Best Online Teaching Degrees of 2024

Nalea J. Ko
Updated February 6, 2024
Edited by
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Do you want to join the 3.5 million public school teachers working in the United States? If you said “yes,” online teaching degrees can get you to that goal faster. Online teaching degrees can offer a more flexible and sometimes cheaper road to a new career.

Graduates of online teaching degree programs can also pursue careers outside the classroom in administration or instructional design. Possible online teaching degrees include associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. You can spend between 2-6 years earning a degree.

Explore five top online teaching degrees to see which program suits your career path, timeline, and budget. Also, learn more about salary expectations for each degree level.

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Top 5 Online Education Degrees for Aspiring Teachers

#1 Best Online Teaching Degrees of 2024

Buena Vista University

  • Location-markerStorm Lake, IA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$37,518
  • Out-of-state$37,518
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate66%
  • Students Enrolled1,959
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Teaching Degrees of 2024

Kansas State University

  • Location-markerManhattan, KS
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,489
  • Out-of-state$25,560
  • Retention Rate86%
  • Acceptance Rate96%
  • Students Enrolled20,229
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment44%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Teaching Degrees of 2024

Fresno Pacific University

  • Location-markerFresno, CA
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$32,954
  • Out-of-state$32,954
  • Retention Rate72%
  • Acceptance Rate78%
  • Students Enrolled3,524
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Teaching Degrees of 2024

Minot State University

  • Location-markerMinot, ND
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,892
  • Out-of-state$6,892
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate88%
  • Students Enrolled2,836
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment62%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Teaching Degrees of 2024

Wilmington University

  • Location-markerNew Castle, DE
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$11,700
  • Out-of-state$11,700
  • Retention Rate59%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled13,129
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment87%
  • AccreditationYes

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How to Become a Teacher in 6 Steps

Not everyone’s career path to becoming a teacher will look the same, but there are some key steps that can get you there.

1 Determine Your Career Goals

As you begin your journey, consider what you’ll want to teach, where you’d like to teach, and what qualifications the state you want to teach in requires.

For a career in teaching, you’ll need to choose what grade level you want to teach, and usually a subject to specialize in, such as math or social studies. The career path for a college history professor will look pretty different from that of a kindergarten teacher.

Outlining your goals for your teaching career will guide your choice of where to go to school and what degrees you wish to pursue.

2 Choose a Specialization

A lot of your teaching education will focus on a chosen specialization. You may opt to teach a specific age group or subject area.

Specializations can also cater to administration and leadership roles in education, such as dean and principal.

Common education and teaching degree specializations include:

3 Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

For most teaching positions, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree.

If you’re interested in a position that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree, it’s still a good idea to consider getting this degree for future career opportunities.

When choosing an online education degree, take time to vet the program for several features. Make sure the program is accredited, offers your desired specialization, and fits within your budget and schedule.

4 Enroll in an Educator Preparation Program

An educator preparation program is a state-approved program that covers the training requirements you’ll need for your state’s teaching license or certification.

Most bachelor’s degrees in education and teaching will include the teacher preparation program within the curriculum.

Your bachelor’s program will also likely include student teaching opportunities. This way, once you’ve graduated, you can apply for your teaching license right away.

You can also take an alternative route and complete an educator preparation program through a university or a state-sponsored program.

For example, if you earned a bachelor’s in history and wish to become a teacher, you can participate in Teach for America and earn the same educator preparation requirements for certification.

5 Get State Licensure

Online teaching programs prepare you for state licensure (sometimes called certification), which you’ll need in order to teach in the U.S.

Licensure requirements vary by state. Make sure your online teaching program meets the requirements for the state you plan to teach in.

In most states, you’ll need to do the following before you can qualify for a teaching license:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in education or your subject area from an accredited institution.
  • Complete a certain number of hours of student teaching.
  • Complete a teacher preparation program.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Pass your state’s teacher certification exam and, if applicable, a subject exam.

Once you’ve met your state’s requirements, you can apply for a teaching license. This license allows you to legally teach in that state.

Learn more about teaching licensure requirements for aspiring teachers in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

6 (Optional) Pursue a Graduate Teaching Degree

There are many reasons to continue your education as a teacher. A graduate degree can unlock new opportunities, increase your salary potential, and broaden your expertise.

You can get a master’s in education and choose a concentration in the subject you teach. You can also specialize in administration and learn to become a school administrator or principal.

A doctorate can qualify you to teach at the university level. With a Ph.D. in education, you can transition into pedagogy, teaching students how to become teachers. You may also have a future in research or the government.

This highest level of education also unlocks research opportunities and respected credentials.

Types of Online Teaching Degrees

Common Types of Teaching Degrees
DegreeTeaching Degree Options
Associate Degree
  • AA in education
  • AS in education
Bachelor’s Degree
  • Bachelor of education (B.Ed.)
  • BA in education
  • BS in education
Master’s Degree
  • Master of education (M.Ed.)
  • Master of arts in teaching (MAT)
  • MA in education
  • MS in education
Doctoral Degree
  • Doctor of education (Ed.D.)
  • Ph.D. in education

The path to becoming a teacher has many roads — quite a few education degrees can lead to a career in teaching.

With an associate degree in education, you can become a paraeducator, substitute teacher, preschool teacher, or teaching aide. This degree can be a quick start for those eager to jump into the field.

However, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to earn a teaching license. You can choose from a bachelor of education (B.Ed.), a BA in education, and a BS in education. You could also get a bachelor’s degree in the subject you wish to teach.

A master’s degree in education will increase your expertise and can qualify you for higher-paying administrative and leadership positions.

Finally, with a doctorate in education — either a Ph.D. or an Ed.D. — you can teach at the college level, develop curricula, and conduct research.

Why You Should Get Your Teaching Degree Online

  • You’ll get to perform meaningful work and help students succeed.
  • You may qualify for student loan forgiveness
  • You may benefit from union advocacy and generous time off, especially during summers.
  • You’ll usually receive a pension retirement with an employer match.
  • Online teaching programs let you earn your degree on your own schedule.
  • You can gain work experience while going to school online.

Did You Know…

Public school teachers in 2020-2021 earned higher degrees than they did 10 years prior, with 51% that held master’s degrees, compared to 48% in 2011-2012.

Source: NCES

Does Accreditation Matter for Online Teaching Programs?

Accreditation is essential for online teaching programs. In order to get your teaching license, you must earn your online education degree from an accredited college or university.

Many online schools for teaching are also programmatically accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This accrediting agency, which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, ensures aspiring teachers receive a high-quality education.

Milton Paredes, an online teaching student at Reach University, explained how accreditation played an important role in deciding what school to attend online for his online teaching degree.

“Academic excellence is the reputation that I was looking for in an online [teaching] program, and knowing I chose one that was accredited made my decision easier,” said Paredes.

How Much Does an Online Teaching Degree Cost?

The average cost for undergraduates at public four-year colleges increased from $9,100 to $9,700 in the 2021-2022 school year, as stated by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Private nonprofit four-year colleges billed students $38,800, while private for-profit institutions cost $17,800. In 2021-2022, graduate students at public and private schools paid a national average ranging from $12,596 to $29,931.

One of the biggest benefits for online learners is flat-tuition rates. By studying virtually, you can often access in-state tuition rates from any state. Some online programs do charge out-of-state fees, and some online graduate programs have higher tuitions than undergraduate distance education programs at the same institution.

Studying as an out-of-state on-campus learner usually means higher education costs. Tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year colleges in 2021-2022 amounted to $9,596, while out-of-state learners paid $27,457, according to NCES.

How Much Money Can You Make With a Teaching Degree?

After completing an online teaching degree, many graduates opt for a career in the classroom. This isn’t the only career option. An online teaching degree and internships provide the freedom to explore other areas of education.

You can launch careers in administration, special education, curriculum development, or research. As noted in the chart below, what you achieve career-wise really depends on the degree you pursue and any specializations or additional certifications.

Teaching Careers and Salaries
JobMinimum Education RequirementMedian Salary (May 2023)Job Growth Rate (2022-2032)
Adult basic and secondary education and ESL teachersBachelor’s degree$60,560-13%
Elementary, middle, and high school principalsMaster’s degree$103,4601%
High school teachersBachelor’s degree$65,2201%
Instructional coordinatorsMaster’s degree$74,620 2%
Middle school teachersBachelor’s degree$64,290 1%
Postsecondary teachersMaster’s degree or doctoral degree$80,8408%
Postsecondary education administratorsMaster’s degree$102,6104%
Preschool teachersAssociate degree$37,1303%
Preschool and childcare center directorsBachelor’s degree$54,290-3%
Special education teachersBachelor’s degree$65,9100%
Training and development managersBachelor’s degree$125,0406%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

chat-alt-2Q&A With a Real Online Teaching Program Student

Portrait of Milton Paredes, Distance Facilitator for Ouachita School District

Milton Paredes, Distance Facilitator for Ouachita School District

Milton Paredes serves as distance facilitator for the Ouachita School District in Donaldson, Arkansas. He finds fulfillment in helping students succeed academically in an online environment and when students realize their academic potential. He also works in ministry at his local church as a college and career pastor.

Milton is currently an online student at Reach University, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s in global education in order to work as a history teacher.


Q: Why did you decide to pursue an online teaching degree?

Honestly, I feel like teaching is a calling. I had many teachers throughout my school years who were a great influence and played a small part in molding me into the person I am. It will bring me great satisfaction to see students succeed. … The affordability of an online [education] degree and lack of travel expenses proved to be the best value and opportunity for me to reach my goal of becoming an educator.

Q: Should students worry about how employers may view online degrees?

There may have been some apprehension years ago, but now online programs have established themselves academically while filling the needs of schools searching for teachers.

Q: What is something that surprised you about online learning?

I think the thing that most surprised me about online learning is how helpful and willing instructors are in guiding students through the course. I was worried about not having the support one would normally find in an in-class program, but that is certainly not the case.

Q: What is your biggest piece of advice to students considering an online teaching college?

Do not be discouraged if you feel like you are not initially successful in navigating through courses. With a little time, it will become familiar to you and when it does, remember why you started your journey and keep working toward your goal!

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Programs

question-mark-circleWhat degree do you need to be a teacher?

To become a certified teacher, you’ll need an accredited bachelor’s degree. All public schools will require you to have a bachelor’s degree in order to hold a full-time teaching position. You’ll also need a bachelor’s to earn state licensure.

question-mark-circleHow long does it take to get a teaching degree?

You can typically earn a teaching bachelor’s degree within four years. If you pursue an online teaching degree, you may be able to speed up the timeline through an accelerated program.

Students who already hold an associate degree may be able to complete an undergraduate teaching degree in around two years.

question-mark-circleCan you be a teacher with an associate degree?

If you have an associate degree, you can be a teacher assistant or educational aide but not a full-time teacher at a public school. All states require you to have a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for a teaching license.

You can often transfer course credits from an accredited associate degree in teaching to a bachelor’s degree program.

question-mark-circleCan you be a teacher without a degree?

State teaching credentials require at least a bachelor’s degree.

There are a few potential exceptions. Educators at homeschooling co-ops may not need licensure or a degree. The same goes for private, not-for-profit, and some charter schools.

question-mark-circleCan you become a teacher with an online degree?

Yes, you can become a teacher with an online degree. Earning a teaching degree online is no different than earning one on campus. In fact, your diploma won’t have any indication that you earned your degree online.

Online colleges offer the same curricula and quality as on-campus colleges do, largely thanks to the rigorous accreditation standards they must meet.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Accredited Schools Online. Page last reviewed January 2, 2023.

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