2023 Best Online Education Degrees
An online bachelor’s degree in education prepares students to pursue teaching careers for grades K-12. An online education degree is available in core subjects, like mathematics and English, as well as special education. Typically, the curriculum explores topics like classroom management, teaching methods, and family collaboration. Some potential courses students may come across with this online program include Creative Activities, Parent Education and Family Involvement, and Developmental Psychology.
Online schools may offer licensure and non-licensure teaching programs. Online teaching licensure programs help students become eligible to sit for a teaching license. Students are required to complete several hours of supervised teaching practicums throughout the program. Graduates of an online bachelor’s in education may pursue careers like elementary education teachers, middle school teachers, and assistant principals.
View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU. You can also check out our list of the most affordable online education degrees.
Online Education Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In
Grand Canyon University
Annual Tuition: $17,800
12 Programs (view all)
Annual Tuition: $11,700
23 Programs (view all)
Regent University Online
Annual Tuition: $18,620
1 Programs (view all)
2023 Best Online Education Degrees
|Rank||School||Salary Score||Median Starting Salary|
|# 1||University of Mount Olive||$40,674|
|# 2||Southwestern Assemblies of God University||76||$40,206|
|# 3||Eastern Oregon University||63||$37,367|
|# 4||University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee||60||$36,801|
|# 5||Western Governors University||57||$36,162|
|# 6||St. Petersburg College||52||$35,226|
#1 University of Mount Olive
The University of Mount Olive (UMO) is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (B-K) - Licensure Candidate requiring 120 credit hours. UMO’s acceptance rate is 62%, with a graduation rate of 47%. It generally takes full-time students at least four years to complete this program.
At UMO, online students complete coursework on the Moodle platform, where faculty deliver it to students in either asynchronous or synchronous formats. A bachelor’s in education prepares students to teach grades K-12. Sample courses include Creative Activities, Kindergarten Curriculum and Methods, and Parent Education and Family Involvement. Students must complete 9 credit hours of capstone courses. Potential career options include elementary school teachers, education consultants, and librarians.
#2 Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is a private, nonprofit, Christian institution that offers four online bachelor’s in education: (1) Elementary Education, (2) Education (Pre-Professional), (3) English, Language Arts and Reading (Middle and Secondary Education), and (4) Social Studies and History (Middle and Secondary). The credit hours for these programs range from 120-127. The university accepts 89% of applicants, and it has a 44% graduation rate among undergraduates, who typically spend four years completing their degrees.
SAGU facilitates online learning on Blackboard. These programs help students become primary and secondary school teachers. Sample courses are Instructional Technology, Developmental Psychology, and Classroom Management. Students must take bible studies and first-year experience courses. Prospective careers for graduates include instructional designers, guidance counselors, and adult education instructors.
#3 Eastern Oregon University
Eastern Oregon University (EOU) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science or Arts in Early Childhood Education, which requires 180 credit hours. EOU’s acceptance rate is 94%, with a graduation rate of 40%. The program can last four years with a full course load.
At EOU, online students complete coursework in asynchronous and synchronous formats through the learning management system Canvas. This non-licensure degree program prepares students to educate and support young children in academics. The online program’s courses are Literature for Young Children, Technology in Early Childhood, and Family Collaboration in Early Childhood. Supervised teaching practicums are also required to finish the program. Graduates may pursue careers like elementary school teachers, educational consultants, and literary coaches.
#4 University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
At the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM), a public institution, future students can pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Community Engagement and Education equaling 120 credit hours. The program offers four concentrations, which include (1) Child and Family Services, (2) Child Care, (3) Community Based Organizations, and (4) Exceptional Education (Non-Licensure). The university’s acceptance rate is 79%, and it has a 49% graduation rate. Full-time students can expect to spend around four years completing this program.
UWM’s online students complete coursework, which is delivered to them in both asynchronous and synchronous formats, through Canvas. This online education program helps students gain leadership and program development skills with courses that include Community Problems, Technical Writing, and Cultural Foundations of Education. Future careers for graduates are academic advisors, lobbyists, and elementary school teachers.
#5 Western Governors University
Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, nonprofit institution offering 10 online bachelor’s in education, including a Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies, Bachelor of Science in Science Education (Secondary Physics), and Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education (Middle Grades). These range from 39-46 courses, and students may take anywhere from 2-3 years to complete their degrees. Overall, the university accepts 100% of applicants, and it has a 54% graduation rate.
WGU facilitates fully remote learning on Canvas. These programs help students gain the skills necessary to teach K-12 students. Some of the program’s courses are Fundamentals of Diverse Learners, Assessing Impact on Student Learning, and Educational Foundations. Supervised demonstration teaching is required with each program. Potential career paths for graduates include tutors, middle school teachers, and assistant principals.
Overview of Online Bachelor's in Education
Online bachelor's degrees in education give undergraduate students the foundation necessary to work in public and private schools or behind the scenes in education roles outside of the classroom. While some education majors pursue teacher preparation programs that lead to certification for K-12 public schools, others earn their degree in general education that can lead to roles in education advocacy, policymaking, community education, nonprofit work, and other areas in the field.
Online teaching degrees that meet teacher certification requirements are available in elementary education, early childhood education, secondary education, special education, and other focus areas. Students interested in working in public schools will need at least a bachelor's degree and teacher certification to qualify
Online teaching degrees that meet teacher certification requirements are available in elementary education, early childhood education, secondary education, special education, and other focus areas. Students interested in working in public schools will need at least a bachelor's degree and teacher certification to qualify.
Bachelor's programs in education that don't lead to teacher licensure typically offer a broader understanding of the field and may cover a wider array of topics, such as instructional design, education policy, or adult education.
Bachelor's degrees, whether on campus or online, usually require around 120 credits to graduate, although program lengths may vary depending on the school. Education majors will usually take half of their classes in liberal arts, humanities, and other general education requirements. The other half of their credits will focus on core education classes, such as curriculum development and instruction methods.
Many students choose online degrees for the flexibility they provide. Distance education offers a range of benefits — it makes it more convenient to fit classes around work, family, and other responsibilities, and opens up a variety of degree concentrations and programs that students may not have access to in their local area.
Can You Become a Teacher With an Online Degree?
Yes, teaching degrees are widely available online and are designed to prepare students to work with learners of different age groups, abilities, and educational needs. Employment data shows education is a top industry for graduates of popular online colleges with strong salary outcomes.
However, it's important to make sure any program you're interested in will meet teacher certification requirements in your state.
Teaching Licensure and Certification
Each state has different requirements in order to qualify for teacher licensure, which is necessary to work in K-12 public schools in all 50 states. Private schools don't usually require teacher certification but may have other requirements. The most common pathway to teacher certification is through a teacher preparation program at the bachelor's level. However, some teachers earn their bachelor's degree in a different field, then complete a certification program. Others enroll in master's programs leading to certification.
Each state has different requirements in order to qualify for teacher licensure, which is necessary to work in K-12 public schools in all 50 states. Private schools don't usually require teacher certification but may have other requirements.
Some online teaching degrees will qualify you for licensure across the country, while others only meet requirements in certain states. Students in online teaching programs also need to complete classroom hours to graduate and qualify for licensure. Most online colleges help students get placed with a school in their area to complete student teaching requirements.
States typically have a list of approved teacher preparation programs to help you choose one that meets certification requirements. Most teachers also need to take a state-approved test, such as the Praxis or another alternative, to earn certification. You can learn more about your state's teacher certification requirements by visiting the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification website.
Other Types of Credentials
Aside from getting your teaching certification, you can also earn supplementary credentials online to signal to school districts and other future employers that you have training in a specific area. Options include:
- Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)
- Reading and literacy
- English Language Learners/English as a Second Language (ELL/ESL endorsement)
- Adult basic education (ABE)
Pursuing additional certifications may require further education and testing, but can help you shape your teaching career while you're still in school or after you've entered the workforce.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Teaching Degree Online?
Bachelor's degrees are designed to be finished in three to four years of full-time study, but it's not uncommon for students to take longer to graduate. Students who enroll part-time will also take longer to finish their program. However, many online degree programs offer accelerated options to allow you to complete your degree sooner. Accelerated programs may have shorter terms, squeeze more classes into each semester, or include summer quarter as part of the program.
Students who already hold a bachelor's degree in another subject don't necessarily need to get a second bachelor's degree to become a teacher. Some colleges offer teacher preparation programs that qualify you for licensure at a much faster rate than a four-year degree. Check requirements in your state and choose a state-approved certification program to ensure your education will qualify you for teacher licensure.
Are Online Teaching Degrees Respected?
Online degrees are generally respected as long as they're from an accredited university. In fact, many well-known and reputable colleges offer fully online programs.
|In a 2019 survey of HR leaders conducted by Northeastern University, 61% reported that they view online credentials equal in quality to those completed in person.|
Our research shows education is a top industry for some of the most predominant online colleges — many graduates with online degrees become teachers, college instructors, administrators, or work in other education roles.
Student outcomes data — which includes retention and graduation rates, median starting salaries, and median student debt — can help you gauge the quality of an online degree and help you find the program that best fits your needs. This information can be found on the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard website.
Choosing an Online Education Program
When it comes to choosing an online degree, there are a few different factors to consider for education majors.
If you want to become a teacher, you'll need to make sure an online program meets state licensure requirements in your area. Check that your program meets the academic requirements, is accredited, and includes enough student teaching hours to become a licensed teacher in the state in which you want to teach.
For education majors who want to work outside of the classroom, finding a degree program that matches your career goals is also critical. Some focus on education and society and may offer leadership, education policy, or equity concentrations. Others emphasize teaching for specific groups, such as adult basic education, coaching, or community education.
One of the biggest differences to consider when choosing a program is whether a school offers synchronous or asynchronous online courses. Students who need a more flexible schedule may choose asynchronous classes, where they can watch pre-recorded lectures, complete coursework, and participate in class discussions through forums when it's convenient for them. For those who prefer a more structured learning environment, synchronous courses might be a better option. These online classes follow the traditional classroom model and meet virtually for live lectures and group discussions during a regularly scheduled time. Some programs offer a hybrid structure that combines the two modes.
Cost and Return on Investment
A significant number of students choose online degrees because they're more affordable. While tuition is a top factor in choosing a university, we also include the median debt, median starting salary, and 10-year ROI for each school on our ranking list to help students figure out which college will help them maximize their investment. Choosing an affordable option might be best for you in the short term. However, if the most affordable college also has a lower median starting salary, high median debt, and low 10-year return on investment, it might pay off in the long run to choose a school with stronger alumni outcomes and a slightly higher tuition rate. Students should weigh all of these factors when deciding where to enroll.
|While tuition is a top factor in choosing a university, we also include the median debt, median starting salary, and 10-year ROI for each school on our ranking list list to help students figure out which college will help them maximize their investment.|
Choosing an accredited school means you'll be able to use federal financial aid to help pay for college, if you qualify. It also means your education meets academic and industry standards and helps you qualify for teacher licensure, more job opportunities, and graduate school.
Specializations for Teacher Certification Programs
Future educators choosing a teacher licensure program have a wide range of specializations available based on their personal interests and career goals. Some students may focus on a specific grade range, such as elementary, middle, or high school. Others may specialize in teaching methods, such as Montessori or Waldorf, or work with specific groups of students.
The following concentrations offer a few examples of what students may choose to specialize in. For more online degree options leading to certification, see our list of accredited online teacher licensure programs.
Early Childhood Education
From health and fitness programs to community education, there are many different careers available to education majors interested in working outside of the K-12 classroom. Non-licensure programs are typically offered as general education degrees, interdisciplinary studies programs, or degrees in educational studies. These programs can give students a solid understanding of education and learning needs and may prepare them for careers in adult education, nonprofit work, training and development for businesses, and other areas. Below are some specializations in educational studies that might offer non-licensure tracks.
Public and Community Health Education
Accreditation for Education Degrees
Prospective students should verify that the online teacher education programs they are considering are accredited before they apply. Students must be enrolled in accredited programs to qualify for federal financial aid and must earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited school to be accepted into most graduate programs. Most states also require a degree from an accredited college or university to obtain a teaching credential or license.
Students must be enrolled in accredited programs to qualify for federal financial aid and must earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited school to be accepted into most graduate programs.
To earn accreditation, a school's academic programs, faculty members, and student services must be evaluated for academic rigor and proven to meet standards of excellence. In addition to earning accreditation for the entire institution, a school can be accredited for individual degree programs, often by professional organizations, to ensure the programs are meeting industry expectations.
Accreditation of teacher education programs may be conducted by one of two authorized agencies: the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation or the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Searchable databases of accredited education programs are available on the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation websites.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Education?
Education majors who are passionate about learning have a range of career opportunities available to them. Many students enroll in an online education program to pursue a job as a teacher. Careers in early childhood education, elementary, middle, or secondary education may immediately come to mind, but teachers with training in special education, physical education, and other speciality areas are also necessary.
Those who don't want to earn their teaching credential may consider careers outside of the traditional classroom, working with adults, English language learners, or the public. Some students also pursue jobs in education policy or advocacy. This list includes some potential career options open to those with a bachelor's in education. All salary and job growth data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Preschool TeacherMedian Annual Salary: $31,930
Job Growth Rate: 18%
K-12 TeacherMedian Annual Salary: $60,660 - $62,870
Job Growth Rate: 7-8%
Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language TeacherMedian Annual Salary: $55,350
Job Growth Rate: -5%
Training and Development SpecialistMedian Annual Salary: $55,400 - $73,690
Job Growth Rate: 11%
Fitness TrainerMedian Annual Salary: $40,510 - $42,160
Job Growth Rate: 39%
Next Steps in Your Education
A bachelor's in education can also open the door to graduate programs for careers in instructional design, administration, and educational leadership.
Online master’s degrees in education are often used to earn a teaching credential and state teaching license. Current teachers may also use these programs to advance their understanding of teaching skills or gain experience in a specialized area. Master’s programs are available in such fields of study as education technology, elementary teacher education, special education, literacy, teacher leadership, administration, and adult education, among others.
Online doctoral degrees in education, or Ed.D. degrees, are usually aimed at students who want to work in higher-level education policy or administration roles. These degree programs require students to perform in-depth research into a particular area of education, such as learning sciences and education technology or race and language in education.
How Much Does an Online Education Degree Cost?
We manually research tuition rates each year to provide students with the most accurate information when choosing a college. Our research on 150 schools with online programs shows that the median annual tuition for an online bachelor's degree in education is $12,540. The full range of tuition rates for this sample of schools is $4,785-$31,800. Students with previous college experience may be able to transfer credits to reduce their total costs.
|Our research on 150 schools with online programs shows that the median annual tuition for an online bachelor's degree in education is $12,540. The full range of tuition rates for this sample of schools is $4,785-$31,800.|
Prospective students should be aware of a few other expenses that are unique to becoming a teacher. To earn teacher certification, students usually have to take a series of Praxis exams, which can range in price from $150 to $270, and they must pay a certification application fee, which varies by state from about $50 to $200.
Most states also require teaching majors to complete one or two semesters of student teaching, during which they will work full-time in the classroom without pay. Because this is one of their graduation requirements, students typically have to pay tuition during their student teaching experience.
Financial Aid For Online Education Students
Several types of financial aid are available to students enrolled in accredited, online education degree programs. Scholarships and grants are preferred because they do not have to be paid back. Some students may also be eligible for military discounts, partnership discounts, or work-study programs.
Student loans are less desirable because they have to be repaid with interest, but may be a smart choice if they're the only means of getting a college education. In general, federal and state student loans have lower interest rates than private student loans.
The best and easiest way to apply for financial aid is through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA. If you qualify for aid, any school you apply to will send you an offer with information on the grants, scholarships, and loans you are eligible to receive. Students can contact the financial aid officers at the college they would like to attend if they have any questions about the FAFSA process or their financial aid packages.
Online education majors may be able to take advantage of several other financial aid programs. Students who are committed to going into teaching may qualify for up to $4,000 per year through the federal TEACH Grant program. There are also a number of private scholarships for teachers, which may require separate applications from the FAFSA. Some of these opportunities include:
Gates Millennium Scholars Program
Open to African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students, this program provides scholarship funding for 1,000 students each year. Preference is given to applicants majoring in education.
Nancy Larson Foundation Scholarships
This program awards several scholarships annually to college juniors and seniors who are studying elementary education.
Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship
Available at select schools across the U.S., this program provides funding for students who plan to teach STEM subjects in K-12 schools.
The Phi Delta Kappa International Education Foundation
This program provides scholarships of $500-$5,000 to 100 education students each year. Applicants must be members of one of these organizations: Educators Rising, Educators Rising Collegiate, Pi Lambda Theta, or PDK Association.
Is an Online Education Degree Worth It?
A bachelor's degree is required to earn teacher licensure, and at least a bachelor's degree is necessary for education administrators, instructional designers, and other careers in the field. Before deciding whether to pursue a degree in education and whether to enroll in an online program, prospective students may want to weigh some of the benefits and drawbacks to these career paths.
- An education degree can lead to many careers. A bachelor's degree in education gives students valuable knowledge about the educational process and helps students develop useful communication and instruction skills. These abilities are essential for teachers in the classroom, but can also lead to jobs in education administration, policy, advocacy, or teaching roles outside of the classroom.
- Teachers earn above-average salaries. According to the BLS, K-12 teachers earn median annual wages of $60,660 to $62,870, which is higher than the mean salary of $41,950 for all occupations.
- Online education programs offer flexible schedules. Students who are earning their education degrees online can arrange their school schedules to fit with work and other commitments.
- Teachers don't always get the resources they need. Due to budget constraints, many schools lack sufficient teaching tools, such as current textbooks, education technology, or paper. Some teachers say they spend $500-$1,000 of their own money each year on school supplies for their classrooms.
- Teachers work long hours when school is in session. After putting in a full day in the classroom, many teachers devote evenings and weekends to creating lesson plans, grading homework, and consulting with students and parents. However, teachers on a traditional schedule get a two-month summer break, while those on year-round schedules get three three-week breaks each year.
- Some online programs are geared toward a specific state's requirements. Students who want to enroll in an online teaching program should confirm that the programs they're interested in are designed to prepare them to meet their own state's credentialing criteria
- An online degree may not be right for all students.While many students prefer the online learning experience, others may work better in a face-to-face setting. It's important to consider your personal learning style when deciding whether to enroll in person or online.
When making such an important decision, students also need to factor in their own personal circumstances. Financial resources, work obligations, and family commitments all play a role in determining whether an online education degree is the right choice. After examining all of the variables, individuals can make informed decisions about the potential value of this degree.
Why Trust Us?
27 Data Researchers
60,000 Degrees Researched Annually
20,000 Hours Spent on Research Annually
Launching Rankings Since 2009
2023 Best Online Secondary Education Degrees
Ready to pursue an online secondary education degree? Our 2023 list includes the best online secondary education degrees with each program's tuition.
2022 Best Online Physical Education Degrees
Explore the best schools offering online physical education degrees based on alumni salary. Bachelor's degrees prepare students to become health educators.