Education Degrees and Career Paths

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

9 Most Affordable Online Associate Degrees in Education
Rank School Score Toggle Content

Allen County Community College

Value Score 7.84
Net Price $5,065
Graduation Rate 23%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 60%

ACCC's institutional philosophy is based on the belief that learning and self-improvement is a continuous process. The college is dedicated to providing higher education that fits individuals regardless of where they are in life, including cheap online associate degrees in education. Allen's remote programs, focused on either early childhood or elementary education, allow students to earn their degree or certificate completely online. Bolstered by a variety of resources -- such as 24-hour technology support, tutoring and writing help via email, and an affordable textbook rental system built into the general tuition -- online students get the support they need to be successful. Furthermore, online students are eligible for the same scholarships, grants, and loans through FAFSA as their residential counterparts. With roughly 60% of Allen students enrolled in online coursework and 90% of that population recommending it highly, there is no better time to join this accomplished and affordable learning community.

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Northeast Community College

Value Score 7.37
Net Price $5,818
Graduation Rate 43%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 35%

Established in 1973 as a comprehensive community college providing education ranging from vocational training to the liberal arts, Northeast's main campus is located in Norfolk, Nebraska. NCC's pedagogical values include fostering applied research and technological prowess as well as a commitment to public service, including continuing education and community development. Northeast offers a variety of programs, including an associate degree in education online through an easy-to-use platform. Students are able to access learning materials, read instructor announcements, discuss content, and submit their work wherever they live. Though out-of-state students must pay a higher tuition rate than Nebraska residents, online programs do not cost more than residential programs. Furthermore, remote students have access to the same support services as their traditional counterparts, including career advice, personal and academic counseling, and academic support through tutoring and the Writers' Clinic. As stated in NCC's strategic plan, Vision 2020, the online program will continue to be a priority for the institution.

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Odessa College

Value Score 6.76
Net Price $4,280
Graduation Rate 20%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 50%

Servicing Odessa, Texas and the surrounding areas, this community college offers continuing education courses and two-year associate degree programs. Based in a predominantly rural area of West Texas, Odessa services 13 counties. Due to the composition of the student population, Odessa's institutional values are based in vocational education, transferable credits for students seeking to extend their college career to a four-year plan, and adult continuing education courses. Students pursuing an online associate degree in education can fulfill course requirements through Odessa's ed2go portal. These courses are also suited for individuals seeking specific career training or those interested in a certain topic, such as "Real Estate Law" or "Teaching Students with ADHD." Online tuition is a flat rate, usually $99.00 for a 24-hour seminar. Additionally, Odessa College offers other perks for its students, including a "First Course is Free" policy for new students and a tuition discount for students who complete a certain amount of credit hours at Odessa with a 2.0 or above GPA.

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Baltimore City Community College

Value Score 6.28
Net Price $5,824
Graduation Rate 5%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 36%

With several campuses across the city, BCCC is dedicated to providing quality, affordable, and accessible educational opportunities for its students. Originally founded in 1947, the school now offers several programs that can be completed either remotely or in conjunction with traditional courses, including cheap online associate degrees in education. By the school's definition, the content of these courses must be at least 80% remote; certain classes do require students to take tests on campus for verification purposes. Online courses are facilitated through the Canvas platform and, as the college states, are usually more difficult than those taught in a conventional classroom. BCCC recommends e-learning for mature and dedicated students and offers support such as NetTutor, an online tutoring service, to help them succeed. Financial aid is available for eligible students, and there are special accommodations for military veterans.

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Tulsa Community College

Value Score 6.21
Net Price $5,390
Graduation Rate 14%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 36%

Tulsa Community College has served the city and northeastern Oklahoma since 1970 and is the largest institution of its kind in the state. The college identifies integrity and quality as the cornerstones of its educational philosophy, and its mission is to provide quality, flexible, and affordable education that responds to a dynamic global environment for all students. Tulsa offers one of the most affordable online associate degrees in education in the country. Courses within these programs can be completed entirely online, facilitated through Blackboard, or through a mixture of online and classroom components. A support network helps remote students with everything from tutoring to tech support. Students can apply for a variety of state scholarships, including Oklahoma's Promise, an award for students from families whose net income sits below $50,000.

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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

40 Most Affordable Online Bachelor's Degrees in Education
Rank School Score Toggle Content

Fort Hays State University

Value Score 6.82
Average Tuition $3,574
Students Receiving Financial Aid 70%
Net Price $8,911
Graduation Rate 42%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Admissions Rate 86%
Enrollment Rate 48%
Retention Rate 48%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 77%
Number of Online Programs 22

Founded in 1902 as a small teacher's college on an abandoned military outpost in Fort Hays, Kansas, Fort Hays State has grown into a comprehensive liberal arts institution. Today, almost half of FHSU's 14,000 students take classes through the university's Virtual College, and education remains one of the most popular subjects. Fort Hays offers several online bachelor's degree programs in education, including elementary ed, elementary ed with a special education minor, and early childhood education.

Each program is designed to ready students for licensure, and they provide a broad background in educational theory and the opportunity to put theory into practice with internships and student teaching experiences. Each major requires 55 credits of general education, 20-26 credits of professional study, 34-43 credits of major study, and 12 credit hours working in the classroom, adding up to a total of at least 127 credits to graduate. The special ed minor adds nine additional credit requirements. Coursework is delivered both asynchronously and in real-time. Virtual College students pay a drastically reduced tuition fee compared to non-resident on-campus learners.

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The Baptist College of Florida

Value Score 6.73
Average Tuition $9,600
Students Receiving Financial Aid 76%
Net Price $8,539
Graduation Rate 51%
Student to Faculty Ratio 11:1
Admissions Rate 52%
Enrollment Rate 56%
Retention Rate 56%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 58%
Number of Online Programs 12

The Baptist College of Florida has committed so fully to online education that every course offered on the Christian school's Graceville, Florida, campus is now offered online as well. That includes three online bachelor's in education programs: elementary education, English secondary ed, and history/social studies secondary ed. Each takes a Christian approach, and requires 18 hours of Bible classes, in addition to 33 hours of general education and 59-66 hours in major coursework. A total of 127-132 credits is required to take home a diploma.

Most classes at BCF are scheduled asynchronously, allowing students the utmost flexibility and the ability to continue working while they earn their degrees. Classes follow the traditional semester calendar and are priced the same as on-campus courses. The program is designed to create well-rounded teachers who can step into specialist roles in public and private K-6 and 6-12 classrooms. Online learners must take IT310, an orientation course. Tuition for distance education is offered at a reduced rate.

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East Carolina University

Value Score 6.65
Average Tuition $4,157
Students Receiving Financial Aid 80%
Net Price $10,740
Graduation Rate 62%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Admissions Rate 69%
Enrollment Rate 37%
Retention Rate 37%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 42%
Number of Online Programs 19

ECU was one of the first schools in the nation to recognize the potential of online learning, offering online degrees before almost any other university. Today, the Greenville, North Carolina public institution provides 90 degree programs on its virtual campus, including a handful of choices in the field of education. Five different programs are available to aspiring teachers. The birth-kindergarten education program looks at developmental issues in very young students. Family and consumer sciences education prepares program participants to teach in vocational and Cooperative Extension classrooms. Last, programs in elementary, middle school, and special ed are designed for students transferring from a North Carolina community college and are offered in partnership with the State Employees Credit Union (SECU). The others are only open to North Carolina residents.

The three SECU programs are cohort-based and were created to allow two-year students to finish a bachelor's degree in education online. A full-time internship in a public school is required during the senior year. Most learning is done asynchronously, though some classes may have weekly meeting times.

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Midway University

Value Score 6.65
Average Tuition $22,000
Students Receiving Financial Aid 78%
Net Price $17,114
Graduation Rate 53%
Student to Faculty Ratio 15:1
Admissions Rate 46%
Enrollment Rate 40%
Retention Rate 40%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 84%
Number of Online Programs 18

A small, Christian institution in Kentucky, Midway University offers several online bachelor's degree programs in education, including twelve different options in subjects from elementary ed to learning and behavioral disorders. Most of the programs are 120-credit, four-year undergraduate degrees that prepare teachers for certification. Many are non-certification programs that provide a platform for a master's. Others are for teachers who don't plan on working in the United States or who want a paraprofessional job in the education industry.

The traditional teaching degrees -- those for aspiring educators who intend to work in public and private classrooms -- all have similar curricula. A total of 120 credits is required for each, and students complete 34 general education credits, 45-60 major course credits, and take a series of classes in their major area -- elementary ed, middle school science, secondary school science, English, or math. They also are required to earn 12 credits in student-teaching internships. Graduates are prepared to seek certification in Kentucky. Students from other states should check local requirements. The non-certification "education studies" programs don't have student teaching, PRAXIS, or methods course requirements.

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Western Governors University

Value Score 6.21
Average Tuition $5,780
Students Receiving Financial Aid 75%
Net Price $8,572
Graduation Rate 14%
Student to Faculty Ratio 41:1
Admissions Rate 100%
Enrollment Rate 37%
Retention Rate 37%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 100%
Number of Online Programs 26

A pioneer in online education, WGU has its own virtual Teaching College, a school devoted exclusively to educating educators. As such, it's one of the best places to turn for a bachelor's degree in education online. Based in Salt Lake City, the comprehensive cyber university hosts eight different undergraduate options for prospective teachers, including a middle and high school-level math degree, five degrees for middle and high school-level sciences, and two degrees for kindergarten and up, one in interdisciplinary studies and the other in special ed.

The Teaching College is accredited by the standard-setting National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and was the first exclusively online university to win that honor. Thanks to its NCATE status, the university's programs prepare students for licensure not just in Utah but in all 50 states (most allow WGU grads to apply for direct licensure). The majority of coursework is completed asynchronously, and students typically accrue 122 units to graduate. In-classroom experience is mandatory, and students graduate with a professional portfolio. Perhaps best of all, WGU believes in competency-based education, so students can test out of certain requirements, saving time and money.

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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

50 Most Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Education
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Martin Luther College

Value Score 9.29
Average Tuition $5,220
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 100%
Number of Online Programs 1
Part-time cost per credit hour $290

Named for the man who launched Protestantism, Martin Luther College is a small Christian college located on an 88-acre, hilltop campus in New Ulm, Minnesota, about 90 miles from Minneapolis. The focus of the school, which is operated by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, is to educate teachers and prepare men for the ministry. To that end, MLC only offers degrees in education, educational administration, and ministry. And it has a reputation for doing it well -- the school’s online master's in education has been ranked among the top five in the nation for value. The program is very Christian-oriented, but it has been approved by the Minnesota Board of Teaching for educators working in traditional schools. The entire graduate program can be completed online, and students have the opportunity to specialize in instruction, leadership, special education, and educational technology. MLC also offers an online master's in educational administration.

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Fort Hays State University

Value Score 9.17
Average Tuition $3,094
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 87%
Number of Online Programs 1
Part-time cost per credit hour $206

FHSU is the third largest of Kansas’ six public universities, and its 200-acre campus is set about halfway between Denver and Kansas City in the city of Hays. The school likes to bill itself as the “forward-thinking, entrepreneurial university of the Midwest.” More than 14,000 students are currently enrolled, selecting from over 70 degree programs. Around 6,000 students pursue their learning online, attending the school’s Virtual College. FHSU has one of the lowest tuition rates among four-year, master's-level, public universities, and that extends to its web campus, which is nationally ranked for affordability. The online master's in education has an exceptional reputation for its value, and is built around an 18-credit core curriculum. Students can choose an area of emphasis -- English as a second language (ESL), library media specialist, reading specialist, higher education student affairs, Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps instructor prep, or alternative certification.

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Maranatha Baptist University

Value Score 9.13
Average Tuition $4,720
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 95%
Number of Online Programs 1
Part-time cost per credit hour $295

Just as its name suggests, Maranatha is a small Baptist university in Watertown, Wisconsin, devoted to preparing leaders for the ministry. MBU’s 1,000 students can choose from among more than 30 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degree programs. Most popular among them are: pastoral studies, humanities, nursing, business management, biology, and education. Students must first complete a core Bible curriculum before moving to the elective phase of their education. Since 2009, MBU’s Office of Online and Distance Learning has been providing non-traditional learners, including high school dual enrollment students, active-duty military, and anyone else who can’t make it to Watertown, with the opportunity to pursue degrees in 11 disciplines entirely online. Maranatha’s online master's degree in education allows teachers to advance their careers in their off hours while remaining in the classroom. The 32-credit program can be completed in two years, entirely online, and emphasizes the building of Christian character.

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Eastern New Mexico University

Value Score 8.71
Average Tuition $3,519
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 72%
Number of Online Programs 1
Part-time cost per credit hour $221

ENMU is the largest regional comprehensive university in New Mexico, serving 6,000 students from a main campus in the small eastern city of Portales and satellites in Roswell and Ruidoso. Notably, the school is home to the Jack Williamson Science Fiction Library, the largest collection of sci-fi literature in the world. Online students have access to more than 30 web-based degrees. Among them are a host of online master's degrees in education. These specialize in a variety of fields: physical education, gifted education, special ed, early childhood education, school counseling, education administration, and secondary ed. ENMU uses the Blackboard platform to deliver its virtual classes, and has an array of services available to students, including tech support, writing help, and tutoring. The school boasts a satisfaction rate of 95% among its graduates.

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Western Governors University

Value Score 8.53
Average Tuition $6,500
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 100%
Number of Online Programs 1
Part-time cost per credit hour $361

Formed by the governors of 19 different states, WGU calls itself “a new kind of U,” and it certainly fits the bill. The school exists almost entirely online -- there is no single campus, simply a huge, modern office building in Salt Lake City where the administration work. Founded in 1997, WGU now enrolls more than 70,000 students from all over the world in its four colleges: information technology, business, health professions, and teaching. The school employs a “competency-based” approach, which essentially gives students credit for what they already know, relying on assessments rather than credit hours. WGU has a slate of online master's degrees in education, allowing currently working teachers to add credentials in their fields, from curriculum instruction to science education (physics). New students are assigned a mentor who guides them through the unique WGU process and they proceed at a pace that works for their schedule.

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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.