Students seeking graduate-level online training often enroll in distance learning master's degree programs in elementary education that result in a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or a Master of Education (MAE). These programs are widely available at many traditional four-year institutions as well as private online schools. Before enrolling in one of these programs, prospective students need to hold a bachelor's degree in education. Some MAE programs also require applicants to have teaching licenses.
Distance learning students may benefit from the flexibility online coursework offers. Indeed, most courses can be completed fully online, but prospective students should keep in mind that teacher education programs often require student teaching, internships and possibly some on-campus residencies. Those interested in an online master's program in this field should ensure it meets their state's academic requirements for licensure before applying.
Master of Arts in Teaching
Online Master of Arts in Teaching degree programs are designed for aspiring teachers seeking initial certification. Master of Arts in Teaching degrees are often part of a 5-year dual degree program with a bachelor's degree in education. Stand-alone programs take 1-2 years to complete. Most online elementary education degree programs allow students to conduct the internship and student teaching requirement within their home state, but students may have to submit a letter of employment from the district or school. It's important to check online program procedures regarding this requirement.
Master of Education
Master of Education degree programs are designed for certified educational professionals who want to enhance their teaching skills or expand grade level or subject teaching eligibility. Most online Master of Education degrees lead to additional certification, although some non-licensure degrees do exist. The non-licensure degree programs are geared toward licensed elementary education professionals wishing to improve learning outcomes and develop additional instructional methods. Students must complete a thesis project and pass appropriate PRAXIS and state exams as a requirement of an online Master of Education in Elementary Education degree.
Along with internship and student teaching requirements, online elementary education learners take classes in planning, assessing and developing curriculum in elementary mathematics, science, reading and social studies. Online master's degree courses also include teaching methods and resources for educators. Some other common courses may include the following:
- Literacy development
- Diversity in the classroom
- Technology in elementary education
- Psychology and elementary education
How Online Learning Works
Excluding any internship or residency requirements, students in these online degree programs can complete coursework when it fits their schedules as long as they meet due dates. Virtual classrooms typically contain lectures, assignments and communication methods for class discussions. Some teacher education programs require students to have microphones and Webcams in order to engage in live virtual meetings or to complete supervised assignments.
Online master's degree programs in elementary education can help experienced teachers improve their instructional skills. Other master's-level programs provide students with more advanced pedagogical training so that they can enter the field with a greater level of expertise.