Online teaching degrees, including those that lead to licensure, are available in all fifty states and are offered by a wide variety of colleges. The best online schools offering teaching degrees with licensure are highlighted below. They were ranked based on tuition costs and alumni salaries provided by PayScale. We also offer information about teaching degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. Earning a teaching degree can be a first step toward a career in education; in all US states, public school teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree, as well as a valid teaching license.
Many states require teachers to have a degree that has been accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
2020 Online Schools Offering Teaching Degrees with Licensure
Much like lawyers and medical practitioners, aspiring teachers must acquire a professional license to be able to practice in a given area. The following schools offer state-recognized online degrees that qualify students to apply for licensure. While most online schools on this list prepare students for licensure exams in the state in which the campus is located, Western Governors University helps students prepare for licensure in any of the 50 states. Read more about licensing requirements below.
2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Master's in Teaching Programs
The following 25 schools offer the best online master's in teaching programs, based on their low tuition rates and high mid-career salary potentials. Graduates of the #1 school, the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, report earning a median salary of $92,200. The University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign ranks #2, with a median salary of $91,600 and an annual tuition rate of $7,712.
Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.
The Master of Science in Science Education at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst provides students the education, resources, and tools to create and facilitate a meaningful, engaging, and innovative science curriculum. The online teaching degree was designed through a collaboration of the College of Education and the College of Natural Science and includes coursework in teaching pedagogy and a range of science disciplines. The program admits students year-round, and most students enrolled in two courses each semester finish the program in less than two years.
#2 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign
Annual Tuition: $7,712
Median Salary: $91,600
Locations: Champaign (IL)
The online Master of Science in Teaching Biology program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is designed to advance the pedagogy of teachers certified in biology. The program requires the completion of five courses in biology and three courses in education, with instruction in infectious diseases, human genome and bioinformatics, learning in science, and education reforms. The courses are primarily asynchronous, allowing working teachers to complete assignments and readings at their convenience, though weekly scheduled virtual meetings are required.
#3 Mercy College
Annual Tuition: $13,455
Median Salary: $89,000
Locations: Dobbs Ferry (NY)
Mercy College offers a number of online master's degrees and concentrations in teaching and education. Students can choose to pursue a master's in (1) educational studies; (2) adolescence education, grades 7–12; (3) teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL); and (4) teaching students with disabilities, birth to grade 6 and early childhood. Several of the master's degrees can be further concentrated in areas of grade level or subject. All degree programs, except educational studies, qualify students for initial or professional certification in teaching. Depending on the degree and concentration area, students are required to complete 30 to 36 credit hours and a thesis or teaching experience. The master's in teaching students with disabilities requires 48 credit hours.
#4 Johns Hopkins University
Annual Tuition: $13,481
Median Salary: $88,200
Locations: Baltimore (MD)
The Master of Arts in Teaching Writing at Johns Hopkins University is designed to advance a teacher's understanding of the theory, best practices, and current pedagogy in instructing students in writing. Any teacher in any discipline or grade level — kindergarten through university — is encouraged to apply. The online teaching program requires 36 credit hours through the completion of nine courses. Though the program is primarily online, a 7 to 10-day on-campus residency in July is mandatory. Students choose from a number of courses to best suit their needs or interests in the program, including creativity and writing, teaching reluctant writers, college composition, and fiction and nonfiction writing.
#5 California State University-Fullerton
Annual Tuition: $13,374
Median Salary: $80,100
Locations: Fullerton (CA)
California State University-Fullerton offers a Master of Science in Education with concentrations in elementary curriculum and instruction and secondary education with an emphasis in foundational mathematics. The elementary curriculum and instruction concentration prepares classroom teachers to enter leadership roles in one or more specialty areas, including classroom teaching, math and science education, technology in education, or staff development. The secondary education with an emphasis on foundational mathematics concentration provides experienced math teachers the opportunity to refine and upgrade their knowledge and instruction strategies in the discipline. Both concentrations require the completion of 30 units of coursework.
#6 Western Governors University
Annual Tuition: $6,480
Median Salary: $76,900
Locations: Multiple Locations
For aspiring and current educators seeking the next level of teacher licensure, Western Governors University offers a number of graduate online teaching degree programs. Options include the Master of Arts in English Language Learning (PK–12), the Master of Arts in Mathematics Education (K–6, Middle Grades, and Secondary tracks), and the Master of Arts in Science Education (Middle Grades, Secondary Biological Science, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics). For non-education majors looking to switch careers, the Master of Arts in Teaching is a good fit; programs include Elementary Education, English Education (Secondary), Mathematics Education (Middle and Secondary), and Science Education (Secondary). Each program leads to teacher licensure. Depending on the program, full-time students can earn their degree in as few as 18 months. All classes except observations and student teaching practicums can be completed online. The programs are flexible, with some that have classes starting on the first of every month. Online students at Western Governors University have access to campus resources and services, including an active alumni network to make professional connections. To apply, students must complete an online form, submit transcripts, and interview with an enrollment counselor.
#7 Saint Xavier University
Annual Tuition: $6,900
Median Salary: $75,800
Locations: Chicago (IL)
Students can launch or further their careers as educators through the graduate online teaching degree programs at Saint Xavier University. For those who wish to teach English as a second language, there are two programs leading to ESL endorsement: the Master of Arts in Education - Dual Endorsement (LBS I and Bilingual/ESL) and the Master of Arts in Education - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Students must pass the proficiency exam in a second language for bilingual endorsement. These 18-credit programs can be finished in five semesters. For those who are switching careers to become teachers, the Master of Arts in Teaching - Elementary Education is a good option. This program offers eight-week classes in an accelerated format; students can graduate in as few as 18 months. With the exception of 100+ hours of field experience, the program can be completed fully online. Students have access to academic and career advising, as well as other student services. Applicants to any of the online teaching degree programs at Saint Xavier must submit an online application with their transcripts and a personal statement.
#8 Central Michigan University
Annual Tuition: $9,555
Median Salary: $69,000
Locations: Mount Pleasant (MI)
Central Michigan University has a number of graduate online teaching degree programs for current and aspiring educators to gain the credentials and licensure they need for rewarding careers in the classroom. The Master of Arts in Education is offered as a general program and with a focus in Curriculum and Instruction; both feature a thesis and a non-thesis track. While the MA in Education leads to licensure, the MA in Curriculum and Instruction is for teachers who already have a state license and are seeking leadership roles in their schools. For individuals looking to pursue careers as special education teachers, there is a Master of Arts in Special Education program with concentrations in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Specific Learning Disability. Completion of this program leads to the “Master Teacher” designation, per the Carnegie Institute. Remote students have access to the Online Learning Resource Center and other campus support services throughout their program. To apply to these programs at Central Michigan, students must submit an online application (fee applies) with college transcripts, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.
#9 Kansas State University
Annual Tuition: $9,187
Median Salary: $68,600
Locations: Manhattan (KS)
Aspiring educators and those looking to advance in their classroom careers can get training through the online teaching degree programs at Kansas State University. The Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction offers a number of concentrations, including English as a Second Language, Learning Skills/School Improvement, Mathematics Education, Reading Specialist, and Teaching Civics and Government. This program is designed for individuals who are already licensed as teachers and wish to assume school leadership roles. For those who did not major in education at the undergraduate level, there is a Master of Arts in Teaching, which has both an Elementary and a Secondary track. Students in the MAT program can graduate in 12 months and be eligible for state licensure. Online students have access to the same academic advising, career development, technical support, and other resources as do students in the on-campus programs. The program offers session start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. To be considered for the online teaching degree programs, students must fill out an online application and submit transcripts; once they do, they will be contacted for additional documents that may include letters of recommendation and personal statements.
#10 University at Buffalo
Annual Tuition: $9,605
Median Salary: $67,100
Locations: Buffalo (NY)
The University of Buffalo offers a Master of Education in English Education Studies and a Master of Education in Music Education. These online teaching degree programs are suited for educators who wish to advance in their careers but already have state licensure. The English Education Studies program focuses on the theories and practices of teaching, research, and learning. The Music Education program focuses on digital technology in music education. Both are 33-credit programs that can be completed in four or five semesters of part-time study. Students can take classes completely online or opt for a hybrid format that includes on-campus classes. Online students have access to campus resources that include academic advising, career advising, and technical support. The University of Buffalo has a global network of students and alumni, which offers students a unique perspective on their training as educators and school leaders. To apply to the University of Buffalo, students must submit an online application (with a fee), school transcripts, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation.
#11 Wayne State University
Annual Tuition: $22,046
Median Salary: $72,000
Locations: Detroit (MI)
At Wayne State University, aspiring educators can earn a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning - Career and Technical Education (CTE). This online teaching degree program prepares educators to teach the next generation heading into the workforce (in collaboration with the Office of Career and Technical Education-Michigan Department of Education). The CTE program focuses on both the practice and theory of career and technical education so that teachers can help students connect their classroom knowledge with the practical skills needed to succeed in the workforce. Completion of this program can lead to CTE certification, though students may need other prerequisites and tests. Online students at Wayne State University have remote access to campus services, including academic and career advising. Prospective students can apply by submitting an online application form with a fee as well as transcripts (2.75 GPA or higher is desired) and a personal statement. An interview may be required as part of the applicant process. Once enrolled, students will confer with an advisor to create a plan of work.
#12 University of North Texas
Annual Tuition: $12,146
Median Salary: $66,900
Locations: Denton (TX)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Current and aspiring educators can earn their Master of Education in Teaching degree online at the University of North Texas. This program offers three tracks for students to choose from based on their personal and professional goals: Early Childhood–6, Grades 4–8, and Secondary Education. All three online teaching degree options lead to state licensure. These 36-credit programs are divided into 12 credits in the common core, 12 credits in the area of specialization, and six credits in student teaching. All credits but those for student teaching can be completed fully online. Online students have access to a wide variety of services and resources, including academic and career advising, library databases, writing labs, tutoring, technical support, and more. To apply to the teaching programs at the University of North Texas, students must submit an application (with a fee), college transcript(s), a letter of intent, a three-to-four-page essay about their individual teaching philosophy, and a CV or resume.
#13 University of Virginia
Annual Tuition: $8,115
Median Salary: $63,900
Locations: Charlottesville (VA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Individuals who want to pursue careers teaching young people in Kindergarten through 12th grade how to speak English can complete their training online at the University of Virginia. The Master of Teaching in English as a Second Language is offered as a part-time online teaching degree program so that busy professionals can advance their skills as they balance other commitments. The post-graduate program is designed for paraprofessionals and teachers who want to earn their professional licensure and endorsement in ESL for students in PreK–12. Everything but the classroom field experience can be completed online. Applicants to the ESL teaching program at the University of Virginia must show proficiency in the target language by way of college credit, Praxis or AP scores, or other language proficiency exams. Prospective students must submit an online application with their transcript and Praxis scores for consideration. A tuition discount is available for those already working in PreK–12; further funding may be available to those who qualify.
#14 University of Memphis
Annual Tuition: $10,455
Median Salary: $64,700
Locations: Memphis (TN)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The University of Memphis Global offers two online teaching degree programs through the Instruction and Curriculum Leadership Department (ICL) in the College of Education: a Master of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Education and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education. Both programs lead to the initial state teaching licensure (passing the Praxis II is required). With the exception of the field experience, all classes in these programs can be completed online for a flexible course of study. Future educators who are enrolled in the online programs at the University of Memphis can access the same services as on-campus students, including academic and career advising, technical support, and library resources. Prospective students should fill out an online application and submit their transcripts and GRE scores. Students who wish to obtain initial licensure must also apply to the Teacher Education Program (TEP). The GRE may be waived based on a strong overall application or by the student having earned another graduate degree.
#15 Ball State University
Annual Tuition: $9,765
Median Salary: $63,900
Locations: Muncie (IN)
Ball State University has a number of online teaching degree options for individuals who wish to teach at levels ranging from kindergarten to community college. The Master of Arts in Special Education is offered with the following concentrations: Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, Early Childhood Special Education, Intense Interventions, and Mild Interventions. For those looking to become high school teachers, there is a Master of Arts in Secondary Education in Secondary Teaching, Teaching of a Content or Special Area, or Dual Credit Teaching Credential. Aspiring high school math teachers or community college professors may opt for the Master of Arts in Mathematics Education - Secondary School Teachers program and the Master of Arts in Foundational Mathematics Teaching in the Community College programs, respectively. Not all of these programs lead to teacher licensure. Online students have access to the same resources as on-campus students, including academic and technical support services. Prospective students applying for fall, spring, or summer should fill out the online application (fee applies) and upload transcripts (a minimum 2.75 GPA is desired). Depending on the program, recommendation letters and a statement of purpose may be required, but there is no GRE requirement.
#16 Arizona State University
Annual Tuition: $8,512
Median Salary: $63,100
Locations: Tempe (AZ)(and 4 others)
Arizona State University offers a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Gifted Education and a Master of Arts in English as a Second Language (ESL) as online programs to make it convenient for aspiring educators to gain advanced classroom skills, certifications, and endorsements. The Gifted Education program leads to teacher endorsement in the state of Arizona; students may apply for reciprocity in other states pending additional requirements or credentials. The ESL program focuses on the language, learning, teaching, and research behind teaching English to speakers of other languages. Both programs require 30 credits; classes are 7.5 weeks long and taught in an accelerated format. To apply to either online teaching degree program, students must submit an application with a fee, college transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and proof of proficiency in English. Online students at Arizona State University have the ability to use many campus resources, including research databases, career services, and academic advising.
#17 University of Louisville
Annual Tuition: $10,314
Median Salary: $63,600
Locations: Louisville (KY)
Accreditation: SACS COC
For educators looking to advance their skills in teaching students with special needs, the University of Louisville offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education - Moderate and Severe Disabilities P-12. The program is designed for individuals who did not study education as undergraduates and are looking for an alternative path to teacher certification. The 36-credit program has coursework focused on the characteristics of children with special needs and the pedagogy, research, and practice behind optimizing education for these unique students. To apply to this online teaching degree program, students must submit an online application along with their transcripts (minimum 2.75 GPA), GRE or Praxis scores, a teaching resume (must use provided template), three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement that answers two provided prompts. An interview is also required as part of the admissions process. Online students at the University of Louisville have access to a Student Success Team for academic and career advising, as well as other campus resources.
#18 National Louis University
Annual Tuition: $10,960
Median Salary: $62,800
Locations: Chicago (IL)
The Master of Education In Teaching, Learning, and Assessment at National Louis University is well suited for educators who wish to enhance the learning experience for students with diverse abilities and backgrounds. This online teaching degree program prepares students to take a holistic, differentiated learning approach to classroom management and school leadership. The coursework addresses current needs in the classroom so that students can implement the practices in their current schools. The 32-credit online teaching degree program includes a research project related to students’ personal and professional goals as teachers and school leaders. Students have access to academic advisors as well as the Career Bridge, which links students to career services and professional networking opportunities. To be considered for this online teaching degree program, applicants must submit an online application with transcripts, three letters of recommendation (waived for students with 3.0 GPA or higher), and an essay that answers three prompts about their interests, community engagement, and philosophy as an educator. An interview with a faculty member may also be required.
#19 Lesley University
Annual Tuition: $11,050
Median Salary: $62,800
Locations: Cambridge (MA)
Lesley University’s online teaching degree programs offer a variety of options for currently employed teachers who are looking to advance their careers in the classroom. The Master of Education is offered in the following areas: Curriculum and Instructions - Elementary Education Generalist, Individually Designed Program for Educators -Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Mathematics Education (1–6), Science in Education (1–6), and Language and Literacy. These 33-credit programs are divided into eight-week classes with session start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. Part-time students can finish the program in two years. Students must already have initial licensure if they wish to move on to professional licensure by way of these online teaching degree programs. To apply to any of these programs, students must show proof of a current teaching license, college transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement; there is no GRE requirement.
#20 University of New Mexico
Annual Tuition: $4,583
Median Salary: $58,600
Locations: Albuquerque (NM)
For individuals seeking rewarding careers in the elementary or high school classroom, the University of Mexico offers flexible online teaching degree options: a Master of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master of Arts in Secondary Education. These programs help enhance skills in classroom and school leadership, but they do not lead to administrator licensure. Both are 32-credit programs that can be finished in two years; new cohorts begin each fall. Online students have access to a wide variety of campus resources, including academic and career advising and library databases. While students can complete their coursework completely online, those who live near campus can take advantage of free admission to fitness facilities and athletic events. Prospective students should already have an elementary or secondary teaching license, and need to have at least 12 or more credits in the cognate area or subject to which they are applying. Admission requires an online application, transcripts, a resume, a letter of intent, and three letters of recommendation.
#21 Texas A&M University-College Station
Annual Tuition: $12,496
Median Salary: $61,200
Locations: College Station (TX)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The Master of Science in Education for Healthcare Professionals at Texas A&M-College Station is designed to prepare students to become innovative educators in the field of healthcare. This program supports graduates to pursue faculty appointments in dental and dental hygiene, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy programs at colleges, universities, and training programs. The Master of Science program has both a thesis and a non-thesis track available; thesis students must work with an advisory committee to complete and defend their work. Classes are taught in an asynchronous format so that students can balance work, life, and academic responsibilities. Online students have access to library resources, academic advising, and career development support, among other services. To apply to this online teaching degree program at Texas A&M, students must submit an online application with the following supporting documents and credentials: a resume, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores.
#22 Troy University
Annual Tuition: $7,904
Median Salary: $59,100
Locations: Troy (AL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Troy University’s online teaching degree programs offer numerous flexible opportunities for aspiring educators to complete their training for the classroom. The Master of Science in Education has concentrations in Gifted Education (P–12), Instructional Leadership and Administration (P–12), and Social Science Education (6–12). Aspiring history teachers can pursue a Master of Science in History Education (6–12). Individuals who wish to teach others how to read and write in English can opt for the Master of Science in Second Language Instruction (a thesis option is available). Students can complete the curriculum online, but they will complete their student teaching practicum at a school under the supervision of a cooperating teacher. Online students at Troy University have access to the Student Success Center, which links students to a variety of student services, including academic and career advising, disability services, technical support, and library resources. Students must create a graduate applicant account online to submit transcripts and other required documents and credentials to be considered for admission.
#23 University of Alabama
Annual Tuition: $6,300
Median Salary: $58,400
Locations: Tuscaloosa (AL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The University of Alabama hosts online teaching degree programs that offer a flexible way for aspiring high school teachers to earn their professional teacher licensure. The Master of Arts in Secondary Education is offered in the following certification categories: English for Speakers of Other Languages P–12, English Language Arts 6–12, Reading Specialist P–12, and Science. These 30-credit programs focus on evidence-based theory and practice in the subject area. Classes are taught online, though 12 credits of fieldwork are required to graduate. Part-time students can complete the program in two years. To apply to these programs, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, a Class B Teacher Certification (or the equivalent), and two years of classroom experience (for some programs). Online students have access to many campus resources through their Student Services Team, including academic support and career services. To apply, students must submit an online application form with their college transcript (3.0 GPA and higher is desired), proof of licensure, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and GRE scores.
#24 Liberty University
Annual Tuition: $9,960
Median Salary: $59,800
Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Liberty University offers a series of teaching degree programs for teachers who wish to enhance their knowledge and career opportunities. The Master of Arts in Teaching is offered in the following concentration areas: English as Second Language (ESL), Elementary Education, Middle Grades Education, Secondary Education, and Special Education. The 36-credit programs can be completed within 1.5 years. The curriculum, which focuses on the theory and practice of teaching, is divided into eight-week classes with eight starts to allow for flexible study. A 45-credit track is an option for those students who wish to meet competencies in their content areas or work toward an additional teaching endorsement. These programs lead to teacher licensure in the State of Virginia, though students from other states may apply for licensure under reciprocity agreements; other requirements may apply depending on their home state. To apply to any of these online master’s in teaching programs, students must submit an online application (fee is deferred to enrollment), transcripts, and proof of proficiency in English.
#25 New York University
Annual Tuition: $53,850
Median Salary: $77,000
Locations: New York (NY)
The Master of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Education program at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education is a one-year program that combines educational theory with direct classroom practice for aspiring high school teachers. This competitive program offers a full-time, paid teacher residency at a school in New York City; part-time, unpaid residencies are also an option. Students can focus on the following content areas: English, math, science, social studies, and special education. Synchronous classes are offered online so that students can connect with their faculty and fellow students within their cohort. Students start observing right away under mentor teachers, and the goal is for them to lead the classroom by the end of the program. Graduates can apply for initial licensure; additional credentials are required for professional licensure. The program starts in July of each year, and students graduate the following June. To apply to this online teaching degree program, students must submit their transcripts, resume, letters of recommendation, and the GRE or Miller Analogies Test. Selected students will be invited to interview at partner schools as part of the process.
Online Teaching Degree Overview & Career Information
Online associate degrees in teaching are best for students who want to begin their education at a community college before transferring to a four-year university. Students will take general education courses, such as math, composition, and English, as well as basic teaching courses in curriculum, instruction, and evaluation. Students earning online bachelor's degrees will take similar classes, but the curriculum will be more in-depth. Course options may include technology, teaching students of diverse populations, working with students who have learning disabilities, and developing creative teaching techniques. Many online undergraduate students are required to study a foreign language.
Online teaching graduate degrees give students the chance to pursue a specialization of their choice. Online master's degrees in teaching can feature subject-specific specializations (such as mathematics), age-specific specializations (such as middle school education), and areas like technology or educational leadership. To begin most master's degree programs, students are required to submit undergraduate transcripts and letters of recommendation. Some master's in teaching programs also require applicants to have professional classroom experience and Praxis exam scores. Online doctoral degree programs in teaching are intended for people who want to master a specific area of education, like special education, and write a dissertation on the topic.
Online Associate Degrees in Teaching
Online associate degrees in teaching are intended to provide students with an introduction to the teaching profession, and they can be a first step in the process of becoming a professional educator. Although the minimum requirement to become a teacher is usually a state-recognized bachelor's or master's degree program, an online associate degree can be a good introduction for students who aren't ready to commit to a four-year degree or who would like to complete the general education requirements at a community college and then transfer to a bachelor's degree program.
Admission to an online associate degree program requires a high school diploma or GED. Applicants are often required to submit transcripts from high school and any other colleges they may have attended. Most online associate degrees require about 60 semester hours, the equivalent of about two years of schooling.
An online associate degree in teaching introduces students to a number of foundational courses, such as English composition, math, history, and social sciences. The program may also offer classes in the humanities and fine arts. Introductory exposure to these liberal arts courses helps students build professional skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving. Once the core general education courses have been completed, students may choose electives in areas such as early childhood education, English Language Learners (ELL), special education, or physical education.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Teaching
Online bachelor's degrees in teaching are excellent choices for students interested in pursuing careers in the field of education. Some of these online programs can provide the necessary coursework and classroom experience for students to apply for teaching licensure. Non-licensure programs are also available and provide a good educational foundation in teaching concepts for students who want to pursue a higher degree or who want to work in education but not as a teacher.
Applicants to bachelor's teaching programs must have a high school diploma or GED. Students will be expected to submit high school transcripts and some schools may also require SAT or ACT scores. For teacher licensure programs, students may also need to complete a criminal background check as part of the application process. Online bachelor's degrees in teaching typically take four years to complete when students are enrolled full time.
Online teacher education bachelor's degrees combine training in education methods, teaching theory, social science, and the instructional content area. For example, an elementary education major would take classes in early childhood development, instructional techniques for young children, and the history of elementary education in the United States. They would also take content area classes in the instruction of multiple subjects, like social studies, math, science, and reading. Specific teaching courses cover topics like curriculum development, lesson planning, student evaluation, and classroom management.
Teaching majors in middle school or high school education have a slightly different type of training during the bachelor's program. While they also take classes in psychology, sociology, and education theory, they concentrate in one subject area rather than taking classes in multiple subjects. For example, a student who wanted to instruct math at the secondary school level would take upper-division math classes like college algebra and ordinary differential equations. They would also take several classes in math instruction.
Some bachelor's in teaching programs have certification options. Students complete a student-teaching apprenticeship and take any exams required in their state to earn their licenses at the same time they graduate with a bachelor's degree. This option may require additional coursework, as well. Prospective teachers should consult their state's certification requirements before pursuing a degree program, as some states require graduate training for secondary school teachers. In these states, the bachelor's may only be sufficient for instruction at the K-6th grade level. Prospective distance education students should also pay close attention to which online teaching degrees are state-approved for those seeking licensure.
Online Master's Degrees in Teaching
Some online master's programs lead to teaching certification. Graduates of these programs may go on to gain employment in preschool, elementary, middle, and secondary private and public institutions. There are also other master's level programs for teachers who are already certified but who wish to continue their education in order to be eligible for post-secondary teaching opportunities or in order to specialize in areas like literacy or curriculum and instruction.
Applicants to an online master's in teaching program will need to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and will need to submit their undergraduate transcripts. Some schools will require GRE scores, personal statements, and/or letters of recommendation, as well. Programs leading to licensure may also require a criminal background check. Master's degrees for licensed teachers will require proof of teaching credentials prior to admission.
The curriculum in the online teaching master’s combines courses in education theory and psychology with a firm understanding of instructional approaches. The required classes in these programs will depend on the student’s teaching specialization area; students choose a particular grade level and focus within that grade level. For example, an elementary education major with a focus in literacy would take courses in childhood development, language acquisition, and reading curriculum design. A secondary education major with a focus in math would take courses in methods for teaching algebra, geometry, and calculus.
Besides online graduate courses for teachers, all accredited education degrees have student teaching requirements, which can account for up to 50 percent of the work in the program. This fieldwork places teaching students in real classrooms so that they can practice the teaching techniques they have learned in the degree program. Students typically complete several fieldwork experiences. In early practicums, student teachers observe experienced teachers and their instructional skills. In later practicums, student teachers actually instruct courses. Experienced teachers offer critiques and advice to student teachers on improving their teaching style.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Teaching
Online doctoral degrees in teaching are designed for educators interested in pursuing a career in academic leadership. There are two degree options for those who wish to study instructional planning and teaching at this level: a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is an option suited for people interested in curriculum design and research, and a Doctor of Education (EdD), which is the option tailored for people who prefer to work as school staff members and administrators.
Admission requirements for online doctoral programs in teaching vary by school. Most schools require applicants to have an undergraduate degree, teaching credentials, and GRE scores; some schools may also require applicants to have a master's degree. The length of teaching doctoral degree programs can also vary significantly. Online teaching PhD and EdD programs can require between 50 to 90 credit hours of study and take three to five years to complete.
Whether you choose to pursue a PhD in teaching or an EdD, as a doctoral degree student in education you can expect to take courses in subjects like literacy education, instructional styles, and research methodology. Students in PhD programs might also take coursework in statistics. As part of a doctoral program, you will initiate research projects and complete a paper known as a dissertation on a topic of interest. EdD students might also find that their online schools will place them in a fellowship at a traditional university in order to put their research into practice.
Students who complete PhD programs in teaching are likely to pursue careers at colleges and universities, where they can educate future teachers and find resources to further their research. EdD graduates often find their path in elementary and secondary school administration, where they can directly influence an educational setting.
Online Certificates in Teaching
Students may choose to pursue an online graduate teaching certificate to fulfill the state requirements to sit for the teacher licensing exam. Postbaccalaureate teacher certification is designed to train future teachers in educational theory, curriculum design, and instructional skills to teach in K-12 settings. Successful graduates may enter K-12 teaching roles in both public and private schools.
Postbaccalaureate teaching certificates are available through traditional and online coursework. Most programs are administered by the college's department of education. The following are the main requirements for admission:
An undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.0
Undergraduate courses in areas such as math, communication, reading, and critical thinking
Schools may have additional requirements, depending on your subject area. Some programs require the Praxis I exam. This exam tests basic reading, writing, and math skills.
Online certificates require 10 to 20 courses and hands-on teaching practicums. These programs generally take one to two years to complete, depending on the applicant’s previous education coursework. Applicants for primary education certificates need an accredited bachelor’s degree in any discipline, while secondary education certificates generally require the bachelor’s degree to be in the particular subject area in which the student plans to teach.
The curriculum in the teaching certificate is designed to cover state standards for teaching in the public school system. The particular classes required will depend on the student’s desired teaching area, whether that be becoming a kindergarten teacher, or pursuing a career in elementary, middle, secondary, or special education. Foundational courses in most programs discuss topics like childhood development, history of the education system, and strategies for teaching students from diverse cultural backgrounds. The following are common core classes in the certificate:
Context of education
Teaching mathematics in elementary schools
Besides the general social science and education theory topics, students also study instructional skills for their particular educational area. Future elementary education teachers learn instruction and curriculum development for all subject areas, while secondary education majors learn the skills for teaching a particular subject, such as chemistry, world history, or economics. All online teacher certification programs require that students participate in on-site supervised teaching practicums in a real school setting.
When selecting a postbaccalaureate certification program, it is important to keep in mind your state's requirements and program accreditation. In addition, students should be mindful of whether the program is offered in an online-only or hybrid format. Some schools will also require students to set up their own student-teaching experience, while others have pre-existing partnerships with certain schools.
Licensing and Certification Requirements for Teachers
Professional licensure requirements for teachers may vary per state, however most will require that you complete a Teaching Preparation Program (TPP) before applying for a license. There are three basic kinds of licensure available; temporary, initial, and professional.
A temporary teaching license is valid for a short period of time and cannot be renewed, while an initial license is valid for period of five years and may be renewed a limited number of times. A professional license is valid for five years and is renewable every five years thereafter. To acquire a professional license, it is commonly required that you first possess an initial license for more than three years.
On top of having a teaching license, aspiring teachers may also have to get teaching endorsements. While a license refers to your authorization to teach in a given area, an endorsement refers to the area or subject you will be teaching (special education, elementary math, secondary English, etc.). Having a teaching endorsement assures the school you are applying to teach in that you are equipped with up-to-date knowledge and the right skills set to teach a specific subject.
A bachelor's degree is typically required for you to be able to apply for licensure. While most colleges and universities from across the country offer online teaching degrees, only accredited programs lead to licensure. If you wish to pursue a career in education but cannot acquire a bachelor's degree, you can opt for an online associates degree that leads to a fulfilling career as a teaching assistant or childcare specialist.
Many states require a final exam before candidates can earn their teaching licenses. This may be the Praxis II test, or an exam developed by your state. The certification board may also require a criminal background check and drug test. Visit Teach.org and the National Education Association to learn more about specific state requirements for becoming a teacher.
Students looking for online teaching degrees that will enable them to apply for licensure should look at our list of colleges and universities offering teacher licensure preparation programs. Each school on this list offers at least one online teaching degree that can lead to licensure. These programs generally lead to licensure in one specific state so prospective students should pay close attention to the licensure state when deciding which program to attend.
The Importance of Choosing an Accredited Teaching Program
In order to have the best opportunities for success in the teaching profession, it's in a student's best interest to attend a degree program that has been carefully evaluated and vetted by an accreditation agency. To ensure that educators have received an adequate education themselves, most states require teaching license applicants to have an accredited bachelor's or master's degree. Most teaching degree programs are regionally accredited by one of six accrediting boards. Students can check the accreditation status of any school by visiting the national US Department of Education website.
There is also a national accrediting board that specifically evaluates and advocates for teacher training programs called the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP is a consolidation of two previous teaching program accreditation agencies, the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Check out your state's teacher licensing board to make sure that any degree program you are considering meets their requirements.
Can You Get A Teaching Degree Online?
It is possible to become a teacher entirely online, including fulfilling student teaching requirements. The road to becoming a certified elementary, middle school or high school teacher, begins with deciding on what grade level you would like to teach as this will inform which certifications you will need. A bachelor's degree is a requirement for anyone who wants to teach, and individuals planning for a career teaching in public schools must also complete the teacher licensure requirements specified by the state where they plan to work.
Generally speaking, teacher education requirements include coursework in education philosophy and methods, developmental psychology and a semester of supervised student teaching. Many teachers begin their journey by earning a bachelor's in education, but there are many online teacher certification programs that prepare individuals with a bachelor's degree in another field to meet state teacher licensure requirements. A master's in education will prepare you even more for licensure and should be considered as a viable option.
As you research the various types of teacher education programs, it's important to remember that teacher education requirements vary from state to state. The ideal program for you should prepare you to meet all of the teacher education requirements for your state, regardless of degree level.
Teacher Certification Programs by Degree Level
A bachelor's degree in education. For students who don't already have a college degree, this may be the most convenient route to certification because the bachelor's degree includes all of the coursework required to meet state licensure for the grade school level of choice.
A master’s degree in teaching or education. Students who already have an undergraduate degree in a different field can meet teacher licensure requirements through a master’s program designed for those coming from a non-education related background.
An Alternative Certification Program (ACP). ACPs are designed for adults with undergraduate degrees in other fields who are ready to make a quick transition into full-time teaching. Note that many ACPs don't offer teacher certification tracks for individuals who want to teach in areas such as early childhood education or special education as these areas require additional coursework not covered in alternative certification training.
Texas Teachers of Tomorrow is an online program that offers training that allows individuals to complete their Texas teacher certification in a year while they work as school teachers. The program includes teacher education courses and career guidance advice.
The Intensive Pedagogical Training Institute (IPTI) at Ohio State University prepares students for the Ohio Alternative Resident Educator license. The online program is self-paced and takes about four months to complete.
The Michigan Teachers of Tomorrow program offers online teacher training that prepares students for an Interim Teaching Certificate. The school also helps students get their first full-time teaching job. Students complete the rest of their teacher education online and qualify for a standard Michigan license in three years.
The Career Switcher program in Virginia can be trained for the classroom through a number of Virginia colleges like Old Dominion University, Regent University, Shenandoah University, and in the Virginia Community College System.
The Lateral Entry program in North Carolina allows qualified potential teachers to teach immediately while they are obtaining their license. Teachers are given 3-year provisional licenses in their specific area.
How to Become a Teacher
Getting a teaching degree online can be a great alternative for those with tight schedules or who prefer learning in an online medium. There are numerous programs that allow you to obtain your teaching degree online, whether you are becoming a teacher for the first time or are pursuing continuing education as a current educator. This page covers programs that lead to teaching licensure, with programs that satisfy state requirements such as student teaching.
Obtaining a degree in teaching can be the start of a secure career, as educators are often in high demand. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, degrees in education-related fields are among the most popular programs in the nation. Approximately 92,000 undergraduate degrees, 147,000 master's degrees and 40,000 doctoral degrees in education-related programs were earned in the 2014-2015 academic year. It's an ever-growing field.
Online universities offer all stages of education: associate's, bachelor's, master's and even doctoral programs. While not all education careers require a degree, the vast majority do. In fact, every state requires at least a bachelor's degree in order to teach at a public school; meanwhile, privately-funded schools may not require a degree but having one is preferred. Many online universities offer both accredited programs and access to classrooms to fulfill the requirement of in-person student teaching for licensure.
There are two types of teaching degrees that can be obtained online:
Degrees that lead to state licensure
If you want to become a teacher, this is the degree for you. These degree programs lead to teaching licensure and access to resources to fulfill other state requirements such as entrance exams and subject-matter mastery tests. Through this exhaustive list of digital degree programs, you can find online universities that offer licensure for teaching in your specific state.
Degrees that do not lead to licensure
If you are already teaching and want to pursue continuing education, this is the degree for you. An ideal candidate would be teachers who are already licensed seeking to further their teaching careers, or those who wish to obtain a teaching degree without also pursuing licensure. These degrees can be used as leverage to negotiate for higher pay or apply for leadership positions.
Financial Aid for Teachers
When it comes to getting a degree, one of the main concerns is affordability. It might seem impossible for some students, but there are many options to help with associated education costs. The two most common are scholarships and grants.
Scholarships are the more ubiquitous option. The primary criteria for scholarships are merit-based whether its artistic, athletic or academic talent; however, there are countless options. They are offered by many private and nonprofit organizations from local churches to Fortune 500 companies. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 750,000 scholarships are available for students every academic school year.
Grants are another gift aid option for students. Unlike scholarships, grants tend to be based on a needs-based standard such as the Federal Pell Grant which is awarded to students with an annual family income of $50,000 or less. Grants are often awarded by the government, whether state or federal, and the institutions to help economically disadvantaged students.
Financial Assistance Specific to Teachers
While grants and scholarships are the main options to help students mitigate the costs of higher education, teachers have another one: the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. Designed by the Department of Education to encourage people to continue in the teaching profession, the program has a strict set of criteria. To qualify, a teacher must teach full-time for five consecutive academic terms in a Title 1 school or education facility. Teachers that qualify can have upward of $17,500 forgiven from federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans including Stafford Loans. In some cases, Direct and Federal Consolidation Loans may be eligible for forgiveness if they were used to repay one of the subsidized or unsubsidized loan options.
Education should be an option for everyone, and with these gift aid options and loan forgiveness programs students can less time worrying about ever-growing education costs.
American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://abcte.org.
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://caepnet.org.
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