that goal. Online education degrees that incorporate student teaching are recommended, as most states require some hands-on experience before taking certification exams. Also, choosing a program with abundant and varied courses within education can help you explore the options and tailor your courses to get the schooling you want.

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What Scholarships and Grants are Available to Teachers?

Teachers often work harder than their paychecks reflect, and so thousands of programs are in place around the country to help educators pay for school. Below are some resources to help start your financial aid search.

Scholarships come in many shapes and sizes, and are awarded to students for myriad reasons, including academic achievements, athletic accomplishments or participation in certain clubs and organizations. Typically merit-based, scholarships are gifts from an organization, and do not need to be repaid.

  • Teach.org

    This organization has a breadth of information available for teachers, including a comprehensive list of scholarships and other financial aid opportunities.

  • Niche

    Niche is a database of scholarships available across the country.

Different from scholarships, grants are usually need-based monetary awards from federal and state governments, colleges and non-profit organizations. They also do not need to be repaid.

  • Federal Pell Grant

    A commonly dispensed grant, the Federal Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a college degree (some special circumstances exist for graduate students).

  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant

    The TEACH Grant requires that students complete a specified education curriculum and commit to teaching for four years in designated school districts.

    Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Designed to alleviate the pressure of repaying hefty student loan fees, forgiveness programs can erase part—or all—of a student’s debt. While eligibility can be competitive and selective, special state and national programs exist to exclusively help teachers.

  • Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness

    After teaching five consecutive years at a low-income institution, among other criteria, teachers can apply to have their student debt erased up to an amount of $17,500.

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness

    Not specific to educators, this federal program forgives students’ debt after completing 120 loan payments while employed by a government agency or not-for-profit organization.

    available to both graduate and undergraduate students.

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