Best Online Associate in Education 2021
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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
Online Associate in Education Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
|Career||Median Annual Wage (2020)|
|Teacher Assistants at Private Elementary and Secondary Schools||$29,100|
|Teacher Assistants at Child Day Care Services||$25,590|
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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