Accredited Online Teacher Licensure Programs
Online teaching degrees, including those that lead to licensure, are offered by a wide variety of colleges nationwide. Below, we highlight online schools offering all levels of teaching degrees and teacher certification programs. You can also explore our best online master's programs in teaching list if you're specifically interested in a degree at this level. Earning a degree can be the first step toward obtaining a career in this field. In addition, public school teachers in all fifty states must have a valid teaching license. Many states also require that teachers have an accredited degree 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.
Overview of Online Teaching Licensure Programs
A teaching licensure program is designed to prepare students for a career as an educator by equipping individuals with the knowledge and experience to gain licensure or certification in one or several states. In general, a teaching licensure program trains students on how to present information at different educational levels, including how to prepare and deliver lesson plans. Some programs even have students elect the subject area they want to train in. Since a crucial component of these programs involves gaining field experience, students are often required to complete 60 hours of classroom teaching as part of a licensure program. In certain cases, a program culminates in students taking state board exams to gain their teaching license.
A teaching licensure program trains students on how to present information at different educational levels, including how to prepare and deliver lesson plans.
It is important to distinguish between education degrees and teacher licensure programs. Although undergraduate and graduate programs prepare students to apply for licensure, the former also includes general education credits and the latter gives students a chance to specialize in a particular area of study. By contrast, postbaccalaureate teaching licensure programs are more narrowly designed to help students meet state certification requirements. These online programs cost $10,000-$30,000, require 30 credit hours, and can be completed in two years with a part-time schedule. As such, these programs are well-suited for individuals who do not have an education degree but still hope to become teachers.
Can You Get A Teaching Degree Online?
Colleges and universities are increasingly offering distance education programs, so it is possible to pursue a teaching degree entirely online. Students typically have the option to choose between full -and part-time learning formats in an online setting. Furthermore, online degrees in teaching and teacher certifications offer individuals the chance to learn asynchronously, allowing them to take classes at their own pace. Some programs also help students arrange their in-person teaching hours with the schools in their vicinity.
The Importance of Choosing an Accredited Online Teaching Program
Additionally, CAEP, a national accrediting board, specifically evaluates and advocates for teacher training programs. CAEP consolidates two previous teaching program accreditation agencies: the Teacher Education Accreditation Council and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Students should check their state's teacher licensing board to make sure that their degree program meets specific requirements.
Levels of Teaching Degrees
Online teaching degrees are offered at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. While an associate degree equips students with specific skills, a bachelor's is the minimum requirement to become a certified teacher. Additionally, graduate credentials offer students the chance to land careers in educational administration or research. Those who don't have a higher education degree but are interested in becoming teachers can opt for an Alternative Certification Program (ACP).
Common Courses in a Bachelor's Teaching Program
An online bachelor's in teaching includes coursework in education psychology, educational technology, and classroom management, to name a few. Programs also give students teaching experience so they may develop crucial communication, listening, and multitasking skills. This is typically done through a practicum, which involves students either observing licensed teachers for a certain number of hours per week or teaching a K-12 class to complete a specific number of credit hours.
While curricula vary based on a degree’s educational focus, below are some common courses students take to earn a bachelor's degree in teaching.
- Child Psychology: Often offered in programs that focus on elementary education, this course covers the fundamentals of childhood development and learning. Students learn about how different external factors — such as family and society — impact the cognitive processes behind learning.
- Issues in Education: In this class, students are introduced to the teaching profession and learn about topics, such as classroom diversity and student achievement. Students also gain a better understanding of the education sector’s complexity and major challenges facing teachers at different levels.
- Inclusive Classroom: Students taking this class learn how to make educational environments more inclusive by using evidence-based methods to promote individual and collective learning. Some versions of this class also cover how to monitor and evaluate student performances.
- Principles of Instructional Design: This course focuses closely on teaching methods as they pertain to developing effective and age-appropriate curricula. The faculty emphasize how to best design learning outcomes, assign spaces throughout a semester, and boost student motivation.
- Law and Ethics in Special Education: Typically, this class is included in a special education program. The faculty introduce students to the legal, moral, and civil principles concerning teaching populations with disabilities. For example, this discussion may include learning about the federal and state laws that govern educational service delivery as well as how to identify and handle ethical conflicts that may arise.
Students may have the opportunity to take specialized courses as part of a teaching or education degree, or they may enroll in programs designed around a particular subject area. Students pursuing an online bachelor's in teaching can choose from various degree concentrations within the field, which help them complete the relevant coursework for specific types of teacher certifications, thus preparing them for specific jobs in education. Below is a brief list of concentrations available under a bachelor's degree in teaching.
- Elementary Education: This concentration provides prospective teachers with the skills and knowledge to teach children by covering subjects, such as childhood learning and development. Often, they graduate prepared to apply for teaching licensure at the elementary level.
- Special Education: Some may be interested in teaching individuals with special needs. This specialization prepares graduates to work with young children who have specific cognitive, physical, or emotional learning difficulties.
- Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL): A concentration in TESL is well-suited for those interested in teaching English to non-native speakers in either the K-12 level or adult education. Students must complete courses in linguistics, reading, writing, and intercultural communication.
Funding a Teaching Degree Program
Students pursuing an online education degree are eligible for various forms of financial aid. In addition to federal and state scholarships, they can also apply for grants awarded by universities and professional teaching associations. Aside from these free sources of funding, distance learners can also apply for student loans. Federal and state loans are often the best options for students because they offer the lowest interest rates.
Although online students can apply for aid to fund their teaching degree, they may have additional eligibility requirements. For instance, online learners may have to provide evidence of their full-time enrollment and/or meet state residency requirements when applying for specific grants and scholarships. Students hoping to fund their online teaching degree should contact their prospective schools' financial aid departments to confirm eligibility requirements for distance learners.
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a student’s first step to apply for aid. The Department of Education uses this application to determine how much federal or state aid they are eligible for. Meanwhile, many colleges and universities use the FAFSA to award scholarships and grants. Our financial aid guide includes information on how to fill out the FAFSA accurately.
Below is a list of scholarship opportunities students can consider applying for if they pursue an online education degree.
Licensing and Certification Requirements for Teachers
Students must complete a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and a state-recognized teacher preparation program (TPP) to apply for a teaching certification or licensure. Three basic kinds of licensure are available: temporary, initial, and professional. A temporary teaching license is nonrenewable and valid for a short period. On the other hand, an initial license is required for professional licensure, remains valid for five years, and can be renewed a limited number of times. This professional credential is valid for five years and is renewable every five years thereafter.
In addition to meeting state-specific requirements, students must pass board exams — such as the Praxis II test or another state-developed exam — to earn their teaching license. The certification board involves a criminal background check and drug test.
Since programs generally lead to licensure in a specific state, prospective students should pay close attention to the licensure state when deciding which program to attend
Students looking for online teaching degrees that will enable them to apply for licensure should refer to our list at the top of the page of colleges and universities offering TPPs. Each school on this list offers at least one online teaching degree, which includes a TPP. Since programs generally lead to licensure in a specific state, prospective students should pay close attention to the licensure state when deciding which program to attend.
Careers with a Teaching License
A teaching or education degree, along with appropriate licensure, can prepare students for many types of teaching careers. Importantly, not all teachers work in public or private schools. Instead, some may work in adult education centers, after-school programs, or as private tutors. Graduates with these credentials have been trained to design and deliver lesson plans, creatively communicate concepts to learners with diverse abilities, and encourage their students to think critically.
Below is a list of career opportunities for aspiring teachers with a bachelor's degree and teaching license, with salary and job outlook data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Media Annual Salary: $55,350
Job Outlook: -5%
- Adult basic, secondary, and English as a second language teachers work primarily with adult learners, helping them develop fundamental skills — such as reading and writing — to reach the equivalent of a high school level. Some may also help their students with job placement.
Media Annual Salary: $60,660
Job Outlook: 7%
- Kindergarten and elementary school teachers introduce young children to various subjects, such as math, science, and English. They care for students throughout the school day, supervising them through recess and escorting them to lunch. Additionally, elementary school teachers assess students' learning progress to determine whether some have specific educational needs.
Media Annual Salary: $62,870
Job Outlook: 8%
- High school teachers work in the secondary education system, helping students prepare for college. In addition to planning and delivering lessons in particular subject areas, they work with individual students, communicate with parents, and supervise students outside of the classroom.
Media Annual Salary: $61,500
Job Outlook: 8%
- Special education teachers interact closely with students who have specific cognitive or physical learning needs. They also work one-on-one with students to assess their abilities, design appropriate learning strategies, and monitor both their performance and education goals.