Online Education Programs

K-12 educators play a vital role in children’s emotional, social, and academic development. Teachers instruct students in academic subjects and function as a positive adult role model. Educators need not spend their entire career in the classroom.

Opportunities for career advancement include careers as vice principal, principal, and district-level administrator. While teaching positions require only a bachelor’s degree, most administrative openings ask that applicants earn a master’s or doctorate.

The following page contains extensive resources for people considering an online teaching degree, including the top online teaching degrees, typical courses, and different professions.

Readers can learn more about online learning requirements and how they benefit 21st-century professionals. Please use the embedded links to learn more about the education field.

Aspiring educators often ask, “can you get a teaching degree online?” Students can earn a teaching degree online from one of multiple reputable colleges and universities. Many online education degrees allow learners to study in an asynchronous format. Asynchronous classes do not follow set meeting times, letting students to continue working full or part time while earning a degree. Many superb online degrees confer an initial teaching license.

The online learning experience varies somewhat among schools. It typically involves viewing recorded lectures, contributing to a discussion board, and working with peers on small-group projects. Popular learning management systems include Blackboard and Canvas. Students develop transferable skills important to K-12 teachers and administrators.

Graduation requirements include student teaching. Online teaching degree programs that simultaneously qualify graduates for licensure work with learners to find appropriate placement sites. Finally, before learners choose an out-of-state online teaching degree, they should determine whether coursework satisfies their home state’s licensure requirements.


All states require that prospective K-12 teachers earn a bachelor’s degree in the academic subject they plan to teach. However, substitute teaching only requires learners to hold a high school diploma or associate degree in education.

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Once teachers in training earn a bachelor’s and initial licensure, they start instructing students at the primary or secondary level. However, some professional development requirements require educators to earn a master’s degree.

A master’s degree often results in an automatic pay raise and qualifies educators for an administrative role, such as vice principal or principal. Lastly, some dedicated teachers who want to make a wider impact earn a doctorate, qualifying them to educate future teachers at a college or university.

THE TOP FIVE Online Education Programs
1 National University La Jolla, CA $13,320
2 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA $21,678
3 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ $7,851
4 Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA $7,519
5 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK $10,751




An associate in teaching program takes approximately two years to complete. Many degree-seekers use an associate degree as a bridge toward a bachelor’s completion program. Typical coursework includes an introduction to the teaching profession, public speaking, and mathematics for teachers. The degree often requires one or more practicum or internship components where learners gain experience working with children of different ages. Finally, the degree qualifies graduates to work as a teaching assistant or in another unlicensed position.


A four-year online education degree features general education requirements, major coursework, and electives that allow learners to specialize in one or more subjects they desire to teach after graduation. Possible courses include assessing student learning, the school as a community of care, and managing engaging learning environments. Student teaching lasts 12-20 weeks and often involves more than one school. Graduates apply for an initial teaching license immediately after graduation.

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Another two-year degree, an online master’s program offers degree-seekers one or more concentration options, such as English language learning, K-12 educational technology, or teacher leadership. Although some master’s degrees prepare learners for an initial teaching license, these degrees also attract practicing educators who want to transition into a new role or meet their school or district’s continuing education requirements. Graduates with teaching experience can receive an administration endorsement, qualifying them to work as a principal or superintendent.


A terminal degree, the Ed.D. in education trains experienced educators for senior-level management roles within a school or district. Learners need approximately three years to earn an Ed.D. Potential concentrations include educational leadership, K-12 education, and higher education leadership and policy. Instead of a dissertation typical to Ph.D. programs, Ed.D. programs conclude with one or more capstone experiences. Finally, like some master’s programs, doctoral programs often use a cohort-based learning model.


Online teaching programs prepare students for a career as a K-12 educator. However, practicing teachers go on to qualify for more advanced positions by gaining a graduate degree, professional experience, or an endorsement on their teaching license.

The following eight careers represent just a few types of professionals that schools need to facilitate positive learning outcomes. Please keep in mind that not every school offers all of the following positions. Job titles and responsibilities vary.

Preschool Teachers $20,520 2%
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $59,420 2%
Middle School Teachers $59,660 4%
High School Teachers $61,660 4%
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals $61,660 4%
Special Education Teachers $61,030 3%
Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers $54,350 -10%
Educational Consultant $63,800 No Data
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Many colleges and universities offer online teaching degree programs, but reputable schools hold regional accreditation from one of the six agencies the U.S. Department of Education charters. These agencies review programs and grant accreditation to institutions that meet rigorous academic standards. Additionally, some employers do not consider applicants whose alma mater lacks regional accreditation.

Prospective online degree-seekers should also ensure that their future school possesses national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). DEAC ensures that colleges and universities maintain the same academic requirements and learning outcomes for both online and on-campus programs.

Finally, both future and practicing teachers should only consider online education degrees that earned programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP professionals compare a program’s curriculum against standards like pedagogical knowledge, candidate quality, and program impact. CAEP certification signifies that current and future teachers graduate with the skills necessary to improve K-12 student learning.


The following 25 colleges and universities offer the best online teaching degrees in the United States. Each features one or more programs that appeal to aspiring and current teachers, and some degrees confer an initial teaching license. Please click on the embedded links to learn more about each school’s programs, courses, and graduation requirements.


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