Can I Earn a Teaching Degree Online?

Advancements in information technology have made it possible for many reputable universities to offer online degree programs that are of the same quality as their traditional, on campus versions. While some experts still advise students to attend traditional programs for certain academic disciplines, degree programs in education can be delivered well through online formats. There are some caveats, however. For example, most states require that teachers perform supervised field work before obtaining their teaching licenses, and this requirement cannot be fulfilled through a pure online education degree program. Many schools accommodate undergraduate students who want to earn their licenses by allowing them to participate in fifth year programs that include teacher license examination preparation courses and supervised student teaching internships. Here are some examples of education degrees offered online, characteristics of effective online education programs and career options for online education graduates.

Examples of Online Undergraduate and Graduate Education Degrees

Some popular online education degree majors for undergraduate students are the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Early Childhood Education and the B.S. in Elementary School Education. The online early childhood education major introduces students to education and childhood behavior theory and principles that allow them to effectively serve families with children from infancy to eight years of age. The curricula of this type of degree program includes course topics that help future teachers to identify the different learning styles of children and to adjust their teaching methods to accommodate these young learners. The online B.S. in Elementary School Education is designed for students who want to teach children in first through sixth grades; the courses in this program combine education theory with subject matter courses in mathematics, language arts, science and history. Some universities offer advanced online education degree programs in addition to or instead of undergraduate programs. These graduate programs are usually designed for licensed instructors who want to train for a specialty teaching position or who want to pursue other careers in the field of education. For example, the Master of Education (M.E.) Program Specialist in Mathematics and the M.E. in Administration and Supervision are popular majors for licensed teachers with those particular career goals.

Identifying Good Online Degree Programs in Education

Most schools have earned regional accreditation that applies to all of their academic programs. However, students who want to make sure that they will participate in an online education degree program of high quality should check to see if the program is accredited through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. This accreditation becomes important for instructors who want to obtain licenses to work in public school settings. These prospective students should also compare the academic benefits, curricula and professional development opportunities of a school’s online and traditional education programs. Schools that provide online students with the same opportunities and course work as their traditional students are likely to be good choices for online education programs. Additionally, students should inquire about the teacher exam pass rates of graduates of their chosen online education program; high examination pass rates often indicate the rigor of the online program’s curriculum.

Career Options For Online Education Graduates

Graduates of many online education degree programs can theoretically find employment at private schools, preschools, nurseries and school administration right after degree completion. However, undergraduate students who take an additional year to participate in supervised student teaching activities and gain their teaching licenses have more opportunities available to them in public school settings.


Many universities view quality distance learning programs as cost effective ways to extend their academic offerings to a broader audience and earn more revenue. Subsequently, online degree programs like those offered in education are often held to rigorous standards, and students obtain all the academic benefits that are available to their on campus peers.