Accredited Online Teacher Licensure Programs
Online teaching degrees, including those that lead to licensure, are available in all fifty states and are offered by a wide variety of colleges. We highlight online schools offering teaching degrees with licensure below. We also rank the best online master's in teaching programs based on annual tuition and alumni salaries. 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).
Online Teaching Licensure Programs
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.
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 Online 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.