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Online Bachelor's Programs in Education and Teaching

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Not everyone can work as a teacher. States have specific licensure requirements regarding who is qualified to be an educator at the elementary, middle and high school levels. While requirements may vary by state, they almost always start with a bachelor's degree in education.

These degrees usually require four years of academic instruction followed by a period of student teaching that could last 10-15 weeks. In the past, students would have had to meet all their degree requirements on a local campus. However, as with other higher education subjects, education degrees are increasingly moving online.

"I feel that's where a lot of education programs are heading," says Caroline Masse, a former high school teacher and current vice president, academic strategy and services, for Flat World. provider of digital learning content and technology.

Not only are some schools offering the option to earn an online bachelor's degree in education, they are also exploring with new ways to deliver that education, such as the implementation of competency based models. To learn what that means for you, keep reading.

About the Expert

Caroline Masse, a former high school teacher and current vice president, academic strategy and services for Flat World, a provider for digital learning content and technology.

Why Get a Bachelor's Degree in Education?

Simply stated, you can't work as a teacher without a bachelor's degree in education. All states require their educators have a bachelor's degree in order to be licensed to teach in the K-12 grades.

You could work as a preschool teacher or a teacher assistant without a bachelor's degree, but income and career opportunities may be much more limited. For example, kindergarten teachers had average annual incomes of $53,480 in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, preschool teachers had average incomes of only $32,040 that year, and teacher assistants earned even less with average incomes of $26,000 in 2014.

How Do You Enroll in an Online Bachelor's Degree Program?

Many schools offer a simplified enrollment process for their online degrees. It typically starts by completing an online application that could ask for the following:

  • Personal information
  • High school GPA or previous college experience
  • Desired course of study
  • Extracurricular or work experience

Some schools may request a transcript from your previous education as well as ACT or SAT scores. While not all schools require one, many do charge an application fee. The amount varies but the average is around $40.

Colleges with rolling admissions may respond in as little as a month while schools with a defined enrollment period could take longer to make their decision. Once accepted, students will be contacted by the school with additional information regarding how to finish the enrollment process.

Filling out a Request Form

Before you can fill out an application, you need to find the right school. We can help you quickly and easily identify the schools offering an education bachelor's degree online. Simply click on the "Find Schools" button. Then, fill out the quick form and submit to it be matched to schools that may be of interest to you.

What's the Difference Between Online and Campus-Based Degrees?

Online and campus-based degrees are nearly identical at many institutions. You can expect to receive the same content through either format.

A bigger question to ask may be about the difference between traditional and competency-based learning models. Traditional degrees are set up so students take courses that run a specific length of time and result in a certain number of credits. Within competency-based programs, students move on from a topic once they demonstrate mastery of that area. As a result, people can move quickly through subjects they know well and spend more time on more challenging ideas.

"These programs do offer more flexibility than traditional programs," Masse says. "It really can lend itself well to certain learning opportunities."

According to Masse, all education degree programs should include a strong foundation of theory alongside the opportunity to practice the application of those principles. "The hope is at the end of the day, [students] are getting the same experience online as they would on-campus," Masse says.

Why is Online College Good for Bachelor's Degrees in Education?

Convenience and accessibility are two of the main reasons students choose to earn an education bachelor's degree online.

Masse says her enthusiasm for the possibilities offered by online learning led her to her current work position. "As an educator myself, one of the things that drew me to Flat World was the digital learning content," she explains.

Having access to digital learning content means students can study at whatever time is convenient for them. When combined with competency-based models, it could even result in students being able to pick when their assignments are due or exams are scheduled.

"You don't have to be contained by a final that's always going to be on December 15," Masse says. Instead, online colleges can give students flexibility unlike anything offered through on-campus programs.

Does Location Matter for an Online Bachelor's Degree in Education?

Location may not be crucial for some online degree programs, but it could be for those in education. Since teacher licensure is granted by states, students must confirm that an online program meets their state's requirements. Not every online bachelor's degree in education meets the eligibility criteria for licensing in every state.

What's more, states require teachers have an internship experience or period of student teaching prior to being eligible for licensure. If you plan to enroll in an online college located in another state, first inquire into what sort of placement services they provide to help students meet this requirement.

You need to do your homework before earning an education bachelor's degree online. However, the right school can make it convenient for you to prepare for the career of your dreams.

Sources:
1. Caroline Masse, Vice President of Faculty Strategy and Services, Flat World, Interview with the author
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition
3. Competency-Based Education, Western Governors University, http://www.wgu.edu/education/teacher_certification_elementary_bachelor_degree4. Teacher Education, USC Rossier, http://teach.com/how-to-become-a-teacher/teacher-education

Online Bachelor's Programs in Education and Teaching