Online Bachelor's Degree in Education

Dedicated educators are always in demand. As enrollment in public schools continues to increase, so does the need for qualified teachers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that approximately 888,900 new jobs in the education sector will need to be filled in the coming decade. Emerging technologies, new approaches to corporate training, and growing numbers of individuals seeking postsecondary degrees are driving the demand for instructors of every kind. By earning an online bachelor's degree in education, you'll gain the knowledge and hands-on skills necessary to pursue entry-level positions, seek licensure to teach in public schools, and inspire a love of learning in almost any setting.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that approximately 888,900 new jobs in the education sector will need to be filled in the coming decade.

Online programs feature the same course material as on-campus programs, and are held to the same high academic standards. However, the online format allows working professionals, parents, and other busy individuals to access course materials and complete assignments at any time, from any place with an internet connection. Online programs can also help you save time and money. Unlike traditional four-year undergraduate programs, some accelerated distance learning degrees can be completed in just one year, with no need to relocate, pay for transportation, or accrue hundreds of dollars in campus fees.

Why Pursue an Online Bachelor's in Education?

Earning a bachelor's degree in education is the first step on the path to a rewarding career. Whether you're interested in teaching kindergarten, working with special needs students, or designing online courses, a bachelor's degree makes it possible to pursue many opportunities in education. Although a bachelor's is typically the minimum credential needed to become a licensed public school teacher, certification requirements vary from state to state. In New Jersey, for example, prospective teachers must complete two years of highly rated classroom experience before receiving licensure, while Michigan teachers must complete three years of provisional work.

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A bachelor's degree also paves the way to a graduate program in education. Some specialized teaching positions require a master's degree, and some states require all public school teachers to hold a master's. In Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts, instructors must pursue a master's degree within five years of signing their initial teaching contract, while special education teachers, administrators, and postsecondary instructors must also hold a master's. Many bachelor's curricula feature subject concentrations that allow students to explore specialized roles in depth and prepare for graduate studies.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Bachelor's Degree in Education

Do You Need a Bachelor's to Teach?

Most states require a bachelor's degree as the minimum credential to teach in a K-12 setting. All public school instructors must hold a valid state-issued teacher's license, and licensure is only granted to individuals who hold a bachelor's degree. Some specialized and postsecondary positions require a master's degree or Ph.D.

What Experience Do I Need to Teach?

In addition to a bachelor's degree, prospective public school teachers must complete a period of student teaching. While the exact number of hours varies from state to state, all certification programs (and most bachelor's degree curricula) include a student teaching component, which usually fulfills this requirement.

Do I Have to Concentrate in a Subject Area to Teach It?

Many individuals with a bachelor's degree in a particular subject area, such as math or history, complete an instructor training program that allows them to teach in public schools without pursuing an additional degree in education. Others major in education and concentrate in their academic field of choice.

How Do I Become a Math Teacher?

Earning a bachelor's in teaching is the first step. An online bachelor's degree in education provides the skills needed to successfully manage a classroom, develop lesson plans, and pursue state licensure. Many bachelor's programs feature subject-area concentrations that provide an in-depth look at the methods used to teach particular topics. If you already hold a degree in math, you may be able to gain certification by completing a teacher training course.

What States Do Not Require a Master's After Obtaining a Teaching Certification?

Most states do not require K-12 public school teachers to earn a master's when they begin teaching. New York, Ohio, and Massachusetts, however, require teachers to earn a master's degree within five years of their first teaching job. Your state's Department of Education can provide further details regarding licensure.

What Else Can I Expect from an Online Bachelor's in Teaching Program?

Although program details and admission requirements vary by institution, below are some of the most common courses, concentrations, and prerequisite conditions you can expect to encounter while pursuing a bachelor's degree in education online. Note that these are only general guidelines, and no two schools are alike.

Prerequisites for an Online Teaching Bachelor's Degree

  • High School Diploma or GED

    Nearly all colleges and universities require prospective undergraduates to hold a high school diploma or GED. These credentials ensure that applicants have completed foundational general education coursework.

  • Exams

    Some institutions request SAT or ACT scores, and occasionally both. Acceptable scores vary significantly between schools. International students may need to demonstrate their English proficiency by completing the TOEFL exam.

  • Minimum GPA

    While requirements differ from school to school, most expect applicants to maintain a high school GPA of 3.0 or better. Some schools waive this requirement for applicants with excellent standardized test scores.

  • Prerequisite Courses

    Prerequisites vary greatly between programs and schools, and prospective students must contact an admissions advisor to ensure that they are academically prepared to enter their chosen bachelor's degree program.

  • Background Check

    For the purpose of safety, many programs that include a fieldwork or a student teaching component require students to submit to a criminal background check before they begin working with children.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Bachelor's in Teaching

Early Childhood Education

This concentration prepares students to take on instructional roles in preschools, kindergarten classrooms, and other settings associated with very young children. Focusing on teaching principles and instructional methods rooted in developmental psychology, coursework emphasizes the importance of family support, play, and discovery in cultivating young minds.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Preschool teacher; Kindergarten teacher

Elementary Education

Degree candidates interested in teaching grades K-6 examine the science of literacy acquisition and effective methods for teaching reading, writing, and foundational mathematics. Students learn to develop age- and course material-appropriate assessments and identify and support both special needs learners and gifted students. This concentration emphasizes the use of technology in curriculum development.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Elementary school teacher; Childcare facility director

Special Education

Coursework for this concentration explores teaching and assessment strategies for learners with physical, mental, emotional, and learning disabilities. Prospective special education teachers learn to identify issues such as behavioral disorders, visual impairment, and autism in their students and develop individual lesson plans based on each student's capabilities, difficulties, and needs.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Special education teacher; Learning disabilities teacher consultant; Disability advocate

Education Studies

Instead of emphasizing instructional techniques and classroom management, an educational studies concentration focuses on the theoretical and developmental foundations of curriculum design. Undergraduates learn to construct and adapt educational plans to meet the diverse needs of students ranging in age from early childhood to adult learners.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Career services specialist, Instructional coordinator, Human services professional

Adult Education

Covering topics like online course development and instruction, adult literacy acquisition, and social issues in adult learning, this concentration is intended for prospective vocational, corporate, or GED preparation instructors. Lectures examine the unique issues facing adult students, including learning disabilities, incarceration, and language barriers, as well as special considerations in program design.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Adult literacy specialist; GED course instructor; eLearning specialist; Corporate trainer

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's in Teaching

Every bachelor's of education program includes slightly different course offerings. Still, you'll encounter certain types of classes no matter where you pursue your education. Below, we've listed a few common courses you can expect to take in any bachelor's program.

Example Courses

Educational Psychology Exploring the psychological theories behind knowledge acquisition and human mental development, this course provides an introduction to the theoretical principles behind common instructional methods and curriculum design. Students learn to create developmentally appropriate assessments and gauge the efficacy of their lesson plans according to the results.
Classroom Management Students learn to create a positive, engaging classroom environment that encourages intellectual curiosity as it promotes social skills and self-esteem. Addressing a variety of topics -- such as behavioral challenges, motivating reluctant learners, and culturally inclusive activities -- lectures provide future instructors with a solid framework for developing efficient classroom practices.
Foundations of Education Presenting a broad overview of the historical, philosophical, and sociological components that influence current educational practices, this course instills an understanding of the diverse factors affecting modern American schools. Students explore the ethical, cultural, and legal issues faced by instructors, as well as recent trends in pedagogical theory.
Teaching Diverse Learners Coursework examines the influence of race, gender, language, and disability in curriculum development and instructional methodology. Candidates learn to design inclusive, culturally sensitive lessons that promote diversity, modify instruction to meet the needs of gifted or challenged students, and make learning accessible to all.
Curriculum Design Building upon theories introduced in educational psychology coursework, this class introduces the basic principles behind developing effective instructional plans. Students examine several learning styles and strategies, integrating developmental psychology and instructional methodologies to create engaging curriculum designs, lesson plans, and teaching modules that encourage and motivate young learners.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Teaching?

The length of an online bachelor's program is determined by its delivery format, pacing, and course structure. On average, a bachelor's in education curriculum consists of 120-130 credits. While most full-time students are able to earn their degree in around two years, some programs may take as few as 12 months or as many as seven years to complete. Asynchronous programs feature relaxed deadlines and self-paced or accelerated coursework that can be completed at the learner's convenience. While these characteristics make it easy for working professionals to quickly finish their degrees, asynchronous programs require a great deal of personal motivation. By contrast, highly structured cohort programs emphasize student-faculty collaboration and group learning. Members of a cohort progress through coursework together, often meeting online at designated times. These programs are typically longer than their self-paced counterparts, but offer distance learners academic support and accountability.

How to Choose an Online Teaching Bachelor's Degree Program

With so many options available and factors at play, selecting the right online bachelor's program can seem overwhelming. Before making a decision, it's important to consider the practical aspects of each program, as well as your own goals, needs, and limitations. What can you afford, and how do you intend to pay for your degree? If a program is outside of your budget, can you apply for grants, loans, or scholarships?

Due to licensing and regulations, some online programs are only available to residents of certain states.

While budget constraints can be limiting, there are many funding options available, particularly for education majors. Location is another aspect to consider. Due to licensing and regulations, some online programs are only available to residents of certain states. Many curricula also include a student teaching component. Will you be able to fill that requirement at a local school, or should you select a program without mandatory work study?

Your academic and career goals are also important, particularly if you're interested in specialized teaching positions. While many schools offer majors or concentrations, such as special education or curriculum design, others do not. Pursuing a concentration can sometimes lengthen a program's duration, as can course delivery format and pacing. How much time do you have to spend on your degree?

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What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Education?

Opportunities abound for committed educators with the drive to help others learn. Whether you prefer working with preschoolers, adult learners, or college students, a bachelor's degree in education can pave the way for a rewarding career. While job openings and licensing regulations vary by state, earning an online bachelor's degree in teaching is the first step toward finding employment in a variety of positions, such as the ones listed below.

Middle School Teacher

Working with students in grades 6-8, these instructors develop engaging lesson plans that build on fundamental knowledge acquired in elementary school and prepare students for the rigors of high school. Some teach specific courses or subject matter, or work alongside special education teachers.

Kindergarten Teacher

These teachers are charged with imparting fundamental reading, writing, math, and social skills to very young students. They assess learners' strengths and weaknesses and develop lesson plans accordingly while communicating with parents about their children's academic progress, and may co-teach with special education or ESL instructors.

Preschool, Primary, Secondary, and Special Education School Teacher

Special education teachers work with students with physical, emotional, mental, and learning disabilities. They may adapt general lessons to suit their students' needs, or develop individualized academic plans. Some specialize in assisting autistic individuals, the hearing impaired, physically disabled, or blind learners. Public school special education teachers must be licensed by the state.

Elementary School Teacher

Like kindergarten teachers, elementary school teachers present fundamental concepts in basic subjects. Working with students in grades 1-5, they introduce and develop crucial literacy and social skills while addressing foundational topics in mathematics, science, and social studies. Some specialize in teaching art, physical education, or music.

High School Teacher

In addition to teaching more advanced academic lessons and life skills, high school teachers prepare teenagers for college and the workforce. These teachers may develop lesson plans in accordance with state-mandated standardized tests or exams, such as the SAT. Some teach specific subjects or advanced placement courses in a particular field.

Salary Expectations for Bachelor's Degree in Teaching Graduates

Most graduates go on to take classroom teaching positions after earning a bachelor's in teaching degree online, with the occupations listed below being some of the most common. While the annual salaries listed below are considered average for each position, there are numerous factors that influence earnings. Among these, professional experience has a strong effect on wages, with new instructors earning somewhat less than their highly experienced counterparts. Location (urban or rural) and local standards of living are another factor in how much money you can expect to make. Few variables, however, affect salaries as significantly as your level of education, with master's degree holders out-earning those with a bachelor's in every position.

Average Salary for Bachelor's Degree in Education Graduates
Middle School Teacher $45,298
Kindergarten Teacher $52,620
Preschool, Primary, Secondary, and Special Education School Teacher $54,720
Elementary School Teacher $55,800
High School Teacher $58,030

Average Salary and Employment for Education, Training, and Library Occupations

Educational Paths After Earning a Bachelor's Degree in Teaching

Many students who complete their bachelor's in education online go on to pursue a master's degree in a similar field. In addition to providing an in-depth look at specialized educational fields and a pathway to a Ph.D., a master's can open up new career opportunities and expand your earning power. Among elementary school teachers, for example, a master's leads to a 9% increase in salary on average. Below are three popular graduate degrees in education.

Master of Education (M.Ed.)

M.Ed. programs are designed for classroom instructors who wish to develop a specialty or pursue administrative roles. Most candidates have extensive professional experience and wish to enhance their skill set.

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

Many individuals with a bachelor's degree in education go on to pursue an MAT, which allows them to specialize in teaching within a particular subject area, such as math or history.

Master of Arts in Education (MA)

The MA in education is intended for candidates interested in educational studies rather than teaching. Students who complete this research-centered degree typically work for government agencies, nonprofits, and public school systems.

Paying for Your Online Bachelor's Degree in Teaching

Do you want to earn a BA in education online, but aren't sure how you'll pay for it? You're not alone. Most college students seek some form of financial aid to help fund their education. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can help determine if you're eligible to receive federal financial assistance, including grants, loans, and work-study arrangements. While some students seek private loans, federal student loans typically feature lower interest rates and more flexible payment plans. The government also offers tuition reimbursement programs for teachers who agree to work in underserved schools and regions after earning a degree. Some states and school districts feature similar programs for current instructors who wish to enhance their education. Teachers are always in high demand, and there are a wealth of financial aid opportunities for prospective educators interested in working with certain populations or in parts of the country where there is a strong need for qualified instructors.

Scholarships also provide a great source of funding. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic, artistic, or athletic merit, financial need, or leadership potential, and unlike loans, they don't need to be paid back. While many colleges and universities offer institutional scholarships, other awards are sponsored by nonprofit organizations, corporations, special interest groups, and individuals. Many professional associations feature members-only scholarship opportunities for students pursuing specific majors or career paths, and some religious, ethnic, and cultural organizations present similar offers. There are a variety of ways to help fund your education, and scholarships are among the best.

Scholarships for Online Bachelor's Degree in Education Students

Regardless of where you live, many scholarships are available to students pursuing education degrees. While many are awarded on the basis of overall academic merit, financial need, or community engagement, there are hundreds of scholarship opportunities specific to future educators. The examples below are just a few that may interest you.

Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Education majors who demonstrate scholastic ability and an interest in labor relations. View Scholarship

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program Full Tuition

Who Can Apply: Low-income, minority students majoring or intending to major in education who maintain a GPA of 3.3 or better. Applicants must provide proof of income, two letters of recommendation, and complete a series of essay questions. View Scholarship

The Robert Noyce Scholarship Program Full Tuition

Who Can Apply: Education majors who intend to teach STEM subjects at the K-12 level. Other requirements may vary according to school. View Scholarship

Resources for Online Bachelor's Degree in Teaching Students

  • Kappa Delta Pi Founded in 1911, this international honor society for education students offers numerous professional development programs, webinars, publications, and job services to educators at every stage of their careers. Student members may apply for exclusive scholarships and grants. Undergraduates must have completed at least six hours of education coursework to join.
  • American Federation of Teachers This professional organization is committed to activism, community engagement, and advancing the careers of its members. Its "Union Plus Free College Benefit" allows members and their immediate families to earn an online associate degree free of charge.
  • National Education Association (NEA) America's largest professional association dedicated to education, the NEA has more than three million members employed at every level of education. In addition to grants and funding opportunities, members receive access to lesson plans, classroom resources, and student debt services. Meetings and events provide valuable networking opportunities.
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA)Dedicated to the advancement of educational research and scholarly inquiry, this association publishes numerous journals and books related to pedagogy and educational theory. Along with hosting unique professional development courses, AERA is home to the Virtual Research Learning Center, which serves the academic needs of students and early-career educators.
  • Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Promoting interdisciplinary undergraduate research initiatives, CUR maintains a prestigious registry of undergraduate researchers and a large mentoring network. Membership provides numerous networking and collaborative opportunities with other education students, faculty members, and established professionals through workshops and conferences. Members also receive discounts, publications, and access to special funding opportunities.