Affordable Online Teaching Degrees

If you want to make a difference in the lives of others and help shape the success of future generations, a career in teaching is one of the most rewarding ways to apply your skills. Whether introducing a preschooler to numbers, lecturing a group of postgraduates, or leading others as a school administrator, education degree graduates have the opportunity to inspire children, young adults, and all other types of learners in and out of a classroom setting.

Career prospects for primary and secondary teachers will rise at a steady rate of 6% between 2014-2024.

In an online education program, you can pursue a degree at the associate level or continue your education all the way to doctoral studies. As many seasoned educators are expected to retire in upcoming years, now is an opportune time to earn a degree in the field. BLS projects that career prospects for primary and secondary teachers will rise at a steady rate of 6% between 2014-2024, while the job pool for postsecondary teachers will grow by at least 13% during the same period.

Online education degrees are affordable and offer flexibility for working professionals, parents, and anyone who may not be able to commute to and from campus on a daily basis. If you are dedicated, hard-working, and eager to make change in a hands-on environment, read on. Our comprehensive guide covers the many opportunities available in the field of education and the academic requirements you’ll need to earn a job.

Did You Know?

The first-ever public school in the United States was established in 1635, and emphasized teachings in religion, Latin, and classic literature. Today, educators can pursue a variety of disciplines, and teach courses ranging from mathematics to “the physics of Star Trek“. Learn more about the many paths you can take with a degree in education.

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What Can You Do With a Degree in Education?

High School Teacher

$57,200 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor's Degree Required

High school teachers are on the forefront of preparing future generations for both higher education and career paths. Working in public and private schools, high school teachers typically specialize in a particular subject and often lead extracurricular activities such as the debate team or math club. The impact an exceptional high school teacher has on their students cannot be underestimated, and many people still remember the teachers who truly made a difference in their lives. If you want to ignite a passion for learning in others, this career path is for you.

  • Degree: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Licensure Required: Public schools in all 50 states require licensure and certification,
    while teachers at private schools typically do not.
  • Time Commitment: Four Years of Full-Time Study
  • Median Annual Salary (Entry-Level): $40,000
  • Median Annual Salary (Mid-Career): $46,000
  • Median Annual Salary (Late-Career): $60,000

Postsecondary Teacher

$72,470 Avg Annual Salary
Master's Degree Required

College professors work with many different types of students, ranging from those completing general education courses in their subject to doctoral students covering the most nuanced concepts of the discipline. Whether teaching in a community college or at Harvard University, postsecondary faculty are called upon as research experts. They also help students develop ancillary skills in public speaking, group work, presentation, and developing and carrying a thesis. Unlike primary and secondary teachers, postsecondary teachers typically have more flexibility when it comes to designing courses, allowing them to assign readings and projects that truly illuminate the subject.

  • Degree: Master’s degree for community college and vocational professors. A Ph.D. is frequently required for faculty members at four-year institutions.
  • Licensure Required: Professors of some disciplines – such as psychiatry or nursing – may require licensure, but faculty members outside these disciplines do not.
  • Time Commitment: After completing a bachelor’s degree, a master’s typically requires two to three years of full-time study, while a PhD can take anywhere from four to seven years of full-time study.
  • Median Annual Salary (Entry-Level): $44,000
  • Median Annual Salary (Mid-Career): $50,000
  • Median Annual Salary (Late-Career): $56,000

Special Education Teacher

$56,800 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor's Degree Required

This branch of primary and secondary education is an incredibly rewarding yet sometimes demanding career. New teachers may feel overwhelmed, but special education teachers have many fellow professionals and resources at their disposal. Special education teachers can be found in both private and public schools, and in specialized schools for children who benefit from individualized education programs.

  • Degree: Bachelor’s degree
  • Licensure Required: Public schools in all 50 states require licensure and certification, while teachers at private schools typically do not.
  • Time Commitment: Four Years of Full-Time Study
  • Median Annual Salary (Entry-Level): $39,000
  • Median Annual Salary (Mid-Career): $43,000
  • Median Annual Salary (Late-Career): $53,000

Education Careers by the Numbers

Top Education Careers by Income and Growth Rate
Career Salary Job Outlook
Postsecondary Teachers $72,470 + 13%
Instructional Coordinators $67,270 + 7%
Adult Literacy and High School
Equivalency Diploma Teachers
$50,280 + 7%
BLS employment projections data, 2014-2024

Highest Paying Education Careers by Sector

What Does it Take to Succeed in Education?

  • Critical Thinking

    Teachers of all types help students forge connections between materials, understand theories, and engage in research. Critical thinking is a skill used daily by professionals in this field.

  • Lifelong Learner Mentality

    Teachers learn a lot about their discipline while in school, but excellence in teaching requires curiosity and an insatiable passion for knowledge. Whether taking continuing education classes or reading and researching outside school hours, this skill is a necessity.

  • Communication

    Whether lecturing to a classroom full of students, providing one-on-one tutoring, or making comments on a paper, teachers must know how to communicate with a variety of different types of students in a variety of different ways.

  • Resourcefulness

    It’s one thing to understand the complexities of a theory or idea, but another thing entirely to be able to translate those complexities in a way that students can understand. Teachers must prepare materials for students of varied levels of ability and know how to engage them in different ways.

  • Patience

    Especially true for primary and secondary teachers, patience is a virtue employed nearly every day in the classroom. Every classroom represents a spectrum of different learning styles, abilities, and student backgrounds, and teachers must learn how to adapt their teaching style to fit the needs of each without losing patience.

Associate Degree in Education: An Overview

Who should pursue an associate degree in education?

Most commonly offered as an associate of arts degree, this educational path is appealing to many students. Those who are considering a career in teaching and want to test the waters often complete an online teaching degree at this level, since it takes less time than a bachelor’s degree and credits can easily be transferred towards a bachelor’s degree. It is also appealing to individuals who want to work in entry-level positions at schools, but not as teachers.

How long does it take to get a teaching degree at this level?

Online teaching degrees at the associate level typically require two years of full-time study.

Is a thesis or capstone usually required?

Whether or not a thesis or capstone is required ultimately depends on the school, but it is much more common to complete a capstone rather than a thesis at this level.

What can you do with a teaching degree at this level?

Upon graduation, students are prepared for roles as teacher’s assistants at both private and public schools. They can also pursue a range of early childhood development positions in daycares and nurseries.

What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?

The average salary for a teacher’s assistant is $24,700, while a preschool teacher averages a salary of $28,570 annually.

Core Concepts

Online degrees in education provide students with foundational knowledge of the discipline while also reviewing general education topics. Specific concepts include:

  • Preparation for transferring to a four-year bachelor’s program upon graduation.
  • Introduction to concepts related to childhood and adolescent development.
  • Understanding of topics related to multiculturalism, race, and diversity in classrooms.

Course Highlights

Introduction to Teaching

Description An enriched, integrated pre-service course and content experience that provides active recruitment and institutional support of students interested in a teaching career, especially in high-need fields.
Job Skill The course provides students with opportunities to participate in early field observations at all levels of P-12 schools.

Child Development

Description A study of the biological, cognitive, and psychosocial factors in development from conception to puberty.
Job Skill This course includes discussion of perceptual-motor, emotional, language, intellectual, social, gender, and moral development.

Psychology of Teaching & Learning

Description This course is intended primarily for students majoring in education or interested in the learning process. Emphasis will be placed on the practical implications of psychological theory, a constructivist approach to learning, and the importance of reflective teaching.
Job Skill Psychological theories related to development, learning, cognition, and motivation will be reviewed and applied to an understanding of student characteristics and differences, the importance of classroom environment, and various means of assessment.

Affordable Schools With Online Associate Programs

Bachelor’s Degree in Education: An Overview

Who should pursue a bachelor's degree in education?

An online teaching degree at the bachelor’s level serves as the basic requirement for teaching positions, making it a highly attractive option for students. Whether seeking to work in primary schools, secondary schools, or special education, an online bachelor’s degree in education provides both the practical and theoretical knowledge you’ll need to succeed.

What can you do with a teaching degree at this level?

A bachelor’s degree is typically completed within four years of full-time study.

Is a thesis or capstone usually required?

Requirements for theses and capstone projects are individual to schools, so students should check with prospective departments. Capstone projects are voluntary for online education degree students at Brown University, for example.

What type of jobs does this degree prepare you for?

Kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school, and special education teaching roles. Some teachers may also move into administrative roles after time in the classroom.

What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?

High school teacher salaries average $57,200 each year, while kindergarten and elementary teachers’ salaries sit at $54,550.

Core Concepts

Online education degrees at the bachelor’s level pick up where the associate degree left off, providing more in-depth study of educational theories and learning tools. Core concepts include:

  • Preparation for further studies in a postgraduate degree program.
  • Nuanced understanding of child development and styles of learning.
  • Specialized training for teachers working in particular disciplines such as science or math.

Course Highlights

Multicultural Education

Description This course provides an introduction to the diversity of the American school population and the concepts, theories, and strategies that constitute multicultural education. Participants explore how children from diverse backgrounds construct knowledge within the contexts of their own socio-cultural backgrounds, and how such diversity affects the way students are perceived in the classroom. Issues such as equity, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, language, disability, and other special circumstances are explored.
Job Skill This course promotes the candidate’s sensitivity, acceptance, and ability to self-reflect in regards to issues related to diversity. It inspires the candidate to do the same with his/her students.

The Inclusive Classroom

Description This course examines teaching strategies and techniques for early childhood, elementary education, middle school, and high school.
Job Skill Students leave this class with a good understanding of the progression and development of students with disabilities — personally, socially physically, and academically.

Algebra for Teachers

Description This course examines concepts in algebra including: patterns, arithmetic sequences, geometric sequences, arithmetic and algebra of the integers, The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic, The Division Algorithm and Euclidean Algorithm, modular arithmetic and systems of numbers, and many other concepts.
Job Skill Students engage with concepts through proofs, problem solving, and through activities used in middle school mathematics. Throughout the course, students are given opportunities to relate the material to the mathematical concepts they will be teaching.

Affordable Schools With Online Bachelor’s Programs

Master’s Degree in Education: An Overview

Who should pursue a Master's in education?

Online education degrees at the master’s level appeal to teachers who want to advance their skills in and out of the classroom. Some master’s level students may have spent years in the classroom before deciding to move into a higher administrative level, while others may be working toward a position as a postsecondary teacher.

How many years will it take to complete?

Students able to commit to full-time studies can complete the course in two years.

Is a thesis or capstone usually required?

Capstone projects and/or theses are both common at this educational level, and different departments have different requirements. Prospective students should research this facet of the program to learn what will be expected of them.

What type of jobs does this degree prepare you for?

A master’s degree in accounting prepare students for mid- and senior-level management positions within accounting departments. This degree also prepares students to sit for the Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant exams.

What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?

Elementary, middle, and high school principals earn an average salary of $90,410 per year, while postsecondary teachers bring home an average of $72,470 annually.

Core Concepts

Unlike associate and bachelor’s degrees in education, which focus primarily on subject matter and teaching methods, online teaching degree programs at the master’s level move further into theoretical concepts and leadership development. Core concepts include:

  • Nuanced understanding of instructional concepts and curriculum development.
  • Preparation for high-level roles in administration and leadership.
  • Understanding of methods and frameworks related to educational research.

Course Highlights

Student Centered Curriculum and Instruction

Description This course emphasizes the teacher’s critical role as a designer of student learning. It focuses on student understanding, using differentiated instruction that can provide teachers with more specific teaching targets.
Job Skill The focus of this course is on the connections between Understanding by Design (UBD) and Differentiated Instruction (DI) as well as standards of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the planning and delivery of curriculum for all types of learners.

Human Resource Administration in Education

Description Human resources administration is of central importance to school administration. Students learn how employees are recruited, selected, evaluated, motivated, supervised, compensated, and assisted in their development.
Job Skill The focus of this course is in the human resource administration functions of recruitment, selection, induction, performance appraisal, supervision, motivation, compensation, professional development, and separation.

Policy, Practice & Perspective in Special Education

Description This course introduces the practice of special education in today’s schools, with a focus on those in the U.S. The overall goal of the course is to expand your expertise and confidence in providing an inclusive classroom that addresses the needs of the diverse population of students.
Job Skill Students analyze characteristics of students with disabilities, including learning and behavior disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.

Affordable Schools With Online Master’s Programs

PhD in Education: An Overview

Who should pursue a PhD in education?

Individuals looking to contribute to the highest levels of academia pursue online teaching degree programs at the doctoral level. Whether completing original research, teaching future educators, or contributing valuable findings to the field, graduates of doctoral education programs are at the forefront of furthering education.

How many years will it take to complete?

Full-time students are able to complete a PhD in education within four years, but research plays a large role in how long it takes.

Is a thesis or capstone usually required?

Yes. All PhD programs require a dissertation comprised of original research and findings, and some may also mandate a capstone project.

What type of jobs does this degree prepare you for?

A PhD in education prepares graduates for faculty positions at colleges and universities; it is also a viable path for individuals who want to work in high-level educational research.

What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?

A postsecondary teacher salary averages $72,470 each year.

PhD in Education Overview

Unlike the degrees reviewed earlier, PhDs have a unique structure and the majority of work tends to focus on researching and writing a dissertation. The timeline below outlines how PhD education students spend their time in school:

  • Year One

    Students take a range of foundational courses in research methodology, writing, and leadership development. They may also serve as a teacher’s assistant or researcher.

  • Year Two

    Students continue taking classes while also finalizing their program of study. Teacher’s assistantships are also still common at this level.

  • Year Three

    Students take any elective or specialized courses during this time and begin research for their dissertation.

  • Year Four

    Students must complete an internship/residency and select a reading committee for the dissertation. Students who plan to graduate at the end of year four must also schedule a dissertation proposal hearing and an oral examination.

The In-Person Aspect of an Online Education Degree

Students looking to earn an online degree in education can complete the vast majority of program requirements from the comfort of their home. This includes most coursework, assignments, and group projects. Regardless of delivery method, however, all programs require students to gain in-class teaching experience. The majority of programs work with students to identify a local school where hours can be completed, but students should begin thinking about where they want to complete their student teaching requirements early on to ensure they are able to find a suitable placement.

Next Steps: Certification

All states require teachers at public, government-funded schools to be licensed, but exact requirements for licensure vary by state. Private schools set their own guidelines for hiring requirements, but typically they do not require teachers to be licensed. Some of the common elements that go into the teacher certification process include:

  • Completing a set number of student teaching hours.
  • Successfully passing a criminal background check and showing proof of citizenship status.
  • Passing a general teaching certification test. Some states may also require teachers-in-training to take content-specific tests if they plan to teach in a specific subject. The Praxis is an example of a common certification exam in America.

Sites You May Also be Interested In

Education Job Boards

  • School Spring This job board boasts a database of 86,606 education jobs spread throughout the country.
  • Teaching Jobs Calling itself the job board for educators, TJ allows students to research jobs by education level, location, and more.
  • HigherEd Jobs This comprehensive website allows users to search through thousands of jobs in postsecondary education at a variety of different institutions.

Education Blogs

  • Education Week EduWeek hosts a range of blogs on different topics throughout the world of teaching, including information about online degrees in education.
  • The Learning Network
    Hosted by The New York Times, this regularly updated blog pulls thoughtful commentary on education news throughout America and the world.
  • Inside HigherEd
    Covers a range of topics related to the world of higher education and provides webinars.

Professional Organizations

  • Association of American Educators This is the largest non-union organization for educators in the country. AAE offers a range of services and continuing education programs alongside information about online degrees in education.
  • Association for Middle Level Education Teachers who work with middle school students are drawn to this professional group of like-minded educators. Membership is free.
  • National Education Association This union group represents more than three million members working in all levels and areas of education.