It's no secret that an associate degree is a great first step toward earning a bachelor's. Many schools now encourage a “two and two” approach to undergraduate education, where students complete their first two years at a community college and finish their bachelor's at a four-year university. This allows students to graduate at a fraction of the cost of a traditional university. An online associate degree in education opens yet another door — with this degree graduates can move directly into a paraeducator position. Many preschools and elementary classrooms need entry-level educators, and an associate degree offers terrific preparation. Not only do graduates gain immediate teaching experience, they're prepared to return to school with a solid foundation. Paraeducators are also eligible to join professional organizations like the National Education Association and begin the licensure process, all while taking the first step in a long, rewarding career.

As labor studies have shown, it's a good time earn an associate degree and enter paraeducation. According to a recent study reported by Rasmussen College, you increase the number of jobs available to you by 134% simply by earning an associate. Paraeducation, in particular, is expected to grow by at least 6% in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Time to Complete

Full-time students can usually complete an associate-level education online degree in two years or less.

Credit Hours

To graduate, most online colleges require students to complete 60 credit hours of coursework.

Program Costs

$6,000 is the average cost for a year's tuitio.

Core Courses

English composition, public speaking, introduction to teaching, child development, math for teachers, US history, natural sciences

Concentrations

Special education, early childhood to kindergarten education, middle grades, secondary education

Accreditation

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation is the standard bearer for educational accreditation.

Additional Considerations

Some programs lead to basic licensure. Many include a field practicum, which requires a background check.

Rank School Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 47%

Prospective students select Liberty's non-licensure associate degree in education degree for the program's rigor and excellent reputation. This fully online program uses eight-week courses blending Christian teachings and the latest research in education. Full-time students can graduate in just 18 months, and go on to careers as home school teachers and Christian school teachers.

This 60-credit, asynchronous program features 39 credits of core competency requirements, including courses in mathematics and composition, as well as religious coursework in the Old and New Testaments, Christian life, and theology. The 21-credit major features courses in learning theories, classroom management, and the psychology of childhood. Throughout the program, students develop a learning portfolio that serves both to fulfill graduation requirements, and advertise knowledge and skills to potential employers.

Unlike other colleges in this ranking, Liberty does not accept the GED. Applicants must possess a minimum 2.0 high school GPA, although Liberty accepts applicants with lower GPAs in certain circumstances. Transfer students can apply up to 45 outside credits toward their online associate degree in education.

Liberty provides students free digital textbooks, saving students thousands of dollars on their degrees. Active service members and veterans automatically receive a 40% tuition discount and do not pay an application fee. Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Education
Tuition: $390/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (800) 424-9595
Email: luoadmissions@liberty.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

Northwestern State University

Natchitoches, LA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 39%

In Northwestern State University's associate of general studies program, students complete a general education core and select an academic enrichment concentration. This two-year program prepares students seeking non-licensure education careers, however, many students use the degree as a stepping stone to enter licensure-conferring bachelor's programs.

The 60-credit, asynchronous curriculum features core coursework in English, mathematics, natural sciences, and the humanities. The 18-credit concentration, and nine-credit enrichment option provide students opportunities to personalize their educations. An associate degree from NSU will transfer automatically to nearly all Louisiana public schools and universities, making it an attractive option for students planning to pursue a bachelor's degree.

NSU requires applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores, as well as high school transcripts. The university considers transfer credit on a case-by-case basis. All NSU online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, a rare benefit for out-of-state students. Louisiana residents with financial need may qualify for the university's Tuition Hardship Waiver. NSU grants similar waivers to veterans and their children.

NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The associate degree in education online program boasts accreditation from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate of General Studies
Available Concentrations: Allied health; child and family studies; radiologic sciences
Tuition: $375/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: ACT

Contact
Phone: (318) 357-6355
Email: ace@nsula.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

Stanly Community College

Albemarle, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

Students enroll in Stanly Community College's early childhood education program to master best practices, and hone classroom management skills. The program transfers to North Carolina public colleges and universities that offer licensure-track bachelor's programs. Full-time students graduate in two years, while part-time students typically take 3-4 years.

The 73-credit, synchronous curriculum includes a B-K licensure and non-licensure track. Both feature a rigorous major focusing on sociology, psychology, and child development. Students in the B-K licensure track complete a practicum at a North Carolina public school. For this reason, only in-state students may apply to the licensure track. Students can supplement their degree by earning an 18-credit certification in social/emotional development or infant/toddler care. Full-time students earning both a degree and certificate graduate in three years.

Prospective students submit either high school transcripts or GED scores, as well as FAFSA results and placement test score results. In-state students save approximately 75% on their degrees compared to out-of-state applicants. SCC awards many merit-based scholarships to in- and out-of-state students.

SCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The online associate degree in education program holds accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $76/credit in-state; $268/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 73 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Contact
Phone: (704) 991-0123
Email: admissions@stanly.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

University of Alaska - Fairbanks

Fairbanks, AK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 30%

The University of Alaska Fairbanks' virtual school allows students from around the world to earn their associate of applied science in early childhood education degrees. This flexible program does not include set meeting times, allowing students to view lectures and complete work at their convenience. Full-time students can graduate in just two years. Graduates work as Head Start instructors, childcare providers, and kindergarten teachers.

The 60-credit curriculum includes 45 credits of major courses including child guidance, foundations in nutrition and physical wellness, and child and family ecology. UAF online students use the Blackboard virtual learning system.

Before starting classes, students complete an online orientation conveying crucial college success skills, including how to study online. All students complete two practicums in their home communities. Although this program may qualify graduates for teacher licensure, prospective students should check their states' licensure requirements.

UAF accepts both the GED and high school transcripts. Applicants with fewer than 30 transfer credits also submit ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER scores. International applicants must provide SAT or ACT scores, and possibly TOEFL scores. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. UAF is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $212/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style:

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (907) 455-2060
Email: uaf-ecampus@alaska.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

Clovis Community College

Clovis, NM Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 47%

New Mexico residents choose Clovis Community College's associate of arts in early childhood education program as it fulfills many state requirements for early education teacher licensure. The in-depth program covers child development, curriculum, and literacy. Full-time students can earn their associate degree in education online in just five semesters. New Mexico graduates work as teachers in public elementary schools, while out-of-state graduates typically work in private childcare centers.

The 65-credit, asynchronous curriculum includes general education and program specific coursework. The general education program is highly flexible, and allows students to craft their education toward future bachelor programs or employer requirements. The early childhood education component features coursework in child growth, curriculum development, and teacher professionalism. CCC requires that students maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA throughout the program.

Prospective students must hold either a GED or high school diploma. Those without ACT or SAT scores take the ACCUPLACER test to determine initial English and mathematics course placements. Transfer students can apply up to 50 credits toward their CCC associate degree. Online students meet with an academic adviser to discuss course scheduling and transfer credit.

Curry County residents pay the lowest per-credit tuition rate, followed by all other in-state students. Out-of-state online students pay approximately double for their associate degrees. CCC awards merit scholarships to eligible students. CCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Early Childhood Education; Associate of General Studies
Tuition: $44-$54/credit in-state; $111/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 71 credits (early childhood); 60 credits (general studies)
Program Length: 5 semesters

Delivery
Format: Online

Contact
Phone: (575) 769-4025
Email: admissions@clovis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

Hutchinson Community College

Hutchinson, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 38%

Hutchinson Community College boasts four associate of arts and science options for prospective students planning to enter the education field: associate of science and associate of arts in general education, associate of applied science in early childhood education, and associate of arts in early childhood education. These non-licensure tracks prepare graduates to work in private schools and daycare centers.

Each degree involves a 65-credit curriculum that blends general education requirements with major coursework. Students take courses in biology, mathematics, and public speaking alongside those related to their major. In the early childhood programs, students analyze the latest research in infant and toddler development, teaching young children with special needs, and childcare.

All four education majors include a minimum of two electives. This associate degree in education online program uses the Canvas virtual learning system. Some courses may ask students to take exams at certified proctoring centers in their home communities. Students can start courses at any time, making HCC an attractive option for students seeking maximum flexibility.

HCC's admission process begins with a virtual tour introducing applicants to the school and online learning. HCC accepts applicants with high school diplomas or GEDs. Incoming students who submit SAT or ACT scores do not take placement tests. Kansas residents save approximately 30% on their education compared to out-of-state students. HCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: AS in General Education; Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education; AA in General Education; AA in Early Childhood
Tuition: $110/credit in-state; $141/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60-65 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (620) 665-3352
Email: OnlineEd@hutchcc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

Troy University

Troy, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 39%

The associate of science in general education at Troy was built to teach the skills graduates need to succeed in a bachelor's program. The school designed its online associate degree in education exclusively for students planning to further their educations. Full-time students graduate in two years.

The 60-credit curriculum includes 25 credits of general education and 35 credits of free electives wherein students build a personalized major. General education courses include western civilization, biology, and finite mathematics. Students interested in pursuing a bachelor's in education work closely with Troy advisers, selecting appropriate electives from the university's College of Education. Troy's online courses allow students to view course material and complete work at any time. All online courses boast instructors with advanced degrees and extensive professional experience.

Prospective students can attend an online open house before applying. Although a private university, Troy accepts applicants who possess GEDs. Students can earn up to 30 credits through transfer credit or challenge exams. New students start their educations at five points throughout the year.

Troy charges tuition per term, meaning that full-time students and accelerated students save money compared to their part-time peers. Troy awards merit-based scholarships to transfer, nontraditional, and military students. Eligible military students can save up to 40% on their educations. Troy is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Program Overview
Program Name: AS in General Education
Tuition: $325/credit in-state; $650/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (800) 414-5756
Email: ask@troy.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Colorado Christian University

Lakewood, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

The general studies associate degree at Colorado Christian University prepares students to transfer to four-year bachelor's programs. With eight program focuses, students can personalize their degree to match bachelor's in education programs' transfer requirements. CCU online students take only one, five-week course at a time, allowing them to structure their educations around other responsibilities. Full-time students earn their degrees in less than two years.

The 60-credit curriculum requires only one course meeting per week during the evening. A Christian university, CCU requires students to take three religion courses from nine possible electives. CCU caps its class sizes to ensure all students receive individualized attention from professors. New classes start every 5-7 weeks, making CCU an excellent choice for students wanting to earn their degrees as soon as possible.

CCU does not charge an application fee. Transfer students can earn up to 45 credits through prior coursework at other accredited schools, challenge exams, and portfolios. A private university, CCU charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all students. Service members and their dependents receive an automatic 60% tuition discount. New students 21 and older may qualify for the university's Boundless Opportunity Scholarship. CCU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in General Studies
Tuition: $469/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (303) 963-3000
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

Touro University Worldwide

Los Alamitos, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 60%

Touro University Worldwide's online associate of arts in general studies is designed for entry-level job seekers and those looking to pursue a bachelor's degree. This fully online program allows students to customize their education coursework. All courses last eight weeks, allowing ambitious, full-time students to graduate in just five semesters. The majority of TUW students enter bachelor's programs upon graduation.

The 60-credit, asynchronous curriculum features 45 credits of general education requirements. TUW allows students to take more courses in their preferred general education subject area (e.g., physical and biological sciences, arts and humanities, and social sciences). Throughout the program, students create an academic portfolio. All online courses boast small class sizes and professors with advanced degrees. New students can start this program at six points throughout the year.

Prospective students must possess a GED or high school diploma that reflects a minimum 2.0 GPA. TUW charges the same per-credit tuition to all students, meaning that online, part-time students pay the same as their full-time peers. TUW does not award need- or merit-based aid at this time. However, TUW financial aid counselors guide students through the FAFSA process, providing information regarding outside scholarship and grant opportunities. TUW is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in General Studies
Tuition: $400/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 5 semesters

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (818) 575-6800
Email: online@tuw.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

South Texas College

McAllen, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 15%

Texas residents preparing for teaching careers should look no further than South Texas College. The school's three associate of arts in teaching programs prepare students for careers as elementary, middle, or high school teachers. Full-time students graduate in two years. Although a non-licensure program, the associate degree in education online transfers seamlessly to many Texas four-year public colleges.

Each program at STC features a 60- to 62-credit curriculum comprising 42 credits of general education and 18-20 major credits. While all students take coursework in special education and child development, the general education curriculum at STC boasts significant flexibility. The major curriculum aligns with the grade levels that students aspire to teach. Students use Blackboard to access course content and complete work. All three asynchronous education programs provide a recommended course sequence to help students graduate as soon as possible.

Out-of-state prospective students should research whether STC's associate programs can transfer to teacher licensure granting programs in their home states. Applicants may submit either high school transcripts or GED scores. Out-of-state students pay approximately 250% more for their degrees than in-state students.

South Texas College does not award need-based grants or merit-based scholarships at this time. However, financial aid advisers assist incoming students search for and apply to grant and scholarship opportunities. South Texas College is regionally accredited by the South Association of Colleges and Schools.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Teaching
Available Concentrations: Elementary education; middle school education; high school education
Tuition: $70-$80/credit in-state; $200/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60-62 credits
Program Length: 5 semesters

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (956) 872-8323
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

South Dakota State University

Brookings, SD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

The general studies AA program at South Dakota State University prepares graduates to enter bachelor's programs in nearly all academic fields, including education. Students hone their analytical skills, become better communicators, and expand their educational horizons. Full-time students typically graduate in two years. Most SDState students immediately enter degree completion programs after graduation.

The 60-credit, asynchronous curriculum includes a general education component emphasizing written and oral communication, social science, humanities, mathematics, and natural science. Through the program's 30 elective credits, students can customize their degrees to meet their future colleges' or universities' transfer requirements. This flexibility provides out-of-state students the ability to align their education with their state's teacher preparation requirements. Throughout the program, SDState online students view lectures and complete assignments through the Desire2Learn system.

Application requirements include high school transcripts or GRE scores, ACT scores, and previous college transcripts, if applicable. Before registering for classes, all new students first meet with an academic adviser and attend an online orientation. Out-of-state students pay only 15% more for their degrees, making this online associate degree in education a great choice for aspiring teachers throughout the country.

The school uses rolling admissions, and new students can begin courses within one month of admission. SDState does not award scholarships or grants, but it does provide students ample information on how to access outside financial aid opportunities. SDState is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in General Studies
Tuition: $340/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: ACT

Contact
Phone: (605) 688-4154
Email: distance@sdstate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook,; Twitter

12

Trident Technical College

Charleston, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 16%

The associate in arts degree at TTC prepares students to transfer to bachelor's programs in more than 15 humanities and social sciences areas, including education. With nearly 100 courses to choose from, students customize their degree toward their future schools' admission requirements. Prospective students who plan to enter the workforce after earning their online associate degree in education should look to other programs in this ranking. Full-time students can earn their associate in two years.

The 60-credit curriculum's only synchronous course is a first-year experience seminar introducing students to college success skills. After this course, students may take communication, social science, mathematics, history, and natural science courses in any order they please. Online courses do not use set meeting times. This flexibility makes TTC the perfect choice for prospective students managing other professional or personal responsibilities.

Prospective students may submit either high school transcripts or GED scores. New students with a minimum 3.0 high school GPA and/or excellent SAT or ACT score are exempt from taking placement tests. International applicants should contact the university to learn more about additional application requirements.

A South Carolina technical college, TTC charges the same per-credit tuition to all students. In-state students may receive financial aid through Lottery Tuition Assistance or other state-funded financial aid programs. TTC s regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Education
Tuition: $184-$204/credit in-state; $347/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60 credits

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (843) 574-6034
Email: TTCOnlineCollege@tridenttech.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Rome, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

Georgia state residents looking for an online associate degree in education conferring teacher licensure should consider Georgia Northwestern Technical College's early childhood care and education associate of applied science degree. Students can complete the program entirely online or through a hybrid program at one of GNTC's six campuses. Graduates who do not enter bachelor's programs start careers as Head Start instructors or pre-K teachers in Georgia public schools.

The 72-credit synchronous curriculum includes 48 major credits. Course highlights include child growth and development, guidance and classroom management, and social issues and family involvement. Students also complete an early childhood care and education practicum and two internships in Georgia public schools. Finally, students personalize their degrees by selecting a specialization in exceptionalities, infants, or paraprofessional.

Besides Georgia residency, prospective students should hold either a high school diploma or GED. GNTC considers transfer credit on a case-by-case basis. To participate in practicums and internships, students must first pass a criminal background check and earn a CPR certification. New students can start the program in the spring, summer, or fall semester.

As only in-state students can enroll in this associate in early childhood care and education program, all students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Incoming students with excellent high school GPAs may qualify for a HOPE Career Grant or Zell Miller Grant. GNTC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Care and Education
Available Concentrations: Exceptionalities; infant and toddler; paraprofessional; program administration; school age and youth care
Tuition: $89/credit in-state; $178/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 72 credits

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (866) 983-4682
Email: admissions@gntc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

Rowan College at Burlington County

Pemberton, NJ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 24%

The associate of arts in education program at RCBC prepares students to transfer to a New Jersey four-year teacher education program. Students learn how to interpret relevant laws, improve written and oral communication skills, and evaluate the challenges facing education in the 21st century. Full-time online students can earn the degree in two years.

The 64-credit asynchronous curriculum features three categories: 47 credits of general education courses, 12 credits of program courses, and five elective credits. Professors with advanced degrees and significant teaching experience instruct online courses. New Jersey residents select a subject matter specialization. Near the end of the program, students take the PRAXIS I exam. Learners remain in good academic standing by maintaining a minimum 2.75 GPA.

New Jersey residents with GEDs or high school diplomas may apply to RCBC. Out-of-state students may also apply, but the online associate degree in education may not transfer to teacher preparation programs in their home states. RCBC does not charge an application fee to applicants who apply online. Incoming students take the ACCUPLACER test to determine initial English and mathematics course placement.

In-state online students save approximately 40% on tuition compared to their out-of-state peers. In-state students may also qualify for in-state financial aid programs. RCBC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Education
Tuition: $111-$127/credit in-state; $192/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 61 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (856) 291-4265
Email: cfrancis-denton@rcbc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

15

Eastern Kentucky University

Richmond, KY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

The general studies associate degree at EKU attracts students from diverse backgrounds. Students with and without clear career goals can advance their education and prepare to transfer to a bachelor's program at EKU or another college or university. Students who live near EKU's Richmond campus can complete the program in a hybrid format. Full-time students graduate in two years.

The entirely online 64-credit curriculum uses accelerated, eight-week courses. Students take courses asynchronously and can personalize their degree through nine credits of free electives and core courses. All students take 39 credits of general education requirements. Online courses use Blackboard, and students can access free online tutoring services.

Before applying, out-of-state prospective students should contact EKU to determine whether this online associate degree in education can transfer to bachelor's in education programs in their home states. Applicants need a minimum 2.5 high school GPA or at least 24 transferable credits. The university does not accept applicants with GEDs. EKU's generous credit transfer policy accepts up to 49 outside credits.

EKU does not charge out-of-state online students a higher tuition rate than in-state students. Active-duty service members automatically receive a 40% tuition discount. Before starting classes, students must consult with academic advisers to create a course schedule. New students can start the program at six points throughout the year. EKU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate in General Studies
Available Concentrations: Education
Tuition: $409/credit
Credit Requirements: 64 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (859) 622-9951
Email: onlinedegrees@eku.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

16

Brenau University

Gainesville, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

At Brenau, students can earn an associate of arts in elementary education through a hybrid program where students attend 25% of courses on one of Brenau's four Georgia campuses. The university created this non-licensure program exclusively for students planning to transfer to a bachelor's-completion program at a U.S. college or university. Full-time students graduate in two years, while part-time students typically need 3-4 years to earn the degree. Many graduates choose Brenau for their bachelor's in education, which confers Georgia teacher licensure.

The 61-credit synchronous curriculum features coursework in human biology, college algebra, school and society, and mathematics concepts for teachers. During a course on introduction to teacher education, students complete practica in Georgia elementary schools. To stay in good academic standing, students must maintain a 2.0 undergraduate GPA.

Due to the program's residency requirements, students should ensure that they can attend classes on campus. Applicants need a minimum 2.75 high school GPA. Transfer applicants with at least 30 undergraduate credits must submit undergraduate transcripts that reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA. Brenau also accepts applicants with GEDs. A private university, Brenau charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all associate degree in education online students. Some courses include additional fees, and Brenau is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $550/credit
Credit Requirements: 61 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact
Phone: (770) 534-6100
Email: admissions@brenau.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

17

Arkansas Tech University

Russellville, AK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 39%

At ATU, aspiring teachers can select either an associate degree in early childhood education or general studies. Both degree paths are mostly asynchronous. Full-time students graduate in two years, and most graduates enter a bachelor's program soon after. Before applying, prospective out-of-state students should determine whether the early childhood education program can transfer to licensure-granting bachelor's in education programs in the states where they plan to teach.

Both programs feature a 62-credit curriculum that includes 37 general education credits. In the early childhood education associate program, students follow a prescribed education curriculum for the remaining 25 credits. In the general studies associate program, students work with ATU advisers to select appropriate electives. The general studies program is an ideal option for students who have not yet committed to a career in education.

ATU accepts high school graduates and GED holders to its associate degree in education online program. The application process takes only one hour; applicants submit academic transcripts and test scores upon ATU's request. Arkansas residents save approximately 40% on their educations compared to out-of-state online students.

Online students pay annual fees, as well. However, generous financial aid packages mean that 80% of undergraduate students receive federally funded or private scholarships or grants. Incoming freshmen can apply for a university-funded scholarship. ATU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in General Studies; AS in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $219/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (479) 508-3330
Email: ozark.recruit@atu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

18

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Waxahachie, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

The fully online associate degree in early childhood education attracts prospective students who want to bring their Christian faith to a teaching career. Students master skills related to classroom management, curriculum development, and teaching diverse populations. Full-time students graduate in two years. Graduates who go on to earn a bachelor's in early childhood education can work as kindergarten teachers, music teachers, and school administrators.

The 60-credit asynchronous curriculum features 39 credits of general education courses. SAGU undergraduates also take courses in the Bible, Christianity, biblical literature, and Pentecostal doctrine. During the 18-credit major studies component, students analyze the foundations of education, developmental psychology, and reading and writing across the curriculum. The program does not satisfy any state's requirements for initial teacher licensure. However, many graduates transfer the SAGU associate degree to licensure programs in their home states.

Applicants submit high school transcripts or GED scores. SAGU also requires ACT or SAT scores; the university uses score cutoffs for admission purposes. The university also accepts transfer applicants and awards college credit through challenge exams and experiential learning portfolios. A private university, SAGU charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all online students. In 2019, SAGU dropped its per-credit tuition rate by 13%. New students can start their educations at six points throughout the year.

SAGU is regionally accredited by the Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools. The online associate degree in education program boasts certification from the Texas Education Agency.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $499/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (888) 937-7248
Email: info@sagu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

19

Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas

De Queen, AR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

The associate of general studies at UA Cossatot is a stepping stone to multiple bachelor's programs, including degrees in education. This program primarily attracts Arkansas residents who plan to transfer to Arkansas Tech University or other in-state public schools. However, colleges and universities throughout the U.S. accept this associate in education online degree. Full-time online students graduate in two years.

The 60-credit asynchronous curriculum includes general studies requirements in areas such as introduction to fine arts, American government, and composition. The program boasts 31 elective credits, allowing students to customize the degree to their goals. Transfer advisers help students with this process. Students who need developmental courses in English and mathematics take up to 14 additional credits, extending their educations by approximately one year. All professors who teach online courses hold advanced degrees and significant professional experience.

UA Cossatot accepts high school transcripts and GED scores. Students who earn low scores on the ACCUPLACER mathematics and English tests must take remedial coursework before beginning the general studies curriculum. Out-of-state students pay 20% more for their degrees than in-state students. New students interested in the UA Cossatot Scholarship must submit application materials by the deadline. Students can start their educations in the spring, summer, or fall semester. UA Cossatot is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate in General Studies
Tuition: $72-$90/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (870) 584-4471
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

20

Brunswick Community College

Bolivia, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 35%

Aspiring educators planning to teach young children up to age eight should consider the early childhood education associate of applied science program at BCC. The North Carolina-based early childhood education program educates students from around the country. Full-time students earn their degrees in four semesters. Graduates who do not enter bachelor's programs can start careers as private school teachers, Head Start instructors, and childcare providers.

The synchronous 76-credit curriculum features major coursework in childhood development, child guidance, and family sociology. Learners also study best practices, expository writing, and professional research and reporting. Some courses may require students to take exams at local proctoring centers. Students can choose some of their general education courses (e.g., biology or chemistry) and two electives. BCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.

Prospective students with high school diplomas or GEDs may apply to this associate degree in education online program. Out-of-state applicants should contact BCC to determine if the degree transfers to a teacher licensure program in the state where they plan to teach. Application requirements include the FAFSA and placement test results. BCC provides study guides so that incoming students can prepare for placement tests. In-state online students save 75% on tuition compared to their out-of-state peers. BCC does not award college-funded scholarships or grants at this time.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education
Available Concentrations: Special education
Tuition: $76/credit in-state; $268/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 76 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Contact
Phone: (800) 754-1050
Email: admissions@brunswickcc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

21

Northeast Community College

Norfolk, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

The entirely online associate of arts in education - elementary allows students to earn the degree at their own pace. The degree seamlessly transfers to four-year bachelor's in elementary education programs at Nebraska public colleges and universities. Out-of-state prospective students should contact the college to find out if this online associate degree in education transfers to schools in their home states. Full-time students earn their degrees in two years. Graduates pursue careers as K-8 teachers.

The 60-credit curriculum features three components: general education courses, core education courses, and two practicum experiences at elementary schools in students' local communities. Northeast works closely with students to locate suitable practicum sites. The core curriculum includes coursework in physical science, introduction to professional education, and child and adolescent psychology. Although students take the core curriculum in a set order, they can take other courses in an asynchronous format. Students benefit from online academic advising and career services.

Northeast accepts high school diplomas and GEDs. Applicants without SAT or ACT scores must take the ASSET/COMPASS test. Students who score well on the SAT, ACT, or ASSET/COMPASS do not take remedial coursework, saving them hundreds of dollars on their education. All new online students take a registration session before starting the program. Nebraska residents save approximately 33% on tuition compared to their out-of-state online peers. Online students pay other fees in addition to tuition.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education; AA in Early Childhood Education; AA Education - Elementary
Tuition: $96/credit in-state; $135/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT

Contact
Phone: (800) 348-9033
Email: admission@northeast.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

22

Great Basin College

Elko, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 28%

GBC offers an associate of arts in early childhood education and an associate of applied science in early childhood education. The associate of arts program prepares students to transfer to a four-year school, while the associate of applied science program prepares students for entry-level careers that do not require teacher licensure or certification. Full-time students in both programs graduate in two years. Most associate of arts graduates transfer their degrees to four-year Nevada public colleges and universities. Some out-of-state schools may not accept all of the program's credits.

Both 60-credit associate degree in education online programs feature a general education curriculum, including coursework in communications, scientific reasoning, the humanities, and technology. To prepare students for transfer, the associate of arts program includes more general education courses than the associate of applied science. New students can start their educations in the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Applicants submit GED scores or high school transcripts. Applicants with SAT or ACT scores do not take placement tests. GBC charges online, out-of-state students 50% more in tuition than in-state students. However, online out-of-state students save on tuition compared to their out-of-state, on-campus peers. GBC awards scholarships to students who volunteer as caregivers for senior citizens. GBC is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Early Childhood Education; Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $108/credit in-state; $160/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 60.5 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (775) 753-2102
Email: admissions@gbcnv.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

23

Surry Community College

Dobson, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 31%

At SCC, students planning to start or advance a career in education can choose the associate in early childhood education program. Students learn how to identify factors that impact young children's learning, work with parents and communities, and maintain professionalism in and out of the classroom. Full-time students graduate in four semesters and can begin working in education settings that do not require teacher licensure or certification.

The 67-credit synchronous curriculum begins with a college student success or college transfer success course. Course highlights include general psychology, professional research, and quantitative literacy. Students can personalize their degrees with electives. The program concludes with an early childhood capstone practicum. During the practicum, students perform an action research project and use the results to write an extended essay. SCC uses Moodle to deliver online course content.

Prospective students should contact SCC's Career Services office to learn more about how an associate degree can propel their careers. Like other community colleges on this ranking, SCC accepts high school diplomas and GEDs. New students can start the early childhood education program in the spring, summer, or fall semester. A North Carolina community college, SCC charges in-state students 75% less in tuition than out-of-state students.

SCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The associate degree in education online program boasts accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.


Program Overview
Program Name: Associate in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $76/credit in-state; $268/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 67 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (336) 386-3218
Email: admissions@surry.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

24

Wilmington University

New Castle, DE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 26%

WilmU's College of Education offers a rigorous early childhood education - associate of arts program that prepares students for careers as paraprofessionals in public schools or teachers in private schools. Ambitious students can supplement their degrees with a certificate in child advocacy studies. Full-time students graduate in two years if they follow the university's recommended course sequence.

The 60- to 61-credit asynchronous curriculum includes general studies core courses and electives in the fine arts and natural sciences. The education core features coursework in professional issues in education, family development and service systems, and assessment of exceptional children and IEPs. In the final semester, students complete two clinicals and one internship at elementary schools in their home communities. The internship is the program's capstone experience.

WilmU offers multiple virtual college tours that cover topics such as online learning and financial aid. With new start dates every eight weeks, WilmU is an excellent choice for prospective students who want to start their educations quickly. Students without ACT or SAT scores must take the university's English and Math Skills Assessment.

All online associate degree in education students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Active-duty military personnel receive a 40% tuition discount. Education students may qualify for the TEACH Grant Program, which provides tuition assistance to students who agree to teach in low-income areas after graduation. WilmU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $372/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (877) 967-5464
Email: infocenter@wilmu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

25

Northwest Nazarene University

Nampa, ID Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 56%

At NNU, prospective educators can select from two choices for their associate of arts degree: elementary education or secondary education. These degrees prepare students to further their education at the bachelor's level or start careers as education paraprofessionals or private school teachers. As NNU offers only a hybrid program at this time, out-of-state prospective students should look to other programs on this ranking.

The 63-credit curriculum requires that students complete at least 50% of courses on NNU's Nampa, Idaho campus. These courses take place in the evenings so that students may continue working full time. A Christian university, NNU asks students to complete courses in biblical studies and Christian theology. The education concentration features coursework in cultural diversity, educational psychology, and technology in the classroom. Students stay in good academic standing by maintaining a minimum 2.0 GPA. Many courses require students to earn a B- or higher. New students can begin their educations in the fall or spring semester.

Applicants submit an introductory essay, SAT or ACT scores, and high school transcripts. NNU does not accept the GED at this time. Full-time online students save money on tuition compared to part-time students. New students with a minimum 2.5 high school GPA can apply for four university-funded scholarships.

NNU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The online associate degree in education boasts accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: AA in Elementary Education; AA in Secondary Education
Tuition: $390-$450/credit
Credit Requirements: 63 credits
Program Length: 16 months

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact
Phone: (208) 467-8854
Email: lkuhl@nnu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

CAREER PATHS

Most people entering the workforce with an online associate degree in education do so as entry-level classroom help. This might be as an assistant teacher, an educational technician, or a preschool teacher who instructs children before they go into kindergarten. Some may find work in childcare centers, Head Start programs, or even in religious organizations. Almost universally, these positions require you to be comfortable around very young children, and part-time positions are not uncommon.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers work in nursery schools and childcare centers, teaching language skills, math, and science to kids under five years old. The job requires patience and an ability to connect with and inspire toddlers.

Median Annual Salary - $28,790
Projected Growth Rate - 7%

Icon - Person Assistant Teacher

Because of large average classroom sizes, most teachers have help. Assistant teachers provide support to educators and work under the supervision of classroom teachers. They spend one-on-one time with kids, help them understand the instructions and lessons of the day, and provide personal attention. They also may work with special needs children. The position usually follows a traditional school schedule.

Median Annual Salary - $25,410
Projected Growth Rate - 6%

Childcare Worker

Many families and child-care centers hire help to take care of young children while parents are working. Because this position often includes teaching kids rudimentary skills, an associate in education is a major asset.

Median Annual Salary - $21,170
Projected Growth Rate - 5%

EDUCATIONAL PATHS

While an online associate in education offers good preparation for assistant teachers, it is also a great step to a bachelor's degree in education. Every state requires teachers to possess a four-year degree to gain licensure, and a two-year program lays the foundation. Most schools design their associate in education for students to transfer to a traditional university for the remaining two years of a baccalaureate degree. In other words, two-year schools provide an affordable path to complete general education requirements, and many schools guarantee that earned credits will transfer.

The investment is worth it — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income of kindergarten and elementary school teachers was $55,490 in 2016, almost double the salary of a preschool teacher with only an associate.

  • Bachelor's in Education: The traditional bachelor's in education takes four to five years to complete, and leads to licensure as a teacher at the K-12 level. Most programs allow students to specialize in the grade level or subject matter they'd like to teach.
  • Bachelor's in Special Education: Special education teachers take a slightly different path to traditional teaching, earning extra certification in subject matters and techniques used in special needs populations.
  • Bachelor's in Educational Administration: Most principals and school administrators have master's degrees, but a bachelor's in educational administration lays the foundation. This degree can usually be earned in four years, but some programs require slightly longer study.

ASSOCIATE IN EDUCATION SALARY

Education is one of the major factors determining financial success, and this is certainly true of an associate degree. According to recent labor market studies not only does a two-year degree improve one's job prospects — 6.3 million available jobs, as opposed to 4.7 million for high school grads — it also results in higher pay. Those with an associate degree earn nearly $23,000 a year, according to Payscale — which amounts to an additional $6,000 a year over those with only a high-school diploma. A completed associate degree also makes you more attractive to employers and university admissions officers.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

One of the benefits of working in education is the array of professional organizations and networking opportunities available to you. These groups often have continuing education programs, special publications to keep you up-to-date on the industry, conferences to meet-and-greet peers and learn best practices, online discussion groups, and plenty of opportunities to meet like-minded people across the country.

One of the main benefits of an online associate degree in education is its affordability. It is perhaps the least expensive way to begin a teaching career, as it provides a cheap alternative to pricey four-year schools. Even so, tuition costs may still be expensive. Thankfully, students in online associate in education programs are eligible for the same financial aid as their on-campus counterparts. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine your eligibility for federal funding. Several organizations also offer scholarships to aspiring teachers, and Teach.org is an excellent source of funding opportunities. Some communities will even offer grants or pay off your loans in exchange for a commitment to teach in specific communities.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Associate in Education of 2018
Ranking School Location
1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
2 Three Rivers Community College Poplar Bluff, MO
3 Lone Star College System The Woodlands, TX
4 Granite State College Concord, NH
5 Hagerstown Community College Hagerstown, MD
6 Tyler Junior College Tyler, TX
7 Panola College Carthage, TX
8 Lehigh Carbon Community College Schnecksville, PA
9 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX
10 Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville, NC
11 Campbell University Buies Creek, NC
12 Laramie County Community College Cheyenne, WY
13 Lincoln Trail College Robinson, IL
14 Bladen Community College Dublin, NC
15 Arizona Western College Yuma, AZ
16 National University La Jolla, CA
17 Arkansas Northeastern College Blytheville, AR
18 Navarro College Corsicana, TX
19 Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Asheville, NC
20 Southern Arkansas University Tech Camden, AR
Best Online Associate in Education of 2017
Rank School Location
1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
2 Three Rivers Community College Poplar Bluff, MO
3 Lone Star College System The Woodlands, TX
4 Granite State College Concord, NH
5 Hagerstown Community College Hagerstown, MD
6 Tyler Junior College Tyler, TX
7 Panola College Carthage, TX
8 Lehigh Carbon Community College Schnecksville, PA
9 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX
10 Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville, NC
11 Campbell University Buies Creek, NC
12 Laramie County Community College Cheyenne, WY
13 Lincoln Trail College Robinson, IL
14 Bladen Community College Dublin, NC
15 Arizona Western College Yuma, AZ
16 National University La Jolla, CA
17 Arkansas Northeastern College Blytheville, AR
18 Navarro College Corsicana, TX
19 Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Asheville, NC
20 Southern Arkansas University Tech Camden, AR