Best Online Education Degrees 2021

| TBS Staff


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An online bachelor's degree in education prepares students for teaching roles in public and private K-12 settings.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for high school teachers to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029, amounting to approximately 40,200 new jobs. High school teachers made a median annual salary of $61,660 in 2019, and the top 10% of earners made more than $99,660 during the same timeframe.

This guide ranks the best online bachelor's in education programs to help students find the right programs for their needs. We also cover important information for prospective students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

Top 10 Online Bachelor's in Education
#1 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
#2 Brandman University Irvine, CA
#3 Arizona Christian University Glendale, AZ
#4 University of Washington Seattle, WA
#5 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN
#6 Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu, HI
#7 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD
#8 Biola University La Mirada, CA
#9 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
#10 Central Methodist University Fayette, MO

Featured Online Schools

Fort Hays State University View School Profile $$ Hays, KS 44% 39% 83% Fort Hays University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1902, FHSU charged its first class of 57 students only $5 tuition for the first semester. Today around 15,000 students attend.

The online bachelor of science in elementary education prepares graduates for elementary education licensure. Students complete 127 credits of coursework that incorporate hands-on experience, culminating in a student teaching role. Classes include educational psychology, human growth and development, and multiple internships in social studies, literacy, and science.

Applicants must apply in their second semester sophomore year and have at least a 2.75 GPA. Admission to student teaching also requires a national background check, TB test, and completion of all other major requirements.

Brandman University View School Profile Irvine, CA 47% 92% Brandman University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

Brandman University originally served military students. Today, the diverse student body of 13,000 includes both military and civilian students.

The bachelor of arts in early childhood education offers online and hybrid experiences. Prioritizing inclusivity, the 120-credit curriculum includes teaching dual language learners, child development, and social and emotional competence. The degree culminates in a capstone project.

Admission requirements include a minimum 2.0 GPA, official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, and a minimum of 12 baccalaureate-level credits (or equivalent).

Arizona Christian University View School Profile Glendale, AZ 45% 58% 5% Arizona Christian University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1960, ACU has grown from a small Bible college to a fully-accredited liberal arts institution. The private non-profit university now represents 24 different nations and more than 900 enrollees.

The online bachelor of science in elementary education offers a mentorship-rich environment with faculty averaging 20 years of field experience. Topics covered in the 120-credit degree include special education, teaching English language learners, and classroom management.

Applicants must affirm ACU's beliefs, have a minimum 2.5 high school GPA, and submit official transcripts.

University of Washington View School Profile $ Seattle, WA 84% 26% 9% The University of Washington is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Founded in 1861 as the Territorial University of Washington, the UW today educates 54,000 students each year.

The online bachelor of arts in early care and education can be accomplished in 2-3 years. The degree-completion program's notable service-learning courses provide hands-on experience in the field. Course topics include positive behavior support in early childhood, STEM skills for young children, and equity in early education.

Applicants must transfer a minimum of 45 credits from previous studies in education and show a minimum GPA of 2.0. Graduation requires completion of at least 180 credits in total.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College View School Profile Saint Mary of the Woods, IN 57% 70% 37% St. Mary-of-the-Woods College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1841 as a women's institution, SMWC ranks as Indiana's oldest Catholic college. Today both men and women attend.

The bachelor of science in education kindergarten - grade 6/mild intervention trains for dual licensure, equipping educators to also teach special education classrooms. The 82-credit curriculum covers topics such as music and movement, behavioral intervention, and STEM. The degree culminates in 12 credits of supervised teaching.

SMWC's holistic admissions approach makes test scores optional (except for merit scholarship applicants). Official transcripts are required. Foreign language study is recommended but not required.

Chaminade University of Honolulu View School Profile Honolulu, HI 59% 39% 52% Chaminade University of Honolulu is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

Founded in 1955, Chaminade emphasizes reason, faith, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving to develop "world citizens."

Chaminade's online bachelor of science in early childhood education offers two tracks: the standard degree and the Montessori credential path. The general track trains teachers for children ages 2.5-8 and features course topics like child development, language arts methods, and children's literature. The Montessori track equips students to teach ages 2.5-6. Course topics focus on Montessori methods and perspectives.

Applicants must have a 2.5 minimum GPA and submit official transcripts and a written statement.

South Dakota State University View School Profile $$$ Brookings, SD 56% 54% 38% South Dakota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1881 as an agricultural college, SDSU today boasts 80 different degree programs and 97 minors.

The bachelor of science in early education and care stands out for its seven-university collaboration in developing the program. The program equips students for careers in fields such as after-school education, child care, and preschool teaching. Courses cover topics such as child observation, assessment, and partnering with families and communities.

Students must submit high school transcripts and ACT scores. When applicable, SDSU also requests post-secondary transcripts.

Biola University View School Profile La Mirada, CA 73% 59% 33% Biola University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

Established in 1908 as the Bible College of Los Angeles, Biola received its current name in 1981. The university now spans nine distinct schools and more than 150 academic programs.

The bachelor of science in early childhood emphasizes Christ-based learning. Attainable in as few as 2 years, the 120-credit curriculum covers topics like psychology of marriage and family, spiritual formation for young children, and early childhood curriculum.

The university requires a minimum 3.0 GPA plus official transcripts, ACT or SAT scores (waived through 2021), and an essay.

University of Missouri-Columbia View School Profile $$$ Columbia, MO 69% 40% 31% The University of Missouri is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in 1839, Mizzou was the first public university to be founded east of the Mississippi. Today, the university boasts more than 30,000 students from all over the world.

Mizzou offers an online bachelor of science in human development and family science with an emphasis in early childhood education in a mobile society. The self-paced 120-credit program offers classes in areas such as child development, curriculum development, and health, safety, and nutrition.

Applicants from ranking high schools with minimum ACT scores of 24 or SAT scores above 1160 only need to show a 2.0 GPA to be eligible to apply. The lower the score, the higher the class rank must be for consideration. For non-ranking high schools, students with ACT/SAT scores under 24 and 1160 must have between a 2.8 and 3.65 GPA.

Central Methodist University View School Profile Fayette, MO 26% 55% Central Methodist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

CMU offers online degrees through its College of Graduate and Extended Studies, which has more than 4,000 students. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, CMU welcomes all faiths.

The online bachelor of science in elementary education provides concentrations in areas such as physical education, children's literature, and mathematics. The 120-credit program focuses on hands-on skills development as well as advanced degree preparation.

Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and a minimum 21 ACT score or 1050 SAT score plus official transcripts. Transfer students need either an associate degree or 24 credits from another college and a minimum 2.0 GPA plus transcripts.

East Carolina University View School Profile $$ Greenville, NC 65% 55% 45% East Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1880 as East Carolina Teachers Training School, ECU adopted its contemporary name in 1961. The university enrolls more than 21,000 students - including more than 10,000 online.

ECU offers two separate education programs. The practically-focused bachelors in birth through kindergarten teacher education program allows students to complete hands-on experience at schools or centers local to them. The online bachelors in family and consumer sciences education trains enrollees to teach a variety of subjects to middle and high school students.

All online applicants must be North Carolina residents. Certain courses require admittance to the upper division in teacher education. Upper-division admission requires a 2.7 minimum GPA.

Florida Gateway College View School Profile Lake City, FL 51% 13% 68% Florida Gateway College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Originally a forest ranger school, FGC was founded in 1961 as Lake City Junior College, a two-year-degree institution. In 2012, the college began its first four-year program, and today offers four bachelor's degrees.

The bachelor of science in early childhood education includes field experience and trains students to teach children from birth to age 8. Students create lesson plans, learn screening and assessment, and evaluate classroom management issues. Courses include language development, instructional practices, and positive behavioral supports in inclusive early childhood settings.

Applicants must have an associate of arts or science degree with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

North Greenville University View School Profile Tigerville, SC 54% 82% 9% North Greenville University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The private NGU offers a Christ-centered community that combines education with spiritual growth and service opportunities both on campus and beyond.

The adult and online elementary education degree offers a Christian perspective as it trains students in lesson planning, technology application, and art integration. The four-year online-hybrid program covers topics such as educational psychology, the exceptional learner, child development, and literature for children. Graduates come away with a personal website portfolio.

Applicants must submit high school transcripts. No test scores or minimum GPAs are specified.

Regent University View School Profile Virginia Beach, VA 59% 80% 91% Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1977, Regent opened with a class of only 77 students. In 2020, the school gave over 2,000 degrees at its 40th commencement ceremony.

The bachelor of science in early childhood education (non-licensure) offers a Christian perspective for those aiming to be preschool teachers or administrators. The 120-plus-credit program focuses on educating children from birth through age 8. Courses cover topics like ethics, program development, and students with disabilities.

Applicants must submit transcripts and a personal statement. Test scores are optional.

Midway University View School Profile Midway, KY 37% 66% 61% Midway University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Midway was originally founded as a school for orphaned girls in a time when women had few educational opportunities in Kentucky. Today the university offers a fully coeducational liberal arts environment.

The online bachelor of arts in elementary education equips teachers to educate children from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. At 120 credit hours, the degree offers courses such as multicultural education, social studies teaching methods, and technology in the educational setting.

Admission requires a 2.5 minimum GPA and a minimum 18 ACT score (optional for fall 2021).

Online Bachelor's in Education Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked the following online bachelor of education programs based on quality, curricula, faculty strength, school awards, rankings, and reputation, including the school's reputation for providing online degree programs.

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.

Choosing an Online Bachelor's Degree in Education

When researching online education degree programs, students should consider several factors, such as program cost, transfer policies, and on-campus requirements. We cover several important considerations for prospective students below.

  • Program Cost: Typically, public schools cost less than private schools, and in-state students pay less than out-of-state students. However, many schools allow all online students to pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.
  • Transfer Policies: Many schools offer transfer credit for prior academic, professional, and military experience, which often saves time and money on a degree.
  • School Size and Type: A school's size and type can affect factors like class sizes, tuition rates, and student engagement. For example, a small, private school may have higher tuition rates but also offer more one-on-one attention from faculty than a larger public school.
  • Program Length: Most programs take four years of full-time study to complete, but some schools offer accelerated programs that allow students to graduate in 2-3 years.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Many bachelor's in education programs exist completely online, while others require learners to visit campus for in-person components. Students should ensure they can meet all on-campus requirements before committing to a program.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: Nearly all bachelor's in education programs require a student-teaching practicum. Students should choose a program with practicum opportunities aligned with their interests and goals.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Education Program?

Students pursuing an online bachelor's in education develop knowledge and skills in lesson planning and classroom management. They also learn how to work with exceptional students, support diverse classrooms, and develop innovative instructional methods.

Many bachelor's in education programs offer concentrations in areas like elementary education, secondary education, special education, and science education. Students should ensure their prospective programs offer concentrations aligned with their goals and interests.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Education Curriculum

  • Child Development: Child development classes examine the principles of human growth and development and how they affect learning. The curriculum focuses on development from conception through adolescence, exploring aspects of cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development.
  • Literacy: This course teaches students how to provide literacy instruction across grade levels. Students learn about developmental processes associated with literacy and reading while building knowledge and skills in effective instruction methods.
  • Subject-Specific Curricula: Subject-specific courses prepare students to instruct a particular subject, such as math, English, or social studies. These classes vary based on the student's intended content area.
  • Theories of Learning: This class examines the various theories and methodologies related to different learning modalities. Students learn when to use different methods and how to determine what strategy is best for a particular class or pupil.
  • Instructional Methods: This course explores teaching and assessment methods, teaching students how to make informed decisions about leading their classrooms and educating pupils.

Bachelor's in Education Licensing and Certification

All states require teachers in K-12 public schools to hold licensure. Licensure requirements vary by state, but all states require a minimum number of student-teaching hours under the supervision of a licensed teacher. Students in a bachelor's in education program usually complete around one semester's worth of student-teaching, gaining practical experience in the field.

Licensure candidates must also pass exams. Exam requirements vary by state, but the Praxis exam and the edTPA are common requirements. Depending on grade level and intended content area, some prospective teachers may also need to pass skills tests or subject area exams.

If a teacher receives licensure in one state but wants to move to a different one, they must meet all of the new state's licensure requirements. Many boards of education provide state reciprocity — making it easier and faster for educators to earn licensure in a new state — but not all, so it's best to check with your local state board.

Teaching Jobs

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in education can pursue teaching jobs in public and private schools. They can work as elementary, middle, and high school teachers. With further study through a master's degree, graduates can also assume administrative education roles. Doctoral graduates can pursue research and faculty positions at colleges and universities. Learn more about the spectrum of education degrees through The Best Schools guide.

Elementary School Teachers
Median Annual Salary: $59,420 Projected Job Growth: 4%

Elementary educators typically work with K-6 students, ensuring they understand the fundamentals of basic subjects before moving to middle school. These teachers create and deliver lesson plans, teach students how to interact with their peers, provide evaluations, and communicate with parents and guardians about their child's progress. Elementary teachers need at least a bachelor's degree. Those who want to work in public schools also need licensure.

High School Teachers
Median Annual Salary: $61,660 Projected Job Growth: 4%

High school teachers instruct 9-12-grade students. They provide instruction in specific content areas, administer assignments and grades, and help learners prepare for standardized tests. They may also write letters of recommendation for students applying to college. Like elementary school teachers, high school educators need a bachelor's degree at minimum. They also need a teaching license if they work in a public school.

Middle School Teachers
Median Annual Salary: $59,660 Projected Job Growth: 4%

Middle school teachers typically work with students in grades 6-8. They create lesson plans, collaborate with other teachers and administrators on issues around student success, prepare learners for standardized tests, and communicate with parents. Middle school educators need at least a bachelor's degree. They also need a license when teaching in a public school.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Education Degrees

Students should only consider accredited schools. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to faculty qualifications, academic rigor, and student learning outcomes. Only students at accredited schools can receive federal financial aid, and many schools only accept transfer credits and degrees from accredited institutions. Additionally, many employers prefer to hire candidates with an accredited degree.

Schools may receive regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions, while national accreditation applies to for-profit, vocational, and technical schools. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two.

Programs within a school, such as business, social work, and education programs, may also receive accreditation. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation accredits teaching programs. Students can verify a school's accreditation status through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Professional Organizations for Education

Education students and professionals can take advantage of professional organizations. The following organizations offer benefits such as professional development, continuing education, and networking opportunities.

AAE is the largest nonunion education association in the country. Members have access to scholarships and grants, in-house publications, state chapters and partners, and other professional resources.

Designed to support professionals in charge of K-6 schools, NAESP provides local and national advocacy efforts, a skills-learning center, leadership initiatives, and online webinars. The group also engages in education research and hosts an annual conference.

NEA is the largest teacher union in the U.S., maintaining state and city chapters across the nation. The group provides advocacy for educators, an online book share library, online lesson plans and teaching resources, and ideas for classroom activities. Members can sign up for the NEA newsletter and take advantage of professional benefits and discounts.

AFT represents 1.7 million education professionals across 3,000 local affiliate groups nationwide. The group represents both K-12 and postsecondary teachers and administrators alongside government employees, nurses, and healthcare professionals. AFT provides community engagement and political activism opportunities.

The U.S. Department of Education oversees K-12 and postsecondary institutions and sets national regulations. The federal department oversees government-funded student loans and grants and collects data about the state of American education. The department also oversees college accreditation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Education?

A bachelor's degree in education typically takes four years of full-time study to complete.

Is It a BA or a BS in Education?

Students can earn a BA or a BS in education. BA programs focus more on liberal arts, while BS programs focus more on the sciences.

What Bachelor's Degree Should I Get to Become a Teacher?

Students interested in liberal arts topics should choose a BA program, while learners interested in STEM topics should select a BS program.

How Much Is a Bachelor's Degree in Education?

The cost of a bachelor's degree in education depends on several factors, such as type of school, residency requirements, and transfer policies.

Can I Teach Without a Teaching Degree?

Many states provide alternative paths to teaching certification for individuals with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated subject.

Can You Become a Teacher With an Online Degree?

Yes, as long as the degree comes from an accredited school.

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