Online K-12 Education Degrees by Program Level

Dec 04, 2019

Learn about online degrees in K-12 education. Get information on bachelor's and master's degrees, course requirements and career prospects to make an informed decision about your education.

Essential Information

Many schools offer online bachelor's and master's degree programs in education through online studies. Students seeking initial teacher certification may take some courses through distance education, but those programs also call for student teaching experiences that must be completed in person. More online course options are available to licensed teachers who are pursuing master's degrees, including programs with fully online coursework, although there are often in-person requirements at that level as well.

In a bachelor's degree program, the curriculum generally focuses on developing teaching skills. Programs are often designated by the grade level at which the student wants to teach. Students take courses in child development, classroom management and teaching various subjects, then get practice during student teaching experiences. Teachers in all states must be licensed. Requirements vary but usually include earning a bachelor's degree, completing a teacher education program and passing competency tests in teaching.

Master's degree programs for licensed teachers help them improve their teaching skills and develop leadership abilities. Courses cover topics such as curriculum development and self-assessment. A teaching practicum may be required along with a research project.

Bachelor's Degree in Education

Online bachelor's degrees in education usually qualify students to obtain a teaching license or pursue a master's degree. Students in a bachelor's degree program typically obtain a teaching license while earning their degree.

Program Information and Requirements

An online bachelor's degree in education typically takes 2-4 years to complete. While some of the coursework for a bachelor's degree is available online, students are usually required to complete classroom experience under the supervision of a teacher. Programs are usually broken down into separate categories for elementary school, middle school and secondary school.

Course Topics

Courses in education tend to focus on teaching and research techniques used in planning a curriculum and executing it in a classroom setting. A bachelor's degree in education typically calls for students to fulfill a student teaching requirement.

Child Development

This course studies levels and theories of childhood development. Students are taught to recognize and apply proper research and theories in child development.

Research in Curriculum and Instruction

This course covers cognition theories and learning methods for specific K-12 subjects, including science and math. Students also learn to teach critical thinking and study skills.

Student Teaching

Students complete field experience that equates to full-time teaching experience. This course is meant to prepare students for professional teaching positions by providing experience with instruction, classroom management and curriculum planning.

Master's Degree in Education

Students pursuing a master's degree in education are oftentimes already licensed teachers, who are interested in improving his or her teaching skills. A master's degree may prepare graduates for district-level positions or work as a college instructor.

Program Information and Requirements

Master's degree coursework in education is offered fully online and can be completed at the students' own pace. Discussions and assignments are submitted via email and in other online formats. Some courses require that students watch video clips to go along with required readings and assignments, via an online resource program or course management system.

Course Topics

Courses offered at the master's level for education typically build upon instructional techniques and research methods learned at the bachelor's level. While students learn about multiple aspects of education, they also typically choose a specialization, such as education policy, special education, assessment, English language learning or virtual teaching.

Introduction to Teaching and Learning

As an introduction to a master's education program, this course provides a foundation in the techniques and philosophies used to best serve the needs of every student in a classroom. Teaches learn to assess themselves and their role as teachers.

Curriculum and Instruction

This course provides the necessary tools to design effective curriculums and engaging instructional methods. Students study research in cognition and other recent curriculum trends in order to creatively present lessons and information.

Education Capstone

This course tests students, through written and oral examinations, on a research topic specific to his or her specialization. The oral presentation and written paper will be submitted to a scholarly journal for review.

Career Information

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in education generally teach at the elementary, middle school or secondary level. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2018, the median wage for teachers was $57,980 at the elementary level, $58,600 at the middle school level and $60,320 at the secondary level ( The BLS reported that employment levels for kindergarten through high school teachers were expected to grow by 3% between 2018-2028.

Many graduates with a master's degree in education become education administrators. As of May 2018, the median annual wage for education administrators for elementary and secondary school was $95,310, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported that, between 2018-2028, employment of principals was expected to grow by 4% as enrollment in schools continued to increase and individual schools became more responsible for student achievement.

While bachelor's degrees may be offered online for aspiring teachers, they often have in-person requirements such as student teaching. Teachers who are already licensed and want to pursue a master's degree can find programs with fully online coursework.

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