How To Pursue a Low-Cost Online Teaching Degree

Online teaching degrees have become an attractive option for many aspiring educators due to their flexibility and accessibility. This article delves into the specifics of these programs, highlighting their benefits and what to expect when enrolling.

Understanding Online Teaching Degrees

Online teaching degrees provide the necessary education and credentials to become a teacher. These programs cover various educational theories, teaching methods, and practical classroom management skills. Most online degrees also require in-person teaching practicums.

Types of Online Teaching Degrees

There are several types of teaching degrees available online, each catering to different career goals and educational levels:

  1. Associate Degrees in Education
    • Typically take about two years to complete.
    • Prepare students for paraprofessional roles or to transfer to a bachelor’s program.
  2. Bachelor’s Degrees in Education
    • Usually require four years of study.
    • Provide comprehensive training in educational theory, child development, and teaching methods.
  3. Master’s Degrees in Education
    • Typically require two additional years beyond a bachelor’s degree.
    • Often focus on specialized areas such as curriculum development, educational leadership, or special education.
  4. Doctoral Degrees in Education
    • Can take several years to complete.
    • Prepare individuals for advanced roles in educational research, administration, or policy-making.

Common Online Teaching Degree Programs in the U.S.

Several reputable universities in the United States offer online teaching degrees. Below are some examples, including details about their course structure, duration, costs, and associated exams.

Arizona State University (ASU)
  1. Program: Bachelor of Arts in Education – Elementary Education
    • Course Structure: Core courses in educational psychology, classroom management, and instructional strategies, combined with a student teaching component.
    • Duration: Approximately four years.
    • Cost: Around $11,338 per year for in-state students.
    • Exams: Requires passing the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments (AEPA) for certification.
University of Florida (UF)
  1. Program: Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
    • Course Structure: Focuses on advanced instructional strategies, curriculum design, and educational research.
    • Duration: Typically two years.
    • Cost: Approximately $12,740 per year.
    • Exams: May require the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) for certain specializations.
Western Governors University (WGU)
  1. Program: Bachelor of Science in Special Education
    • Course Structure: Includes courses in special education law, assessment, and individualized education program (IEP) development, along with a teaching practicum.
    • Duration: Varies based on pace, often two to four years.
    • Cost: About $3,520 per six-month term.
    • Exams: Requires passing the Praxis Special Education exams for certification.
University of Southern California (USC)
  1. Program: Master of Arts in Teaching
    • Course Structure: Courses cover pedagogy, educational technology, and subject-specific teaching methods, with a significant student teaching component.
    • Duration: Approximately one to two years.
    • Cost: Around $50,000 for the entire program.
    • Exams: Requires passing the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).
Liberty University
  1. Program: Bachelor of Education in Elementary Education
    • Course Structure: Includes foundational education courses, teaching methods, and a student teaching requirement.
    • Duration: Typically four years.
    • Cost: About $8,430 per year.
    • Exams: Requires passing the Praxis Core and Praxis II exams for certification.

Fully Funded Online Teaching Degree Programs

Some programs offer fully funded options, which can significantly reduce the financial burden on students. Here are a few examples:

University of the People (UoPeople)
  1. Program: Bachelor of Science in Education
    • Course Structure: Covers educational theory, child development, and instructional strategies.
    • Duration: Typically four years.
    • Cost: Tuition-free, with minimal fees per course assessment (approximately $100 per course).
    • Exams: Requires passing relevant assessments and practicum evaluations.
TEACH Grant Program
  1. Program: Various institutions and degree programs
    • Funding: Provides grants up to $4,000 per year for students who agree to teach in a high-need field in a low-income area for at least four years.
    • Eligibility: Available to undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate students.
    • Conditions: Requires completion of TEACH Grant counseling and agreement to serve.

Benefits of Online Teaching Degrees

Enrolling in an online teaching degree program offers several advantages:

  1. Flexibility
    • Allows students to balance their studies with personal and professional responsibilities.
    • Courses can often be accessed at any time, making it easier for those with irregular schedules.
  2. Accessibility
    • Enables students to enroll in programs that might not be available locally.
    • Provides opportunities for individuals living in remote or underserved areas.
  3. Diverse Learning Environments
    • Students can learn from instructors and peers from different parts of the world.
    • Exposure to various teaching styles and educational philosophies.

Key Considerations When Choosing an Online Program

Before enrolling in an online teaching degree, it’s important to consider several factors:

  1. Accreditation
    • Ensure the program is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency.
    • Accreditation affects the transferability of credits and eligibility for licensure.
  2. Cost
    • Online programs can vary significantly in cost.
    • Look for programs that offer financial aid or scholarships.
  3. Curriculum
    • Review the courses offered to ensure they align with your career goals.
    • Consider programs that offer practical teaching experience.
  4. Support Services
    • Check if the program provides academic advising, career services, and technical support.
    • Support services can enhance the online learning experience.
Practical Experience Requirements

Most online teaching degrees require some form of in-person teaching practicum. This hands-on experience is crucial for gaining practical skills and meeting licensure requirements. The specifics can vary:

  1. Student Teaching
    • Usually involves a full-time placement in a classroom for a semester.
    • Supervised by a licensed teacher and university mentor.
  2. Field Experiences
    • May include shorter, more varied experiences in different educational settings.
    • Helps students apply theoretical knowledge in real-world contexts.

Career Opportunities with an Online Teaching Degree

Earning an online teaching degree opens up numerous career paths in education:

  1. Elementary School Teacher
    • Focuses on teaching young children basic subjects such as math, reading, and science.
  2. Secondary School Teacher
    • Specializes in a particular subject area for middle and high school students.
  3. Special Education Teacher
    • Works with students who have a range of disabilities, providing tailored instruction and support.
  4. Educational Administrator
    • Includes roles such as school principal, district superintendent, or instructional coordinator.
    • Often requires a master’s or doctoral degree.
  5. Educational Consultant
    • Advises schools and educational organizations on curriculum development, teacher training, and policy implementation.
Salary Expectations

Salaries for educators can vary widely based on factors such as location, experience, and education level:

  • Elementary School Teachers: Median annual wage around $60,000.
  • Secondary School Teachers: Median annual wage approximately $62,000.
  • Special Education Teachers: Median annual wage about $61,000.
  • Educational Administrators: Median annual wage for school principals around $98,000.

Steps to Enroll in an Online Teaching Degree Program

The process of enrolling in an online teaching degree involves several steps:

  1. Research Programs
    • Compare different programs based on factors such as accreditation, cost, and curriculum.
    • Read reviews and talk to current students or alumni if possible.
  2. Meet Admission Requirements
    • Common requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation.
    • Some programs may require a background check or previous teaching experience.
  3. Submit Applications
    • Prepare and submit applications to your chosen programs.
    • Ensure all required documents are included and submitted by the deadlines.
  4. Apply for Financial Aid
    • Explore options such as federal student aid, scholarships, and grants.
    • Some programs may offer tuition reimbursement for teachers who work in high-need areas.
  5. Prepare for Online Learning
    • Ensure you have a reliable internet connection and the necessary technology.
    • Familiarize yourself with the online learning platform and resources.


Pursuing an online teaching degree can be a rewarding step towards a fulfilling career in education. By carefully considering factors such as accreditation, cost, and support services, you can find a program that meets your needs and sets you on the path to success in the classroom. Additionally, exploring fully funded options can help make this educational pursuit even more attainable.