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Best Online Degrees in: Education

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Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Education

The award for most flexible school offering an online bachelor's degree in education goes to Ashford University. In fact, Ashford has been given an A+ rating for their flexibility by students on College Prowler and CliffsNotes. They have deadlines for each assignment, but students are able to choose when they will work on them, allowing them to earn their degrees around their schedules. Furthermore, Ashford's mobile apps allow students to complete their assignments on the go, adding to their flexibility.

Career Support
Walden University is receiving the award for best career support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education. Their Career Service Center will help students and alumni write their resumes, learn effective interview strategies, and search for a job. They will also help students explore their career options, expand their professional networks, and teach them how to evaluate a job and negotiate a salary.

Financial Support
The award for best financial support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education goes to Northcentral University. According the National Center for Education Statistics, 100% of the students attending Northcentral receive financial aid. The staff at Northcentral will help each student receive the type of financial aid that is available to them.

Technology Support
The University of Phoenix wins the award for best technology support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education. Their virtual classrooms are regularly updated to contain the latest technology, tools, and programs in online education. They also have apps for tablets and smartphones, allowing students to access their classroom from a mobile device. Also, students have ranked the university's tech support No. 1 in the nation on College Prowler.

Student Engagement
The award for best student engagement in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education goes to the University of Phoenix. Their online learning environment is designed to enhance the interactions students have with one another and with faculty, keeping students engaged in their virtual classrooms. PhoenixConnect is a social network that allows students to socialize with other Phoenix students, faculty, and alumni. U.S. News & World Report has ranked them No. 5 in the nation for student engagement in their "Top Online Bachelor's Programs" ranking.

Disability Support
Walden University wins the award for best disability support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education. Their Disability Services offers course material in alternative formats to accommodate a student's disability, such as having enlarged text or incorporating a program that will read text aloud. They will also allow extra time to complete assignments and exams if the student requires it due to a physical or learning disability.

Library and Research Support
The award for best library and research support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education goes to Walden University. Their expansive online library contains more than 100,000 e-books, 50,000 full-text journals, 1,500,000 dissertations, and 90 databases. The library staff is available to help students navigate through the library, develop strategies to help them research and find the information they need, and even help them find outside sources.

Learning Support
The award for the best learning support in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education goes to Ashford University. Their online classrooms are designed to enhance and streamline the learning process by being user-friendly and easy to navigate. Their mobile apps allow students to learn from anywhere, and the library services will help students find the information they need. Also, each student is assigned an academic advisor who can answer any question they may have, provide guidance and advice, and regularly check their academic progress and help resolve any problems they may be facing.

Faculty Credentials
The award for best faculty credentials in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education goes to the University of Phoenix. Their online faculty receives online education training, giving them the knowledge and skills needed to effectively instruct students in an online environment. The majority of their faculty members have graduate level degrees and an average of 16 years of professional experience in the fields and industries related to their classes, according to the school's website. Students have access to their instructors' profiles where they can learn about their experience and qualifications.

Faculty Accessibility
The award for faculty accessibility in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education goes to the University of Phoenix. Each faculty member provides their students with contact information so students can reach them with questions, concerns, and comments. Students are also able to contact and interact with their instructors through the forums in their online classrooms. Students have ranked University of Phoenix Online No. 13 out of 1,121 colleges on College Prowler for faculty accessibility.

Alumni Engagement
Ashford University is being given the award for best alumni engagement in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education. Ashford's alumni can interact and socialize with each other, current students, and faculty, as well as stay up to date on what's happening with the university through Ashford's numerous social media networks. Their alumni association holds regular networking events that allow alumni to meet in person, interact, and expand their professional networks, and they allow alumni to share their success stories on the school's website and stay up to date on what's going at Ashford through the alumni magazine.

Prior Learning Options
Ashford University wins the award for best prior learning options in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education. Students who have earned credits from an accredited college or university are usually able to transfer them to Ashford and use them toward their degrees. Ashford will also award non-traditional credits based on the College Level Examination Program, military training, and professional experience.

New Online Student Orientation
Ashford University wins the award for best new student orientation in a school offering an online bachelor's degree in education. Ashford assigns an academic advisor to each student to guide them through the orientation process and regularly check on the progress each student is making. They are also available to answer any questions a student may have. Online students at Ashford must complete an introductory course that will familiarize them with the virtual classroom and the online learning process.

Explore a Bachelor's Degree in Education

Online education degrees are a good fit for students who wish to prepare to become public school teachers and need to meet their state's educational requirements for certification. Online degrees in education are designed to prepare students to effectively lead K-12 classrooms, with a focus on a particular subject, such as mathematics, science, or physical education, or with a focus on certain grades or learning types, such as elementary education or special education. While students complete their course work online, they must also complete site-based field work, as well as a semester-long teaching internship in a real-world school environment in order to complete the program.

While program length varies, online bachelor's degree programs in education are typically designed to be completed in four years of full-time work if the college follows a traditional semester format. However, students may be able to transfer in credits from their time at a community college or other institution to apply toward their general education requirements, apply credits from dual credit programs they took in high school, or test out of certain classes through CLEP testing, all of which can reduce the time it takes to graduate. Even so, the program could take longer to complete if the student must attend part-time or if the student cannot complete their student teaching requirements in a timely manner.

Class Curriculum

The curriculum a student takes in an online education degree program will depend on the school they enroll in and the type of teaching endorsement they're seeking. Those who plan to teach mathematics may take courses in math methods, calculus, and complete math-related field experiences, while those who plan to teach English language arts may have more courses devoted to promoting literacy in youth, such as children's literature or literacy assessment. Similarly, those who specialize in elementary education will take courses geared toward teaching children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students pursuing education degrees online may also take the following core courses:

  • Developmental Psychology. This course explores how children develop physically, cognitively, and socially, from conception through adolescence. Students are introduced to the primary theories of human development, and learn how genetics and prenatal factors, as well as outside factors like family and friends, impact a child's development.
  • Reading Methods. In this course, students learn research-based, systematic approaches to teaching reading and literacy to youth, including theories, practices, and materials. Students also learn about the stages of oral language, writing, and reading development.
  • Classroom Management. This course teaches students methods of establishing and maintaining a productive classroom environment. Techniques for handling certain types of student behavior are discussed through case studies, as well as techniques for motivating students to be attentive and participatory in class. Classroom organization techniques may also be discussed.

Homework and projects vary widely depending on the program specialization. For classroom management, a student may be asked to provide written critiques of various classroom scenarios in which classroom management strategies must be used, including ways of minimizing disruptive behavior and increasing engagement in the learning process. Some courses in reading, mathematics, and science teaching methods will incorporate field work at approved K-12 school sites, where students get to work hands-on with children. However, the most significant portion of any education program is student teaching, where teachers in training get to provide actual instruction to students, develop lesson plans, and work with different age groups under the supervision of licensed teachers and mentors.

Building a Career

Some of the most common careers for students who graduate from online education degree programs and meet all other state requirements for teacher certification are kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers at public schools. It is highly recommended you research how to obtain a teaching certification or licensure in combination with a degree because not all degree programs lead to licensure or certification. With additional training and certification, some may become special education teachers. K-12 private school teachers may not be required to be certified, but typically must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in education or a closely related area to qualify for teaching positions. Other potential careers might include childcare workers, preschool teachers, teacher assistants, and substitute teachers.

The median yearly salary for teachers was $50,120 for kindergarten teachers, $53,400 for elementary school teachers, $53,430 for middle school teachers, and $55,050 for high school teachers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment is not guaranteed for graduates of education programs, and graduates should be aware that budget deficits in state and local governments in an uncertain economy can lead to layoffs. Teacher salaries vary based on their school district's budget, the teacher's level of experience and educational attainment, the size of their district, and other factors.

The slowest employment growth is expected for teachers of high school grades because high school enrollment growth is projected to be slower than other grades, the BLS explained. Better job prospects are available for teachers who are prepared to serve in difficult-to-fill positions in math, science, English as a second language, and special education. Special education teachers earned a median yearly salary of $55,060, the BLS noted.