Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs of 2021

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by Whitney Sandoval

Published on December 3, 2021 · Updated on April 25, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
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An associate in elementary education program can open doors to careers in education and childcare. Coursework introduces learners to concepts in elementary education and child development, preparing graduates to help children solve problems and learn new skills.

Most teaching positions require at least a bachelor's in education. However, getting this associate degree could lead to other education-related careers. For example, graduates with an associate in elementary education may choose to work as a teacher's aide or assistant. Others may go on to continue their studies and pursue a four-year degree.

An associate in elementary education program typically takes two years to complete. Students can choose from online and in-person formats, as well as accelerated programs. An online program may offer a flexible path to this degree, which may appeal to people trying to balance schoolwork, jobs, and other commitments.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Elementary Education Program?

If you are patient, empathetic, and enjoy working with younger children, pursuing an associate in elementary education may be right for you. Those who are organized but flexible may be suited for this field.

Most associate in elementary education programs require the completion of about 60 credits. Along with general education classes, learners may take courses in classroom management, child development, and assessments. Although the typical program takes two years to complete, some schools offer accelerated options.

Students enrolled in an associate in elementary education program can learn to create and implement lessons in a variety of subjects, including math and English. Participants learn to evaluate curriculum and create meaningful assessments. Some colleges may require students to complete a practicum in an elementary classroom.

Depending on the school, you may complete an associate of arts (AA) or associate of science (AS) in elementary education. Typically, an AA provides a stronger liberal arts education with a focus on the humanities, while an AS features more on math and science coursework.

Consider your strengths when selecting a program. Think about your future education plans, especially if you may want to eventually pursue a bachelor's in education.

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Popular Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

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

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Elementary Education Program?

Introduction to Education

This course focuses on educational philosophies and the history of education in the United States. Learners study the role and responsibilities of teachers, while discussing best practices in education.

Children's Literature

Discover a variety of children's stories and how elementary educators can use them to help children develop a variety of skills, including literacy development and social and emotional skills.

Child Development

Prospective educators can learn various aspects of child development — physical, social, cognitive, and emotional. The course also explores how development can be affected by factors such as gender, socioeconomics, and culture.

Education in Multicultural Classrooms

This course examines the historical and societal responses to multicultural education. It also presents philosophical approaches to teaching in diverse classrooms. Learners research the best ways to support students from various cultural backgrounds.

Psychology of Learning

This class looks at the psychological theories of learning, including motivation and behavior. Learners explore the history of psychology and how changing perspectives have affected education.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Elementary Education Program?

Applying to college can be overwhelming. However, planning ahead and creating a checklist can help relieve stress and keep you organized. Although every college has its own admissions requirements, you should expect to be asked for the following:

Some schools may require college entrance exam scores, like the ACT or SAT. Other colleges may have you take a placement exam upon acceptance. You may also be asked to provide a resume or list of your past work experience. Colleges may even award credit for life and work experiences.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Elementary Education Degree?

Career Outlook

People with an associate in elementary education often pursue work in non-teaching positions in classroom and childcare settings. Although an associate degree is not typically necessary for these jobs, having a degree could set you apart from other applicants.

If you are undecided about becoming a full-time classroom teacher, you could pursue a job as a teacher's aide or paraprofessional with an associate degree. School positions are an in-demand option, and many professionals like the flexibility provided by a school schedule.

To increase your future career options, you may want to consider continuing your education and completing a bachelor's in education degree. Discover careers and educational paths in elementary education.

Career Paths

Teacher's Assistant

Teacher's assistants and aides help elementary school teachers with day-to-day functions in the classroom. Typically, the classroom teacher assigns necessary duties to assistants. These aides may also help create classroom materials, make copies of needed materials, and work with students in small groups or in one-on-one settings. Teacher's assistants do not create curriculum or assessments.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $28,900

Childcare Worker

Working in a variety of daycare environments, a childcare worker takes care of children of different ages. Daily responsibilities may include preparing meals, reading stories, playing outside, and supervising nap time. These professionals promote child safety while leading activities that can foster child development.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $25,460

Preschool Teacher (Childcare Setting)

Most public preschools require that teachers have a bachelor's in education. However, you may be able to work as a preschool teacher in private daycare centers with an associate in elementary education. Preschool teachers create and implement curricula that help develop social and emotional growth, while also introducing kids to age-appropriate concepts.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $29,860

Tutor

Many tutors work for an hourly rate or are commissioned based on the number of students they tutor. Tutors can be self-employed or find employment with a tutoring center. Most tutors work one on one or in small groups with students who need assistance with specific concepts or in certain subject areas.

Average Annual Salary (as of October 2021): $36,800

Elementary Education Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Teaching Careers Special Education Careers Child Development Careers

Continuing Education

Those with an associate degree who want to pursue a career in teaching often decide to work toward a bachelor's or master's in education.

You can enroll in a variety of bachelor's programs, including a bachelor's in elementary education or a bachelor's in special education. If you decided to work with older students in middle or high school, you could also pursue a bachelor's in secondary education in a specific content area like math or English.

Earning a master's in education can also prepare graduates to pursue careers as a school principal, instructional coordinator, or librarian or media specialist, to name a few.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Elementary Education Program?

Cost

Students paid an average of $11,390 in tuition, fees, and room and board at two-year institutions during the 2018-2019 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This average reflects the cost at public and private institutions, as well as online and on-campus programs. Generally, in-state public universities offer the lowest rates. Be sure to calculate the true cost of an online program before enrolling. These costs may include things like books, other supplies, and transportation for any on-site requirements.

Program Format

When selecting an online college program, consider its format. Will your classes be synchronous or asynchronous? Is the entire program online? Do parts of the program need to be completed in person? Will you be a part-time or full-time student? Accelerated courses may be an option if you want to complete your associate degree in a shorter period of time.

Location

The location of a college can affect the overall cost of the program. If the program is out of state, you may have to pay a higher tuition rate. However, some online programs allow all students to pay in-state tuition, no matter where they reside.

When considering an online degree, find out if the program has any on-campus requirements. Attending a school nearby or choosing an online program can mean you won't have to move and or give up your current job.

Accreditation

When deciding on a program, research the college's accreditation. Understanding the different types of accreditation is important. Accreditation can help ensure that your program meets certain regional or national standards. If you are planning to continue your education beyond an associate degree, a college's accreditation can also affect your ability to transfer credits.

Student Support

Student support is an important, but sometimes overlooked, resource for college students. Colleges with a student services department often provide the following types of assistance:

These resources can be valuable to all students, including distance learners. Find out what online student services are available at the schools you are considering.

2021 Best Accredited Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

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Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

  1. Copiah-Lincoln Community College
    Location

    Wesson, MS

    Tuition

    $4990

    Located in Wesson, Mississippi, Copiah-Lincoln Community College enrolls over 3,000 students on its 525-acre campus. The college's online associate in elementary education allows students to choose one of three major options: K-6, 7-8, or 7-12.

    Students who choose the K-6 teaching option take classes like English composition, geography, and public speaking. They also complete six credits each in two concentration areas. Learners who opt for the 7-8 or 7-12 teaching options can prepare to earn an endorsement in math, science, English, special education or social studies.

    Co-Lin's program partners with four-year institutions in Mississippi to facilitate student transfer to a bachelor's program. Applicants to Co-Lin must submit ACT scores or placement exam scores. Co-Lin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. East Mississippi Community College
    Location

    Scooba, MS

    Tuition

    $6787

    Founded in 1927, East Mississippi Community College's main campus is located in Scooba. The school primarily serves six counties, although it also offers more than 450 online classes. The associate in elementary education at EMCC features core classes like American national government; geometry, measurement, and probability; world geography; and history. Participants can take many of their classes online through Mississippi Virtual Community College.

    EMCC allows students to bring in up to 45 transfer credits from a regionally accredited institution. The community college uses an open-enrollment policy, but does not guarantee admission into specific programs.

    Mississippi residents pay a discounted tuition rate. EMCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. Northeast Community College
    Location

    Norfolk, NE

    Tuition

    $8457

    Nearly 99% of Northeast Community College graduates continue their education or find employment. Based in Norfolk, Nebraska, Northeast offers an online associate degree in elementary education.

    This 60-credit program requires courses in family and community relationships, child and adolescent psychology, elementary school music, and the psychology of learning. The curriculum also includes a teaching practicum where students observe and assist in an elementary school classroom.

    Applicants must submit standardized test scores. Northeast participates in the Transfer Nebraska initiative, which helps students determine which courses transfer to a four-year postsecondary institution. Nebraska residents pay a discounted tuition rate. Northeast is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. Northeast Mississippi Community College
    Location

    Booneville, MS

    Tuition

    $9107

    Located in Booneville, Northeast Mississippi Community College offers a 62-credit associate in elementary education program that prepares students to transfer to a four-year postsecondary institution. Learners take a variety of classes, including a 32-credit general education core. Students talk with advisors to select their concentration areas.

    Participants can take some of their classes online through the Canvas learning management system. Northeast belongs to the Mississippi Virtual Community College consortium — an online collaboration between Mississippi community colleges and the Mississippi Community College Board.

    Applicants must submit standardized test scores. Mississippi residents pay a discounted tuition rate. Northeast is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  5. Northwest Nazarene University
    Location

    Nampa, ID

    Tuition

    $18786

    Residing on a 90-acre campus in Nampa, Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University enrolls over 2,000 students and features more than 80 programs of study. The school's 63-credit associate degree in elementary education can be completed online. This program offers start dates every eight weeks, and classes take place in eight-week or five-week sessions. Full-time students can complete their degree in two years.

    NNU requires students to take at least 32 credits at the university. Some classes include educational psychology, cultural diversity in education, mathematics lab for elementary teachers, and education of exceptional students.

    Applicants must submit standardized test scores. Transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA. The university charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. NNU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  6. Eastern Wyoming College
    Location

    Torrington, WY

    Tuition

    $6839

    Founded in 1948, Eastern Wyoming College enrolls almost 2,000 students in for-credit programs. Located in Torrington, EWC's 73-acre campus also serves thousands of learners through its workforce development programs.

    EWC's 60-credit associate in elementary education can be completed by distance learners. The curriculum includes core courses in teaching with technology, social and cultural awareness, lifespan human development, and literature for children. Students must complete an elementary school teaching practicum and an education capstone project.

    EWC delivers distance coursework through the Canvas learning platform. The college offers synchronous and asynchronous online classes. Applicants must submit ACT scores or take a placement test. EWC accepts transfer credit earned with a minimum "C" grade from a regionally accredited institution. Wyoming residents receive a discounted tuition rate. EWC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. Shoreline Community College
    Location

    Shoreline, WA

    Tuition

    $6733

    Shoreline Community College enrolls around 10,000 students annually. Located just north of Seattle, Washington, about 16% of SCC students take classes entirely online, while 56% engage in hybrid learning.

    Students who earn SCC's 90-quarter-credit associate degree in elementary education take courses in child growth and development; child, family, and community; best practices in special education; and paraeducator basics. This program can be completed on campus or online through the Canvas learning management system.

    SCC designed this degree to facilitate transfer to a four-year institution. Graduates can also pursue careers in areas like marketing and research and public advocacy. Distance learners can access counseling and tutoring fully online.

    The community college has an open-enrollment policy. Washington residents pay a discounted tuition rate. SCC is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  8. Brenau University
    Location

    Gainesville, GA

    Tuition

    $22011

    Located in Gainesville, Georgia, Brenau University enrolls approximately 3,800 students across its online and on-campus programs.

    The school's 61-credit associate in elementary education can be completed online and includes courses in school and society, developmental psychology, women's literacy studies, and mathematics concepts for teachers. Students may transfer in up to 45 eligible credits, but they must complete at least 25% of their degree requirements at Brenau. This program also requires an elementary school field experience.

    First-year applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA, while transfer applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Brenau is regionally accredited by the Southern Association on Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  9. Arkansas Northeastern College
    Location

    Blytheville, AR

    Tuition

    $5012

    Located in Blytheville, Arkansas Northeastern College boasts the lowest tuition costs in the state of Arkansas. Students can complete the school's online associate degree in elementary education in just two years. Participants must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.

    The 65-credit curriculum includes core classes like a survey of exceptional children, child growth and learning, introduction to geography, and math for teachers. This program prepares learners for transfer to a four-year postsecondary institution.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA. They should also submit ACT or Praxis Core exam scores. ANC holds transfer agreements with many public colleges and universities in Arkansas. In-county and in-state residents pay discounted tuition rates. ANC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  10. Montgomery County Community College
    Location

    Blue Bell, PA

    Tuition

    $8525

    Located in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County Community College reports that two-thirds of its career graduates find employment in their field.

    The school's online associate degree in education in the early years covers education techniques from birth to fourth grade. The 61-credit curriculum features core courses like literature in early childhood and elementary education, teaching English language learners, and teaching young children. Participants also complete a student teaching experience.

    Applicants must submit standardized test scores. The college allows students to transfer in up to 75% of the credit requirements for an associate degree.

    Montco is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Additionally, its education in the early years program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Elementary Education Programs

Is an associate degree in elementary education worth it? true

An associate degree in elementary education can qualify you for some education-related careers, like teacher's aide/assistant. You may decide the degree is worth the cost and time if you are thinking about eventually pursuing a career in teaching. You may be able to transfer your credits to a bachelor's in education program in order to become a certified teacher.

How fast can I get an associate in elementary education degree online? true

Most associate degrees require approximately 60 credits and take full-time students two years to complete. However, you could shorten this time frame by taking courses over the summer or enrolling in an accelerated online program.

Is an online associate degree in elementary education credible? true

Online degree programs are a popular option. They can be more flexible and more affordable than traditional in-person programs. Many colleges offer credible degree programs online. An online associate in elementary education degree is credible if the program is accredited by a legitimate accreditation agency.

How much money can I make with an associate in elementary education?

Depending on the position, common careers that you can pursue with an associate in elementary education typically pay $25,000-$40,000 a year. However, compensation can depend on experience, location, and position.

Is an associate degree in elementary education in demand?

Jobs for teacher's aides/assistants — an option for those with this degree — are projected to grow by 9% from 2020-2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are considering earning a bachelor's degree in education, jobs for kindergarten and elementary teachers are projected to grow by 7% and jobs for special education teachers are projected to grow by 8% during that same timeframe.

While the job growth rates are similar, a bachelor's degree may help you qualify for more jobs with potentially higher salaries.

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