Higher education is rapidly moving online. While education has lagged behind other industries in embracing digital technologies, more universities are expanding their online course options, providing students with a greater degree of educational flexibility. Undergraduate and graduate students are increasingly choosing to study remotely and to pursue degrees online, and many top universities are stepping up to offer high-quality online degrees.
There are now several online undergraduate and graduate programs dedicated to training the next generation of teachers and education professionals. In this article, we’ll cover some of the best online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in education.
Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs
North Carolina’s Appalachian State University offers online degrees in preschool, elementary, and middle school education. For each program, coursework may be completed entirely online, but there is an in-classroom student teaching component completed during the last semester. Each program also offers full-time and part-time options, and students may choose to graduate with teaching credentials for North Carolina.
Arizona State University has an extensive online education degree program that includes both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. They offer three bachelor’s degree programs in education: Educational Studies (B.A.E.), Early Childhood Educational Studies (B.A.E.), and Early Childhood Studies (B.A.S.). These programs are not oriented toward K-12 classroom instruction and do not provide teaching licensure, but may prepare students for a master’s degree in education that can lead to teaching certification. The Educational Studies program may also lead to a broad variety of educational careers, including but not limited to museum education, school administration, curriculum design, corporate training, and GED instruction.
Drexel University offers an online bachelor’s degree in elementary school education. Students will not graduate with teaching licensure; however, the program is designed to prepare students for PK-4 teacher certification and/or special education certification. Students may choose between a PK-4 specialization or a Special Education specialization. The former requires coursework in child development, language development, early literacy and math foundations, early intervention, integration of the arts for developing children, and family and community partnerships. The latter requires coursework in disabiled learner’s needs, modifying curricula, remedial instruction, integrating technology into education, and managing a special needs-inclusive classroom. Students will leave the program prepared for a career in teaching as well as other areas of education, including counseling, school administration, curriculum design, or even nonprofit work.
Notre Dame College, a liberal arts college located in Cleveland, Ohio (not to be confused with Notre Dame University), offers an online early childhood education degree focused on Pre-K through grade 5. The program offers instruction in integrated technology, classroom management, curriculum, phonics, children’s literature, reading disability intervention, and music, creative arts, and physical movement. Students are also required to complete more than 100 hours of field experience and student teaching. Notre Dame College also offers a B.A. in Education Mild/Moderate Intervention Specialist (K-12). This degree prepares teachers who want to become early intervention specialists (teachers trained to help children showing signs of developmental delays) for licensure. Graduates of both degree programs have the opportunity to pursue a variety of careers in childhood education, and may choose a licensure track that will prepare them for the Ohio Assessment for Educators (OAE). The non-licensure track prepares students for entry-level careers in childcare, educational leadership, and related professions.
Florida’s St. Petersburg College offers a variety of fully online degrees in the educational field. Students may choose between degree programs in early childhood education, educational studies and community leadership, elementary education, and middle school science education. Students in elementary education will receive Florida Department of Education Certification and extensive experience in elementary and intermediate public schools.
The University of Arizona offers two online bachelor’s degrees in education. The Applied Science: Early Childhood Education degree is a non-licensure education degree that focuses on science education at early ages. It is designed as a continuation degree for students with Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees from accredited community colleges. It can be used to pursue careers in childcare, educational technology, teaching, and early childhood education. The Literacy, Learning, and Leadership degree is an educational degree that focuses on the broad application of teaching and learning, inside and outside the classroom. It incorporates education classes with courses in other disciplines, specifically social justice and leadership. It can be used to pursue careers in teaching as well as educational policy and curriculum development, social work, and extracurricular education (such as museum education).
The University of Cincinnati offers a fully online bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education Birth-Age 5. The program provides students with training in handling children with disabilities and special needs and early development of reading, writing, and language. The required coursework covers physical, cognitive, language, and social emotional development in infants and toddlers. Students will also have to select an administration focus. They may focus in the operation of early childhood education programs, creative and instructional environments for young children, or the supervision and organization of early childhood education programs. Before graduation, students also must complete a preschool internship. Students will leave the program prepared to teach in a preschool, Head Start program, child-care center, or family childcare environment.
The University of Missouri offers an online bachelor’s degree in educational studies (B.E.S.) with an interdepartmental emphasis. The program does not lead to state teaching certification, but it does offer a pathway toward a variety of educational careers in educational leadership and policy and educational games and simulations. Students may also pursue further education toward classroom certification.
The University of North Carolina Wilmington offers an online bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education leading to licensure to teach grades K-6. The program, which can be completed entirely online, is developed in collaboration between the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Coastal Carolina Community College (CCCC), the county school system and nearby military installations. Students have ample opportunities for field experience and educational practice. They can tutor students one-on-one at the CCCC campus and work in nearby public schools, giving them the opportunity to develop professional relationships with teachers and school administrators. Students may also pursue concentrations in behavioral studies, English as a Second Language, early childhood education, fine arts, international studies, language arts, math and technology, science and health, and social studies.
Online Master’s Degree Programs
The Bank Street College of Education, a graduate-only education school located in New York City, offers several online graduate degrees in education, including childhood and early childhood special education and general education. Bank Street, which doubles as a nursery-8th grade private school, is well-regarded for the quality of teachers it produces. Over 98 percent of graduates go on to pass certification exams and 87 percent stay in the education field.
Clemson University’s Moore College of Education offers one of the most well-regarded online Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) degrees available. The program has been ranked the #1 online graduate education program by U.S. News & World Report for three consecutive years and takes only 18 months to complete. Students can focus on one of four specialization areas: Effective and Reflective Teaching, Experiential Learning for Early Childhood, Instructional Coaching, or STEAM.
New York’s Fordham University offers an online Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) degree focusing primarily on early childhood to elementary school education. The program offers four different educational tracks oriented around the desired age and demographic of the students that program participants want to teach. The four tracks are: Early Childhood Special Education (focused on special education from birth to grade 2), Childhood Education (focused on education for grades 1-6), Childhood Special Education (focuses on special education for grades 1-6), and Childhood and Early Childhood Education (focuses on education from birth to grade 6). All programs take about 2 years and require between 36 and 45 credit hours to complete.
The University of Cincinnati offers an online master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. The program offers instructors additional training in curriculum development, school administration, educational policy, and teaching. Students may concentrate in one of three areas: STEM education, gifted education, and general studies. The STEM specialization integrates coursework across science, math, technology, and engineering, with a focus on the integration of education across these content areas. The gifted education specialization offers licensed teachers training in educating gifted students from preschool through grade 12. Students will take coursework and engage in field experience focused on the development of lesson plans and curricula that integrate contextual elements including cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. The general studies specialization is focused on teaching at all educational levels, including PK-12, informal, and higher education. The curriculum places a heavy focus on curriculum and instruction, and students will learn to develop teaching, learning, and educational research through a focus on educational theory and research methodology. Students also must complete a capstone project.
The University of Georgia offers several graduate degrees in education with emphasis on specific educational areas, including but not limited to reading education, science education, middle grades education, music education, educational psychology, educational psychology, and creative education. Requirements vary for each master’s degree program and may be completed entirely online. In order to participate, students must have access to a computer with a current operating system and peripheral technologies required to complete an online program including a web-cam, headphones, printer, and high-speed internet access.
The University of Maryland offers a variety of master’s degrees in education and teaching. The online Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) is designed for aspiring teachers intending to teach secondary education (high school) in a variety of subject areas, including earth/space science, physics, English, mathematics, history, social studies, chemistry, biology, computer science, Spanish, French, German, and Mandarin Chinese. All courses are offered fully online but require on-site field experience in a school district. Students are responsible for arranging field experience and classroom observation and instruction with a school district of their choice. The field experience component and M.A.T. program culminates in a full-time, on-site teaching internship featuring at least 80 in-school days completed under a mentor teacher and a university supervisor.
The University of San Diego offers three online degrees in education: an M.A. in Education with a Concentration in Counseling, an M.A. in Teacher Leadership, and an M.A.T. in Elementary and Secondary Education. The M.A. in Education with a Concentration in Counseling is a hybrid program that is completed primarily online, with face-to-face courses designed as 3-5 day workshops. The degree covers mental health practices, focusing on mental health recovery and trauma-informed care. Students will be educated in the requirements of handling the mental health needs of diverse populations. Upon graduation, they will receive a graduate certificate in Mental Health Recovery & Trauma-Informed Care. The M.A. in Teacher Leadership is focused on providing teachers with the foundations for leading roles outside of the classroom. Students will be trained to coach and mentor new teachers, to lead initiatives and conduct program evaluations, and to lead professional learning communities. Students graduate from the program with the ability to pursue roles as curriculum leaders, assessment leaders, and instructional coaches. The M.A. in Elementary and Secondary Education, a fully-online program, is focused more purely on teaching and is designed for K-12 educators who want to develop their pedagogy and teaching through research and practice. The program places an emphasis on social justice and equity in education and is focused on inquiry-based education through hands-on instruction with a focus on reflective practice. Students will also be required to complete a capstone project for graduation.
The University of Virginia offers six master’s degrees in education that can be completed online. The programs are: M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, M.Ed. in Reading Education, Ed.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, M.Ed. in Education Psychology: Social Foundations, and M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. Each program applies different methodology and coursework and may lead to different career paths in education, including teaching and school administration. Online students and PK-12 educators receive discounted tuition, and online graduates receive the exact same University of Virginia qualifications as on-ground students.
You don’t have to study on campus to receive a high-quality degree in education. These online programs offer teachers and education professionals the opportunity to expand their career opportunities in teaching and education.