Earning an online associate degree in elementary education allows you to work with younger students (up to the sixth grade) as a teacher, teacher's aide, or childcare worker. Associate degrees in elementary education feature courses that combine liberal arts, education and theory, and cultural issues facing children to provide a core understanding of the needs of young learners. An associate in elementary education is also an excellent foundation if you're planning to pursue a bachelor's degree in the field. The employment outlook for preschool teachers is projected to experience 7% growth by 2024, providing numerous job opportunities for students with an associate degree in elementary education.

What are the best elementary education programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wesson, MS
2 East Mississippi Community College Scooba, MS
3 Northeast Community College Norfolk, NE
4 Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville, MS
5 Northwest Nazarene University Nampa, ID
6 Eastern Wyoming College Torrington, WY
7 Shoreline Community College Shoreline, WA
8 Brenau University Gainesville, GA
9 Arkansas Northeastern College Blytheville, AR
10 Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell, PA

2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Copiah-Lincoln Community College

Wesson, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 45%

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

Scooba, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

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

Norfolk, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

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

Booneville, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 31%

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

Nampa, ID Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

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

Torrington, WY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

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

Shoreline, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 35%

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

Gainesville, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 43%

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

Blytheville, AR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 25%

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

Blue Bell, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 22%

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.

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

An online associate degree in elementary childhood education usually requires the completion of 60 credit hours over the course of two years. Credits may include practical experiences and community engagement, giving you a chance to work hands-on with students, mentors, and professional educators. Online associate degree courses are also designed to be easily transferred to four-year degree programs.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

Each online associate degree in elementary education program is somewhat different, but the core courses tend to be similar. Students who earn an associate degrees in elementary education take courses in art, literature, music, science, physical education, and math. Certain classes also emphasize professional education and child psychology.

  • Children's Literature: This course introduces the genres, authors, and illustrators of literature written specifically for children. It also provides a historical assessment of how literature has changed and been developed by investigating the various trends and techniques used in this medium.
  • Introduction to Education: This class provides distance learners with a survey of education methods used in the classroom across the United States. Students learn information related to pedagogy, different types of learners, common issues facing students, and challenges found in the classroom.
  • Developmental Psychology: This course emphasizes data, theories, concepts, and methods of philosophy as they relate to the emotional, cultural, cognitive, and physical development of children from birth to adolescence.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE ASSOCIATE IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION?

Online associate degrees in elementary education require students to complete an average of 60 credit hours. In most programs, associate degrees can be earned in two years and then directly transferred to a four-year institution. Many elementary education programs offer courses through a cohort model, where a group of students progresses through a program's classes together. This gives distance learners more opportunities to network with their peers and engage in group projects. However, if you are unable to participate in a cohort model, you should look for a program that offers individually-paced courses. Classes that are taught asynchronously provide students with more flexibility and adaptability when pursuing a degree.

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

CAREER PATHS

Earning an associate in elementary education allows you to work with young children in private and public schools as well as daycare and childcare centers. Teacher's aides, educational assistants, and other in-classroom positions are well-suited for individuals who hold an associate degree. Preschool teachers and other classroom workers generally work on 10-month contracts, educating young children in reading, math, science, and other fundamentals of early development.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers work with children to teach them colors, shapes, and language and motor skills. They also help their students develop basic problem-solving techniques. Preschool teachers emphasize working together and keep records on the emotional and intellectual development of young learners. These professionals work with students from all ethnic and economic backgrounds.

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

Teacher's Assistant

Teacher's assistants work under the supervision of classroom teachers to deliver educational material to students. They offer individual attention to children and observe and record information about the emotional and developmental progress of their pupils.

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

Childcare Worker

Depending on their state of residence, childcare workers do not always need an associate degree in elementary education; however, this degree helps workers secure higher wages and better meet the needs of the children they oversee. Childcare workers watch young children on a day-to-day basis. Their tasks include a range of activities, including bathing and feeding. These professionals often have irregular work hours.

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

Library Assistant

A library assistant handles loans and returns, and with an associate degree in early education they can work with library materials aimed at young children. Library assistants answer reference questions, work with technological databases, and help patrons find library resources.

Median Annual Salary: $28,440
Projected Growth Rate: 5%

EDUCATIONAL PATHS

Students who earn an online associate degree in elementary education often go on to pursue a four-year degree. Additionally, many associate degrees are offered in conjunction with four-year schools, guaranteeing transfer credits. A four-year degree in elementary education is required for teaching at the kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as for teaching special education at any level. Teaching positions that require a four-year degree make more than twice as much as those that require only an associate in the same field. For example, elementary and kindergarten teachers with bachelor's degrees make $55,490 per year, while preschool teachers have an annual salary of $28,790.

  1. Bachelor of Arts/Science in Elementary Education: Bachelor's degrees in elementary education are offered as either BA or BS degrees, depending on the emphasis of the curriculum. An online associate in elementary education provides core mathematics, liberal arts, and science knowledge that is applicable to either program.
  2. Bachelor of Arts/Science in Special Education: An associate degree in elementary education is a common starting point for students who are interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in special education. Four-year degrees in special education can be offered as either BA or BS degrees, depending on the individual school. Additionally, some schools have guaranteed transfer/articulation agreements in place for continuing students.
  3. Bachelor of Arts/Science in Childhood Development: A bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science in childhood development builds upon a two-year associate degree in elementary education by teaching students how to identify benchmarks and foster improvement in children from birth to their teenage years. These programs focus on establishing healthy learning and educational development.
  4. Bachelor of Art/Science in Family and Consumer Science: Bachelor's programs in family and consumer science are ideal for associate degree-holders interested in learning more about family dynamics and behaviors, effective communication, and healthy family interactions.

Financing Your Online Associate in Elementary Education Program

There are numerous federal and state funding options for students pursuing a higher education degree. To find out what sources of aid you qualify for, you should first complete the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to this resource, your school may have scholarships and grants that you can apply for. It's important to contact the schools you are interested in to learn about their financial aid resources and how you can access them.

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.