Top Online Elementary Education Programs

If you love working with children, a bachelor's in elementary education can kickstart your career. Discover the best elementary education programs here.
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Updated on February 9, 2024
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  • A bachelor's in elementary education is a career-focused degree to teach K-5 or K-6 students.
  • Elementary education programs prepare you for state licensure exams.
  • The job growth for teachers and administrators is projected to range from 4-10% in the next decade.
  • Many states require student teaching before you can get a job as an elementary school teacher.

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2024

Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Elementary Education

Do you miss the days of using candy to learn division and Play-Doh to create shapes? Well, maybe you should go back to elementary school — just not as a student.

A bachelor's degree in elementary education prepares you to work as a K-5 or K-6 teacher.

In an elementary education program, you'll study instruction techniques and ways to teach specific subjects like literature and social studies. And your coursework will also prepare you for certification exams.

If you're considering an online elementary education degree, here's what to do next:

  • Explore this page to determine whether this path is the right choice for you.
  • Check out the top-ranked online bachelor's in elementary education programs, as well as our sponsored programs.
  • Request more information from schools you're interested in to find the best fit for you.

Why Should You Get an Online Degree in Elementary Education?

We use datasets from sources like the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. 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. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such. All data is current as of the date this article was published. Program-specific information may vary.

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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#1 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

University of Northern Iowa

  • Cedar Falls, IA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $350
Out-of-State | $350

Credits to Graduate: 120

UNI's online bachelor's elementary education degree, designed for working professionals who already hold an associate degree, offers a customizable education. You can pursue a double major in elementary and middle level education, and select minors in literacy education, early childhood education, or social and emotional learning. 

Over a span of two years, live streaming and asynchronous work coursework prepares you to teach, with lessons in early literacy teaching methods, classroom assessment, and field experiences. You'll study with a consistent cohort of future educators. Some courses provide the opportunity for on-the-ground learning. Admission requires an associate degree. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,780
Out-of-state
$18,480
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,296
Out-of-state
$19,928
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
9,217
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#2 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

University of South Carolina-Columbia

  • Columbia, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: CAEP

Cost per Credit (part time):
In-State | $433
Out-of-State | $869

Credits to Graduate: 120

UofSC's bachelor's in elementary education prepares teachers for grades 2-6 with field experiences that provide practice for certification in South Carolina. This 120-credit degree completion program takes 2-3 years, including the 12-month internship. 

Throughout that time, you'll learn about classroom management, institutional methods, literacy and reading instruction and child growth and development. The Office of Clinical Experiences handles all classroom placements.

Choose from six start times. You will need at least 25 credits from an accredited school and a GPA of 2.5 or higher to get admitted into UofSC. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$12,288
Out-of-state
$33,528
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,734
Out-of-state
$29,760
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
35,471
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#3 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

Drexel University

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation:  CAEP

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $459
Out-of-State | $459

Quarter Credits to Graduate: 180

Drexel's bachelor's in elementary education degree offers a potential pathway to teaching certification with an additional special education credential. You'll develop special education competencies to modify curriculum, provide remedial instruction, and use the latest technologies. 

This part-time program, approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, takes between 2.5-5 years. To pursue a teaching certification you must complete 12 weeks of teaching experience and 190 additional hours of in-school activities. The program also offers a non-certification option.

If you hold less than 24 college credits, you need to submit your high school transcripts and a personal essay.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$54,766
Out-of-state
$54,766
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$36,234
Out-of-state
$36,234
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
23,216
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#4 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

  • Stillwater, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation:  CAEP

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $420
Out-of-State | $938

Credits to Graduate: 124

OSU's online elementary education program leads to a teaching certification recommended by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Besides three field experiences totaling 144 hours and a senior year internship, the rest of the coursework operates online. This four-year degree equips you to teach elementary social studies, science, math, and literature.

Admission requirements include a minimum GPA of 2.5 and an ACT score of 22, including the writing area, or a 1120 SAT score. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,417
Out-of-state
$20,937
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$5,611
Out-of-state
$21,114
Retention Rate
83%
Acceptance Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
24,577
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#5 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • Charlotte, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation:  CAEP

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $189
Out-of-State | $800

Credits to Graduate: 60

UNC Charlotte's bachelor's in elementary education is a degree completion program that trains teacher assistants to become certified teachers. Through a combination of live lectures and deadline-driven assignments, you can complete the 60 required core courses full time or part time. You'll study instruction design and assessment, theories and practices for an equitable education in urban areas, and instruction planning for diversity.

New students enter in the summer, usually with an associate degree and a minimum 2.7 GPA. Eligible candidates also need a recommendation letter from a school administrator, experience as a teacher assistant in North Carolina, and passing Praxis scores. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$3,812
Out-of-state
$17,246
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$4,337
Out-of-state
$17,771
Retention Rate
85%
Acceptance Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
30,448
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
69% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#6 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

Kansas State University

  • Manhattan, KS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation:  CAEP

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $394
Out-of-State | $394

Credits to Graduate: 120

K-State's elementary education bachelor's degree blends classroom experience and theory. The 120-credit program proceeds in three blocks. Block A covers education technology, psychology, and teaching skills with a lab. The next two blocks provide classroom experience through two field practicums. 

You'll also complete a teaching internship that involves observing an elementary classroom and teaching independently. The program encourages you to earn a minor or certification.

After graduation, you can apply for an initial teaching license in Kansas.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$9,489
Out-of-state
$25,560
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,294
Out-of-state
$23,018
Retention Rate
86%
Acceptance Rate
96%
Students Enrolled
20,229
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

University of North Dakota

  • Grand Forks, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation:  CAEP, North Dakota Educational Standards and Practices Board

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $384
Out-of-State | $577

Credits to Graduate: 125

UND's bachelor's in elementary education degree prepares you to teach grades 1-8 and choose from multiple minors. Pursue minors in early childhood education, English language learners and bilingual education, literary education, middle school education, or special education.

You'll get training in the classroom through various field experiences, and learn how to teach reading, social studies, math, and science.

If you want to earn a graduate degree, you can enroll in the dual program to earn a master's in elementary education faster than if you applied to a master's program only after completing your undergraduate degree. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,882
Out-of-state
$13,323
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,503
Out-of-state
$17,254
Retention Rate
77%
Acceptance Rate
89%
Students Enrolled
13,772
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#8 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

Viterbo University

  • La Crosse, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $335
Out-of-State | $335

Credits to Graduate: 53

If you have an associate degree, Viterbo's bachelor's in elementary education completion program can lead to teaching certification in 2-3 years. Additionally, you can choose to take nine additional credits to earn a special education license. 

Viterbo, originally known as the St. Rose Normal School, has a background in training elementary school educators since 1890. The core curriculum combines Franciscan values, technology-enhanced instruction, and teaching approaches for diverse students.

Typically, accepted students start with 35-65 credits from accredited colleges.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$29,230
Out-of-state
$29,230
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,488
Out-of-state
$9,488
Retention Rate
74%
Acceptance Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
2,520
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#9 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

Buena Vista University

  • Storm Lake, IA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $465
Out-of-State | $465

Credits to Graduate: 120

BVU's online elementary education degree coursework builds a foundation in instructional technology, elementary literacy, teaching methods, and educational psychology. Students in this program receive teacher prep on instructing grades K-6. Online students have access to tutors and a student lounge.

Through the Plus One Program, you can complete an organizational leadership or English as a second language master's in one year, (for a total of five years at BVU) instead of the standard two years to complete a master's degree.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$37,518
Out-of-state
$37,518
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,936
Out-of-state
$9,936
Retention Rate
73%
Acceptance Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
1,959
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#10 Top Online Elementary Education Programs

Campbell University

  • Buies Creek, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $450
Out-of-State | $450

Credits to Graduate: 124

Campbell University offers its online B.S. in elementary education program in an eight-week accelerated format. The program covers many subjects based on your interest. These include assessment, data-informed teaching, education tech foundations, special education and adaptive technology. 

A main focus of the program is nurturing your love for kids while providing the skills and knowledge needed to become a teacher. Coursework covers curriculum creation, assessment techniques, instructional practices, and addressing the diverse needs of students and families for grades K-6.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$35,580
Out-of-state
$35,580
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$14,041
Out-of-state
$14,041
Retention Rate
74%
Acceptance Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
5,622
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

How We Rank Schools

To create this ranking, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our College Choice and Admissions Survey. To learn more, check out our full rankings methodology or read the summary below.

Ranking Methodology Summary

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To qualify for our rankings lists, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each eligible school was then ranked based on a formula measuring:

  • Affordability (30%)
  • Student outcomes (30%)
  • Reputation (20%)
  • Diversity and social mobility (20%)

In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges.

Online Bachelor's in Elementary Education Coursework

Earning an online elementary education degree requires a significant amount of time and money. So it's important to understand what these programs entail before making a commitment.

In this section, we cover some common program elements to help you make an informed decision.

Courses

While coursework can vary from school to school, most elementary education curricula cover similar topics to prepare you for the classroom.

Common courses include:

  • Educational Technology
  • Children's Literature and Literacy Instruction
  • Social Studies in the Elementary Classroom
  • Reading and Language in the Elementary Classroom
  • Classroom Management
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Elementary School Settings

Specializations

In addition to foundational core coursework, some schools also offer specializations like:

Student Teaching

As with other K-12 education degrees, if you're seeking an elementary education degree online, you typically need to complete student teaching experience to qualify for graduation and licensure.

Student teaching usually lasts a full semester and is a required, unpaid part of the degree. Keep in mind that specific time requirements vary by state, so you should check with your board of education for more details.

How Much Does an Online Bachelor's in Elementary Education Cost?

Average Annual Cost of a Bachelor's Degree

Public Institution | 2021-2022

$9,596

Private Institution | 2021-2022

$34,041

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

A bachelor's degree in elementary education — like any college degree — is a financial commitment. While public institutions typically cost less than private institutions, both cost chunks of change to complete.

But there's some good news: You can make your degree more affordable through scholarships for education majors. Federal and private student loans are also available, too. For those taking federal student loans, many teachers also qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

Elementary Education Scholarships:

Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program

The Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program grants students pursuing a teaching career in a West Virginia public school up to $10,000 per year for four years to use toward tuition, fees, and relevant college expenses. After graduating, recipients must teach elementary education, special education, math, or science in an eligible school for at least five years.


Mrs. Prindables Future Educator Scholarship

The Future Educator Scholarship from Mrs. Prindables awards $1,000 each year to one student majoring in education, applicable to their tuition and related expenses. Students must fill out an online form to apply and explain their reasons for becoming an educator.


Gates Millennium Scholars Program

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program offers renewable scholarships for diverse students in need who study education or other fields. The award goes to 1,000 students annually, with an average annual scholarship of more than $12,000.

Read More: How to Find Scholarships for College Students: Top 12 Resources

Read More: Scholarships for Education Majors

How Do I Choose a Bachelor's in Elementary Education Degree Program?

To ensure that your degree aligns with your goals as an educator, look for a bachelor’s degree in elementary education that fits your learning style, interests, and educational needs. Consider the following as you search for the right elementary education degree online.

Cost

The cost of an online program varies significantly by school. While public schools tend to have lower tuition rates than private schools, many private schools don’t charge higher rates for out-of-state online students. If you’re considering pursuing an online elementary education degree in another state, you might find a private school more cost-effective.

Don’t forget to include the cost of books and fees in your total costs when comparing programs.

Program Format

An online elementary education degree may have synchronous or asynchronous coursework or a blend of both. Synchronous courses require you to meet virtually for live classes at specific times, while asynchronous courses don’t have set meeting times. If you prefer a more self-paced format, you need an asynchronous program.

Also, remember that many elementary education programs require student teaching, usually in person. See if you can complete your student teaching requirements at a school of your choice, especially if you live out of state.

Location

Online and on-campus programs offer the same curriculum, so you don’t need to worry about not having a quality education if you study online. Just be aware that some programs may change certain elements — like practicums and labs — depending on the delivery method.

However, the cost of online and in-person degrees sometimes varies. Some schools have a separate tuition rate for online learners but may tack on a per-credit or per-semester technology fee to access the school’s virtual services.

To stick to your budget, consider looking for a school that includes digital textbooks and materials in your tuition costs and charges minimal or no technology fees to online learners.

Accreditation

If you plan to become a licensed educator, look for an elementary education degree from an accredited college or university. Accreditation spotlights schools providing high-quality academics through a supportive environment.

You can usually find accreditation information on a school’s website, but be sure to cross-check their accreditation status on the accrediting body’s website.

Institutional accreditation is important for legitimacy and transfer credits, but programmatic accreditation is important too. For elementary education degrees online, check for accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Student Support

Student support services are important to every student, but can be especially helpful to you as an online learner. Services like online tutoring, career coaching, and virtual socialization and networking events can give you academic and social support while keeping you involved in your school.

If you can’t find information about a school’s support service on its website, contact an academic advisor to ask what’s available.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Elementary Education Program?

Knowing what to expect when applying for a bachelor’s degree in elementary education program can help you feel more prepared to fill out your application. The following common requirements are what many schools look for.

Test Scores

Usually, applicants need to submit their ACT or SAT scores. However, some schools don’t place too much weight on test scores for an elementary education degree, and may equally consider a GPA of 3.0 or higher when assessing an applicant. The Praxis Core may also be required for students pursuing a teaching licensure pathway.

Letters of Recommendation

Your school may request o letters of recommendation from people who can vouch for your academic commitment and desire to become a teacher. Sometimes, your letters of recommendation may need to come strictly from other educators, like high school instructors or previous professors you’ve learned from. If you're applying to an online elementary education degree from the workforce (instead of directly after high school), your letters of recommendation can potentially come from your manager.

Resume and Work Experiences

Although not often required to apply for an online elementary education degree, including relevant work experience on your application could highlight your interest and skills in the education field.

Schools offering completion bachelor’s programs in elementary education may ask you to have several hours of professional experience with children before applying.

Essays

Essays help explain your professional goals and why you want to apply to an elementary education program.

Even if your school doesn’t require one, submitting one with your application is a good idea anyway. Include information about your personal achievements, challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them, and anything that might have inspired you to become an educator.

Official Transcripts

Schools require your high school transcripts to see what classes you’ve taken, your grades, and your overall grade point average. They use this information to determine whether you’re a good fit for the program.

Be sure to submit official transcripts, which are original copies sent directly from your school. Also, include official transcripts from any colleges you’ve attended, as some of your credits may transfer into your new program.

Popular Online Programs

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

Is a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education Worth It?

A bachelor's in elementary education is worth it for those seeking a job as an elementary school teacher. Many states require a degree in elementary education in order to teach. You'll also prepare for any necessary licensing exams and complete student-teaching experience.

When making a decision on whether a bachelor's in education is worth it for you, it's important to consider your own interests and economic situation. A degree is a large investment, and you should measure the return on investment (ROI) of your college degree.

With an average annual salary of $61,350 (The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022), you may wish to consider scholarships or loan-forgiveness programs to make your degree more affordable.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Bachelor's in Elementary Education?

An elementary education degree often leads to teaching roles for preschool or elementary-aged students. However, other career possibilities besides those listed below are available for graduates. For example, some graduates may lead community youth programs or tutor children just learning to read.

Because many elementary education programs require students to complete several hours of student-teaching in real classrooms to graduate, they prepare learners well for various relevant careers, whether in or out of the classroom.

The following careers are some of the most common to pursue after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Elementary Education Careers and Wages
Elementary Education Career Median Annual Wage (2022)
Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher $61,620
Childcare Worker $28,520
Preschool Teacher $35,330
Special Education Teacher $62,950
Social and Community Service Managers $74,240
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you plan to move forward with a master’s degree in elementary education, you could broaden your opportunities with potential careers such as principal or instructional coordinator.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education

What degree do most elementary teachers have?

Chevron Down

Most elementary teachers have a bachelor's degree in elementary education or general education. An elementary education degree provides specialized knowledge future teachers need to teach elementary school students, like giving assessments and building literacy skills.

What can you do with a bachelor's degree in elementary education?

Chevron Down

Most graduates with a bachelor's degree in elementary education teach either K-5 or K-6 students. But outside of teaching, you can work in other capacities in a school setting.

For example, with additional schooling, you could work as a guidance counselor, special education teacher, or school principal.

Are elementary school teachers in demand?

Chevron Down

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for kindergarten and elementary school teachers to grow by only 1% from 2022-2032. However, dedicated elementary school teachers are necessary to keep school systems well-staffed, so they'll continue to fill roles as other teachers retire.

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