Best Online Associate in Education 2021

by Doug Wintemute
TheBestSchools.org

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An online associate degree in education provides learners with a flexible, accessible route to the teaching profession — often at a lower cost than traditional alternatives.

The teaching field welcomes professionals from many pathways. An associate degree in education online offers one of the more flexible and accessible options available. While most states require teachers in public kindergarten classrooms and above to have bachelor's teaching degrees, associate degree graduates can still pursue those careers and more by making the right educational choices.

As the system evolves to meet modern demands and challenges from forces like COVID-19, teachers need to remain adaptable, accommodating, communicative, and technologically competent. In addition to ranking of the best programs in this field, this page outlines how associate degrees from online colleges can equip students with the necessary skills for an array of careers.

The Best Online Associate in Education Programs

  1. Allen County Community College
    Location

    Iola, KS

    Tuition

    $7851

    Allen was founded in 1923 and was initially referred to as the Iola Junior College. It boasts two campuses, online learning, and supports concurrent enrolment.

    Allen's associate degree in early childhood education paves the way for careers as a childcare provider or preschool teacher. The degree is on par with the initial two years of study at any Kansas Board of Regents college.

    The degree track has dual concentrations. Students can opt for the associate degree in art or the associate degree in applied science. Applicants must provide proof of their high school transcripts or have a GED.

  2. Volunteer State Community College
    Location

    Gallatin, TN

    Tuition

    $5731

    Vol State has 100 areas of study and 11,384 current students. The average student age is 22 years.

    The associate of applied science degree is geared toward helping students transfer to a four-year bachelor's degree in early childhood education. This enables students to become a grade K-3 or preschool teacher.

    This associate degree in education has 62 credits. Some of its general education courses include public speaking, humanities or fine arts, and English composition. Students also learn courses related to infants and toddlers, as well as child development.

  3. Northeast State Community College
    Location

    Blountville, TN

    Tuition

    $6502

    Northeast State was founded in 1966. It's a two-year institution primarily, and caters to students who want to transfer to other colleges.

    Northeast State offers varying associate degrees. Programs students can opt for includes the AA degree in pre-teacher education for secondary education, an AS degree in special education, and an AAS degree in early childhood education.

    The AAS degree in early childhood education is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Students must complete 64 credits for this program.

  4. Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology
    Location

    Okmulgee, OK

    Tuition

    $6707

    OSUIT was established in 1946. It boasts a career placement rate of almost 100 percent.

    This associate degree in education affords students a great foundation in education. Concentrations covered include foreign language, English, social sciences, and science. Coursework here transitions effortlessly to a bachelor's degree at any Oklahoma college.

    The program comprises a full-time faculty, with a low student-to-faculty ratio. Graduates can pursue teaching careers in secondary education, ECE, elementary, and special education. The program takes 1-2 years to complete and contains 60 credits. The estimated tuition is $18,016 per year for in-state students.

  5. College of Southern Idaho
    Location

    Twin Falls, ID

    Tuition

    $6426

    CSI offers students more than just an education. It boasts a range of outdoor recreational activities, a café, and a coffee shop. Students can also enjoy support services like counseling, childcare, and relief food supplies.

    The associate degree in education here requires 61 credits for completion. Some of its subjects on the core track include the foundations of education, educational technology, and writing and rhetoric.

    The electives revolve around secondary education coursework. Subjects here include general ecology, biology, and human anatomy and physiology. Students must also complete electives geared toward elementary or special education.

  6. National Park College
    Location

    Hot Springs, AR

    Tuition

    $8091

    NPC is an affordable institution and approximately 95% of its students are granted scholarships. It offers students a range of two-year certificates and degrees.

    NPC has a broad range of associate of education degrees. For instance, students can choose the ASLAS degree if they want to transfer to Henderson State University to obtain their bachelor's degree. This online associate degree in education has a general education core of 36 credits, plus art coursework worth 24 credits.

    NPC also offers associate degrees in education where students can use credits to transfer to bachelor of science degrees in elementary education, middle level education, and special education.

  7. Laramie County Community College
    Location

    Cheyenne, WY

    Tuition

    $6650

    LCCC was established in 1968. Students can choose from 534 associate degrees. LCCC also offers a range of credit diplomas and certificates of completion.

    LCCC offers associate of arts degrees in secondary education and elementary or ECE. Students wanting to complete the ECE track must complete 61 credits. Some coursework for this includes the foundations of development and learning and an introduction to special education.

    The track for secondary education includes 61 credits for degree completion. Students are required to choose electives from courses in world language, social studies, art, and agriculture here.

  8. Highland Community College
    Location

    Highland, KS

    Tuition

    $6864

    HCC is a public institution that was founded in 1858. It was the first college in Kansas and currently has 3,200 students.

    It offers students two associate degrees in education. The first degree is an AA in elementary education and the second an AA in secondary education. The associate online education degree is completed after 63 credits. Students need to complete basic skills coursework like college English and microcomputer applications.

    They must also complete courses from the humanities and fine arts, natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and electives concentrations.

  9. University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuition

    $20085

    UC was established in 1819. A public research institution, it has 46,388 students.

    This 100% online associate degree in education offers students support from the time they commence, up to graduation. The program is also asynchronous.

    This associate degree in ECE is hosted by UC's College of Education. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Students can complete this program full-time if they like, although most complete this on a part-time basis. High school graduates need to submit their GED, too.

  10. Casper College
    Location

    Casper, WY

    Tuition

    $6438

    Casper boasts 147 degree and certificate programs. It provides financial aid of $8.7 million and has 4,970 students.

    This associate of arts degree in ECE enables students to transfer credits to obtain a bachelor's degree in ECE or elementary education. The program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

    Students must complete 61 credits. Some of the core coursework for this associate degree in education includes problem solving and general psychology. Students are also required to complete lab projects and an early childhood practicum.

Best Online Associate

Online Associate in Education Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Associate in Education Programs

What Is an Online Associate in Education Degree?

An associate degree in education equips students with a basic understanding of the educational system, teaching responsibilities, and related challenges. While there are various types of teaching degrees and specializations, programs generally provide skills — such as classroom management, communication, and psychology — that degree-holders can apply to all types of classrooms.

State teaching requirements vary, but each teacher typically needs a bachelor's degree. While associate degrees do not directly lead to licensure, students of these two-year programs can transfer into online bachelor's in education degree programs, even reducing their overall cost of college in some cases. These programs tend to attract students who may not have a clear destination in mind and seek the added career flexibility.

Types of Online Associate Degrees in Education

Prospective students may find it difficult to know which teaching degree to get when there are so many majors and specialization options. The following list offers a few available degrees.

This degree focuses on child development, along with assessment and classroom management strategies for young children. Graduates can pursue careers as preschool teachers, childcare workers, and teacher aides. They can also transfer into a bachelor's degree program and earn elementary teaching licensure. This degree provides teacher support training, often emphasizing in-demand roles such as tutoring, behavior management, and special needs support. These degrees can lead to careers as general paraprofessionals or special education paraprofessionals in classrooms of all age groups. It can also lead to a bachelor's degree or certification in the field. A degree in this discipline teaches students how children develop and how educators can create positive learning environments for young learners. The degree can lead to childcare positions or paraprofessional roles in classrooms. Graduates can also pursue bachelor's degrees for teaching licensure or management positions in childcare centers. A degree in secondary education emphasizes the development and learning behaviors of teenagers and young adults. This training can help graduates acquire careers as teaching assistants or teachers in some private schools. Graduates can also transfer into bachelor's degree programs to qualify for licensure and public school teaching positions

Why Get an Online Associate Degree in Education?

The biggest advantage to an associate degree in education online program is the flexibility. These programs introduce learners to the field and provide them with various postgraduate options without requiring a four-year commitment.

Though graduates with an associate degree in education may not qualify for licensure, they can work in entry-level education roles as teacher assistants, preschool teachers, or childcare workers.

Some teaching positions may be available at private schools since states do not require private school teachers to possess licensure. Students should check with their local private schools for job availability.

A bachelor's in education requires a four-year commitment, which can seem daunting — particularly for individuals looking to change careers. The associate degree in education offers a more accommodating pathway, consisting of two years of training with a heavy emphasis on general education.

This allows learners to test out the field, confirm their interests, and identify potential majors or specializations for the future.

Many students choose an associate degree in education as a stepping stone to a bachelor's degree. Associate degrees can offer more accessible admission requirements and more affordable tuition. After graduation, associate degree credits often transfer seamlessly into bachelor's programs. Many schools even offer direct pathways and 2+2 program options to make the process easier.

What to Expect in an Online Associate Degree in Education Program

Earning an associate degree in education online delivers the same content as traditional programs through different delivery methods. Online learners often choose between synchronous and asynchronous courses, though associate degree programs tend to offer more asynchronous options. While some programs may feature practicums and field experience classes, these are much more common at the bachelor's level.

Generally, associate degrees emphasize general education courses. Teaching-specific classes vary by program, but may include the following options:

  • Principles of education
  • Classroom management
  • Assessment strategies
  • Child development
  • Classroom technology

Choosing an Online Degree Program in Education

During their school and program research, prospective students need to make a list of their needs and interests. Tuition cost, admission requirements, location, and curriculum typically rank among the highest priorities. Choosing an online college requires learners to think about residency requirements, access to in-state tuition rates, and delivery formats.

Most importantly, applicants need to ensure their school has regional accreditation. Prospective learners should also make sure that their online associate degree in education holds accreditation with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Students can find other recognized accrediting bodies through the U.S. Department of Education.

What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Education?

Graduates with associate degrees in education can qualify for many careers. The following table looks at some popular options, along with their median annual wages.

Entry-Level Careers in Education
Career Median Annual Wage (2020)
Teaching Assistants $31,500
Teacher Assistants at Private Elementary and Secondary Schools $29,100
Teacher Assistants at Child Day Care Services $25,590
Childcare Workers $26,790
Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Questions About Associate Degrees in Education

Can You Be a Teacher With an Associate Degree?

Yes. Graduates with associate degrees in education can teach in preschool and childcare classrooms. They may also teach in some private schools. Only public schools require state-mandated licensure.

How Do I Become a Teacher if I Didn't Major in Education?

Some schools offer teacher training pathways for students in popular majors, such as English or mathematics. Graduates with degrees in other subjects can also complete teaching certificates to qualify.

Do You Need an Associate Degree to Get a Bachelor's?

No. Students can enter bachelor's programs directly without any prior undergraduate training. However, some degree completion programs may require a certain number of undergraduate credits for entry.

Can I Transfer My Associate Degree to a Bachelor's?

Yes. Graduates with an associate degree can usually transfer their credits into bachelor's programs. This can also lower the overall cost of a four-year education, as associate degree credits often cost less than bachelor's degree credits.

Portrait of Doug Wintemute

Doug Wintemute

Doug Wintemute is a Toronto-based freelance writer with professional writing interests in higher learning and entertainment. He completed his BA and MA in English at York University, graduating summa cum laude and earning academic merit, research, and writing awards at both levels. Since 2014, he has contributed content and editorial work for award-winning digital trade publications, global SEO copywriting projects, and hugely popular online brands. He can be contacted through LinkedIn.

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