Online Elementary Education Degrees by Program Level

Dec 11, 2019

Essential Information

Online bachelor's and master's degree programs in elementary education may offer classes entirely online or through a hybrid program with some on-campus class sessions. However, teacher certification programs require a teaching practicum that must be completed in person at an assigned or arranged school.

Elementary education programs call for courses in classroom management, child development and teaching theory. Because elementary teachers are responsible for instruction in all subjects, they must take courses in how to teach the basics, such as science, reading and math. During their student teaching period, they get experience working under supervision in a real classroom.

Teachers in public elementary schools must have a teaching license or certification through the state in which they teach. Each state sets minimum educational standards for licensing elementary school teachers, but typically they require a bachelor's degree in elementary education and student teaching experience. Elementary teaching licenses may allow a teacher to instruct students up to sixth or eighth grade. Some states require that teachers earn master's degrees in order to maintain a teaching certification over the long term.

Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education

Through an online elementary education (El Ed) program, future teachers gain practical experience developing curricula, assessing student's abilities and leading a classroom in kindergarten through eighth grade. The majority of these programs require a high school diploma, although an associate degree may be required for some online degree completion programs.

Program Information and Requirements

An online elementary education bachelor's degree program takes 2-4 years to complete, depending on whether or not it's a degree completion program. Students can log onto the school's Web-based application any time of day to watch video lectures, interact with other students and complete assignments. The online program requires Microsoft Office, as well as plug-ins, including Adobe Reader, Flash and QuickTime. Reliable Internet connectivity and a working computer are also necessary.

Course Topics

Students complete general education classes in addition to the major courses and a student teaching experience.

Methods of Teaching Elementary Science

This class introduces natural and physical sciences covered in the elementary science classroom. Future science teachers examine materials and curriculum for lower grades.

Exceptional Children

Students compare the mental, physical, emotional and social behaviors of exceptional children with those of average children. They learn what makes children different, examine signs and learn to work with special-needs students.

Teaching Language Arts

This class introduces teachers to techniques in reading, writing, spelling and grammar. They learn specific techniques for teaching language arts classes.

Master's Degree in Elementary Education

An online master's degree in elementary education, while uncommon, trains teachers to develop an effective curriculum and learning strategies. Students assess curricula and create environments that enhance learning. Eligibility for the master's program requires a bachelor's degree or a teaching license.

Program Information and Requirements

The master's program takes about two years to complete. Classes are available online in most cases, but future teachers without teaching experience may also have to complete a student teaching requirement at a local elementary school. Students can log onto Web-based applications where they can complete lectures and assignments. They can also interact with other students.

Computers, Internet access and basic office software are necessary to complete the online program. Required plug-ins, including Adobe Reader, QuickTime and Flash, can be downloaded for free online. Some programs may also require a webcam.

Course Topics

Online elementary education classes can be accessed any time and completed through a self-paced program or along with other students at scheduled meeting times, depending on the professor's preferences.

Early Childhood Curriculum

Through this course, students develop and assess the theories and principles of curriculum development. They also discuss ways to implement the curriculum.

Education Issues and Trends

Students study current issues in education, including topics related to historical views on education and trends. They discuss finances and economic trends that influence teachers.

Research and Development

Students study research methods pertaining to creating curricula for elementary students that incorporate math, science, language arts and social students. They discover ways to implement lessons effectively.

Career Information

Elementary schools teachers are responsible for teaching their students reading, writing, mathematics and sciences. According to, the typical annual salary for elementary school teachers was about $32,000-$69,000 in 2019. Entry-level teachers started out at the lower end of that range, with a median salary of $39,044.

The BLS stated that the demand for elementary education teachers is expected to grow by 3% between 2018-2028, which is a slower than average anticipated growth for all careers. With an elementary education master's degree, students can also find careers as reading specialists. According to the BLS, elementary teachers' salaries ranged from $37,780 to $95,270 in 2018.

Aspiring elementary school teachers can find fully online programs at the bachelor's and master's degree levels, but certification requires an in-person teaching practicum. Courses cover the wide variety of subjects that elementary school teachers are expected to teach, as well as techniques for teaching.

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