Best Online Bachelor’s in Education Programs 2021

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A typical on-campus bachelor’s in education program requires four years of coursework. Most enrollees are high school graduates, and admission requirements include SAT or ACT scores.

Most schools structure their online offerings in education as degree-completion programs and as such, maintain a different set of admission criteria. Colleges and universities typically require applicants to hold an accredited two-year associate degree or at least 60 transferable credits. Schools do not require applicants with a bachelor’s degree in another field to submit college entrance exam scores.

A broad professional arena, education offers graduates many specialization areas, including preschool, K-12, middle school, special education, and subject-specific fields. Educators enter a healthy job market with plenty of options for professional growth.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), high school teachers earned a 2019 annual median salary of $61,600, which is much higher than the average median pay of $39,810 for all other occupations.

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s in Education

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  • What kind of jobs can I get with an education degree?

    Many education graduates enter the teaching field. However, well-crafted education programs also prepare graduates for jobs such as curriculum developers, counselors, and corporate trainers.

  • Is teaching a good career?

    In most states, teachers enter a field with a variety of professional options and higher-than-average salaries. Additionally, postsecondary institutions grant tenure to qualified professors, which lasts throughout a teacher’s career.

  • How do I become a teacher?

    States require teachers to complete at least a bachelor’s in education and pass a licensure exam. Professionals typically need a postgraduate degree to teach higher grades or at the college level.

  • Is being a teacher in high demand?

    Growth rate projections are positive for teaching jobs at all levels. For example, the BLS projects jobs for postsecondary teachers to grow 9% from 2019 to 2029, which translates to the addition of more than 120,000 jobs.

What Are the Goals of an Education Degree?

Students pursuing an online education degree usually follow the same curriculum as on-campus enrollees. A bachelor’s in education program often includes foundational classes in education and pedagogical theories, as well as concentration coursework in fields like child development and reading and literacy. In addition to instruction, most education programs allow students to observe teachers in the classroom and become familiar with a variety of learning environments.

Education graduates can specialize in a specific area by pursuing postgraduate studies, earning a certificate in a specialized field, or working for additional licensure in a related arena such as counseling or social work.

Why Get an Education Degree?

Any four-year college degree requires a considerable investment of time and money, and a bachelor’s in education is no different. However, graduating from an accredited education program gives degree-holders several advantages, including the five mentioned below.

A bachelor’s in education is an established, well-respected degree that presents the holder as a trained and knowledgeable professional capable of shaping the next generation of learners.
Increased Knowledge
A well-crafted education program includes current trends and recent developments in the field, which directly impacts the content and practice of teaching.
Higher Salary
Schools often maintain a direct correlation between a teacher’s educational degree and salary. Educators with at least a bachelor’s degree typically earn higher salaries than those without a bachelor’s.
Improved Professional Options
A bachelor’s in education opens professional opportunities in the classroom, but it also qualifies graduates for jobs in human resources, training and development, and educational administration.
Meet Postgraduate Requirement
Master’s and doctoral programs in education require applicants to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in the field to be considered for admission. A bachelor’s in education can also meet the educational requirement for postsecondary programs in other fields.

What Are the Requirements for an Education Degree?

Application requirements for entering freshman typically include ACT or SAT scores, a high school diploma, at least one recommendation letter, and transcripts from all secondary schools attended. Some schools require a minimum GPA, which is usually 3.0 or higher.

Holders of a non-education bachelor’s or associate degree submit proof of program completion, a resume outlining education-related work experience, and at least two recommendation letters. Some programs require applicants to complete basic courses in education.

Undergraduate education programs often include an internship or shadowing experience as part of upper-division requirements.

Enrollees observe, and sometimes assist, teachers in a real classroom to understand the profession’s demands and requirements. Most schools allow candidates pursuing an online education degree to fulfill this requirement locally. Culminating experiences vary by school and may include a comprehensive test, a capstone project, or a thesis.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Professional Organizations for Education Students

Professional organizations provide several benefits, including professional support. Teaching can be an especially challenging profession reeling from budget cuts, regulatory chokeholds, and various socioeconomic factors. The two professional organizations below (and several others) provide educators with networking and mentoring opportunities, job placement assistance, and access to the research and pedagogical resources in the education field.

  • American Federation of Teachers Since 1916, AFT has helped secure and protect the rights and interests of educators. Members include early childhood educators, preschool teachers, and K-12 teachers. Membership extends to paraprofessional and school-related personnel, public employees, and nurses and health professionals. The AFT website includes volunteer and advocacy opportunities, information on gun violence prevention in schools, and resources for immigrant students and families.

  • National Education Association While maintaining a focus on public education, NEA's vast resources benefit teachers throughout the country and at every point of their careers. Membership benefits include access to a variety of classroom tools and ideas, discounted legal services, and print and digital publications with the latest research findings and developments in education. NEA serves three million members and maintains local chapters in every state.

Scholarships for Education Students

Due to the current shortage of teachers in the U.S., various entities including top universities, government agencies, and professional organizations support several scholarship and grant programs to encourage college students to pursue a teaching career. Education majors can explore the funding opportunities below to begin the search for financial assistance.

Nancy Larson Foundation College Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The foundation accepts applications from undergraduate and graduate students with a declared major in elementary education. Undergraduate applicants must hold at least a junior standing in their program to be considered. Application requirements include a personal narrative describing the applicant’s inspiration or reason for pursuing a career in elementary education.
Amount: $1,000

NILRR Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Administered by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, this program welcomes applications from education majors at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Applicants must submit a 500-word essay describing their understanding of and commitment to the principles of voluntary unionism. Applicants must also demonstrate their ability to complete their program and potential for successful application of a teaching license in their state.
Amount: $1,000

Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: The program seeks to encourage STEM majors to pursue a career in teaching after completing their studies. Administered by the National Science Foundation, the scholarship offers four tracks for applicants at varying levels of STEM educational programs. Applicants must submit a proposal addressing the critical need for highly trained elementary and secondary STEM teachers.
Amount: $10,000

Best Online Bachelor’s in Education Programs 2021

  1. Arizona State University

    Tempe, AZ



    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

    Cedar Falls, IA



    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

    Denver, CO



    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

    Hays, KS



    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

    Boone, NC



    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.

  6. University of Nebraska at Kearney

    Kearney, NE



    The University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) holds two notable rankings: it is ranked among the top ten best public universities in its region by U.S. News & World Report and its eCampus is consistently recognized as among the best online universities in the country. Offered through the latter, UNK has an online Early Childhood Inclusive program (Bachelor of Arts in Education) that is fully online with some supervised school-based experiences and student teaching. For those who want to teach students ages birth to eight, this degree completion program can help you attain your vocational goals.

    As it is understood that your general education classes will have already been completed by the time you enroll at UNK, the online curriculum is comprised mostly of professional and major specific courses. You will also be required to specialize in one of two areas: either birth through kindergarten or age three to grade three. Across areas of focus students gain field experience, are introduced to the foundations of early childhood education, and they learn how to support children through family and community involvement.

    The University of Nebraska at Kearney is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission with special accreditations from the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation and the Nebraska Department of Education.

  7. California Baptist University

    Riverside, CA



    California Baptist University (Cal Baptist) is a private, Christian liberal arts school affiliated and run by the Southern Baptist Convention. If you’re specifically looking for a university that incorporates a conservative, faith-based perspective in its curriculum, then Cal Baptist could be a solid fit for you. And they are known for their many strong online programs, including their Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Studies.

    This program gives students insights into children’s growth and development in many areas, including cognitive, social, emotional, and perceptual-motor development, and it prepares its graduates to become leaders in early intervention, research, advocacy, and in the classroom. This fully online degree can be earned in as few as sixteen months, as this is a completion program, and it can be adapted to an array of career fields, including teaching K–12. In addition to learning the fundamentals of childhood development, you will also understand the global as well as Christian contexts of development. Likewise, Cal Baptist ensures you graduate feeling confident in your critical thinking and analysis skills and in your ability to make effective decisions and lead others.

    Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, California Baptist University is based in Riverside.

  8. University of North Carolina Wilmington

    Wilmington, NC



    The University of North Carolina–Wilmington (UNCW) may not have a huge distance education program, but the few degrees they do offer online, including the Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, are some of the best in the country. Offered through the Watson College of Education, the BA in Elementary Education program is the only online education program at UNCW but it fully prepares students for rewarding careers as elementary school teachers and it paves the way for advanced education in teaching and administration, for those so interested.

    The features of this online program at UNCW that differentiate it from other online programs include opportunities for international study experience, field experiences pocked throughout the program, and the option to specialize in one of nine areas: behavioral studies, English as a second language, early childhood, fine arts, international studies, language arts, math and technology, science and health, and social studies. UNCW has also sought to ensure its online students have easy access to advising, tutoring, and general assistance, and thus the elementary education faculty are experts in online teaching and education.

    UNC Wilmington is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It is a mid-sized school of approximately 15k undergraduates.

  9. Florida International University

    Miami, FL



    At Florida International University (FIU) you will take classes on the cultural and social foundations of education, educational psychology, the methods of teaching elementary art, special needs of children and their families, and so much more. Perhaps obvious, FIU’s online program in early childhood education encompasses a spectrum of issues, topics, and theories related to teaching in the elementary classroom. The curriculum explicitly blends professional education courses with course blocks on teaching methods, early childhood education proper, early development, family and community studies, and literacy development.

    Florida International University is not only a great school but its online and distance education programs are known for providing students across the country (and all over the world) with a highly ranked educational experience. This is because online students have many of the same opportunities as “traditional” on-campus students, such as participating in the Honors College or the Academy of Leaders development certification program. Similarly, online FIU students work closely with success coaches, academic coaches, and tutors for a successful academic experience.

    Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Florida International University is known for its research activity and strong rankings recognized by Forbes, Washington Monthly, and U.S. News & World Report.

  10. Western Governors University

    Salt Lake City, UT



    Western Governors University (WGU) offers eight online bachelor degrees in a range of educational sectors (each of which provides licensure) plus another four post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs. The undergraduate programs include BAs in Interdisciplinary Studies (K–8), Special Education (K–12), Mathematics (5–9 or 5–12), Science (5–9), Chemistry (5–12), Physics (5–12), Biological Science (5–12), and Geoscience (5–12). The post-bacc programs cover mathematics, science, elementary education, and the social sciences.

    Whichever program is the best fit for you, at WGU you will take part in the innovative, competency-based learning model; that is, all WGU students proceed through their degree by demonstrating they have acquired certain knowledge, skill, or ability. You will also take classes at your own pace and whenever is most convenient for you. An assigned mentor will help guide you through the program, assisting you with your schedule, connecting you with online study groups and communities, and generally ensuring you succeed as a WGU student.

    Western Governors University is a private and nonprofit university accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Schools. All of the nearly 80,000 WGU students are online in one of the four colleges: business, information technology, education, and the health professions. Known not only for its innovative teaching model, WGU’s tuition rates are among the most competitive in the country.

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