The Best Online Teaching Degree Programs
| TBS Staff
Are you ready to discover your college program?
An online teaching degree prepares students for rewarding, in-demand teaching careers.
Online learning gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. Teachers with an online education degree can work with students of all ages, and they have a variety of options when it comes to work environments, working in public or private schools or at universities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that high school teachers earn a median salary of just over $60,000 per year. Professionals with postsecondary teaching credentials can expect higher wages, earning a median of $78,470 per year, while graduates of online teaching master's programs can work as elementary, middle, and high school principals, earning a median of $95,310 annually.
This guide considers cost, outcome, and school reputation when ranking the best online teaching degrees, to help students find the right programs for their needs and professional goals.
|#1||Michigan State University East Lansing, MI|
|#2||Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN|
|#3||University of Georgia Athens, GA|
|#4||Arizona State University Phoenix, AZ|
|#5||Florida State University Tallahassee, FL|
|#6||University of Florida Jacksonville, FL|
|#7||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL|
|#8||Penn State World Campus University Park, PA|
|#9||University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA|
|#10||University of Kansas Lawrence, KS|
Featured Online Schools
Obtaining a Teaching License or Certificate
Certificates and licenses are not the same thing. Certification programs usually signify mastery of a specific career focus, while licensure is a professional requirement to practice. Typically, aspiring instructors need state licensure to teach public school at any level, though rules for private school vary.
Aspiring teachers can take many different pathways, but the traditional route is to complete a four-year postsecondary degree in education or a related specialization, followed by a teacher preparation/certification program during or after their bachelor's degree. Some educators pursue master's degrees in education or teaching. All teachers must complete a practical classroom component, pass a certification test in the area they plan to teach, and apply for state licensure.
For some administrative positions, applicants need a master's degree and an appropriate specialization for licensure. Postsecondary teachers typically need master's or doctorates in their areas of expertise. In total, the traditional pathway takes approximately 5-6 years to complete.
Alternative Paths to Teaching
Aspiring teachers can pursue alternative pathways as well. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 18% of public school teachers earned alternative teaching certifications after completing degrees unrelated to education.
Candidates can also pursue emergency teaching credentials, which allow them to teach in a classroom setting for a limited time until they receive the proper certification. While state requirements vary, most emergency credential applicants need bachelor's degrees. Similarly, some states either do not require licensure for substitute teachers or provide easier access to these credentials.
Other pathways include teaching at a private or charter school, for which some states and institutions do not require licensure. Many private schools, for example, value experience over an education or teaching degree. Students interested in this route should contact individual private schools to determine their qualifications.
Choosing an Online Teaching Program
Choosing the right online teaching degree requires careful consideration of your unique goals, needs, and circumstances. Our list is a good starting point, but you should also perform your own research to find the program that's right for you.
Accredited Online Teaching Degree Programs
The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) serves as an accreditation organization for teacher education programs in the United States. CAEP was established in 2013 through the consolidation of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).
CAEP has received recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the nation’s largest institutional higher education membership organization. CHEA provides quality aassurance and oversight of accrediting agencies alongside the U.S. Department of Education.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
The Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S Department of Education mentions two types of loan forgiveness programs for teachers:
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
Under this program, teachers who teach full–time for five complete and consecutive academic years in specific elementary and secondary schools or in educational service agencies which serve low–income communities may qualify for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 on their Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans as well as their Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans. If teachers have only PLUS loans, they are not eligible for this type of forgiveness.
The Teacher Cancellation Program
Teachers with a loan from the Federal Perkins Loan Program may qualify for loan cancellation for full–time teaching at a low–income school, or for teaching in specific subject areas. They can also qualify for deferment for these qualifying teaching services. Teachers should check with the school which made their Federal Perkins Loan for more information.
Graduate Teaching Degrees
Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree programs attract individuals with an interest in specialty training in the educational field or in a leadership position, such as a school principal or an educational administrator. M.Ed. programs meet the academic and professional interests of professionals in the education field.
Some M.Ed. programs cater to educators who already have a teaching license and some cater to individuals seeking education employment outside of a traditional classroom. Some programs provide M.Ed. degrees to individuals without teaching experience.
Master of Education programs typically cover the strategic and theoretical aspects of education as well as subjects related to human psychology and behavior which apply to the science of education and instruction. They cover instructional and professional subjects applicable to school and student performance.
Graduates can use this degree to advance careers as educators, but the leadership and organizational skills they've learned could also apply to a wide variety of industries unrelated to education.
Typcially, students in Master of Education programs must also gain practical experience in a formal or informal education setting through student teaching, a fellowship, internship, or formal observation hours. Program lengths vary, generally between one and two years.
Master of Education degree specializations include:
- School Counseling
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Adult Education
- Museum Education
- Classroom Technology
- Economics and Policy
- Reading and Literacy
- Instructional Design
- Curriculum Development
- School Psychology
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree programs attract current and prospective K–12 teachers who seek additional certification to advance in their careers or seek their initial teaching license. MAT degree programs attract individuals interested in improving teaching methods and style or enhancing their expertise in a specific content area.
Master of Arts in Teaching programs have a focus on the act of teaching as well as the practical skills and knowledge teachers use to teach groups and individual students. MAT degree programs examine education theories, methods, philosophies, concepts and styles and develop skills in areas such as curriculum design and literacy. Enrollees learn how to improve student performance. Students also learn how to effectively integrate technology into instruction.
Students study theoretical and practical educational research and perform their own research. Students in a Master of Arts in Teaching degree program typically select a specialized subject in the education field.
Master of Arts in Education specializations include:
- Specific subject area such as English or mathematics
- Elementary Education
- Special Education
- Secondary Education
- Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Gifted Education
Some MAT degree programs require students to complete a master's thesis. Online MAT degree programs typically include a student teaching experience. Everyone seeking their initial teaching license must gain student teaching experience and teachers who seek to gain additional certification in a different grade and/or subject must gain teaching experience. Student teaching typically spans between one and two semesters.
Program lengths vary, generally between one and two years.
A Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.), a terminal degree, focuses on applying foundational knowledge and research to real–world issues in education. Ed.D. programs prepare students for administrative, academic, professional, clinical or research positions in K–12 and higher education, public institutions, civil service, and private organizations.
Instead of focusing on developing new research (such as with a Ph.D. program), Doctorate of Education students utilize existing research to inform decisions about specific issues which can lead to improving practices within their specialization areas.
Doctorate in Education programs prepare students for leadership positions such as school district executives, training supervisors, chief learning officers in large corporations, faculty at the university level and more.
Doctor in Education programs include specializations such as counseling, educational leadership, curriculum and instruction, postsecondary education, administration, special education and more.
Ph.D. in Education programs prepare professionals to become education researchers, university faculty members, senior–level education leaders, policymakers, practitioners and scholars in many settings.
Professionals with a Ph.D. in Education may have an impact on education research, practice, and policy.
Ph.D. in Education programs typically emphasize producing new knowledge in the education field while improving research and analytical skills. Ph.D. students can specialize in areas such as education policy and program evaluation, education leadership, literacy studies, higher education administration and policy, education, special education, society and culture, human development, learning and teaching, and more.
Teachers can pursue many different career opportunities based on their training, interests, and expertise. Below, you will find some of the most common teaching careers, along with the standard degree requirements and median salaries for each.
|Required Degree: Associate||Median Annual Salary: $30,520|
Preschool teachers take care of preschool children by teaching them, encouraging them, and keeping records of their habits and progress. These teachers may need to develop their own curricula, assess individual students, and support the development of basic skills, like movement and speech.
|Required Degree: Bachelor's||Median Annual Salary: $59,420|
Kindergarten and elementary teachers help prepare students by developing their basic reading, math, and social skills. These teachers provide students with lesson plans that allow for creativity and practical exploration.
|Required Degree: Bachelor's||Median Annual Salary: $61,660|
Middle school teachers prepare students for high school, providing them with fundamental training in grades 6-8. Teachers develop effective curricula, foster productive learning environments, and evaluate students to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
|Required Degree: Bachelor's||Median Annual Salary: $61,660|
High school teachers educate students in a particular field of expertise, preparing them for college or the workforce after high school. They create effective learning plans while accommodating each learner's needs and abilities.
|Required Degree: Master's or Doctorate||Median Annual Salary: $79,540|
Postsecondary teachers instruct college and university students in specific disciplines while conducting research and publishing scholarly work. These teachers develop instructional plans based on their research and departmental needs.
Other Education Careers
|Career||Required Degree||Median Annual Salary|
|Childcare Center Director||Bachelor's||$48,210|
|School and Career Counselor||Master's||$57,040|
|Postsecondary Education Administrator||Master's||$95,410|
|Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal||Master's||$96,400|
Teaching Professional Organizations
Students, new graduates, and experienced professionals can all benefit from joining professional organizations. These associations provide access to valuable industry information, networking events, and professional development opportunities.
The Best Online Teaching Degree Programs
Michigan State University (MSU) established its College of Education in 1952, but began offering education courses 50 years earlier. MSU's College of Education focuses on improving learning and teaching across the U.S. and around the world, especially within the contexts of global and urban education as evidenced in the Urban Educators Cohort Program and the Global Educators Cohort Program.
The National Academy of Education and lead organizations, such as the American Educational Research Association have inducted members of the college's renowned faculty.
The college's curriculum promotes education policy reform and prepares graduates to help implement this reform. The curriculum also build connections between practice and theory through partnership with communities and schools. Michigan State University also offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online.
All students must complete a full academic-year internship before receiving teacher certification. The college's faculty and students also conduct rigorous, comprehensive research which addresses the problems and needs of practice. The College offers the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship and is home to a host of research centers, such as the Literacy Achievement Research Center, the National Center for Research on Teacher Learning, the National Center for Research on Teacher Education, CREATE for STEM Institute, and the Confucius Institute at MSU. Doctoral students can participate in the Fellowship to Enhance Global Understanding, a faculty-led international study trip.
The MSU College of Education's online teaching degree options include:
- Master of Arts in Education
- Health Professions Education
- Master of Arts in Educational Technology
- Master in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education
- Master of Arts in Teaching and Curriculum
- Master of Arts in Special Education - Learning Disabilities
- Master of Arts in Special Education - Autism Spectrum Disorders
Several of its programs feature fully online or hybrid options, and the college offers an accelerated plan for undergraduate students who hold 56 credits.
The University of Indiana Bloomington has a long history of teacher education - offering its first teaching course in 1852. Founded in 1908, the University of Indiana Bloomington School of Education prepares graduates for careers as skilled educators. The school strives to improve learning, teaching, and human development in a diverse, rapidly changing, and increasingly global society. It also informs educational practice and theory through research and works in partnership with constituents to effect change throughout the world. Indiana Bloomington offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online.
The School of Education is composed of five academic departments — Curriculum and Instruction; Counseling and Educational Psychology; Educational Leadership and Policy Studies; Instructional Systems Technology; and Literacy, Culture and Language Education. The University of Indiana Bloomington is also home to a dozen institutes and centers, such as the International Center for Home Education Research, the Project on Academic Success, and the Urban Center for the Advancement of STEM Education. The UI Bloomington School of Education helps build stronger communities through several outreach and collaboration experiences, such as Global Gateway for Teachers; Make, Innovate, Learn Lab (MILL); the Saturday Science Quest for Kids; and iRubric. It also features cultural immersion programs, which allow students to teach in urban communities.
The School of Education's online Master's in Education programs include:
- Master in Adult Education
- Master in Educational Leadership
- Master in Instructional Systems Technology
- Master in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education
- Master in Special Education
- Ed.D Instructional Systems Technology
- Ed.D Literacy, Culture, and Language Education
The University of Georgia's College of Education, founded in 1908, enrolls more than 4,500 students. One of the most comprehensive and largest schools of education in the country, the College of Education offers more than a dozen undergraduate majors and about 90 graduate programs leading to a host of careers such as administrators, psychologists, counselors, educators and more. The college strives to be a center for innovative research, service projects and teaching, and to contribute to a healthy, just, well-educated, and equitable society.
The college engages in research which advances human development, education, policy, and health. The faculty and curriculum also provide cutting-edge ideas to the next generation of scholars, leaders, and practitioners in the fields of teaching, learning, and individual development. University of Georgia also offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online.
The college is home to several research centers, such as the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development, the Georgia Center for Assessment, the Center for Physical Activity and Health, the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education, and the Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research. The college enriches students' learning experiences through a host of research labs, including those in Athletic Training, Biomechanics, Cognitive-Communication Rehabilitation, Cognition and Skill Acquisition, and more.
The University of Georgia's online Master's programs in Education include:
- Bachelor of Science in Special Education
- Master of Education in Adult Education
- Master of Education in Educational Psychology, Applied Cognition and Development
- Master of Education in Educational Psychology, Gifted and Creative Education
- Master of Education in Learning, Design and Technology, Instructional Design and Development
- Master of Education in Middle Grades Education
- Master of Education in Reading Education
- Ed.S. Specialist of Education in Educational Psychology, Gifted and Creative Education
Arizona State University has a long history of teacher education with its beginnings as a normal school in 1885. Its Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, founded in 2010, continues the tradition by preparing graduates for successful careers as educators, school principals, scholars, and policymakers. The college integrates experiential learning and use-inspired research, and engages students and faculty in programs which combine data gathering from the field with clinical training. Arizona State University also offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online.
Faculty members draw from a range of academic disciplines such as psychology, cognitive science, and sociology to gain insight on learning styles, scientific theories, policies, and more. The Fulton Teachers College consists of two academic divisions — the Division of Teacher Preparation, which provides students with the skills, knowledge, and competencies to positively impact children, schools, youths and communities; and the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation, which prepares graduates for careers as full-time faculty at research institutions.
In 2016, the college's Center for Advanced Studies in Global Education hosted the inaugural symposium of the Comparative and International Education Society - in partnership with edXchange.
The college features several centers, including the Center for the Art and Science of Teaching, the Center for Advanced Studies in Global Education, the Sanford Inspire Program, and the edXchange.
The college also is home to the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Preschool and the Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy.
Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Master's of Education online options include:
- Bachelor of Arts in Education in Educational Studies
- MEd in Curriculum and Instruction: Applied Behavior Analysis
- MEd in Curriculum and Instruction: Autism Spectrum Disorders
- MEd in Curriculum and Instruction: Gifted
- MEd in Early Childhood Education - Certification/Endorsement
- MEd Educational Leadership (Principalship)
- MEd Educational Technology
- Master of Arts English as a Second Language
- EdD Leadership and Innovation
Established in 1905, Florida State University's College of Education is the oldest college of education in the state of Florida. The college features challenging, innovative programs and unique teaching methodologies. The college allows students to engage in leading educational research and technology. The College of Education prepares graduates to meet the challenges of an ever-changing field, and explore new teaching methods and advances in educational technology. Accordingly, Florida State also offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online.
The College of Education designed its education courses around a theory-to-practice model. Students can engage in industry-leading research in teacher preparation, educational techniques, scientific inquiry, educational policy, sport management, and more. Florida State University (FSU) features six issue-focused research centers, including FSU-Teach, the Learning Systems Institute, the Human Services Center, and the Adult Learning Evaluation Center.
FSU's College of Education provides Master's degree in Education online and online graduate certificates:
- Ed.D Educational Leadership and Policy
- Post-Masters in Educational Leadership/Administration
- MS Curriculum & Instruction
- MS Educational Leadership/Administration
- MS Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies
- MS Learning and Cognition
- Graduate Certificates
The University of Florida's College of Education offered its first education classes in 1906. The college enrolls about 1,400 students through more than two dozen degree and academic programs. The college is composed of the following schools - the School of Teaching and Learning; the School of Special Education, School Psychology & Early Childhood Studies; and the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.
Designed to enhance school improvement, teacher retention, and student achievement, the college is home to several centers, such as the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, the Institute of Higher Education, the National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development, and the Lastinger Center for Learning. The centers highlight the college's partnerships with school districts, public schools, and communities. University of Florida also offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online.
Nationally recognized faculty teach courses focusing on human behavior, cutting-edge research, and more.
Among the college's online Master's degrees in Education offerings are:
- Master Curriculum and Instruction (Specialization in Education Technology)
- Master Curriculum and Instruction (Specialization in Teacher Leadership for School Improvement)
- Master Educational Leadership
- Master Reading Education
- Master Special Education (Specialization in Teach Well)
- Master Student Personnel in Higher Education
- Ed.D Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education
- Ed.D Educational Leadership
- Ed.D Educational Technology
- Ed.D Higher Education Administration
Founded in 1905, University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign, College of Education at Illinois is renowned for preparing leaders in the field of education, groundbreaking research and a worldwide impact. The land-grant school of education advances knowledge and impacts policy through teaching, research, and outreach. The college contributes to making education accessible and equitable to all learners; prepares researchers, leaders, and advocates who are committed to helping learners of all ages; and develops innovative methods and tools. The university also offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online.
The Bureau of Educational Research supports interdisciplinary or interdepartmental collaboration, creating an enriching research culture for students and faculty. The college is home to several research centers, such as the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation & Assessment, the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities, and the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. The college also established the Youth Literature Festival, which celebrates the value of reading in the lives of youths.
Among College of Education at Illinois' Master's of Education online offerings are:
- MS Teaching Biology
- EdM, EdD, Certificate Diversity & Equity in Education
- EdM, EdD, Certificate Foundations of eLearning Higher Education
- EdM, EdD, Certificate Global Studies in Education
- EdM, EdD, Certificate International Education Administration & Leadership
- EdM, EdD LDL - Bilingual & ESL Education
- EdM, EdD, Certificate Learning Design & Leadership
- EdM, EdD, Certificate New Learning (LDL)
- EdM, Endorsement Teacher Leader Specialization
- EdM, EdD, Certificate, Endorsement Technology Specialist (LDL)
Founded in 1923, Pennsylvania State University's College of Education enrolls about 3,300 students in a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, both on campus and online through its top-ranked Penn State World Campus. The college's curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in education concepts as well as several study abroad and international student-teaching opportunities. The College of Education embraces technology as a powerful educational tool and conducts online tutoring outreach to urban schools. Penn State also offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online.
The college's faculty includes 19 Fulbright scholars and receives millions of dollars annually to conduct groundbreaking research. Penn State's award-winning Professional Development School builds on a partnership with the State College Area School District and features a full-school-year student teaching experience. The college also participates in outreach through the Center for Science and the Schools, diversity programs for high school studies, and LifeLink PSU, an enrichment program with the local school district. The College of Education also is home to several research initiatives, including the Center for the Study of Higher Education, Adult and Family Literacy, the Krause Innovation Studio, and the Institute for Research in Training & Development, as well as special programs, including the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, the American Indian Leadership Program, and Joint Degree Programs in Law and Education Policy Studies.
Among Penn State's online Master's in Education are:
- Master of Education in Adult Education
- Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Children's Literature
- Master of Education in Educational Leadership
- Master of Education in Higher Education
- Master of Education in Special Education
The University of Southern California began offering education classes in the 1890s and established its School of Education in 1918. The Rossier School of Education enrolls about 2,000 students on campus and online. The school's curriculum provides students with the skills they need to make a significant difference in the lives of their students. The Rossier School of Education prepares students to apply evidence-based theories and principles of motivation, learning, and cultural competence and to develop skills to negotiate barriers to learning. The school supports forward-thinking researchers and scholars whose work reflects a diversity of experience and perspectives.
The curriculum incorporates cutting-edge technology and collaborative, innovative solutions to improve education outcomes. This is why Southern California also offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online. It is also noteworth that the same USC faculty teach the college's online and on-campus programs.
Faculty performs cutting-edge research in five areas — Economics and Finance; Governance and Accountability; Organizational Leadership; Politics and Public Policy; and Learning and Motivation. The college's research centers include the Center for Human-Applied Reasoning and the Internet of Things; the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice; and the Center for Urban Education.
USC's Rossier School of Education's Master's in Education online programs include:
- Master of Arts in Teaching
- MAT in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
- M.Ed. Learning Design and Technology
- M.Ed. in School Leadership
- Ed.D Organizational Change and Leadership
- Special Education Credential
- Gifted Education Credential
Founded in 1909, the University of Kansas School of Education prepares graduates for careers as teachers, counselors, administrators, health and sport professionals, and psychologists. The school is home to a host of research and service organizations, such as the Center for Research on Learning, the Center for Psychoeducational Services, the Life Span Institute, and the Beach Center on Disability. University of Kansas also offers numerous pathways for earning an online teaching credential. Its course offerings include various teaching credential programs online.
The curriculum expands and deepens students' understanding of education as a fundamental human endeavor, and helps society respond to and define its educational challenges and responsibilities. The school's online teaching degrees allow students to apply what they're learning whether teaching online, in the classroom, or in a consultative setting. The same nationally recognized faculty teach the school's online and on-campus courses.
The University of Kansas' online Master's programs in Education offerings include:
- Master in Curriculum and Instruction
- Master in Curriculum and Instruction - Reading
- Master in Curriculum and Instruction - TESOL
- MSE Educational Administration
- MSE Secondary Special Ed and Transition
- Master in Autism Spectrum Disorder
- MSE and Endorsement Special Education
- Graduate Certificates
Online Teaching Degree Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected schools providing online education programs based on the quality of their programs and the types of courses offered, as well as the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing quality online teaching degree programs.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!
If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
Frequently Asked Questions
Aspiring teachers can take many educational routes, but the most traditional pathway is to complete a bachelor's degree in education. However, postsecondary teachers typically need master's or doctoral degrees.
Master's degrees can lead to various teaching careers, including roles in leadership and administration. Graduates can also pursue postsecondary teaching roles in some schools.
Students who earn online degrees can pursue the same careers as on-campus learners. Most programs only differ in their method of delivery.
Learn more, do more.
Popular with our students.
Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.
Take the next step toward your future with online learning.
Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.