The Best Online Teaching Degrees 2020

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An online teaching degree prepares students for rewarding, in-demand teaching careers.

Online learning gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. Teachers with an online education degree can work with students of all ages, and they have a variety of options when it comes to work environments, working in public or private schools or at universities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that high school teachers earn a median salary of just over $60,000 per year. Professionals with postsecondary teaching credentials can expect higher wages, earning a median of $78,470 per year, while graduates of online teaching master’s programs can work as elementary, middle, and high school principals, earning a median of $95,310 annually.

Accredited Online Teaching Degree Programs

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) serves as an accreditation organization for teacher education programs in the United States. CAEP was established in 2013 through the consolidation of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).

CAEP has received recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the nation’s largest institutional higher education membership organization. CHEA provides quality aassurance and oversight of accrediting agencies alongside the U.S. Department of Education.

Alternative Teaching Certification Programs

Every state requires teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree but it’s not typically necessary that it be a Bachelor’s in Education Degree. Students earning bachelor’s degrees in a variety of subjects can still go on to earn a teaching certification. States have alternative certification programs for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education. Individuals basically have two types of certification programs to choose from: Programs provided through the state; and programs provided through independent agencies.

Individuals basically have two types of certification programs to choose from: Programs provided through the state; and programs provided through independent agencies.

Many states do not provide specific types of teaching certificates to alternative pathway candidates, such as those intersted in special education or those with online teaching degrees. Some states only allow alternative pathway teachers to teach in shortage areas or at specific grade levels, often secondary grades. Since alternative pathway teachers already have a bachelor’s degree, many programs give these students the chance to earn a master’s degree while simultaneously working toward a teacher licensure. Many teachers who select the alternative certification path go on to acquire a master’s degree. Students can typically complete a master’s degree program in two years.

Teachers at private schools are not required to meet the state requirements for public school teachers. However, private high schools usually prefer teachers with a bachelor’s degree and a major in a subject area. Private schools usually prefer kindergarten and elementary school teachers with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and middle school teachers with a bachelor’s degree and a major in elementary education or a content area. A teaching license or certification may not necessarily be required to teach at a private school.

Alternative Certification in Career and Technical Education

Career and technical education (CTE) covers a wide array of subjects such as information technology, agriculture, business, and health sciences. Some states provide options which allow prospective CTE teachers to substitute previous work experience and education for bachelor’s degree credits.

The most commonly used guidelines for prospective career and technical education teachers allow individuals with sufficient knowledge and experience in their subject to teach full-time under a provisional certificate while an experienced teacher mentors them. Individuals on this path often need to complete a professional development plan which includes supplemental coursework in teaching strategies and standards. Individuals who complete these requirements along with testing requirements from their state, may advance from a provisional teaching certificate to a basic teaching certificate.

Graduate Teaching Degrees


Master of Education

Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree programs attract individuals with an interest in specialty training in the educational field or in a leadership position, such as a school principal or an educational administrator. M.Ed. programs meet the academic and professional interests of professionals in the education field.

Some M.Ed. programs cater to educators who already have a teaching license and some cater to individuals seeking education employment outside of a traditional classroom. Some programs provide M.Ed. degrees to individuals without teaching experience.

Master of Education programs typically cover the strategic and theoretical aspects of education as well as subjects related to human psychology and behavior which apply to the science of education and instruction. They cover instructional and professional subjects applicable to school and student performance.

Graduates can use this degree to advance careers as educators, but the leadership and organizational skills they’ve learned could also apply to a wide variety of industries unrelated to education.

Typcially, students in Master of Education programs must also gain practical experience in a formal or informal education setting through student teaching, a fellowship, internship, or formal observation hours. Program lengths vary, generally between one and two years.

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