Online Undergraduate Degrees in Teaching: Program Options

Learn about online undergraduate degrees in teaching. Use this article to get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field, as well as potential career options.

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Essential Information

There are many associate's and bachelor's degree programs in teaching offered through primarily online courses, but each has a clinical practicum requirement that must be completed in a classroom. Receiving an associate's degree allows students to seek employment as a teacher assistant. A bachelor's degree, when paired with appropriate licensure, is appropriate education to become a full-time elementary, middle or high school teacher.

Courses at both degree levels include child development, curriculum planning, classroom management and teaching methods. Most teachers at the elementary level major in education or teaching, while high school teachers usually major in the subject they wish to teach and take education courses. During the clinical practicum portion of the programs, students work in a school, supervised by a licensed teacher.

Every state has licensing requirements for teachers, and different licenses exist for early childhood teachers, elementary school teachers and middle school teachers. In all states, public school teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree, have completed a teacher education program and pass general teaching knowledge and subject area examinations.

Associate's Degree in Teaching

Online options are available for Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) degree programs as well as Associate of Arts degree programs with specializations in elementary education or paraprofessional education. Many graduates of an AAT seek further education; however, some choose to pursue careers as teacher's assistants or paraprofessionals. Students of these degree programs learn about past and present issues involving student learning and acquire foundational knowledge and skills necessary to begin working towards a teaching career.

Program Information and Requirements

An associate's degree in teaching requires completion of 60-62 credit hours. Many online programs require no campus visits, but those enrolled in the program must complete in-person student teaching residencies in order to gain appropriate field experience and benefit from supervision by experienced teachers. The asynchronous online components of the degree programs give students the freedom to work when and where they like as long as certain deadlines are met. Students interact with their instructors and peers through online message boards, chat rooms and e-mail.

Course Topics

The curriculum of an AAT degree program is made up of core and elective education courses and general education classes. Courses in English, mathematics, humanities, arts and sciences provide the general education credits.

The Teaching Profession

This course introduces students to the foundations of and issues concerning professional educations and the culture of schooling. Theories and concepts involving different learning styles and strategies are examined. Students also learn how to develop a positive learning environment and create a standards-based lesson plan.

Multicultural and Special Populations in the Classroom

Diversity in the classroom is the emphasis of this class. The effect that factors such as socioeconomic status, language, ethnicity and gender have on learning is analyzed as well as methods for guaranteeing equity in the classroom. Various instructional techniques and their functional applications to multicultural education are studied.

Classroom Instruction and Management

Students learn how to effectively control a large group of children, promote cooperation and encourage motivation in the classroom. Effective means of assessing student behavior are discussed as well as appropriate disciplinary actions. Instructional assessments are also highlighted and methods for improving and facilitating learning are examined.


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Bachelor's Degree in Teaching

Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree programs are offered online with specific degree titles that involve instruction of certain age groups or school subjects. Online degree programs are available with emphases in early childhood education, elementary education, middle school education and special education as well as instruction of math or science. Concentrations such as teacher education and early childhood administration also exist.

Some bachelor's degree programs are designed as degree completion programs intended only for those that have already graduated from an associate's degree program, but some act as stand-alone programs. These degree programs provide students with modern theories and viewpoints related to the teaching perspective and prepare students to sit for state and national teacher licensing examinations.

Program Information and Requirements

A bachelor's degree in teaching consists of 120-134 credit hours depending on the specific area of interest. These credits include those transferred from an associate's degree program to a bachelor's degree completion program. All of the course credits can be earned entirely online, though an internship is required to provide students with real-world hands-on teaching experience. The online course materials are always accessible, which allows students to work on flexible schedules.

Course Topics

Foundational liberal arts, professional studies, concentration and specialty courses make up the curriculum of a bachelor's degree in teaching. Instead of traditional courses, some schools assess students through the use of competency units, which are awarded when the student displays adequate understanding of a certain topic or idea.

Technology in the Classroom

This course focuses on current technological innovations and how they can be applied to the educational system. Students discuss the emergence of the computer as an important learning tool and the impact that the Internet has made on the current instructional field. Computer applications and terminology are highlighted.

Children's Literature

Literature deemed appropriate for early childhood through middle school students is analyzed. Methods of instructing children in language and literacy are identified. Other topics studied include vocabulary building, developing attentive listening skills and encouraging reading appreciation in children.

Teaching Math to Early Childhood and Elementary Students

Students review the basic mathematical concepts prevalent in grades K-6, such as numbers, operations, measuring tools, fractions and percents. Techniques and strategies for effectively communicating this information to young children are illustrated and practiced. Special attention is given to the needs of exceptional children.


Career Information

Since a bachelor's degree and certain licensing requirements are needed to become a full time teacher, many graduates of an associate's degree in teaching become teacher assistants or paraprofessionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May of 2015, there were 1,228,440 teacher assistants earning an average yearly salary of $26,550 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicted an occupational growth of 6% for teacher assistants between the years of 2014 and 2024.

Earning a bachelor's degree in teaching is the most common path towards a career in teaching at the kindergarten, elementary or middle school level. Secondary school teachers often earn a bachelor's degree in the area they wish to teach and supplement it with a course of study in teacher preparation.

The BLS reported that 158,150 people were employed as kindergarten teachers and 1,381,430 people held jobs as elementary teachers in May 2015. Median annual salaries ranged between $33,000 and $85,000 were also reported for these teachers, with an average of $54,510 for kindergarten teachers and $57,730 for elementary school teachers. An occupational growth of 6% for kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers was also predicted by the BLS between the years 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

Some states require that their teachers acquire a master's degree after teaching for a certain amount of time. This can be achieved completely online. Master's degrees are offered in areas such as special education, learning and technology, instructional design, mathematics education and science education.

An undergraduate degree in teaching can be earned online, but every level of study will require students to complete a clinical practicum that takes place in a classroom. A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to become a teacher, though graduates will need to seek the licensing required in their state in order to find work.

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