We all remember teachers who have made a major positive impact on our lives. But even teachers we have forgotten have made a major impact on us, whether for good or ill. It’s from teachers that we learn the ideas, values, and skills that shape our lives.
Teaching is therefore a very special profession. But it is also a very practical profession. The job market for teachers is huge, the demand for them is constant, and the salaries are competitive. For example, the annual median salary of all elementary school teachers in the United States is $59,020 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, or BLS). For secondary school teachers, the figure is slightly higher.
Salaries in the teaching profession depend upon three major factors: geography, educational attainment, and length of service. Many teachers who (a) work in urban school districts, (b) have advanced degrees, and (c) have been around awhile, may achieve salaries that range upwards of $70,000 or $80,000, or even higher.
Teacher education programs are also an avenue into school administration. The median annual salary for elementary and secondary school principals is about $87,000, and many of them make $100,000 or more.
As everyone who reads the newspapers knows, the teaching profession is in turmoil right now. Many efforts are underway to institute reforms designed to increase teaching effectiveness. In addition, the current recession has not spared teachers. Due to budget cutbacks at the local, state, and federal levels, teaching jobs have been lost.
Nevertheless, the overall employment outlook for teachers remains bright. Nearly all reform efforts endorse the concept of smaller class sizes. And as long as the population keeps growing, teachers will continue to be needed.
The BLS predicts:
Employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected because of both declines in student–teacher ratios and increases in enrollment. However, employment growth will vary by region.
In order to teach in a public elementary or secondary school in the United Sates, you must obtain a credential known as a teaching certificate. Most private schools require a teaching certificate, as well.
The certification process is controlled by the Board of Education of each individual state, and the requirements for certification may vary somewhat from state to state. However, all states require that aspiring teachers obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Normally, the student will work towards a bachelor of science degree in education. The program will normally include both study in an academic subject like English, history, math, or a science, and also specialized study of pedagogy (the study of the skills involved in teaching itself). An alternative route would be a bachelor’s degree in an academic subject, plus supplementary coursework in pedagogy.
Classroom experience, or student teaching, is required by all states. In addition, some states require aspiring teachers to pass a special examination.
There are many excellent programs around the country that allow students to complete their coursework for the bachelor of science in education chiefly or wholly online. (Student teaching experience may be arranged in the locality where the student resides.) Many of these schools offer online programs leading to the master of science in education, as well.
We have compiled the following ranking of teacher education programs on the basis of three main factors: academic excellence (measured by faculty education and productivity), program depth (measured by number of courses available), and affordability. RANKING METHODOLOGY
* * *
The University of Massachusetts system offers one of the largest public-university online programs in the country—UMass Online.
UMass Online was created in 2001 as a portal to showcase the wide array of online programs available through UMass’s five campuses, and today features more than 1500 online courses in over 100 undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs. UMass presently offers 20 diverse degree and certificate programs in the field of education alone, including the following:
- Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction: Autism Studies Options
- Bachelor of Arts—Children’s Learning and Development Concentrations (UMass Amherst)
- Educational Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction: Education of Diverse Populations (UMass Lowell)
- Master of Education—Vision Studies (Vision Rehabilitation Therapy) (UMass Boston)
- Master’s Degree in Educational Administration (UMass Lowell)
Tuition costs for UMass’s online classes vary widely, depending on the nature of the program and the course. However, as an example, courses in the Bachelor of Arts—Children’s Learning and Development program cost $385 per credit. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state residents.
UMass Lowell, UMass Boston, and UMass Amherst are regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE) and the School of Education at the campuses are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
(Salt Lake City, Utah)
Western Governors University (WGU) was formed in 1997 by a coalition of governors of 19 states, led by the governors of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.
All academic operations of WGU are online. While the main administrative offices are located in Salt Lake City, affiliated institutions with an independent administration exist in the states of Indiana, Texas, and Washington.
WGU’s mission is to “improve quality and expand access to post-secondary educational opportunities by providing a means for individuals to learn independent of time or place.”
WGU is divided into four colleges, each of which offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree. The four colleges are: College of Business, Teachers College, College of Information Technology, and College of Health Professions.
Teachers College, which has more than 10,500 students nationwide, offers several bachelor’s degree programs, including:
- Bachelor of Arts in Special Education (K-12)
- Bachelor of Arts in Science (5-9)
- Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics (5-9 or 5-12)
- Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (K-8)
Teachers College also offers a wide array of post-baccalaureate and master’s degree programs, including:
- Master of Arts in English Language Learning (PreK-12)
- Master of Science in Special Education (K-12)
- Master of Arts in Teaching – Social Science (5-12)
- Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction
- Master of Education in Instructional Design
- Master of Science in Educational Leadership
Full-time tuition in WGU’s College of Education is a very affordable $2,890 per six-month term (15 credits).
Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). The College of Education is accredited by National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Liberty University (LU) was founded as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971 by Rev. Jerry Falwell.
Training Champions for Christ since 1971, and pioneering distance education since 1985, Liberty University now enrolls more than 90,000 students from around the world in its thriving online program. With more than 160 accredited programs of study, Liberty University Online offers degrees from the certificate to the postgraduate level. LU Online offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in education in many areas of specialization, including:
- Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education
- Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education Interdisciplinary Studies
- Bachelor of Science in Special Education Interdisciplinary Studies
- Master of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Education
- Master of Education—Reading Specialist Endorsement
- Master of Education—Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood Education)
- Master of Science in Sport Management—Sport Administration
- Doctor of Education
LU Online is one of the most affordable distance-learning institutions in the nation. Tuition costs for full-time students for undergraduate programs are $390 per hour; for master’s-level programs, $565 per hour; and for doctoral-level programs, $595 per hour.
Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS). LU Online is accredited by the National Commission on the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) is one of four campuses of the University of Nebraska state system. The Kearney campus was founded in 1905 as the Nebraska State Normal School.
UNK’s online program has won “Honor Roll” ranking by U.S. News & World Report.
UNK offers many fully online programs in education, including a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood (Unified) and a Master of Arts in Education. The Master of Arts in Education degree may be pursued in many areas of specialization, including the following:
- Art Education
- Curriculum and Instruction (three concentrations)
- Instructional Technology
- Music Education
- Physical Education
UNK also offers a number of online endorsement programs, including the following:
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Gifted Education
- Mild/Moderate Special Education
- School Librarian
UNK’s online courses are very affordable. Tuition costs for out-of-state students are $396.25 per credit hour (undergraduate courses) and $454 per credit hour (College of Education graduate courses). Tuition costs for Nebraska residents are lower still.
University of Nebraska at Kearney is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Established in 1891, Drexel University has been a premier online university since 1996, when it first began offering degrees online as an option for students.
As a part of a university with a strong background in technology and research, Drexel University Online brings unique strength in academics to the online learning experience.
Drexel University’s School of Education is ranked among “America’s Best Graduate Schools 2011” by U.S. News & World Report.
Drexel University Online’s education degrees, teacher certification programs, and courses incorporate current research on teaching and expose teachers to the latest developments in pedagogy and instructional technology.
Drexel University Online offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and teaching certificates in a wide variety of areas of specialization.
Tuition rates vary according to program. Currently, new students enrolling in the College of Education’s graduate program are being offered a heavily discounted rate of $1192 per credit.
Drexel University Online is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).
Arizona State University was founded in 1885 as the Tempe Normal School. Today, the university has four traditional campuses in and around the metropolitan Phoenix area, as well as the highly regarded ASU Online virtual campus.
ASU Online offers the following degree programs in the field of education:
- Master of Arts or Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
- Master of Education in Educational Leadership (Supervision)
The Curriculum and Instruction degree programs are offered with a number of areas of specialization, including the following:
- Early Childhood Education
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Teaching and Learning, Austism Spectrum Focus
- Teaching and Learning, Gifted Education Focus
Several online programs leading to graduate certificates in education are also available.
Tuition costs for ASU Online courses are the same for everyone, regardless of residency status. For undergraduate courses, the cost is $500 per credit hour (fall semester); for graduate courses, the cost is $502 per credit hour (fall semester). Tuition costs are slightly lower for the spring and summer semesters.
Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati is a public research university with an enrollment of more than 42,000 students.
The University of Cincinnati is divided into 14 schools and colleges, including the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH).
CECH’s graduate program in education is ranked #58 in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
Undergraduate and graduate programs of study are available in many areas of specialization, including Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Instructional Design and Technology, Middle School Education, Secondary Education, and Special Education.
Nearly 100 courses in CECH are now available fully online.
The tuition costs for CECH’s online courses are $1098 per credit hour for undergraduate courses and $1311 for graduate courses (tuition costs for Ohio residents are considerably lower).
The University of Cincinnati is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Graceland University, which traces its roots all the way back to 1895, is a nondenominational university sponsored by the Community of Christ. Originally founded in Lamoni, IA, a second campus began operations in Independence, MO, in 1969. Online courses began in 1999, and today both institutions offer a wide range of online degree programs.
Graceland has been a pioneer in distance learning, with decades of experience providing exceptional education in the comfort of students’ homes.
Graceland offers a fully online Master of Education of degree program to educators who hold an undergraduate degree in education or an educational endorsement from an accredited university. To be accepted into this program you must also have a current Teaching Certificate and verification of current teaching employment that includes at least 20 hours per week in the classroom.
A number of online degree and certificate programs are available, including a Certificate in Special Education. The following areas of specialization for the Master’s of Education degree are offered:
- Management in a Quality Classroom
- Literacy Instruction
- Differentiated Instruction
- Technology Integration
- Mild/Moderate Special Education
Graceland’s tuition costs for its online courses are very affordable. Please contact the school for more information.
Graceland University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Kaplan University was founded in 1937. It provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs and continuing professional education via its online and on-site campuses.
The School of Education provides programs that nurture the development of teachers and administrators. Students are provided a strong foundation in teaching methods. They learn how to integrate research-based practices into the classroom. The instructional approach is based on adult-learning theory.
Whether you are a practicing elementary or secondary school teacher seeking higher education or a career changer preparing to enter the teaching profession, Kaplan University’s online certification and master’s degree programs offer a flexible, convenient opportunity to pursue your professional development.
Kaplan University offers a college education at a competitive price. Several options are available to students interested in financing their education, and Kaplan University can help you find the financial solution that is right for you.
Tuition for online courses in teacher education is $371 per quarter credit hour.
Kaplan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Walden University was founded in 1970, and today is a world leader in student-centered, online education.
Walden University’s mission is to provide a diverse community of career professionals with the opportunity to transform themselves into scholar-practitioners capable of bringing about positive social change. Quality, integrity, and student-centeredness are at the core of Walden University’s values, demanding high standards of excellence, uncompromising honesty and openness, and focused attention on the progress of students.
Walden University’s Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a total of 13 specializations.
Tuition varies by degree program.
Walden University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
(Los Angeles, California)
Founded in 1880, the University of Southern California (USC) is one of the world’s leading private research universities.
The student population is very diverse and roughly balanced between undergraduate and graduate students. About an eighth of undergraduates and a quarter of graduate students are international students.
The faculty are highly distinguished, including at present three Nobel laureates.
USC is divided into an undergraduate College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, a Graduate School, and 17 professional schools. Among the latter is the Rossier School of Education.
The Rossier School offers three non-degree, professional-development programs in K–12 and continuing education, seven master’s degree programs, and three doctoral degree programs.
The Rossier School recently began to offer its Master of Arts in Teaching program fully online.
The tuition cost for graduate degree programs at the Rossier School is currently $1,733 per unit.
The University of Southern California – Los Angeles is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. The Rossier School is accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
George Washington University (GWU) was founded by Baptist minister Luther Rice. It was chartered in 1821 by an act of Congress as a private, nondenominational college to be called Columbian College in the District of Columbia. The institution assumed its present name in 1904.
GWU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, and selected individual courses that are exclusively online, as well as other areas of study that combine online and classroom learning.
GWU’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development offers a wide variety of master’s degree, education specialist, doctoral degree, and certificate programs in the field of education.
The following are some of the degree and certificate programs in education that may currently be pursued fully online:
- Educational Leadership and Administration
- Higher Education Administration
- Graduate Certificate in Brain Injury: Transition Services
- Graduate Certificate in Assessment, Testing, and Measurement in Education
- Master’s in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
- Master’s in Educational Technology Leadership
- Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling
Tuition costs vary according to program and individual course. However, as an example, online courses in the master’s degree in leadership and administration cost $955 per credit hour.
George Washington University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE) and by the National Commission for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Grand Canyon University, founded in 1949, is a private, non-denominational, Christian University.
The university offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs through its campus-based and online programs. The school provides over 60 degrees programs, all based in the Christian heritage. The campus includes colleges specializing in business, nursing & health sciences, liberal arts, and entrepreneurship.
The students are taught by experienced, qualified professors who provide a curriculum based in the Christian heritage. The instructors help students with their spiritual and educational development.
For over 60 years, Grand Canyon University has maintained a strong reputation as a prestigious teaching college. The primary goal of GCU’s College of Education is to provide you with the confidence to achieve excellence in your career as a teacher or administrator. At GCU, you can choose from a large variety of teaching college programs, including TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages), elementary, secondary, and special education, and educational administration.
Grand Canyon University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Phoenix is a pioneer in offering higher education online. It was founded in 1976, and from the beginning has emphasized providing continuing education and flexible schedules to adult learners.
The University of Phoenix offers a very broad program of online classes in a wide variety of fields. The university is organized into nine separate colleges offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
The College of Education offers four different doctoral programs that concentrate in Educational Leadership. The cost per credit hour is $810.
Tuition for full-time work online towards a Bachelor of Science in Education degree is $420 per credit.
The University of Phoenix is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association.
Founded in 1905, Concordia University Portland (CUP) is a private, Christian liberal arts college associated with the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, but open to students of any faith.
Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, CUP is committed to preparing students both for life and for earning a living. The university offers some 25 undergraduate majors with more than 20 fields of concentration.
Postgraduate degrees are offered by the College of Education and the School of Management.
The College of Education offers more than 20 completely online Master of Education (MEd) degree programs that can be completed in one year, as well as five new online Doctor of Education (EDD) degree programs. Tuition varies per program. Contact the school for further information.
Concordia University Portland is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
University of Florida was founded in 1853, and has been in its present location in Gainesville since 1906. It is considered to belong among the top tier of publicly funded, state universities in the country.
The College of Education offers a wide variety of bachelor’s, specialist, master’s, and doctoral degree and certificate programs.
Fully online programs leading toward the Master of Education degree are offered in the following areas of specialization:
- Educational Leadership
- Reading Education
- Student Personnel in Higher Education
- Teacher Leadership for School Improvement
- Education Technology
- Special Education
Tuition for graduate students is $448.73 per credit hour for Florida residents and $690.21 for out-of-state residents.
The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
University of Scranton, founded in 1888, is a nationally recognized Jesuit university located in the Poconos Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Education Department of the Panuska College of Professional Studies offers a wide variety of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in education.
At present, only the Master of Science in Education degree program is offered 100% online. This program is offered with two areas of concentration to choose from: Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Administration.
Tuition cost is $965 per credit.
The University of Scranton is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE) and the National Commission on the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
(Prescott Valley, Arizona)
Northcentral University was founded in 1996 as the web-based sister institution of Southern California University for Professional Studies.
Northcentral University was the first university in the country to offer a regionally accredited online doctoral program.
With respect to teacher education, Northcentral University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in 22 areas of specialization, including Athletic Coaching, Early Childhood Education, and Special Education.
Tuition varies according to degree program. The tuition cost of a Bachelor of Education is $1,335 per course; of a Master of Education, $1,998 per course; and of a doctoral degree in education, $2,733 per course.
Northcentral University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
(Santa Ana, California)
California Coast University (CCU) has been a pioneer in distance learning since its founding in 1973. Today, all instruction is conducted online.
CCU offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of disciplines.
CCU’s School of Education offers the Master of Education degree in two areas of specialization and the Doctor of Education degree in three areas of specilization.
Tuition costs at CCU are especially affordable, at only $230 per unit for the master’s degree programs and $290 per unit for the doctoral degree programs.
California Coast University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education Accreditation Commission.
Western New England University (WNE) was founded in 1919 as a division of Northeastern University. Until 2011, the school was known as Western New England College.
WNE’s Department of Education offers full undergraduate programs in both elementary and secondary education, with a variety of areas of specialization, as well as Master of Education degrees in Elementary Education and Curriculum and Instruction.
The M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction degree program may be pursued 100% online. Students may concentrate in either elementary or secondary curriculum and instruction.
WNE is committed to keeping a quality private education affordable for its students. Tuition for courses at WNE is $646 per credit hour.
Western New England University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
The University of Washington (UW), founded in 1861 and located in Seattle, is the public flagship university of the state of Washington. It has a student body of undergraduates and graduates combined of over 43,000 individuals.
UW intends to offer a brand-new, low-cost online bachelor’s degree completion program in education, beginning in the fall of 2014. If the new program is approved, the main coursework will be in the field of Early Childhood and Family Studies.
The online Early Childhood and Family Studies bachelor’s degree, which will be UW’s first fully online bachelor’s completion program, will prepare individuals to work in a wide variety of settings, including preschools, child care, social welfare, arts, and other governmental organizations, mental health services, and family support groups.
UW’s Educational Outreach will administer the online bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education program. UW’s Educational Outreach program has received a Next Generation Learning Challenges grant that is partially funded by the Gates Foundation. The grant will help develop the new online bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education program, and also help pay for several core classes in early childhood education that will be free to the public, as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the Coursera platform.
The fully online bachelor’s program in Early Childhood Education is designed for students who have either completed a two-year associate’s degree, or who have an equivalent number of credit hours but have not completed their degree. Eligible students will have earned 70 eligible transfer credits at the UW or elsewhere.
The UW online degree costs $181 per credit hour. There is no residency requirement.
The University of Washington is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). They are a member of the Association of American Universities.
(Hoffman Estates, Illinois)
American InterContinental University (AIU) was founded in Switzerland in 1970 by an American couple. Today, it has grown into a network of five traditional campuses in the U.S. and abroad, and a virtual campus known as AIU Online, which was launched in 2001.
AIU advertises itself as “America’s Un-party School” and “Serious U”—because it is so serious about providing you with an excellent education.
AIU offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in a wide variety of fields.
AIU Online offers a fully online program leading to a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree, with six areas of specialization:
- Instructional Design and Technology
- Adult Education and Training
- Leadership of Educational Organizations
- Curriculum and Instruction for Educators
- Elementary Education
- Secondary Education
Tuition for AIU Online’s M.Ed. program is $442 per credit hour.
American InterContinental University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Post University was established in 1890.
The university is divided into Post College, the School of Business, the School of Education, and the John P. Burke School of Public Service.
Post University Online offers degree courses in eight-week modules, six times a year, so you can earn your bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months, and a master’s degree in just 14–24 months.
The School of Education offers an associate’s degree in early childhood education, a bachelor’s degree in child studies, and three master’s degrees in the following areas of specialization:
- Higher Education Administration
- Instructional Design and Technology
- Teaching and Learning
- Online Teaching
All of the above programs may be taken 100% online through Post University Online.
Tuition costs vary according to program, but as an example, the cost for a Bachelor of Science in Child Studies degree is $505 per credit hour.
Post University Online is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE) and by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
Capella University, established in 1993, offers many online degree programs in a wide range of disciplines.
With respect to the field of education, Capella offers the Master of Science in Education in twelve fields of specialization, including Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Leadership in Educational Administration, and Higher Education Leadership and Administration.
Capella also offers the Doctor of Education (D.Ed.) or Ph.D. in Education degree in six specializations.
Capella University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Strayer University has evolved out of Strayer’s Business College, which was founded in Baltimore in 1892.
Granted university status in 1998, Strayer University now operates campuses in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia.
As of 2011, Strayer University had an enrollment of some 50,000 students, 30,000 of whom took 100% of their courses online.
The School of Education offers a Master of Education degree program fully online. The program includes four areas of specialization:
- Adult Education and Development
- Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
- Instructional Technology
- Teacher Leadership
Tuition for graduate courses is $2,450 per course.
Strayer University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).