The 14 Best Online Associate in Education Programs

| TBS Staff

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If you're interested in a teaching career, earning an associate degree in education online is a great way to get started. An aging U.S. population continues to impact many industries, and education is no exception. As the number of U.S. retirees continues to increase, so does the demand for new teachers to replace them. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for pre–K through grade 12 teachers is projected to grow by 7–10% over the next 10 years. The profession is also known for offering steady employment. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 80% of public school teachers with 1–3 years of experience remained employed at the same school.

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While faculty staffing at public schools often depends on state and local government budgets, the BLS projects that enrollment at elementary, middle, and secondary will increase in the coming decade. According to the BLS, private schools and charter schools will also drive job creation and overall growth.

Best Online Associate in Education Programs
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Online Associate in Education Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as 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.

The Best Online Associate in Education Degree Programs

Southwestern Assemblies of God University View School Profile Waxahachie, TX Southwestern Assemblies of God University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).

Founded in 1943, SAGU is based on a 70-acre campus in Waxahachie, Texas. The university offers a fully online associate degree in education that emphasizes instructional technology and the foundations of education through coursework in psychology and child development. The program requires 60 hours, including 14 general education hours, 12 hours in the behavioral sciences, and seven hours in the natural sciences and mathematics. SAGU is a Christian university and requires 12 hours of Bible coursework.

Applicants hold a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA and must submit ACT or SAT scores. SAGU requires students to provide a Christian character reference and evidence of a spiritual experience. Transfer applicants do not need to submit ACT or SAT scores. Students have access to job training at the career center and online counseling services. Employed teachers may be eligible for a teacher enhancement grant.

Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).

Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty offers an associate of arts in education in an asynchronous format. The online associate degree in education provides foundational knowledge in behavior and development, and the curriculum covers a variety of academic theories and teaching methodologies.

Learners study lesson plans and current trends in public and private childcare facilities. Required courses include communication, technology, Christian life, and information literacy. Students complete at least 21 hours in general education and educational theories courses. The 60-hour program requires no practicum, and transfer students may apply up to 45 hours toward the degree. The program follows eight-week terms, and students access online courses through Blackboard.

Liberty offers financial benefits -- including reduced tuition rates, application fee waivers, and textbook stipends -- for service members and their spouses, DOD employees, and emergency response workers. Liberty awards credit for military training. Applicants must submit previous transcripts.

Granite State College View School Profile Concord, NH Granite State College is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

Located in Concord, New Hampshire, GSC offers inclusive admission requirements and a rolling admission process that is ideal for transfer students. GSC's online associate of arts in general studies with an education concentration provides a pathway to a paraeducator certification. The 60-credit curriculum includes general education requirements such as writing, math, and social psychology coursework. Students earning the associate degree in education gain knowledge in child development and educational theories. Transfer students can apply up to 44 previous credits toward the degree.

Students have access to career counseling, digital libraries, and research assistance. GSC also offers disability services and an alumni association. GSC admits any applicant with a high school diploma or its equivalent and offers prior learning credit for life experience, military training, and work experience. GSC offers discounted tuition rates for veterans and military members.

State Fair Community College View School Profile Sedalia, MO State Fair Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Based in Sedalia, Missouri, SFCC enrolls more than 2,000 online students. The college offers an associate of arts in teaching that requires 66.5 credits. The program is available fully online, with the exception of a 30-hour classroom practicum and optional in-person meetings with instructors. The associate degree in education requires general education coursework and major classes in areas such as technology for teachers.

Service members and their dependents qualify for in-district tuition rates. SFCC accommodates disabilities by providing extended test times, alternate testing environments, and Braille texts. Missouri residents older than 65 can enroll free of charge in courses that did not reach maximum capacity. The college accepts transfer credit, but students must earn at least 15 credits through SFCC. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or its equivalent and must submit ACT scores. Applicants must submit to a background check. SFCC accepts applications through the first week of each semester.

Hagerstown Community College View School Profile Hagerstown, MD Hagerstown Community College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).

Located on 319 acres in Maryland, HCC offers an associate of science in education designed for students planning to transfer to a four-year institution or pursue elementary teaching certification. Students earning the associate degree in education online typically graduate in two years.

HCC students take English and mathematics courses during their first semester. The curriculum also includes coursework in special education, race and ethnic relations in the U.S., educational psychology, and early childhood education. HCC delivers online coursework through Moodle.

Online students receive help securing internships, and student advisors assist with course selection and career planning. HCC awards credit for prior learning, such as industry certifications and advanced placement exams. Online students have access to research services and multimedia resources. HCC students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA. HCC accepts transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions.

Lone Star College System View School Profile The Woodlands, TX Lone Star College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).

Based in The Woodlands, Texas, LSC offers an affordable, 60-credit associate of arts in teaching degree. The two-year program requires one summer semester and fulfills the core requirements of most bachelor's in teaching programs. LSC maintains articulation agreements with four-year universities, which include easy transfer processes, tuition discounts, and waived application fees for its graduates.

LSC’s associate degree in education requires some field-based courses in elementary classrooms. Along with observation and student-teaching requirements, the associate degree includes coursework in special populations and world regional geography. Students can fulfill the English requirement through a course in children’s literature. Per state guidelines, the program requires coursework in Texas government.

LSC provides online services including access to an academic advisor, a student success center, counseling, career services, libraries, and research assistance. Disability services include ASL interpreting and online captioning for lectures.

Tyler Junior College View School Profile Tyler, TX Tyler Junior College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).

TJC is one of the largest two-year colleges in Texas. The college offers an associate of arts in teaching that fulfils the first two years of requirements for a bachelor’s degree in teaching elementary school, middle school, or special education. The primarily online associate degree in education requires 60 credits, including 44 core credits and 16 major credits. Students take courses in art appreciation, Texas history, and public speaking. The program does require in-person classroom experience.

New students complete an orientation exploring student services, tutoring access, and the Canvas learning management system. TJC offers career guidance, and the college's alumni association publishes magazines and alumni newsletters. TJC provides 150 hours of free tuition for Texas veterans and their dependents.

Applicants must submit to a background check. TJC does not require an application fee. Applicants must submit transcripts, proof of a meningitis vaccine, and Texas Success Initiative Assessment scores.

Lehigh Carbon Community College View School Profile Schnecksville, PA Lehigh Carbon Community College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).

Founded in 1966 in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, LCCC offers two-year degrees, workforce training, and specialized diploma programs. LCCC enrolls more than six thousand students, including more than a thousand dual enrolled high school students.

Students in LCCC's online associate of arts in education earn credits that transfer easily to four-year teaching programs. The curriculum includes coursework in educational theory and incorporates more than 60 hours of classroom observation time. Students also complete coursework in mathematics and literature.

LCCC's accessible admission process does not require standardized test scores. Applicants to the online associate degree in education program must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. LCCC accepts applications on a rolling basis. The college awards credit for military and life experience. LCCC matches transfer students to advisors with expertise in the student's field. Online students have access to services including tutoring and digital libraries. Students receive excess financial aid in the form of bookstore vouchers.

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

Located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, LCCC offers 76 associate degree programs, including an associate of arts in education that includes asynchronous online instruction and classroom observation experience.

The 61-credit online associate degree in education offers concentrations in early childhood education, elementary education, and grades 7–12. The program trains future educators to recognize diverse learning styles and utilize age-appropriate teaching strategies. The curriculum requires courses in human lifespan development, educational psychology, and world geography. Students learn practical teaching techniques during a public school practicum. Prerequisites include courses in English, reading, and writing.

LCCC provides online student services including academic advising, disability accommodations, IT support, and counseling. The college accepts transfer credit from regionally accredited institutions. Applications are due at least two weeks before the start of the semester. The college bases math, reading, and writing placement on the applicant's ACT scores, cumulative GPA, or placement exam. Applicants must submit to a background check.

Southern Arkansas University Tech View School Profile Camden, AR Southern Arkansas University Tech is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

SAU Tech, a public community college founded in 1967, offers an associate of science in teacher education. The 61-credit teacher education program helps students develop their own educational philosophy and provides practical tools for future public school educators.

The asynchronous, fully online curriculum includes coursework in American government, state history, and art appreciation. Major courses include educational technology, math for teachers, and Praxis preparation. The associate degree in education also requires courses in college algebra, writing, and child growth and development. SAU Tech delivers online courses through BrightSpace.

SAU Tech's low student-to-teacher ratio allows instructors to provide students with individualized attention. Online students have access to free tutoring, counseling, mentoring programs, and research assistance. The student success center provides career assessment testing and job placement services. Applicants must provide proof of MMR vaccinations.

Panola College View School Profile Carthage, TX Panola College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).

Founded in 1947 in Carthage, Texas, Panola offers an online associate of arts in teaching that qualifies graduates to work as paraprofessional educators in Texas and fulfills the first two years of a bachelor’s degree in teaching.

Teaching students choose from two concentrations; the first prepares learners to teach general subjects and special education in grades K–8, and the second trains learners to teach specific subjects in grades 6–12 and all levels of special education. Students pursuing the first concentration take courses in stars and galaxies, general biology, and physical geography. Students in the second concentration complete a general core curriculum and focus on the subject they plan to teach. Core courses include U.S. history and the federal government, along with electives in arts and behavioral sciences.

Students access all course materials online through Canvas. Panola provides financial aid, individual tutoring, and research assistance. Students can earn credit through examinations and ACT scores. Applicants must submit TSI scores, high school transcripts, and proof of a meningitis vaccination.

Arkansas Northeastern College View School Profile Blytheville, AR Arkansas Northeastern College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Based in Blytheville, ANC has five campuses throughout Arkansas and boasts small class sizes and affordable tuition rates. The college offers a 65-credit associate of science in education that prepares students to pursue bachelor's degrees in teaching.

The program includes courses such as math for teachers and a survey of the exceptional child. Students complete general education courses necessary to transfer to a four-year institution. Students may test out of core curriculum requirements through ACT, SAT, COMPASS, or Accuplacer scores.

ANC offers low-cost or free childcare, and the advising center provides academic and career counseling. A student-led organization provides peer mentoring, and veteran affairs representatives help military students apply for financial benefits. ANC offers community education through noncredit courses for adults and children. Applicants must attain passing scores on the Praxis reading, math, and writing tests and must have at least a 2.7 GPA.

Arizona Western College View School Profile Yuma, AZ Arizona Western College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Based in Yuma, AWC enrolls more than 12,000 students annually. Established in 1960, the college offers associate of arts degrees in elementary and secondary education. Both programs require 64 credits and include a classroom practicum.

Students in the elementary education program take courses including math for elementary school teachers, cultural diversity in education, and children’s literature. The curriculum also includes courses in lesson planning and classroom management. Students pursuing the secondary education degree take courses in special education and child growth and development. Because secondary educators typically teach a specific subject, the secondary education program allows greater customization through electives such as public speaking, substitute teaching, and biology. AWC offers the online associate degree in education programs primarily asynchronously.

AWC accepts transfer credits from regionally accredited schools. High school students pay discounted tuition rates. AWC offers tuition assistance for active service members. Along with Arizona residents, California residents pay in-state tuition rates. Online students have access to resources including career services and a health and wellness center. AWC admits all applicants who are older than 18 and hold a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Where can an Online Associate Degree in Education Take Me?

An online associate degree in education can help kickstart your teaching career, but schools at the elementary level and beyond require require at least a bachelor's degree to teach students. Additionally, public school teachers must be state certified, which usually requires an undergraduate degree. While certification isn't required to teach in private schools, most prefer candidates with a four-year degree in education or a specific subject, such as math, science, or English.

  1. Bachelor of Education: A general bachelor's in education prepares graduates for a career in teaching, covering basic concepts such as lesson planning and curriculum development. Those who wish to teach a specific subject, such as math or history, must seek an additional degree in that discipline.
  2. Bachelor of Arts in English: This degree is designed for those who wish to teach English at the middle or secondary level. Core courses address common instructional methods, with a focus on teaching students from diverse cultural backgrounds and in different educational settings.
  3. Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood: Sought by prospective pre-K and elementary teachers, this degree focuses on early academic, social, and cognitive development. Its curriculum centers upon theories and methods used to instruct, encourage, and inspire young children while building fundamental skills.
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