The 10 Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

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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.

 

The Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Degree Programs

1
Shoreline Community College
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4

Cowley County Community College 

Arkansas City, KS

About this school

Serving more than 4,500 students from its main campus in Arkansas City, Kansas, Cowley also operates several satellite locations and a large online program. The school's associate of arts in elementary education fulfills the first half of the bachelor's degree and emphasizes best pedagogical practices and curriculum construction. Cowley holds transfer agreements with many Kansas colleges and leads seamlessly into programs at Fort Hays State University, Wichita State University, the University of Kansas, and several other institutions. Academic advisors work with students to determine the best course selections based on potential transfer schools.

The degree requires a total of 65 credits, divided between 39 credits of general education and 26 credits of pathway electives. The general education core builds fundamental knowledge in composition and communication, humanities, social sciences, laboratory sciences, and computer literacy. Cowley often suggests certain electives for education majors; for instance, general psychology and principles of sociology may be suggested to fulfill social science requirements.

The 26 credits for the pathway electives focus on general teaching skills with courses including children and adolescent literature, elementary art methods, and human growth and development. Candidates will also complete a three-credit introduction to teaching field experience, which requires 25 hours of fieldwork in an approved education setting. The field experience gives students a practical perspective on elementary education, encouraging participants to apply class learning to professional practice.

5

Northwest Mississippi Community College 

Senatobia, MS

About this school

Based in the northern Mississippi town of Senatobia, NWCC operates multiple satellite campuses and an online program to serve thousands of students around the region. The college's associate of arts in elementary education builds fundamental academic and pedagogical skills, preparing students to transfer and complete their coursework at a four-year college. This flexible online program serves the needs of working students and allows them to maintain full-time employment during their studies. NWCC also hosts an assortment of online resources for distance students, including library services and academic counseling.

The associate degree in elementary education requires 62 total credits and develops general knowledge in topics including composition, geography, and education practices. Students select from three concentrations depending on teaching interests: English, math, or natural sciences. The English and math concentrations require 12 credits, while the science concentration requires 16 credits.

Each concentration track offers several elective options to fulfill course requirements. For example, students in the English concentration can choose from courses in American literature, British literature, and world literature. All courses use a fully online, asynchronous format that enables distance learners to complete their work at any time of the day. However, while courses do not require set login times, candidates must still complete weekly assignments with scheduled deadlines. With full-time study, most candidates complete the associate program in two years.

6

Pima Community College 

Tucson, AZ

About this school

Based in Tucson, Arizona, PCC ranks as one of the largest community college systems in the country, serving more than 75,000 credit and non-credit students annually. The college operates six campus locations around Pima County, along with several education centers and a sizeable distance education program.

Students in the associate of arts in elementary education program complete a total of 60 credits, including six credits of composition, six credits of education core courses, and 48 credits of required support courses. The education core consists of two courses: introduction to education and relationships in classroom settings. Support courses build foundational knowledge in a variety of topics, such as history, science, and mathematics for elementary school teachers. Unique among most community colleges, PCC requires elementary education students to complete a three-credit course in national and state constitutions and 16 credits of foreign language courses. This associate program serves as a transfer degree and prepares students for a bachelor's in elementary education.

For students interested in entering the workforce immediately upon graduation, PCC offers an associate of applied science in early childhood studies, which prepares graduates to serve as teacher's aids. The program features a practical curriculum that includes courses, such as supervision and administration of early childhood programs, child growth and development, and positive child guidance. Degree candidates in this track can select a focus in either early childhood education or childhood development, both of which require 12 credits.

7

Arkansas Northeastern College 

Blytheville, AR

About this school

Based in northeastern Arkansas city of Blytheville, ANC offers professional education to thousands of students and boasts some of the lowest tuition in the state. For aspiring educators on the path to teacher certification, the college's associate of science in childhood education with a focus in elementary education (K-6) develops a general liberal arts background and specialized knowledge in teaching practices. Online learners receive an assortment of support services from ANC, such as academic advising, career counseling, and tutoring. Academic advisors assist with course selections and degree planning, while career counselors help students identify job and internship opportunities outside of school.

The online associate degree in elementary education requires a total of 65 credits, divided between the program core and required education courses. The 48-credit program core includes topics in composition, communication, physical sciences, history, and arts, fulfilling most undergraduate general education requirements. The 24-credit education section builds knowledge in pedagogy and child development through courses such as child growth and learning, math for teachers, and survey of exceptional children.

ANC's associate program funnels into the teacher education bachelor's program at Arkansas State University. Transfer candidates must possess a minimum overall GPA of 2.7 and demonstrate passing scores in reading, writing, and math on the Praxis core exam. Students can also transfer to any of Arkansas' other four-year institutions, though credit requirements may differ.

8

College of Southern Nevada 

Las Vegas, NV

About this school

Serving more than 34,000 students throughout the Las Vegas area and Clark County, CSN also hosts a major distance education program that offers more than 1,000 online courses annually. Distance learners receive significant support from the college in the form of online library services, free online tutoring, academic advising, and career services. The school's associate degree in elementary education synthesizes major perspectives on educational psychology in the context of teaching, learning, and school systems.

Candidates learn to instruct diverse student bodies and make appropriate use of technology tools in the classroom for both individual and group instruction. The curriculum also examines the philosophical, historical, and legal foundations for American education practices, encouraging students to place their own teaching philosophy in a wider context of educational theory and practice. Students complete 60-64 credits at CSN before transferring to a four-year elementary education program.

The lower division curriculum includes 35 credits of general education requirements, developing basic knowledge in English composition, analytical reasoning, natural science, humanities, and related topics. An additional 25 credits cover specialized topics in education, such as Nevada school law, valuing cultural diversity, and preparing teachers to use technology. Students also complete a one-credit elective with recommended options that include beginning chemistry laboratory or physical geography laboratory. Most students complete the program with four semesters of full-time study, though CSN also offers part-time enrollment options.

9

Community College of Aurora 

Aurora, CO

About this school

Based outside of Denver, Colorado, CCA ranks as one of the largest community colleges in the state, serving over 10,000 students annually through campus and online courses. The school's substantial online offerings include an associate of arts in elementary education, which is a transfer program that prepares graduates to complete their studies at a four-year college. Most CCA courses use a standard asynchronous, fully online format with weekly due dates for assignments. CCA also offers some courses in a unique self-paced format that enables students to complete assignments on their own schedule.

The associate in elementary education includes 35 credits of general education requirements, six credits of education requirements, and 19 credits of electives. The general education section builds fundamental knowledge in five areas: English and communication, mathematics, natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and humanities. The education requirements section features just two courses: introduction to education and child development.

Students also select elective courses based on the four-year institution they plan to attend, and CCA advisors work with degree candidates to determine which elective courses best match transfer requirements. CCA maintains articulation agreements with most of the major public colleges in Colorado, including University of Colorado at Denver, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Northern Colorado.

10

Front Range Community College 

Westminster, CO

About this school

Serving more than 30,000 students across several campuses and through a massive online program, FRCC is the largest community college in Colorado and the state's biggest producer of transfer students. FRCC's associate of arts in elementary education prepares future teachers to earn their bachelor's degree at many of Colorado's top baccalaureate institutions. This fully online associate degree requires 60 credits, split between 41 required credits and 19 elective credits. Required courses develop skills in arts and humanities, history, social sciences, and natural sciences, along with two education courses: introduction to education and child development.

Students complete elective credits based on transfer requirements for their school of choice. FRCC offers a list of acceptable transfer credits for many state schools, making it easy for students to select courses. For example, candidates who plan to transfer to Western State Colorado University can select elective courses in English, political science, history, and art.

Online learners at FRCC gain access to a variety of support services, including online advising and online tutoring. The Online Learning Office assists with technical problems and connects students to other resources. The school offers academic support through its Online Writing Lab, which enables students to receive feedback on their writing from experienced tutors. FRCC also hosts in-person tutoring at all of its campus locations. For math courses, students have access to tutoring support though Pearson's MyMathLab, another fully online tutoring service.

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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.

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

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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