Bachelor’s in Education and Teaching Degree Guide

Pursuing a teaching degree online can lead to several pathways, like physical or special education. Discover what to expect from these degrees.
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It's no secret that teachers build the foundation for future generations. And while it may not always be the easiest task, it can definitely be a fulfilling one. Plus, you can rest assured that the job market for teachers will remain stable over the next decade.

Whether you want to work in the classroom or take on more of an administrative role, a bachelor's in education can help get you there. From licensure to salary, careers to concentrations, this guide covers everything you need to know about earning your degree in education.

Bachelor's in Education Program Overview

Common Degree Types:

  • Bachelor of education (B.Ed.)
  • Bachelor of arts (BA) in education
  • Bachelor of science (BS) in education

Curriculum: Many bachelor's degrees in education include a general education curriculum covering English, math, science, and history. They also require a professional teaching core and electives or an education-focused concentration, like elementary education or special education.

These degrees commonly teach classroom management, math and literacy skills for teachers, and creating inclusive classrooms.

When comparing degrees, consider whether you need a program leading to licensure. Licensure programs usually require in-person student teaching experiences to prepare you for your state's teaching credential. If you plan to pursue teaching licensure later or enter an education career that doesn't require a teaching license, a non-licensure program could be right for you.

Program Length: A bachelor of education typically includes 120 credits, which you can usually complete in four years with full-time attendance. Some schools offer part-time programs, allowing an additional 1-2 years to complete.

Additionally, some programs are completion only, meaning you'll need an associate degree or some undergraduate credits to enroll. Degree completion programs usually take two years to complete about 60 credits.

Learning Format: You can earn a bachelor's degree in education online or on campus. A campus-based program has scheduled in-person classes throughout the week. Meanwhile, an online education degree could have live, scheduled meetings via video conferencing, known as synchronous learning, or self-paced coursework with no set class times, known as asynchronous.

Note that online teaching degrees may have some in-person requirements, like supervised teaching experiences.

Average Annual Tuition and Fees for a Bachelor's Degree in Education

Online Program Cost

$9,594

On-Campus Program Cost

$13,109

Source: NCES DataLab

Admission Requirements Checklist

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    Fill out an application and pay a fee. You can complete Common App to apply to multiple schools, though you will still have to pay the application fee for each school.
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    Write and submit your personal statement.
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    Send high school or GED certificate transcripts. If you are applying to a degree completion program, you may be required to send undergraduate transcripts.
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    Provide entrance test scores (SAT or ACT).
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    Submit letters of recommendation. These typically come from people who can speak highly of your ability to succeed in college, such as teachers, advisors, and coaches.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Why Get a Bachelor of Education Online?

"A traditional degree would have required me to attend classes on campus, take 3-4 classes per semester, and pay way too much money."

Roma EsteMcDonald, B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies (K-8), Western Governors University

"The benefit for me [of] doing online courses is that I can still work."

Candi C., former student in elementary education degree program

Bachelor's in Education Concentrations

Early Childhood Education

Students earning a degree in early childhood education learn about children's social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development from birth through age five. This concentration focuses on the skills teachers need to interact with and nurture this age group developmentally and academically, like proper nutrition, early literacy skills, and communicating with families.

These programs usually require several hours of student teaching in an early learning environment, like a childcare center.

Elementary Education

An elementary education degree is for students interested in becoming a teacher for grades K-5 or K-6. Learners explore techniques for teaching math, language arts, science, and history to this age group.

These programs also cover classroom management strategies, creating diverse classrooms, and educating learners living with disabilities. Student teaching in at least one elementary grade is required for programs leading to licensure.

Secondary Education

Prospective high school teachers can enroll in a secondary education degree program to enhance their skills for teaching and overseeing students preparing for adulthood. This concentration focuses on bringing technology into the classroom effectively and creatively, creating inclusive classrooms, and designing a curriculum that challenges and motivates students.

Degree-seekers typically need student teaching experience with high schoolers to complete this concentration.

Physical Education

Physical education degrees are best for people who want to become health or physical education teachers, or enter non-teaching roles, like community health educators or sports coaches.

In this type of program, you'll learn about the impact of exercise on the body, anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and kinesiology. You may need to complete a physical education field experience at a school or community center, especially if you plan to become a licensed teacher.

Special Education

Teachers looking to work with students with diverse physical or learning needs might opt for a special education degree, which often requires several field experience hours in their target area, like students with mild-to-moderate disabilities or those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Special education concentrations include coursework covering inclusive technology, education law, and literacy instruction strategies.

Reading and Literacy

Because literacy skills are the backbone of academic success, reading intervention is often necessary to prevent learning loss. A degree in reading and literacy uncovers the art of creating a literacy-first curriculum, assessing student literacy skills, and improving reading instruction with classroom technology.

These programs may include a field experience requiring learners to apply these strategies to real classroom situations. Often, these classrooms will be K-5.

Social Studies

A social studies degree can be beneficial for future social science teachers, usually in middle and high school settings. In this specialization, you'll study politics, history, and social psychology. Usually, social studies concentrations also feature field experience credits, in which you'll observe, teach, and plan a curriculum and activities for students in a social studies classroom.

Math Education

A math education degree can help future or current teachers learn how to teach math effectively through a strategic curriculum and classroom technology. These concentrations may be geared toward all grades, or focus on teaching math in elementary, middle, or high school. A student teaching experience in a math classroom is usually required.

Science Education

A bachelor's in science education prepares students to teach a spectrum of science disciplines to K-12 students, although some programs focus on a specific grade range. Common classes include astronomy, ecology, physics, and science instructional methods. Like other concentrations, a science education program often requires several hours of student teaching in a science-based classroom.

Child Development

Child development programs help future teachers better understand the social, physical, and cognitive growth of children throughout their early years. This concentration prepares students for roles as special education teachers, kindergarten teachers, or childcare center directors. Degree-seekers gain firsthand experience teaching, evaluating, and nurturing children through a student teaching component in an approved early learning environment.

Accreditation of Online Education Degrees

An accredited school meets an accrediting body's standards, qualifying it to prepare learners for careers in education. If you plan to transfer credits into another program or school or want to apply for federal financial aid, you'll need to attend a school with institutional accreditation.

Look for an online teaching degree that holds programmatic accreditation, which endorses specific programs or education departments adhering to high-quality academic and faculty standards.

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) are the primary accreditors for educator preparation programs. Some states, like Indiana and New Jersey, require prospective teachers to complete a CAEP or AAQEP-accredited program to receive licensure.

However, some accreditors also endorse programs for specific education subfields, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children for early childhood education and the National Association of Schools of Music for music education.

Career Outcomes for Education Degree Graduates

A bachelor's degree in education is necessary for many traditional classroom positions, like elementary or special education teachers. In P-12 public schools, these roles require state teaching credentials, which an online bachelor of education often prepares students for.

However, this degree can also lead to many non-teaching jobs, including school librarian or educational consultant, which sometimes pay higher salaries than teaching careers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), K-12 jobs will see little to no movement over the next decade. There's nothing wrong with that stability, especially compared to the projected outlook for ESL teachers, due to decline 13% by 2032.

If you're seeking growth, the BLS projects a growth rate of 6% for training and development managers over the next decade.

Teaching Careers for an Online Education Degree
Job Title Median Salary (May 2023)
Kindergarten teacher $62,690
Elementary school teacher $63,680
Middle school teacher $64,290
High school teacher $65,220
Special education teacher $67,190
Career or technical education teacher $63,860
Adult education or ESL teacher $60,560
Non-Teaching Careers for an Online Education Degree
Job Title Median Salary (May 2023)
Training and development manager $125,040
Educational consultant $73,000*
Reading specialist $58,000*
Preschool director $37,130
School librarian or library media specialist $64,370
Source: BLS, Payscale
*Based on data from Feb. 2024

Teaching Licensure Requirements

While you need a teaching license for preK-12 teaching positions in public schools within the United States, licensing requirements differ slightly by state. Specifically, student teaching requirements, education level, and standards for a teacher preparation program may vary. Beyond that, private schools may have different requirements of their instructors.

Before beginning your journey toward earning a bachelor of education online, take some time to learn your state's specific requirements. Check with your state's Department of Education to find state-approved teaching programs leading to licensure.

What Else Should I Know About Starting a Career in Education?

Teachers often need continuing education to meet their state's license renewal requirements, so you should prepare to complete some coursework or continuing education credits after earning your bachelor's degree.

Depending on your career goals, you might decide to continue your education with a graduate degree. For example, education administrators and instructional coordinators usually need a master's degree in education. Meanwhile, a doctorate in education could lead to academic dean and chief academic officer positions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Education Degrees

Are online teaching degrees legitimate?

Yes — an accredited online education degree is no different than its in-person version at the same school. You'll receive the same quality academics and teaching preparation when you attend online, and your degree typically won't specify that it's an online degree.

What is the fastest you can get a teaching degree online?

An online bachelor's degree in education usually takes four years to complete, although some schools offer accelerated formats, allowing you to finish the degree a bit quicker. You can also shave off some time from your degree by transferring previous credits you've earned.

Is a bachelor's in education worth it?

A bachelor's degree in education is often worth the time and cost investment for students preparing to become teachers, as states usually require it or a similar degree. This degree can also lead to numerous other careers beyond traditional teaching roles, like preschool directors or education consultants.

What is the difference between a BA in education and a BS in education?

A bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in education have similar major courses, but their general education curriculums differ. While BA programs typically include communications and arts courses, BS programs may feature more courses in technology, business, or math.

You might also encounter bachelor of education degrees, which are less common. These programs typically swap some general education classes for more theory-based education coursework.


Note: The insights on this page were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed February 15, 2024.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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