2018 Best Online Colleges for Teaching Degrees

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Quick Facts
Accreditation: CAEP and TEAC
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $23,194
Avg Salary: $62,071

Online teaching degrees, including those that lead to licensure, are available in all fifty states and are offered by a wide variety of colleges. The top online schools offering teaching degrees are highlighted below, in addition to a comprehensive list of online teaching degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Earning a teaching degree can be a first step toward a career in education; in all US states, public school teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree, as well as a valid teaching license.

Many states require teachers to have a degree that has been accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

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2018 Online Schools Offering Teaching Degrees with Licensure

Much like lawyers and medical practitioners, aspiring teachers must acquire a professional license to be able to practice in a given area. The following schools offer state-recognized online degrees that qualify students to apply for licensure. While most online schools on this list prepare students for licensure exams in the state in which the campus is located, Western Governors University helps students prepare for licensure in any of the 50 states. Read more about licensing requirements below.

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Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Teaching Degrees (349)

2018 Best Online Colleges Offering Master's in Teaching Programs

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These top 25 schools provide online master's degrees in teaching at an affordable rate. All of the schools on this list offer an annual tuition rate under $8,000. Many of these schools offer different teaching concentrations to help you specialize your degree. For instance, Valdosta State University has 16 teaching degrees with different specializations and a tuition rate of only $5,274. Ranked #4, University of Missouri has a high academic tuition of 74%.

View our methodology for more details.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Academic Strength
#1 #1 Morningside College Annual Tuition $4,500 Academic Strength 67%
#2 #2 Georgia College & State University Annual Tuition $5,184 Academic Strength 71%
#3 #3 Southeast Missouri State University Annual Tuition $5,010 Academic Strength 65%
#4 #4 University of Missouri Annual Tuition $5,400 Academic Strength 74%
#5 #5 University of Central Missouri Annual Tuition $5,103 Academic Strength 62%
#6 #6 Valdosta State University Annual Tuition $5,274 Academic Strength 62%
#7 #7 Dickinson State University Annual Tuition $4,617 Academic Strength 60%
#8 #8 Bob Jones University Annual Tuition $6,225 Academic Strength 64%
#9 #9 Jacksonville State University Annual Tuition $5,730 Academic Strength 62%
#10 #10 Georgetown College Annual Tuition $6,150 Academic Strength 62%
#11 #11 Minnesota State University at Mankato Annual Tuition $6,909 Academic Strength 64%
#12 #12 University of West Georgia Annual Tuition $5,304 Academic Strength 59%
#13 #13 William Woods University Annual Tuition $5,875 Academic Strength 61%
#14 #14 Marshall University Annual Tuition $5,265 Academic Strength 58%
#15 #15 University of Central Arkansas Annual Tuition $6,500 Academic Strength 62%
#16 #16 Auburn University at Montgomery Annual Tuition $6,705 Academic Strength 62%
#17 #17 William Carey University Annual Tuition $5,550 Academic Strength 59%
#18 #18 Union College - KY Annual Tuition $6,400 Academic Strength 61%
#19 #19 Bethel College - IN Annual Tuition $6,930 Academic Strength 62%
#20 #20 Albany State University Annual Tuition $5,400 Academic Strength 56%
#21 #21 Campbellsville University Annual Tuition $5,985 Academic Strength 57%
#22 #22 University of South Alabama Annual Tuition $7,500 Academic Strength 62%
#23 #23 Columbus State University Annual Tuition $6,930 Academic Strength 60%
#24 #24 Southern Arkansas University Annual Tuition $7,050 Academic Strength 59%
#25 #25 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus Annual Tuition $7,044 Academic Strength 58%
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Online Teaching Degree Overview & Career Information

Online associate degrees in teaching are best for students who want to begin their education at a community college before transferring to a four-year university. Students will take general education courses, such as math, composition, and English, as well as basic teaching courses in curriculum, instruction, and evaluation. Students earning online bachelor's degrees will take similar classes, but the curriculum will be more in-depth. Course options may include technology, teaching students of diverse populations, working with students who have learning disabilities, and developing creative teaching techniques. Many online undergraduate students are required to study a foreign language.

Online teaching graduate degrees give students the chance to pursue a specialization of their choice. Online master's degrees in teaching can feature subject-specific specializations (such as mathematics), age-specific specializations (such as middle school education), and areas like technology or educational leadership. To begin most master's degree programs, students are required to submit undergraduate transcripts and letters of recommendation. Some master's in teaching programs also require applicants to have professional classroom experience and Praxis exam scores. Online doctoral degree programs in teaching are intended for people who want to master a specific area of education, like special education, and write a dissertation on the topic.

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Online Certificates in Teaching

Students may choose to pursue an online graduate teaching certificate to fulfill the state requirements to sit for the teacher licensing exam. Postbaccalaureate teacher certification is designed to train future teachers in educational theory, curriculum design, and instructional skills to teach in K-12 settings. Successful graduates may enter K-12 teaching roles in both public and private schools.

Postbaccalaureate teaching certificates are available through traditional and online coursework. Most programs are administered by the college's department of education. The following are the main requirements for admission:

  • An undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.0
  • Undergraduate courses in areas such as math, communication, reading, and critical thinking

Schools may have additional requirements, depending on your subject area. Some programs require the Praxis I exam. This exam tests basic reading, writing, and math skills.

Online certificates require 10 to 20 courses and hands-on teaching practicums. These programs generally take one to two years to complete, depending on the applicant’s previous education coursework. Applicants for primary education certificates need an accredited bachelor’s degree in any discipline, while secondary education certificates generally require the bachelor’s degree to be in the particular subject area in which the student plans to teach.

The curriculum in the teaching certificate is designed to cover state standards for teaching in the public school system. The particular classes required will depend on the student’s desired teaching area, whether that be becoming a kindergarten teacher, or pursuing a career in elementary, middle, secondary, or special education. Foundational courses in most programs discuss topics like childhood development, history of the education system, and strategies for teaching students from diverse cultural backgrounds. The following are common core classes in the certificate:

  • Childhood literacy
  • Context of education
  • Educational technology
  • Instructional skills
  • Student evaluation
  • Teaching mathematics in elementary schools

Besides the general social science and education theory topics, students also study instructional skills for their particular educational area. Future elementary education teachers learn instruction and curriculum development for all subject areas, while secondary education majors learn the skills for teaching a particular subject, such as chemistry, world history, or economics. All online teacher certification programs require that students participate in on-site supervised teaching practicums in a real school setting.

When selecting a postbaccalaureate certification program, it is important to keep in mind your state's requirements and program accreditation. In addition, students should be mindful of whether the program is offered in an online-only or hybrid format. Some schools will also require students to set up their own student-teaching experience, while others have pre-existing partnerships with certain schools.

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Online Associate Degrees in Teaching

Online associate degrees in teaching are intended to provide students with an introduction to the teaching profession, and they can be a first step in the process of becoming a professional educator. Although the minimum requirement to become a teacher is usually a state-recognized bachelor's or master's degree program, an online associate degree can be a good introduction for students who aren't ready to commit to a four-year degree or who would like to complete the general education requirements at a community college and then transfer to a bachelor's degree program.

Program Requirements

Admission to an online associate degree program requires a high school diploma or GED. Applicants are often required to submit transcripts from high school and any other colleges they may have attended. Most online associate degrees require about 60 semester hours, the equivalent of about two years of schooling.


An online associate degree in teaching introduces students to a number of foundational courses, such as English composition, math, history, and social sciences. The program may also offer classes in the humanities and fine arts. Introductory exposure to these liberal arts courses helps students build professional skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving. Once the core general education courses have been completed, students may choose electives in areas such as early childhood education, English Language Learners (ELL), special education, or physical education.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees in Teaching

Online bachelor's degrees in teaching are excellent choices for students interested in pursuing careers in the field of education. Some of these online programs can provide the necessary coursework and classroom experience for students to apply for teaching licensure. Non-licensure programs are also available and provide a good educational foundation in teaching concepts for students who want to pursue a higher degree or who want to work in education but not as a teacher.

Program Requirements

Applicants to bachelor's teaching programs must have a high school diploma or GED. Students will be expected to submit high school transcripts and some schools may also require SAT or ACT scores. For teacher licensure programs, students may also need to complete a criminal background check as part of the application process. Online bachelor's degrees in teaching typically take four years to complete when students are enrolled full time.


Online teacher education bachelor's degrees combine training in education methods, teaching theory, social science, and the instructional content area. For example, an elementary education major would take classes in early childhood development, instructional techniques for young children, and the history of elementary education in the United States. They would also take content area classes in the instruction of multiple subjects, like social studies, math, science, and reading. Specific teaching courses cover topics like curriculum development, lesson planning, student evaluation, and classroom management.

Teaching majors in middle school or high school education have a slightly different type of training during the bachelor's program. While they also take classes in psychology, sociology, and education theory, they concentrate in one subject area rather than taking classes in multiple subjects. For example, a student who wanted to instruct math at the secondary school level would take upper-division math classes like college algebra and ordinary differential equations. They would also take several classes in math instruction.

Some bachelor's in teaching programs have certification options. Students complete a student-teaching apprenticeship and take any exams required in their state to earn their licenses at the same time they graduate with a bachelor's degree. This option may require additional coursework, as well. Prospective teachers should consult their state's certification requirements before pursuing a degree program, as some states require graduate training for secondary school teachers. In these states, the bachelor's may only be sufficient for instruction at the K-6th grade level. Prospective distance education students should also pay close attention to which online teaching degrees are state-approved for those seeking licensure.

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Online Master's in Teaching

Some online master's programs lead to teaching certification. Graduates of these programs may go on to gain employment in preschool, elementary, middle, and secondary private and public institutions. There are also other master's level programs for teachers who are already certified but who wish to continue their education in order to be eligible for post-secondary teaching opportunities or in order to specialize in areas like literacy or curriculum and instruction.

Program Requirements

Applicants to an online master's in teaching program will need to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and will need to submit their undergraduate transcripts. Some schools will require GRE scores, personal statements, and/or letters of recommendation, as well. Programs leading to licensure may also require a criminal background check. Master's degrees for licensed teachers will require proof of teaching credentials prior to admission.


The curriculum in the online teaching master’s combines courses in education theory and psychology with a firm understanding of instructional approaches. The required classes in these programs will depend on the student’s teaching specialization area; students choose a particular grade level and focus within that grade level. For example, an elementary education major with a focus in literacy would take courses in childhood development, language acquisition, and reading curriculum design. A secondary education major with a focus in math would take courses in methods for teaching algebra, geometry, and calculus.

Besides online graduate courses for teachers, all accredited education degrees have student teaching requirements, which can account for up to 50 percent of the work in the program. This fieldwork places teaching students in real classrooms so that they can practice the teaching techniques they have learned in the degree program. Students typically complete several fieldwork experiences. In early practicums, student teachers observe experienced teachers and their instructional skills. In later practicums, student teachers actually instruct courses. Experienced teachers offer critiques and advice to student teachers on improving their teaching style.

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Online Doctoral Degrees in Teaching

Online doctoral degrees in teaching are designed for educators interested in pursuing a career in academic leadership. There are two degree options for those who wish to study instructional planning and teaching at this level: a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is an option suited for people interested in curriculum design and research, and a Doctor of Education (EdD), which is the option tailored for people who prefer to work as school staff members and administrators.

Program Requirements

Admission requirements for online doctoral programs in teaching vary by school. Most schools require applicants to have an undergraduate degree, teaching credentials, and GRE scores; some schools may also require applicants to have a master's degree. The length of teaching doctoral degree programs can also vary significantly. Online teaching PhD and EdD programs can require between 50 to 90 credit hours of study and take three to five years to complete.


Whether you choose to pursue a PhD in teaching or an EdD, as a doctoral degree student in education you can expect to take courses in subjects like literacy education, instructional styles, and research methodology. Students in PhD programs might also take coursework in statistics. As part of a doctoral program, you will initiate research projects and complete a paper known as a dissertation on a topic of interest. EdD students might also find that their online schools will place them in a fellowship at a traditional university in order to put their research into practice.

Students who complete PhD programs in teaching are likely to pursue careers at colleges and universities, where they can educate future teachers and find resources to further their research. EdD graduates often find their path in elementary and secondary school administration, where they can directly influence an educational setting.

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Licensing and Certification Requirements for Teachers

Professional licensure requirements for teachers may vary per state, however most will require that you complete a Teaching Preparation Program (TPP) before applying for a license. There are three basic kinds of licensure available; temporary, initial, and professional.

A temporary teaching license is valid for a short period of time and cannot be renewed, while an initial license is valid for period of five years and may be renewed a limited number of times. A professional license is valid for five years and is renewable every five years thereafter. To acquire a professional license, it is commonly required that you first possess an initial license for more than three years. 

On top of having a teaching license, aspiring teachers may also have to get teaching endorsements. While a license refers to your authorization to teach in a given area, an endorsement refers to the area or subject you will be teaching (special education, elementary math, secondary English, etc.). Having a teaching endorsement assures the school you are applying to teach in that you are equipped with up-to-date knowledge and the right skills set to teach a specific subject. 

A bachelor's degree is typically required for you to be able to apply for licensure. While most colleges and universities from across the country offer online teaching degrees, only accredited programs lead to licensure. If you wish to pursue a career in education but cannot acquire a bachelor's degree, you can opt for an online associates degree that leads to a fulfilling career as a teaching assistant or childcare specialist. 

Many states require a final exam before candidates can earn their teaching licenses. This may be the Praxis II test, or an exam developed by your state. The certification board may also require a criminal background check and drug test. Visit Teach.org and the National Education Association to learn more about specific state requirements for becoming a teacher.

Students looking for online teaching degrees that will enable them to apply for licensure should look at our list of colleges and universities offering teacher licensure preparation programs. Each school on this list offers at least one online teaching degree that can lead to licensure. These programs generally lead to licensure in one specific state so prospective students should pay close attention to the licensure state when deciding which program to attend.

The Importance of Choosing an Accredited Teaching Program

In order to have the best opportunities for success in the teaching profession, it's in a student's best interest to attend a degree program that has been carefully evaluated and vetted by an accreditation agency. To ensure that educators have received an adequate education themselves, most states require teaching license applicants to have an accredited bachelor's or master's degree. Most teaching degree programs are regionally accredited by one of six accrediting boards. Students can check the accreditation status of any school by visiting the national US Department of Education website.

There is also a national accrediting board that specifically evaluates and advocates for teacher training programs called the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP is a consolidation of two previous teaching program accreditation agencies, the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Check out your state's teacher licensing board to make sure that any degree program you are considering meets their requirements.

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