Best Online Bachelor’s in Education Programs 2021

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A bachelor’s degree in education prepares future educators to teach K-12 students and set them up for success. Teachers enjoy the intrinsic rewards of building relationships, taking part in a community, and contributing to students’ growth. They also benefit from a steady job market.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in education, training, and library occupations will grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. To secure one of these positions, prospective teachers must complete at least a bachelor’s degree in education and obtain state licensure.

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Concentrations | Tuition | FAQs | Top Education Programs

What Is Education?

Since nationwide compulsory education began in 1918, every state across the U.S. has needed teachers to educate its youth. The education field now encompasses various roles, including classroom teachers, administrators, librarians, and curriculum developers. Education professionals can work in K-12 schools, education centers, universities, and curriculum and instruction organizations.

Educators play a major role in children’s growth and development at all ages. Teachers instruct and nurture students, while instructional coaches and administrators ensure that school environments operate smoothly. Educators need compassion, patience, and flexibility to manage classrooms effectively and meet the needs of diverse students and families.

Prospective education professionals can begin their careers by pursuing online education degrees. These programs typically cost less than on-campus options and may allow enrollees to graduate more quickly. Keep reading for an overview of what to expect from online bachelor’s degrees in teaching.

Why Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Education?

Earning a bachelor’s degree in education opens doors to several rewarding career paths. Most positions in education require at least a bachelor’s degree with an active state teaching license.

Education professionals benefit from a growing job market, fulfilling work, and opportunities for increased salaries and promotion with experience.

Positive Job Outlook
The education industry experiences continual growth. In fact, the BLS projects an increase of 441,000 jobs in education, training, and library occupations from 2019 to 2029.
Rewarding Work
Many educational professionals enjoy helping students meet educational goals. Working with children demands a considerable emotional investment, but teachers reap the benefits of nurturing student relationships and aiding in development.
Opportunities for Advancement
Many educational professionals with bachelor’s degrees begin their careers in the classroom. Teachers may then advance to instructional coaching and administrative leadership roles. However, teachers may need both classroom experience and a master’s degree to qualify for managerial positions.

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What to Expect From Online Education Programs

Education programs prepare prospective teachers to educate students effectively and compassionately. Bachelor’s degrees in education typically take 4-5 years, depending on the student’s program, pacing, and concentration. Enrollees who wish to learn at their own pace should consider online education programs, which may offer accelerated options and part-time enrollment.

Education degrees feature classroom and experiential learning opportunities. After finishing a teacher preparation program, candidates must typically complete edTPA. This exam provides a performance-based, subject-specific assessment of a candidate’s ability to plan, instruct, and assess student learning.

Admission Requirements

Online teaching degree candidates must demonstrate academic achievement and dedication to the education field. Many education programs require a minimum 2.75-3.0 GPA and completion of prerequisite or introductory coursework. Some schools seek applicants with volunteer teaching experience.

Applicants generally provide admission documents, including transcripts, resumes, recommendation letters, and statements of purpose. Many online education programs accept transfer credits and AP exam credits. Fingerprinting and background checks remain mandatory in most education programs.

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Concentration Options

Education programs comprise multiple grade levels and areas, so teacher candidates must choose a concentration early in their major. The most popular concentrations include elementary, secondary, and special education.

  • Elementary Education

    Elementary education encompasses the early formal schooling in grades K-5. Elementary teachers instruct students in social and emotional behaviors as well as core subjects like reading, writing, math, and science. Elementary education students may pursue specializations such as literacy, STEM, and special education.

  • Secondary Education

    Secondary education includes middle and high school grades 6-12. At the secondary level, teachers must specialize in areas like English, math, science, history, or music. Secondary education students must complete college coursework in their content area and pass subject-specific state exams.

  • Special Education

    Special education teachers develop skill sets to meet learners’ individual needs. These teachers craft education plans to best support children with disabilities in any grade level. Special education teacher candidates may focus on topics like ASL, autistic spectrum disorders, or visual impairment.

Popular Education Courses

Education program requirements typically comprise core courses, elective options, and mandatory field experiences like practicums and student teaching. These requirements vary by state, school, and concentration, but some courses remain consistent across programs.

Students pursuing an online education degree may complete the following courses and experiential learning requirements:

  • Classroom Management

    Students in this course learn to apply behavior interventions, set routines and procedures, and create successful learning environments. The course may offer a general approach to classroom management best practices or focus on specific grades or content areas.

  • Assessment

    Core studies in assessment cover methods to measure classroom learning. Assessments come in various forms, including national exams, state benchmark tests, and daily classroom quizzes. In these courses, candidates implement formative and summative assessments to measure their students’ progress.

  • Student Teaching

    Essential to any education program, student teaching prepares degree-seekers for real classroom instruction. Though duties and required hours vary by state, student teachers collaborate with advisors and teachers to create lesson plans and instruct students in specific content areas.

What Are the Requirements for a Career in Teaching and Education?

How Much Will an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), full-time undergraduate students paid an average of $35,331 in tuition and fees, room, and board during the 2019-20 school year. This average reflects all degree-granting four-year universities, but costs can vary widely based on the school’s public or private status.

The NCES also reported an average total cost of $25,487 at public institutions and $53,217 at nonprofit institutions. Since these figures include on-campus fees, online students typically pay less than on-campus enrollees. Other factors that impact educational costs include location and student residency status.

Budget-conscious students should consider pursuing a public, online education degree. Remote learning can cost less per credit and help students save on commuting expenses and building fees. Online learners may also qualify for financial aid like scholarships, grants, and loans. Follow the links below to learn more about financial aid options.


Choosing the Right Online Education Bachelor’s Degree

Our ranked list of the best online education programs provides a good starting point for your school search. Prospective students should also consider the following factors.

  • Accreditation: Independent accrediting agencies assess postsecondary programs for academic quality and rigor. Regional and national agencies accredit entire institutions, while programmatic accreditors evaluate individual programs. Recognized by the Department of Education, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) reviews teacher preparation programs.
  • Available concentrations: Prospective teachers can pursue numerous concentrations within the education field. Learners with a specific content focus in mind should determine that potential programs offer that specialization.
  • Cost and Financial Aid: Online education degrees often cost less than on-campus programs. However, not all online programs offer the same tuition rates or financial aid opportunities. Students hoping to save money should thoroughly research different program options.

Why You Should Get Your Teaching Degree Online

Many education students face obstacles in balancing coursework and field experiences with work obligations. However, online learning permits a greater amount of flexibility and more opportunities for self-paced learning.

Though in-person field experiences remain mandatory, many online programs offer asynchronous studies, allowing students to complete most requirements outside of regular teaching and working hours.

Accrediting agencies are responsible for identifying in-person and online programs that meet educational standards. Students can rest assured that NCATE-accredited programs offer quality, online bachelor’s degrees in education.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What bachelor's degree is best for teaching?

    Prospective teachers should pursue a bachelor’s in education. Potential concentrations include elementary, secondary, and special education.

  • Is getting an online education degree worth it?

    Online education degrees offer flexibility and the opportunity to set an individual learning pace. Accredited online education degrees are held in the same regard as on-campus degrees.

  • How long does it take to get an online teaching bachelor's degree?

    Many students complete an online education degree in four years. However, remote learners may pursue accelerated or part-time options.

  • What can I do with an online bachelor's degree in education?

    An online bachelor’s degree in education prepares learners for careers as teachers. This degree also acts as a stepping stone to pursue graduate degrees in the field.

  • Is teaching a good career?

    Teaching careers offer rewards like relationship building, positive job growth, and potential for career advancement through experience and further education.

The Best Online Education Programs 2021

  1. Arizona State University
    Location

    Tempe, AZ

    Tuition

    $530

    Through Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, students can enroll in a fully online Educational Studies bachelor degree program. This unique program is for those who want to investigate the role of education on a global scale, analyze the impact of education on diverse populations, and better understand how social injustices—poverty, under-resourced schools, environmental issues, and immigration—can affect student success. Some of the classes that define this degree include theories for acquiring and learning languages, introduction to nutrition and health, understanding the culturally diverse child, global and historical awareness, plus a number of credits covering the general education requirements.

    Perhaps obvious, this degree is not for those looking to teach within the public education system, as it does not lead to teacher certification, but it is for those interested in graduate education or for those who want to work outside of traditional classrooms, such as in nonprofits, government organizations, or in business or recreational settings. Arizona State ranks at the top of our list because its Teachers College is recognized as the fastest rising top-tier college of education in the country, it’s well-ranked by U.S. News & World Report, and over 90 percent of graduates are employed.

    ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

  2. University of Northern Iowa
    Location

    Cedar Falls, IA

    Tuition

    $302

    The University of Northern Iowa’s innovative 2+2 online elementary education degree enrolls students for two years in a Des Moines Area Community College campus, where they will graduate with their associate of arts degree by fulfilling general education and liberal arts requirements, followed by two years at the University of Northern Iowa campus. Most classes are online, though half of them require at least one night per week on campus. UNI’s program allows students to specialize in areas like public health awareness and physical education.

  3. Regis University
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $395

    You can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education at Regis University that includes initial licensure. If you’re interested in teaching among grades K–6 and want to earn your degree fully online, this program could be a great fit for you. Without any prior college-level education required, this program includes all 120 credits necessary for acquiring the bachelors, and it guarantees leadership development in its students.

    One thing to note about Regis is that it is a Roman Catholic school that incorporates a faith-based perspective in its curriculum. Additionally, the curriculum is marked by four distinct areas of emphasis: Jesuit ideals, such as serving others and reflective practice; the integration of theory with practical application; developing teachers who are critical thinkers and data literate; and the implementation of technology in the classroom. At Regis you will develop oral communication skills, gain a broad educational base across the humanities and sciences, and you will be fully prepared to lead in the classroom and ready children for successful educational careers.

    Regis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and their teachers education program is nationally approved through the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

  4. Fort Hays State University
    Location

    Hays, KS

    Tuition

    $207

    At Fort Hays State University, online education undergraduates have the option of choosing among three areas of study: early education unified, elementary education, and elementary education with a special education minor. Whichever way you specialize, at Fort Hays you will be introduced to a general education core, a professional education curriculum, pedagogical theory, and clinical experience. And though all of these programs can be completed fully online, you will also have many opportunities for internship or student teaching experience, which will help you in your job hunt.

    The BS in Early Childhood Unified readies its students for careers in many early childhood leadership roles, including teaching (from pre-school to third grade), but also administration, or coordination. The BS in Elementary Education qualifies you to teach any grade between Kindergarten and sixth grade, and the Special Education minor, which can be paired with any teaching program at Fort Hays, specifically prepares you to work with students (in any grade) who have developmental disabilities.

    Fort Hays State is accredited, as a whole, by the Higher Learning Commission, while its teaching programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teaching Education (NCATE).

  5. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $650

    Through Appalachian State University’s (ASU) distance education platform you can earn an online Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, Middle Grades Education, or Special Education. Whether you’re looking to study full-time or incorporate your education with work and other life responsibilities, Appalachian State University makes it possible to earn your degree between two-and-a-half or three-and-a-half years.

    Appalachian State emphasizes the importance of leadership throughout its different teaching curriculums. And ASU students can expect to participate in a few internship and student teaching opportunities, which will provide them with practical application experience in addition to the foundational theory base they are provided with through the curriculum. Moreover, ASU comes with an affordable price tag for those who live in North Carolina ($160 a credit hour), but is a bit more spendy for out-of-state students. However, on average ASU graduates bring home annual salaries of over 47k in their early careers, which lands ASU in the ninetieth percentile (on this ranking) for return on investment.

    Appalachian State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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