Online Teaching Degrees

As the population in the United States grows, the demand for qualified teachers swells alongside. Education has long been one of the country’s most popular majors, and increasingly, students are pursuing their degree online. Online educational opportunities have expanded significantly in recent years, and students interested in a teaching career can pursue a variety of distance learning programs, regardless of what level they want to teach.

Like in any subject, online education students must be disciplined. The online platform is convenient, in that it allows students to study at their own pace and with minimal supervision. But distance programs also require students to self-motivate, and to study without prompting. Like good teachers, successful online education students are detail-oriented, capable of multitasking, and problem-solvers who work well with a variety of people. Good communication skills and a strong work ethic are essential.

Graduates will leave school prepared to enter a rewarding field with strong professional prospects. The BLS predicts that jobs in the field will grow by 8% through 2024, though the growth rate changes slightly between elementary and secondary schools. The median salary in the field is just over $47,000 annually, though mid-career professionals often earn a considerably higher salary.

Ultimately, an online teaching degree can help students from all backgrounds jumpstart their career. Read on to learn more about the advantages of pursuing a teaching degree online.

Meet our expert

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Brittani Powell Teaching

“The flexibility allowed by the online environment made earning my degree so much more convenient, realistic, and achievable.”

Online Teaching Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $10,331 15.55% 2 years $27,800 $37,500 5.25%
Bachelor's $16,049 10.21% 4 years $38,200 $55,900 3.9%
Master's $17,221 8.39% 2 years $43,300 $67,000 2.33%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

The minimum suggested degree for those looking to enter education is a bachelor’s. This four-year degree offers the most flexibility while providing a decent ROI on college tuition. An associate degree provides a nice introduction to the field, but job opportunities are limited. As education increases, salary increases, and job opportunities diversify. With a master’s degree, students have the opportunity to find a niche in education and can begin pursuing careers at the university level or even outside of teaching. PhD-holders typically have the most flexibility with regards to specialization, as well as the highest income potential.

Choosing Your Teaching Career

Average Teaching Salaries

$65,310
$46,300
$61,550
$28,120
$70,790

High School Teachers

Salary: $65,310
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
6% 961,600 Bachelor's Varies by state

High school teachers typically specialize in a one-subject area such as English, biology, physics, or history. They design lessons plans and engage students both inside and outside the classroom, playing a critical role in monitoring students’ progress and reporting to their parents. High school teachers prepare students for life after graduation, and aspiring professionals in this career path need to have a passion for challenging and motivating students.

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers

Salary: $46,300
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
7% 31,300 Masters Voluntary

These careers encompass education degree holders who want to work in museums. Archivists appraise, catalogue, and maintain documents and electronic records within historical institutions. They are also responsible for regulating public access to these materials. Curators and museum workers work directly with artifacts and exhibits. They are responsible for engaging museum visitors and promoting their institutions.

Instructional Coordinators

Salary: $61,550
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
7% 151,100 Masters Teaching license (Varies)

Instructional coordinators organize and manage the curriculum inside learning institutions. They define the standards to which faculty are held and ensure that learning materials, technology, and teacher training are up-to-date and running smoothly. This path tends to attract individuals who enjoy the study of education and its implementation, but do not want to work strictly within a classroom setting.

Preschool Teachers

Salary: $28,120
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
7% 441,000 Associates Varies by state

Seeing as they work primarily with children under the age of five, preschool teachers build the fundamentals of learning through fun and playful education techniques. They must be creative and should inspire a passion for learning in young children. Preschool teachers also play a critical role in monitoring students for social or developmental disabilities that may become apparent at this age.

Postsecondary Teachers

Salary: $70,790
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
13% 1,313,000 Masters Varies according to subject

These professionals teach students who have graduated high school in any number of technical, professional, or educational subjects. While a master’s degree is technically the minimum education needed to teach at the postsecondary level, most positions require a Ph.D.

Online Teaching Degree in Action

Brittani Powell Teaching

Brittani Powell completed her bachelor’s at UCSD in psychology, and earned her masters in counseling and PPS credential in counseling online from Chapman University in 2012. She loves working with students from all walks of life, and enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband in San Diego, CA.

Why did you choose to earn your teaching degree online?

The option to engage in earning my master's in an online environment was a major factor in my decision to return to school. I had to work full-time during my program, and the flexibility allowed by the online environment made earning my degree so much more convenient, realistic, and achievable.

What was your online class experience like?

I was able to communicate regularly with my instructors and engage in lively discussions with my classmates, as well as learn to navigate the online curriculum with ease.

Why did you choose to specifically earn an online master's degree in education and teaching?

The online world is such a large piece of our reality today, and learning about education in an online environment was very interesting. I feel it greatly prepared me to work with and understand the struggles and successes of today's youth, especially those who engage in online schooling!

Online Teaching Degrees

Associate

An online associate degree in education serves as a two-year introduction to teaching and general college coursework. The program provides an opportunity for a low-cost entry into the education field, allowing graduates to enter the workforce quickly and gain practical experience before committing to a more in-depth degree. Salaries for associate holders are generally low, but you have the flexibility to easily change your area of concentration should you decide your interests lay elsewhere.

Sample Courses
Teaching in a Diverse Society, Health, Safety, and Nutrition for Children, Adult Development and Life Assessment, and English Composition
Common Majors
Early Childhood Education
Potential Jobs
Preschool Teacher and Teaching Assistant
Average Income
$28,120
Employment Prospects
7% increase from 2014-2024

Bachelor’s

As the recommended entry-level degree for those interested in education, a bachelor's program requires more financial commitment than an associate, as well as four years of study instead of two. However, starting salaries reflect this and are significantly higher. Students complete a series of general education courses in combination with courses concentrating in education. Graduates are prepared to earn their teaching certificate and enter the education field, though the degree is flexible enough to provide employment opportunities in a range of careers.

Sample Courses
Foundations in Education, Early Language and Literacy, Effective Teaching Skills & Classroom Management, Children with Special Needs, Methods of Teaching Elementary Mathematics, and Literature for Children and Young Adolescents
Common Majors
Early Childhood Education, Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teaching, and Special Education
Potential Jobs
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher, High School Teacher, Middle School Teacher, and Special Education Teacher
Average Income
$28,886 - $59,189
Employment Prospects
6% increase from 2014-2024

The Top 5 Online Bachelor's Degrees in Teaching

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost
1

East Carolina University

Greenville
  • in-state tuition: $6,143
  • out-of-state tuition: $20,256
2

Liberty University

Lynchburg
  • annually: $20,768
3

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro
  • in-state tuition: $6,382
  • out-of-state tuition: $20,180
4

Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale
  • annually: $25,430
5

LeTourneau University

Longview
  • annually: $25,740

See full rankings

Master’s

Pursuing a master's degree will give professionals the chance to enter specialized positions and earn a higher income. To enter a master's program, students must already hold a bachelor's degree. Coursework consists entirely of high-level instruction in specialized topics, and there are no general education courses. Due the highly specific nature of the degree, it is recommended that those pursuing a master's have several years of experience in their industry of interest.

Sample Courses
Educational Leadership, Educational Psychology, Curriculum Development & Design, Research in Education, and Teaching Practicum
Common Majors
Education Leadership and Education Administration
Potential Jobs
Instructional Coordinator, School Counselor, Elementary, and Middle and High School Principal
Average Income
$44,752
Employment Prospects
7% increase from 2014-2024

The Top 5 Online Master's Degrees in Teaching

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost
1

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore
  • annually: $45,470
2

Ohio State University

Columbus
  • in-state tuition: $10,037
  • out-of-state tuition: $25,757
3

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh
  • in-state tuition: $17,100
  • out-of-state tuition: $27,106
4

Michigan State University

East Lansing
  • in-state tuition: $12,862
  • out-of-state tuition: $33,750
5

Lindenwood University

Saint Charles
  • annually: $15,150

See full rankings

Doctorate

For those who are passionate about academics, a doctoral degree provides the opportunity to fully immerse oneself in a speciality and contribute original research to the field. PhD candidates must choose a topic on which to write a thesis, and they will spend the majority of their time in school researching and writing on this subject. Along with taking high level courses, doctoral candidates often teach classes to undergraduates. A PhD program typically takes four years, though can take longer depending on the pace of a candidate's research. Salaries for graduates tend to be high, however positions within universities are highly competitive.

Sample Courses
Learning Theory & the Educational Process, Educational Philosophy, Comparative Higher Education, Advanced Qualitative Research Methods, and Education Policy & Politics
Common Majors
Special Education and Educational Leadership
Potential Jobs
Assistant Professor, Postsecondary Special Education Teacher, and Associate Professor
Average Income
$81,716
Employment Prospects
N/A

Professional Requirements

Arguably the most important step in the pursuit of a career is your degree; however, the education field often has other requirements to be completed before entering the workforce. Depending on your career path of choice, you may have to pursue licensure, certifications, or complete student teaching practicums. Below we have outlined some common professional requirements of the education industry.

Student Teaching

Student teaching is a general requirement of education majors who do not yet have a teaching certificate. It involves the supervised instruction of a classroom, giving education students a chance to get classroom experience before entering the workforce.

Is it required?

Yes

How long will it take?

Student teaching usually occurs in the final semester of a student's education

The Praxis

The Praxis is a standardized assessment of an individual’s teaching skills. There is a core assessment, as well as subject assessments for those teaching in a specific subject area. It is suggested that you prepare for at least one to three months before sitting for the praxis exam. The test takes approximately four hours and you should receive your results in 10-16 business days.

Is it required?

How long will it take?

Approximately four hours

National Board Certification

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards created the National Board Certification to maintain a standard of quality across the country. The board is currently revising its standards for certifications, the revised assessment will be completed in 2017. Certification is voluntary, however many schools offer incentives to teachers who are certified.

Is it required?

Voluntary

How long will it take?

TBD