2020 Accredited Online Secondary Education Degrees

By OnlineU Staff | Updated August 28, 2020
Quick Facts
Accreditation: CAEP, NCATE, TEAC
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Certificate
Average Tuition: $23,569
Average Salary: $61,746

Online secondary education degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Our list of the best online master's programs highlights the top 13 schools, based on tuition costs and alumni salaries reported by PayScale.

The Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP) is the leading accrediting body for secondary education degrees. Prospective students should choose CAEP-accredited programs to ensure the rigor and relevancy of the degrees they earn as well as to establish themselves for future careers in education. Additionally, in some states, attending an accredited proram is a prerequisite for teaching licensure.

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Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Secondary Education Degrees

Prospective students who visit our site are most interested in these schools.
Rank School Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 University of Florida $28,659 60% (5 reviews)
# 2 #2 University of South Florida Online $17,324 67% (3 reviews)
# 3 #3 Texas Tech University $19,040 0% (3 reviews)
# 4 #4 Georgia State University $23,971 0% (1 review)
# 5 #5 University of Kansas $27,358 100% (1 review)
# 6 #6 Baker College Online $9,800 59% (91 reviews)
# 7 #7 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus $8,247 100% (4 reviews)
# 8 #8 Western Kentucky University $26,280 100% (1 review)
# 9 #9 Drexel University $53,244 67% (6 reviews)
# 10 #10 University of Central Florida $22,467 88% (8 reviews)
# 11 #11 University of Alabama at Birmingham $19,704 100% (1 review)
# 12 #12 Auburn University $30,524 100% (2 reviews)
# 13 #13 University of Alabama $29,230 67% (3 reviews)
# 14 #14 Indiana Wesleyan University Online $9,816 41% (27 reviews)
# 15 #15 University of Wyoming $17,490 100% (2 reviews)
# 16 #16 Mississippi State University $23,250 0% (1 review)
# 17 #17 University of Southern Mississippi $10,624 0% (1 review)
# 18 #18 Indiana State University $19,836 83% (6 reviews)
# 19 #19 Touro University Worldwide $14,600 70% (10 reviews)
# 20 #20 University of South Dakota $12,425 60% (5 reviews)
# 21 #21 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville $31,426 100% (1 review)
# 22 #22 University of Missouri $27,042 Add Review
# 23 #23 University of Arkansas $25,168 100% (2 reviews)
# 24 #24 University of Louisiana-Monroe $20,654 67% (3 reviews)
# 25 #25 New York University $51,828 100% (2 reviews)

Online Secondary Education Degree Overview & Career Information

At the associate level, online programs will mainly focus on preparing a student to transfer to a bachelor's degree program, but graduates may also be able to find work in a variety of educational assistant roles. A bachelor's degree is the minimum amount of education required in order to become a licensed secondary education teacher.

Master's degrees are available for those who have completed an undergraduate degree not focused in education but want to become teachers. It is also an option for teachers looking to advance in their careers. At the doctoral level, students participate in educational programs that may prepare them to work in upper-level administration positions, as well as in research and university teaching. Lastly, certificate programs exist for those who have a non-teaching bachelor's degree who want to work as secondary education teachers, but who do not want to complete a full master's degree program.

Online Associate Degrees in Secondary Education

This level of degree is appropriate for someone who wishes to transfer to a bachelor's degree program later on to become a fully licensed teacher.

Program Requirements

Online associate degrees are usually completed within two years with around 60 credit hours. Students need at least a high school diploma or equivalent to be admitted.


Students will take general education courses as well as education specific classes focusing on psychology, communication, diversity, education, and more. Students can also major in a content area in which they take additional concentration courses in their chosen field, such as geography, foreign languages, physical sciences, and more.

Graduates of an associate degree in secondary education are qualified for work as a paraprofessional educator, teacher's aide, library assistant, or day care instructor. Additional certification and exams may be necessary or helpful in finding certain jobs.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Secondary Education

A bachelor's degree is the minimum education necessary to become a fully licensed teacher.

Program Requirements

To be admitted to this level of program, students must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, provide standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT, and submit an application essay. Application materials vary depending on the school. Secondary education degree programs usually last between four to five years total and are offered by colleges and universities. Those who hold an associate degree can apply to transfer their credits and finish the bachelor degree in less time.


Students take general education courses as well as courses in pedagogy, educational psychology, curriculum development, and lesson planning. Students in secondary education programs also typically choose one to two subject areas in which they will take additional, advanced courses, such as math or sciences, in order to be qualified to teach in this subject area. Student teaching or internship experience will usually be required.

Upon graduation from a bachelor degree program, graduates can enroll in teacher certification programs in which they will work towards their professional teaching certificate. Some programs have teacher certification built into the program, while others do not. Each state has different teacher certification requirements, including background checks, student teaching experience, general teaching exams, and more.

Online Master's Degrees in Secondary Education

Master's degree programs in secondary education give students an in-depth preparation in how to teach at the secondary level. These programs can be an especially good fit for someone who has an undergraduate degree in a particular subject area and who wishes to apply that knowledge to teaching middle and high school, or someone who wants to make a career change and become a teacher but who has no prior teaching experience or credentials. To learn more about online master's programs in secondary education, see our master's overview which includes a list of the best programs.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Secondary Education

The Doctor of Education, or Ed.D, in secondary education is available for those professionals who wish to advance their education as much as possible.

Program Requirements

Doctoral candidates must have a bachelor's degree and may also be required to have a master's degree in a particular specialization. They will also need to have previous teaching experience. A high GPA, strong work or academic recommendations, and an impressive history of professional experience in the educational field will all contribute to admission into a competitive doctoral program. Students can expect to spend at least three years on their doctoral program and complete at least 60 credit hours of study. Tuition will vary depending on the program, but students should expect to spend at least $11,000 a year or more.


Courses that students will take cover the topics of creating and evaluating a curriculum, using technology in the classroom, teaching strategies, and research methods. Independent research and a dissertation will also be required. Doctors of Education are prepared for advanced positions, such as principal or superintendent, as well as jobs in academic research, university teaching, and other top administrative roles.

Online Certificates in Secondary Education

Upon earning a bachelor's degree, prospective teachers have the option to take an online certificate program to get their teaching licensure. Each state has its own licensure requirements, so students should look for programs offered by schools within the state they wish to teach in. Courses in pedagogy and content can be taken online, while clinical hours must be logged at program-approved middle and high schools. Graduate certificate programs take about a year to two years to complete, depending on the students' availability and completion of student teaching and required internship hours. Upon completion, certificate holders can obtain professional teaching licensure in their state and pursue full-time work as official teachers in the schools of their choice.


Schools receive accreditation through a rigorous process of academic review against official standards by recognized third-party organizations. Accreditation is essential for a valid diploma on the job market or to transfer course credits between schools. In higher education, there are three kinds of accreditation: national, regional, and programmatic. National accreditation is geared towards mostly for-profit technical, career, or vocational schools, and is awarded by ten national accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education including the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), New York State Board of Regents, and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). Regional accreditation is generally considered to be the most prestigious of accreditation designations. Therefore, regionally accredited schools do not normally accept credits that are transferred from nationally accredited schools.

Those looking to pursue a degree in secondary education should be sure to take courses at regionally accredited institutions from the start to ensure that their coursework will transfer if necessary and that their diploma will be valid if used towards a future graduate degree. Regional accreditation is awarded to not-for-profit, full degree institutions such as colleges and universities by one of six regional accrediting bodies in the U.S., recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Finally, programmatic accreditation is awarded by specialization or profession, such as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Individuals who wish to be teachers should enroll in a program that has been accredited by CAEP. This will ensure the student that they are receiving a quality education that will prepare them for their future careers. 

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Licensing Requirements

Teacher requirements vary per state and must be verified individually on each state's department of education website; however, a bachelor's degree in teaching as well as a teaching license are standard requirements for teachers in secondary education. To get a teaching license with a non-teaching bachelor's degree an individual will have to complete an additional certification program or complete a master's degree in education. Many graduate programs in secondary education will offer initial teacher licensure for grades 7-12, setting the graduates up to teach in their desired field of specialization with targeted coursework.

Careers in Secondary Education

Secondary education involves the teaching, curriculum planning, administration, and counseling of middle and high school students. Those who wish to study secondary education may become teachers, principals, school district administrators, education counselors, college professors, education policymakers, or work in non-profit organizations or international schools. The day-to-day activities vary depending on the profession. While teachers spend their days planning lessons, grading papers or homework, and teaching in the classroom, administrators and policymakers deal with policies, research, and paperwork. Counselors work with students to plan their college or professional goals after high school graduation. 


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