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

Allen County Community College true View School Profile $ Iola, KS 38% 12% 75% Allen County Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Volunteer State Community College true View School Profile $ Gallatin, TN 23% 12% 44% Volunteer State Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Northeast State Community College true View School Profile $ Blountville, TN 29% 28% Northeast State Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology true View School Profile $ Okmulgee, OK 36% 47% 49% Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

College of Southern Idaho true View School Profile $ Twin Falls, ID 27% 10% 33% The College of Southern Idaho is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

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.

National Park College View School Profile $ Hot Springs, AR 24% 34% 49% National Park College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Laramie County Community College View School Profile $ Cheyenne, WY 28% 28% 39% Laramie County Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Highland Community College View School Profile $ Highland, KS 35% 25% 43% Highland Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

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.

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus View School Profile $$$$ Cincinnati, OH 68% 46% 45% The University of Cincinnati is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Casper College View School Profile $ Casper, WY 37% 18% 42% Casper College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Campbell University View School Profile Buies Creek, NC 53% 72% 20% Campbell University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Campbell boasts more than 150 programs and 10 academic divisions. A private institution, it was founded in 1887 and has 6,000 students.

This associate degree in education is delivered 100% online. Students must complete 62 credits. The general education core comprises courses related to academic writing, math, an introduction to Christianity, and lifetime wellness.

Applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA. They may also present their SAT and ACT scores. If an applicant has a GED or high school diploma and does not have a SAT or ACT score, they must conduct an English and math assessment test.

Eastern Gateway Community College View School Profile Steubenville, OH 14% 7% 98% Eastern Gateway Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

EGCC boats more than 35 programs. It has catered to the educational needs of 59,000 learners since 1968.

This associate of arts in teacher education enables students to successfully transition to a bachelor's degree in middle childhood, early childhood, intervention specialist, or secondary education programs. Each is accredited by the Ohio Department of Education.

EGCC's associate degree in education comprises 63 credits. Some of the coursework includes general psychology, social behavioral science, and an introduction to sociology. Students can also choose a foreign language or humanities as one of their electives. Courses span over four semesters.

Tulsa Community College View School Profile $ Tulsa, OK 18% 22% 40% Tulsa Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

TCC offers 121 certificate and degree programs. Students who attended Tulsa County High School may attend TCC for free.

TCC offers students a range of associate degree programs in child development and education. Students can choose an AS in early childhood education, an AAS in early childhood education, or an AS in family and community. Programs are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

For the AS in early childhood education, students must complete 62 credits. Students must complete a four-hour lab math project in their first semester. Other required coursework relates to quantitative reasoning, geometry and measurement, the nature of science, and elementary statistics.

Hagerstown Community College View School Profile $ Hagerstown, MD 32% 27% 39% Hagerstown Community College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

HCC enrolls more than 5,000 credit students per year. It also boasts more than 20 student organizations.

HCC offers a range of associate degrees in education. The AS in education comprises 60 credits. Core coursework here includes English composition, diversity, biology or physical science, and an introduction to special education.

Its AAS degree in early childhood or primary grades education has 60 credits too. Some of its program requirements includes courses on the foundations of early childhood education, children's literature, educational psychology, and child care center administration and management.

Pima Community College View School Profile Tucson, AZ 18% 10% 31% Pima Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Pima was founded in 1966. It boasts over 144 programs, and provides both online and traditional delivery formats.

The associate degree in education can be completed 100% online. Students who opt for the AA program acquire a good background in elementary education. They are then able to transfer their credits toward a bachelor's and eventual master's degree in elementary education.

Applicants need to provide their high school diploma with official transcripts. If they do not have transcripts, they should provide their GED score. Applicants also need to conduct an admission placement test.

Miami University-Middletown View School Profile $$ Middletown, OH 28% 37% 60% Miami University - Middletown is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

MU Regionals started offering classes to Middletown and Hamilton students in 1946. It has grown since, and currently sports five academic centers.

The online associate degree in education here has 63 credits. Graduates may then transfer their credits toward a bachelor of science degree in ECE or a bachelor's in integrative studies.

Some of the core courses for this degree includes family school and community connections, infant and toddler caregiving and supervision, composition and rhetoric, and the foundations of reading, language, and literacy. Applicants must conduct an online orientation before registration.

Tyler Junior College View School Profile $ Tyler, TX 19% 30% 75% Tyler Junior College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

TJC teaches over 13,000 students each year. It boasts 50,000 graduates, and offers more than 115 certificate and degree programs.

This AAT degree lets students transfer credits obtained here toward a bachelor's degree. Students must complete 60 credits. Core courses amount to 44 credits and major courses have 16 credits. The program is taken over four semesters.

Some of the core curriculum coursework includes business and professional communication, elementary statistical methods, plane trigonometry, and general botany. The delivery format is online with some in-person requirements, as students must conduct a field-based project.

National University View School Profile La Jolla, CA 36% 36% 61% National University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

NU offers more than 75 programs. This private institution was established in 1971.

This associate degree has its major in general education. Some of the learning objectives here is for students to work as a team. Students are also taught how to apply information literacy skills, and act responsibly in diverse environments.

The program has a range of concentrations. Students must complete courses in mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning, arts, humanities, and language, and information literacy. Each class takes four weeks to complete.

Houston Community College View School Profile $ Houston, TX 20% 19% 38% Houston Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

HCC was established in 1971 and re-structured as a multi-college institution in 1992. It boasts services such as academic support, health and safety, and career planning.

Students who register for this associate degree in education may transfer their credits to a bachelor's degree. They are also then able to apply for the initial Texas teacher certification.

Students must complete a minimum of 60 credits to obtain this degree. Applicants who have another associate degree elsewhere, must have attained a minimum 2.0 GPA on 60 semester hours for that degree.

Community College of Allegheny County View School Profile $ Pittsburgh, PA 15% 22% 36% Community College of Allegheny County is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

CCAC was founded in 1966. It provides close to 160 academic programs with an average class size of 16.

Students applying for this online associate degree in education must have clearance such as a criminal history clearance and FBI fingerprint clearance. Students must complete a minimum of 60 credits to graduate.

Courses are conducted over four semesters. Some first and second semester courses include the foundations of middle level and secondary education, an introduction to psychology, and political science. Third and fourth semester courses include educational and assistive technology and world geography.

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.

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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