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An online associate degree in elementary education prepares you to work with children 10 and under in a variety of settings, including preschools and elementary schools, childcare centers, and after-school programs. Additionally, credits earned in an online associate degree seamlessly transfer into a bachelor’s program, opening up further career opportunities.

Job prospects in the field of early and elementary education are excellent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% rise in employment for preschool teachers between 2016 and 2026.

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Online Associate in Elementary 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%

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The Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Degree Programs

#1 The Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

Northeast Community College

  • Norfolk, NE
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Northeast Community College supports 13 online associate programs from its main campus in Norfolk, Nebraska. Enrollees pursuing an associate in elementary education benefit from a robust course curriculum, preparing them for the field's demands. Students can transfer their course credits to a four-year college in pursuit of a bachelor's degree or other educational endeavors.

During their studies, degree candidates can access career services, academic advising, and other resources. They can also access virtual library services and academic tutoring.

Degree-seekers can expect to receive an average of $4,456 in financial aid. The college notes that 90% of all students receive financial aid awards, with 21% receiving loans.

Northeast Community College at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 2-year

Location: Norfolk, Nebraska

Admission Rate: Data not available

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $2,970

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $4,170

Transfer Credit Accepted: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,970
Out-of-state
$4,170
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
5,258
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 The Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

Cowley County Community College

  • Arkansas City, KS
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cowley County Community College hosts an online associate in elementary and early childhood education. Enrollees gain industry-relevant knowledge and skills, preparing them for the demands of a career. Associate graduates can apply their earned credits toward a bachelor's degree, certificates, and educational credentials.

The college connects students with resources such as academic advising and career resources. Distance learners can connect with virtual library services, academic tutoring, and other resources.

The college reports that the average student's financial aid award package is $4,836. Learners can explore numerous funding options, with 100% of enrollees receiving some form of financial aid and 27% using student loans.

Cowley County Community College at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 2-year

Location: Arkansas City, Kansas

Admission Rate: Data not available

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $2,040

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $3,480

Transfer Credit Accepted: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,040
Out-of-state
$3,480
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,463
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 The Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

Northwest Mississippi Community College

  • Senatobia, MS
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Northwest Mississippi Community College, located in Senatobia, boasts five online associate programs, including its highly ranked associate in elementary education. Degree-seekers gain industry-relevant knowledge and skills, preparing them for the demands of a career. After graduation, students can apply their college credits toward a bachelor's degree or other educational endeavors.

The college connects students with resources such as academic advising and career resources. Other institutional resources include virtual library services and academic tutoring.

On average, learners receive $4,637 in financial aid. The college notes that 91% of all students receive financial aid awards, with 13% receiving loans.

Northwest Mississippi Community College at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 2-year

Location: Senatobia, Mississippi

Admission Rate: Data not available

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 22-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,000

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $3,000

Transfer Credit Accepted: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,000
Out-of-state
$3,000
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
7,537
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 The Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

Community College of Aurora

  • Aurora, CO
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Distance learners looking for a flexible online associate degree should consider Community College of Aurora. Students pursuing the associate in elementary teacher education benefit from a rigorous core curriculum, industry-relevant coursework, and experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can transfer their course credits to a four-year college in pursuit of a bachelor's degree or other educational endeavors.

The college prioritizes student success through career services, academic advising, and other resources. Distance learners benefit from virtual library services, academic tutoring, and other resources.

Typically, students receive $5,547 in financial aid. The institution reports that 68% of all enrollees receive financial aid and 13% use student loans.

Community College of Aurora at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 2-year

Location: Aurora, Colorado

Admission Rate: Data not available

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 26-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,574

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $14,662

Transfer Credit Accepted: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,574
Out-of-state
$14,662
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
8,597
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 The Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

Front Range Community College

  • Westminster, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Front Range Community College, a public college in Westminster, Colorado, offers an online associate in elementary education. Enrollees gain foundational knowledge and skills relevant to the field through coursework and experiential learning opportunities. Students can pursue further study, such as a bachelor's degree, and apply their college credits toward a four-year institution.

Degree-seekers can access career services, academic advising, and other support during their studies. Distance learners can further benefit from virtual services such as library access, writing workshops, and other academic tutoring.

The college reports that the average student's financial aid award package is $6,547. The college reports that 67% of learners receive financial aid, with 20% using student loans.

Front Range Community College at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Location: Westminster, Colorado

Admission Rate: Data not available

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,574

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $14,662

Transfer Credit Accepted: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,574
Out-of-state
$14,662
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
19,283
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Choosing an Online Associate in Elementary Education Program

Online associate degrees in elementary education include general education requirements in subjects such as math, science, literature, and history. These courses not only fulfill undergraduate degree requirements, they also give elementary teachers the basic subject matter knowledge needed to create lessons and activities for young children. Also, elementary education programs typically require introductory courses in professional education and educational psychology. These courses help teachers understand their role in the classroom and how young children learn and behave, given their developmental stage.

Associate in elementary education programs differ in the electives and concentrations they offer. Electives such as health and physical education, art, music, theater, and technology prepare future teachers to integrate these subjects into their everyday work with young children or begin to specialize in teaching these particular subjects. Similarly, courses in special education or diversity prepare teachers to work with students from varied backgrounds and sometimes with special needs, while also introducing them to a field they may choose to specialize in someday.

Online associate in elementary education programs may require hands-on field experience. Those not already working in an educational setting may be placed in a school to complete a practicum. Other programs may require students to complete a portfolio or capstone project that demonstrates an ability to apply classroom learning to practical situations.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Elementary Education Program?

Online associate degrees in elementary education require general education courses plus coursework in education, psychology, technology, diversity, and special subjects including art, music, theater, and physical education. Specific course requirements vary by school. See sample courses below.

Curriculum for an Online Associate in Elementary Education Program

  • Introduction to American Education:
    This foundational course introduces the history and structure of the U.S. educational system. Participants explore the changing role of schools and teachers in American society, educational reform movements, and popular educational theories and practices. This course helps participants explore teaching as a career option.
  • Child Psychology:
    This psychology course introduces the study of human development over the lifespan, with particular emphasis on childhood. Participants learn relevant psychological theories and how they apply to child development, learning, and behavior. This course explains cognitive and social developmental milestones so teachers can recognize these changes in their students.
  • Children’s Literature:
    Books and stories play an essential role in early childhood education. This course introduces participants to trends, authors, and genres in literature for young children. Participants learn strategies for selecting appropriate literature and also presentation techniques and strategies that work best with children.
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Careers with an Online Associate in Elementary Education Degree

An online associate degree in elementary education prepares you to care for and teach young children in a variety of settings. With this degree, you can work as a teacher’s aide in an elementary school, or as a preschool teacher or childcare worker. Associate degree holders also transfer into four-year bachelor’s programs.

  1. Preschool Teacher:
    These teachers care for children age five and under in public and private schools and childcare centers. They teach basic academic and social skills, develop age-appropriate routines, and inform caregivers about development. Most preschools require teachers to hold at least an associate degree, while some prefer a bachelor’s.
    • Median Annual Salary: $28,990
    • Projected Growth Rate: 10%
  2. Teacher Assistant:
    These classroom aides assist elementary teachers with daily activities and give students individual attention as needed. They help teachers by reinforcing lessons and routines, creating or setting up materials needed for lessons, keeping records, and supervising students as they move to different locations within the school.
    • Median Annual Salary: $26,260
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
  3. Childcare Worker:
    Childcare workers care for children who have not yet entered school in childcare or daycare facilities, private homes, or even in their own homes. They ensure that children’s basic needs are met and supervise activities such as eating, sleeping, and playing. Educational requirements for this position vary by employer and state.
    • Median Annual Salary: $22,290
    • Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Educational Paths for Online Elementary Education Associate Programs

Many who complete an associate degree in elementary education eventually transfer into bachelor’s programs because they hope to become teachers. While you can work as a teacher’s aide with only an associate degree, all states require certified teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree. With an average annual salary of $56,900, elementary school teachers earn twice as much as teacher’s aides.

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