Online Schools for Becoming a Teacher: How to Choose

Jan 02, 2019

For individuals interested in an online teaching degree, they have several options depending on their education history. We will discuss various types and levels of programs, including whether they are designed for prospective elementary or secondary teachers in the article below.

How to Select an Online Educator School

Bachelor's and master's degrees in education prepare individuals to teach the K-12 levels. A bachelor's degree qualifies graduates for entry-level teaching jobs, and pay goes up with a master's degree. Along with the technical requirements, aspiring students should consider the grade level and subject they wish to teach when choosing an online or hybrid teaching program.

Grade Level and Subjects

Individuals interested in a teaching career should decide what grade level they wish to teach. Schooling for young children is usually covered in an early childhood education degree program, while prospective high school teachers should enroll in a teaching program specific to a particular subject such as science or math. Bachelor's degree teaching programs typically prepare students for work in kindergarten through the 12th grade only. Teaching positions at community colleges usually require a master's degree in the subject to be taught; a doctoral degree is necessary to teach most university-level courses.

Hybrid or Fully Online

Online programs in education are offered fully online or in low-residency (hybrid) programs. Completely online programs provide course instruction though online e-learning platforms and generally don't require students to attend classes on campus. Students learn to develop their teaching curriculum through online guidance, participation and interaction though virtual field training programs and lectures.

Hybrid programs require students to spend at least part of the time on campus. Most online education programs require some amount of on-site attendance, usually for internships and other hands-on experiences. These practicum courses allow students to apply the skills they've learned to real classroom environments.

Technical Requirements

Students participate in online courses via streaming video and digital texts. Discussions with faculty and classmates are mediated through designated chat forums and virtual classroom programs like Blackboard. Software such as word processors, PDF readers and media players is needed to access course content. Students will also need some level of technical fluency to download, run and access these course materials.

List of Popular Online Degrees in Education

Online Bachelor of Science in Education

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required for most public and private school teaching positions in elementary, middle and high schools. Some bachelor degree programs offer students courses that focus on teaching specialized groups such as young children or special needs children. An online bachelor degree program in education provides students with study of teaching methodology and theory as well as advanced courses in popular grade school-level subjects such as:

  • Learning and the brain
  • Issues in education
  • Phonics-based reading and decoding
  • Educational technologies

Online Master of Science in Education

Students in a master's degree program focus on a subject area and broaden their knowledge in that area though research and advanced-level courses. In addition to successful completion of course material, students are required to complete a final exam and a certain number of hours of in-class field experience. Some programs may take as little as a year to complete, but most take over two years to finish.

Graduates with a master's degree in education can work as teachers in K-12 schools and community colleges. A master's degree can also qualify one for some teaching positions at 4-year schools. An online master's degree program in education is open to students who have previously earned a bachelor's degree, either in education or other fields. The coursework focuses on subjects such as:

  • Classroom management strategies
  • Curriculum and assessment development
  • Action research for educators
  • Adolescent literacy and learning

Schools with Online Programs in Education

Walden University offers a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education that leads to teacher licensure. This program is available to first-time college students, but also allows students to transfer up to 115 of the 185 credits needed to complete the degree. Students can complete coursework online but must also complete in-person student teaching requirements. For students hoping to teach in Minnesota, where the program is based, they will be immediately eligible to receive licensure upon program completion by passing the state exams. For students who hope to teach in other states, they must study that state's individual requirements.

Walden also offers a Master of Science in Education with a number of different concentrations, including curriculum instruction, integrating technology in the classroom, special education, and educational leadership and administration.

The University of Southern California also offers an online Master of Arts in Teaching designed for students that want to receive their teaching credentials for the K-12 classroom. Students can complete these degrees on a full or part-time basis in anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Five concentrations are offered: multiple subject teaching, secondary English, secondary mathematics, secondary science, or secondary social sciences. Applicants will need to possess above a 3.0 GPA to be considered for admission and also submit a statement of purpose.

To summarize, students can pursue online bachelor and master's degrees in teaching. Students may want to factor in the admission requirements of each program, whether or not there is a concentration that interests them, and if the program will prepare them to become licensed teachers in their state before selecting.

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