Online Undergraduate Education Degree Program Options

Get info about online programs in education. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Many schools offer online bachelor's degree programs that prepare teachers to apply for a teaching license. Students in online programs, such as a B.Ed. or B.A. in Teaching or B.S. in Education, can download recorded lectures and course materials within an established timeframe. Because undergraduate teacher education programs usually require student teaching experiences in a school, these programs cannot be completed entirely through online studies. However, some programs may offer alternatives for students who aren't seeking licensure as teachers.

Aspiring teachers take courses in child and adolescent development, teaching theory, classroom management and curriculum development. In a secondary school education program, students take classes in the subjects they wish to teach, while teachers aiming at the elementary grades usually learn to teach many subjects. Programs aimed at preparing graduates for teaching careers include supervised teaching experiences in a classroom.

All states require that public school teachers hold a license. Licensing requirements vary, but generally call for a bachelor's degree, completion of a teacher training program and passing competency exams.

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Undergraduate Degrees in Education

Undergraduate degrees in education include the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.), Bachelor of Arts in Teaching or the Bachelor of Science in Education. These degree programs prepare prospective teachers to work in K-8 classrooms or to teach specific subjects in grades 7-12. Graduates of these programs are usually qualified to apply for a teaching license. Some graduates may choose to enter education master's degree programs before starting their careers, and these undergraduate programs are usually sufficient preparation for graduate work in education.

Information and Requirements

These programs typically require completion of courses in general education topics like history and math in addition to education-specific topics like pedagogy and curriculum development. Depending on the university, individuals may be able to complete their degree in 2.5-4 years. Regardless of the degree designation, students in teacher education programs are usually required to complete several terms of supervised teaching experience. These cannot be completed through online learning, but instead are completed at a program-approved site. For those who do not wish to gain certification to teach, it may be possible to replace this student teaching requirement with additional coursework.

The minimum technical requirements for these programs usually include a computer equipped with 56Kbp modem and Web browser. Depending on the school, a specific Web browser may be required, like Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. Communication with teachers and classmates is often through e-mail or an electronic discussion board system, so students will need an email address. Sometimes schools require students to set up a school-sponsored address for use in these classes. Other typical requirements include word processing software and a PDF reader.

List of Education-Related Classes Available

Required courses vary, depending on the subject and grade level that an individual wishes to teach. Secondary-level teachers might have to focus on a subject that they plan to teach.

Literacy Development

This course outlines how learners process what they read and hear. In this class, individuals learn theory in literacy and strategies to teach at-risk individuals. There is typically some focus on techniques to use in specific content areas.

Learning Assessment

Students learn about the role of assessments in elementary and secondary school classrooms. Informal and formal evaluation procedures and planning for evaluation is also covered. Prospective teachers learn to use assessments to enhance a student's educational experience. This topic may be split into multiple courses.

Pedagogy

This course introduces individuals to the historical background, methods and theories in education. Individuals study methods to instruct special needs students and how to incorporate service learning as a teaching tool. This course may also include information on teachers' roles in research.


Career Information

Some teachers choose to join a union, including the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association. These unions provide support to members in contract negotiations, lobbying for legislation and education funding.

From 2014 through 2024, employment for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is expected to grow 6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In May 2015, secondary school teachers earned a median annual wage of $57,200, according to the BLS. (www.bls.gov)

Continuing Education

According to the BLS, most states require teachers to be licensed. These requirements vary from state to state, but common requirements include a bachelor's degree, practical teaching experience and passing exams like the PRAXIS test.

Master's degrees are the next step in a teacher education program. These degrees are available online may be completed in 2-5 years. Master's degrees fall into the categories of Master of Education (M.Ed.) or Master of Art in Teaching (M.A.T.). These degree programs differ in that a Master of Education is specifically for individuals who are already certified to teach. The Master of Art in Teaching is a step toward certification and licensure.

For individuals interested in administrative leadership and research positions, doctoral programs in education are available. These programs are not widely available online, but are available in the traditional on-campus format.

There are a number of undergraduate programs in education available that allow students to complete coursework online. Student teaching experiences are also required at an approved school in order to gain licensure. A broad range of educational concepts are covered in these online programs, including literacy development, assessment of learning and pedagogical studies

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