Online Degree in Secondary Education

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Expanding the Minds of Young Adults

Teaching at the high school level grants the opportunity to directly influence the academic and personal lives of students during their formative years. Career paths in secondary education are not limited to working in the classroom. Online secondary education degrees — at the undergraduate and graduate level — can prepare educators for positions in areas from curriculum development to special education instruction. Read on to learn about online degree options, coursework, licensing requirements, and employment options in the field.

National Median Annual Salary & Job Growth for Teaching

The bureau of labor statistics provides the following data about job growth in the Teaching industry. As well as the following national median salary data for several different careers in the field of Teaching.

Career National Median Annual Salary (May 2014) National Projected Job Growth (2014 – 2024)
High School Teacher $56,310 6%
Middle School Teacher $54,940 6%
Special Education Teacher (High School) $57,810 6%
Career and Technical Education Teacher (High School) $55,200 0%
Instructional Coordinator $61,550 7%
EXPLORE ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS TO BECOME A TEACHER search programs

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, OOH

Secondary Education Teachers: Milestones to Success

Below is a sample career milestone map showing key accomplishments of someone who earned an online secondary education degree.

Gets Qualified

Completes Bachelor of Arts in secondary education after finishing student-teaching experience

Earns a License

Passes licensing examinations and earned a state teacher certification

Steps Into the Classroom

Begins career as a high school social studies teacher

Gains Leadership Experience

After five years in the classroom, becomes a department head

Continues Education

Completes online Master of Education in secondary
education

Pivots Into Leadership Role

Pursues an administrative role
as a dean of
students

2017’s Top Online Secondary Education Programs

Pursuing an online degree in secondary education guides students towards beginning a career teaching at the high school level, and does so without interfering with the student’s already busy schedule. Online learning allows students greater autonomy in managing their academics and is an excellent option for students with extracurricular obligations such as work and family. To help students find the best program, we’ve looked into each institution offering these degrees and ranked them based on their student success rate, cost, and student services. Look below and check out the top online secondary education programs for 2017.

RankUniversity Name Score Net Price Financial aid percent Online Programs Aavailable Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateUniversity Information Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services
1East Carolina University Score97.97
Net Price
Financial aid %50%
#Online programs12
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%

Because it takes a specific type of education to become a professional teacher in a specific field, East Carolina University offers bachelor degrees in multiple fields of secondary education. Students can study toward their four-year degree in whichever area is related to the courses they want to teach, and they will earn the level of education necessary to eventually become a high school level teacher. If students want, they can continue their education to earn a higher-level degree in whichever field they want to eventually teach in. Regardless of how far students want to take their education, East Carolina University prepares students to become teachers.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
2Northern Arizona University Score97.90
Net Price
Financial aid %66%
#Online programs11
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate49%

There are plenty of bachelor degrees offered in secondary education at Northern Arizona University, giving students the flexibility to study a specific field that they want to eventually teach in. After earning their bachelor’s degree in their desired field, students will be prepared to eventually become teachers in a high school setting. While there are specific fields of secondary education studies offered, students will also have the option to study a less specific field, allowing them to enter a non-teaching role at the secondary education level or prepare them to teach more specific courses at some high schools.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
3Judson College Score97.83
Net Price
Financial aid %95%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate37%

Judson College prepares students for a career as a professional high school level teacher, but they go beyond just preparing students to become professional teachers. While students are pursuing their bachelor’s degree in secondary education, they will also be able to study a specific field that they want to eventually teach in. Also, Judson College places a heavy emphasis on the theory of education, making sure that students are prepared to eventually become excellent teachers in whichever field they are studying toward. Those studying at Judson are also prepared to become teachers in the state of Alabama.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
4University of the Cumberlands Score97.42
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs9
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate45%

The best way to learn how to be a secondary education level teacher is to gain real-world experience. While studying toward their bachelor’s degree in secondary education at the University of the Cumberlands, students will also have the chance to study in the field and spend some time learning how to teach in real high school classes in the area. Students at the University of the Cumberlands can also combine another degree program with a certificate in secondary education to get a stronger education in the field they want to eventually teach at the high school level.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
5Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Score97.21
Net Price
Financial aid %98%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate62%

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College offers the traditional four-year bachelor’s degree in secondary education, but they also make sure that students earn licensure so they can begin teaching after graduation. While there are not specific degrees for secondary educations, students will instead earn a degree that gives them the resources needed to teach at multiple education levels, including the high school level. While students get a specific level of education in the field that they're interested in, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods also makes sure that all students receive the general education required to teach today.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
6University of Alabama at Birmingham Score96.86
Net Price
Financial aid %66%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate48%

Students that want to eventually become high school teachers but don’t know the exact courses they want to teach will like the curriculum at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. There are multiple bachelor degrees in secondary education offered, but they are designed to give students a more general knowledge and understanding of the field than a specific understanding. This helps students who are looking to teach more than one subject at the high school level. Also, the University of Alabama at Birmingham has courses that can be taken online to help students finish their degree sooner, or for those that can't always commute to campus.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
7Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Score96.84
Net Price
Financial aid %70%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%

After earning a bachelor degree in secondary education from Bowling Green State University, students will have what it takes to become a professional high school teacher in the state of Ohio. Of course, students should also be prepared to become professionals in other areas if they don't want to stay in the state. While there is only one specific degree offered for secondary education, students are able to specialize their degree in a field that is more closely related to what they want to teach. These specializations can also be broken down further, giving students the chance to get in-depth knowledge of their field.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
8North Greenville University Score96.79
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate54%

There are very specific majors that students can study toward at North Greenville University when it comes to secondary education. A bachelor’s degree in secondary education will involve English, Spanish, social studies or mathematics, each of which can cover a number of potential high school courses that need to be taught. While studying toward their bachelor’s degree in secondary education, students will also get the chance to practice in the field to get real-world experience prior to graduation. This helps set them apart from others when applying to high school teaching roles.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
9University of Southern Mississippi Score96.69
Net Price
Financial aid %74%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate50%

By studying toward a bachelor’s degree in secondary education offered at the University of Southern Mississippi, students will be preparing themselves for more than one potential career. The degrees offered place an emphasis on having the student go on to earn a teaching certificate, but they will also be able to enter a similar field if they eventually decide that teaching isn't for them. Those that do decide to go on to teach at the high school level will have a degree that prepares them for a classroom setting, and they will be prepared to gain licensure.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
10Wilkes University Score96.51
Net Price
Financial aid %96%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate61%

Wilkes University aims to produce some of the highest caliber students, so their bachelor’s degree in secondary education will prepare students to become leaders in their field. While studying toward their bachelor’s degree, students will also be required to earn a second degree in a specified field of their choice. This second degree is focused on the field that students want to teach while the secondary education bachelor’s degree will give students the resources and experience they need to succeed as a teacher at the middle school or high school level.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
11Mississippi State University Score96.36
Net Price
Financial aid %68%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
12Canisius College Score96.17
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs5
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate68%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
13University of Louisiana at Monroe Score96.08
Net Price
Financial aid %56%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate37%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
14Webster University Score96.03
Net Price
Financial aid %94%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate64%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
15Lesley University Score95.96
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate46%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
16The University of Alabama Score95.93
Net Price
Financial aid %53%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate67%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
17Murray State University Score95.91
Net Price
Financial aid %70%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate54%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
18Newman University Score95.73
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate43%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
19Michigan Technological University Score95.70
Net Price
Financial aid %94%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate66%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
20Iowa State University Score95.66
Net Price
Financial aid %75%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate71%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
21SUNY College at Oswego Score95.63
Net Price
Financial aid %77%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
22Arizona State University-Tempe Score95.60
Net Price
Financial aid %86%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate58%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
23North Carolina Central University Score95.58
Net Price
Financial aid %81%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate43%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
24Mississippi University for Women Score95.56
Net Price
Financial aid %74%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate39%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
25University of South Florida-Main Campus Score95.53
Net Price
Financial aid %73%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate57%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
26Mississippi College Score95.50
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate62%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
27Emporia State University Score95.43
Net Price
Financial aid %76%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate42%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
28Southern Arkansas University Main Campus Score95.41
Net Price
Financial aid %82%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate35%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
29University of Idaho Score95.40
Net Price
Financial aid %78%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate56%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
30Fort Hays State University Score95.37
Net Price
Financial aid %72%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate41%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
31Ball State University Score95.29
Net Price
Financial aid %47%
#Online programs5
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate57%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
32Harding University Score95.24
Net Price
Financial aid %91%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate61%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
33Oklahoma State University-Main Campus Score95.23
Net Price
Financial aid %73%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate62%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
34Western Kentucky University Score95.18
Net Price
Financial aid %37%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate50%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
35University of Maine at Fort Kent Score95.12
Net Price
Financial aid %86%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate38%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
36Concordia University-Nebraska Score95.09
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate63%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
37Eastern Michigan University Score95.08
Net Price
Financial aid %90%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate37%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
38Buena Vista University Score95.04
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate51%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
39Chaminade University of Honolulu Score95.01
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate36%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
40Lindenwood University Score94.98
Net Price
Financial aid %94%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate41%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
41University of Louisville Score94.96
Net Price
Financial aid %56%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate52%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
42Northeastern State University Score94.91
Net Price
Financial aid %50%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate30%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
43Brenau University Score94.90
Net Price
Financial aid %98%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate45%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
44Adams State University Score94.85
Net Price
Financial aid %70%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate25%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
45Notre Dame College Score94.83
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate36%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
46University of Nebraska at Kearney Score94.82
Net Price
Financial aid %55%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate56%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
47University of Arizona Score94.79
Net Price
Financial aid %77%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate61%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
48Greenville College Score94.78
Net Price
Financial aid %94%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate54%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
49Southeast Missouri State University Score94.75
Net Price
Financial aid %76%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate46%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
50Oklahoma Baptist University Score94.71
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate52%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
RankUniversity Name Score Net Price Financial aid percent Online Programs Aavailable Student-Teacher RatioUniversity Information Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services
1East Mississippi Community College Score99.80
Net Price
Financial aid %78%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio

Students that want to gain some experience in elementary education before fully committing to a four-year degree program will probably find the curriculum at East Mississippi Community College fitting. East Mississippi Community College offers a variety of two-year degrees, all of which are designed to have fully-transferable credits in the event that a student wants to take their education and switch to a four-year institution. The same applied for the school’s secondary education program, so students can prepare to make their switch to a bachelor’s degree program while gaining important knowledge.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
2Northwest Mississippi Community College Score94.75
Net Price
Financial aid %26%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio

Those that want to teach at the high school level will gain most of the knowledge and experience they need at Northwest Mississippi Community College to become certified. While many secondary education professionals are required to have both a bachelor’s degree and a teacher’s certificate, neither is necessarily required. Because of this, students that get a two-year degree from Northwest Mississippi Community College might be able to transition into a professional field. If not, this program is excellent for giving students the additional education required to eventually earn their teaching certificate.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
3Arizona Western College Score94.63
Net Price
Financial aid %20%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio

There are different education degrees offered at Arizona Western College, one of which is the associate degree in secondary education. Those that already have a teaching certificate and a four-year degree can use this associate degree to bolster their credentials and prepare them to teach at the high school level. For students that are not yet professional teachers, this associate degree programs prepares them to switch to a four-year institution to complete their bachelor’s degree. Of course, students are not required to earn a bachelor’s degree in education to begin teaching, and some may opt to earn their certificate after earning a degree from Arizona Western College.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
4Three Rivers Community College Score94.07
Net Price
Financial aid %17%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio

Three Rivers Community College has a very clear outline for students that want to earn their associate degree in secondary education. Those that earn a two-year degree will end up having the credits and experience to transfer into Arkansas State University where they will complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in secondary education. Because the credits are easily transferrable, students can also transfer to other institutions to earn their degree. Those that don't want to earn a four-year degree can opt to try to earn their teaching certificate, but it is recommended that students transfer and apply their associate degree.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
5Western Wyoming Community College Score93.97
Net Price
Financial aid %39%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio

The two-year associate degree program in secondary education at Western Wyoming Community College is designed to give students a well-rounded understanding of secondary knowledge. Because it is only a two-year program, students will not have the opportunity to study any specific field that they are interested in teaching. Instead, they will receive the basic knowledge of most courses so they can then transfer into a four-year program to complete their education. Also, students that already have experience in a field can apply their previous knowledge to Western Wyoming Community College’s curriculum.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
6College of Southern Idaho Score93.35
Net Price
Financial aid %46%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio

Not all students are prepared to begin a four-year degree program in secondary education. The College of Southern Idaho understands this, and they have created an associate degree program that allows students to gain general knowledge prior to earning a four-year degree. The purpose of the College of Southern Idaho’s secondary education program is to prepare students to transfer into a four-year institution of their choice to earn a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. In the curriculum, students will gain a general understanding of what it means to teach in a high school setting.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
7Panola College Score93.22
Net Price
Financial aid %24%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio

Students that want to eventually teach education at the secondary level in the state of Texas might want to consider the two-year associate degree program at Panola College. The program is designed to give students a basic understanding of teaching secondary education while also completing their lower-division courses. Students then are encouraged to transfer to a four-year institution, particularly one in Texas, to continue their education and earn a bachelor’s degree. The entire process laid out by Panola College is meant to prepare students to teach at a Texas high school, but their education can be transferred to other states.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
8Holmes Community College Score93.20
Net Price
Financial aid %37%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio

Holmes Community College has a variety of secondary education programs that will guide students toward teaching in whatever field they want. The associate degrees in secondary education all cover lower division courses that students can use if they decide to transfer to a four-year institution. There are also general high school level education courses that are required for each secondary education degree, giving future teachers more flexibility when it comes to education. Holmes Community College also offers courses online for those that are unable to commute to the campus for class.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
9Washtenaw Community College Score91.95
Net Price
Financial aid %14%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio

The curriculum for Washtenaw Community College’s secondary education degree is meant to allow students to transfer to a four-year institution, particularly in the state of Michigan. However, the two-year associate degree in secondary education can be transferrable to many colleges and universities across the country. Students will learn the basics of being a high school level teacher while also earning credits for lower division courses that are normally required at four-year institutions. They also have the chance to take some courses specific to the field that they eventually want to teach in.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
10Georgia Military College Score91.94
Net Price
Financial aid %31%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio

Those that decide to earn a secondary education degree from Georgia Military College will be prepared to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. While studying toward their two-year associate degree, students will be exposed to what it means to be a teacher while also getting a military-minded education meant to build character and leadership. After earning their degree, students can either transfer to a four-year institution to complete their education or become assistants in an education related field. All courses are designed to be transferrable in the event that students want to earn a four-year degree.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
11Amarillo College Score91.67
Net Price
Financial aid %17%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
12Collin College Score90.10
Net Price
Financial aid %2%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
13Lone Star College Score89.91
Net Price
Financial aid %13%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
14Henry Ford Community College Score89.88
Net Price
Financial aid %1%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
15San Antonio College Score87.29
Net Price
Financial aid %9%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
16Hudson Valley Community College Score86.73
Net Price
Financial aid %7%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less

What It’s Like to Earn an Education Degree Online

University-based teacher preparation programs combine academic instruction and clinical experiences that align with state-based standards and guidelines. Increasingly, these programs are moving online, providing students with alternative options for completing a secondary education degree. Below is an overview of the learning experience for students earning online secondary education degrees.

Field experience

Student-teaching practicums are a central component of teacher preparation programs. Students are required to complete a set number of hours of field experience in a public or private school. Some online programs, which may have agreements in place with local school districts, arrange site placements for students. However, some programs may require students to find a local site and receive approval for the location and supervising instructor. Some institutions may even require a supervisor site visit to check on the student’s progress.

Anywhere learning

Online learning allows students to complete their degree in a flexible manner. Instruction may be delivered in either asynchronous (self-paced) or synchronous (real-time) formats. Many programs follow an asynchronous format, meaning students are not required to attend their classes at a specific time.

Online learning networks

Online programs use learning management systems. Students use these systems to access course materials, complete weekly assignments, get reading materials and hold course discussions. Like campus-based programs, online programs include peer-to-peer interaction — just via a different medium, with interaction fostered through video conferencing, phone calls, chat rooms, online bulletin boards and email.

Technology requirements

Each online program establishes its own list of technology requirements. Students should have a computer with a reliable, high-speed Internet connection, and the latest versions of Web browsers (e.g., Firefox) and related hardware, such as microphones and speakers, are typically recommended as well.

Types of Online Programs in Secondary Education

Public and private high schools in the United States require their teachers to hold valid state teaching licenses. Individuals interested in teaching at the secondary level have several academic avenues to licensure. Some programs exist at the undergraduate level, preparing teachers to enter the classroom with a bachelor’s degree. Other universities offer master’s and postbaccalaureate programs designed to prepare individuals with bachelor’s degrees in a non-education field to qualify for licensure. It is important to note that the definition of secondary education varies from state to state and may start anywhere from grades six through nine and continue to grade 12. Prospective students should contact their state board of education to learn more about teaching-preparation programs and licensing at the secondary level.

Below is an overview of the major types of degree programs in secondary education.

  • Associate’s
    (2 to 3 Years)
  • Bachelor’s
    (4 to 5 Years)
  • Master’s
    (2 years)
  • Doctorate
    (4 to 6+ Years)
  • Graduate Certificate
    (1 to 2 Years)
  • Education Specialist
    (2 to 3 Years)

Available at community colleges, two-year associate degree programs in secondary education are stepping stones to a four-year bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. The curriculum introduces students to fundamental concepts in education, including pedagogy and theory, curriculum and instruction, diversity, and current trends in the field. Students complete core and general coursework in the first year and transition into coursework in an endorsement area (e.g., social science, mathematics, English) during the second year. Most programs require 60 credit hours to graduate and may also include a student-teaching practicum. Depending on the course of study, students may be qualified to teach either grades 7-12 or 9-12.

Bachelor’s degrees in secondary education are considered teacher preparation programs, designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills and experience to qualify for a teaching license. In these programs, students gain experience planning effective classroom instruction, learn about best practices in classroom management, study evidence-based educational research and assessment, and gain familiarity with utilizing technology to support student learning. During the first two years, students take general education and core curriculum courses. During the second two years, they move into teacher preparation topics and classes in an endorsement area. During their studies, students may complete in-person classroom observations and one to two semesters of student teaching under the supervision of a licensed teaching professional. Credit hours vary, but most programs require between 120 and 128 hours to complete.

Master’s degrees in secondary education prepare teachers for initial licensure or professional advancement. The major goals of these programs are broad in scope. For example, most programs aim to provide teachers with advanced knowledge of teaching theory and modalities so they can learn how to design an effective curriculum, how to assess student performance, how to address the needs of a diverse student body, and how to leverage technology in the classroom. Prospective students may select from two different tracks: Master of Education (MEd) and Master of Arts/Master of Science (MA/MS).

  • Master of Education
    The MEd is designed for both licensed and unlicensed educators and offers a curriculum focusing on education practices and field-based learning experiences that can be applied directly to the classroom. Many MEd programs cover specialized areas of study, such as special education, educational leadership, and curriculum and instruction.
  • Master of Arts/Master of Science
    An MA/MS includes graduate study in education and a secondary education endorsement area (e.g., history, language arts) and generally requires a thesis. The central focus of MA/MS programs is equipping educators with an expert-level knowledge of education as a formal discipline, which requires studying foundational theories, pedagogy and assessment in their subject area.

Doctoral degree programs in secondary education are terminal degrees, representing the highest level of academic achievement in the field. These programs target individuals interested in theory and research who want to develop professionally, transition into leadership positions or pursue careers as academics. Generally, students must complete between 50 and 72 credit hours of study to earn their degree, which includes comprehensive examinations and an original dissertation. There are two distinct tracks at this level: Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Education.

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    Doctor of Philosophy programs are designed to develop researchers who will examine and explore educational theory and practice. Such researchers are responsible for driving advancements in educational administration, pedagogies, inclusive education and teacher preparation. Some colleges of education allow students to further specialize their doctoral studies in areas such as educational leadership, teaching and curriculum, special education or a pedagogical area such as mathematics or science education. PhD graduates traditionally pursue careers as college faculty members, administrators or curriculum coordinators.
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
    The Doctor of Education is for licensed educators who want to engage in coursework that deepens their knowledge of education as a practice while delving into a specific content area. The degree is professionally oriented, aimed at returning educators to their schools armed with the ability to translate their knowledge and understanding of the latest research into effective classroom strategies. EdD students may specialize in topics such as teacher leadership, curriculum and instruction, and educational administration.

Secondary education master’s degrees generally require 60 credit hours of full-time study to complete and may include a student-teaching component or thesis.

Graduate certificates are post-baccalaureate programs for individuals who have completed a bachelor’s degree and would like to finish coursework for initial licensure as an educator in their state. The curriculum and core requirements in these programs vary widely — some only require 15 credit hours of study, while others include up to 45 credit hours of coursework. Graduate certificate programs include core curriculum and endorsement area study as well as field learning experiences.

The EdS is a post-master’s degree that allows students to complete graduate studies that develop and advance their knowledge and competencies as educators. Some teachers choose to use an EdS as a bridge to future studies at the doctoral level. Typically requiring 30 to 33 credit hours, these programs may be completed in two to three years of study. A specialist degree curriculum is designed to build upon a licensed secondary teacher’s endorsement subject area but also offers an opportunity to specialize in secondary fields such as literacy, special education, curriculum and instruction, and gifted education. Most EdS programs can be completed almost entirely online but generally do include a seminar and an in-person research component.

Specialization Tracks in Secondary Education

Teachers must be subject matter experts in a selected field of study taught at the secondary level. In their teacher preparation programs, prospective secondary school educators select from academic specializations that will eventually lead to a subject endorsement on their teaching license. Below is a common list of academic concentrations available to teachers:

  • Bilingual education
  • Computer science
  • Dance
  • Drama/theatre arts
  • English as a second language
  • English/language arts
  • Health education
  • Library information specialist
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Physical education
  • Science
  • Social sciences
  • Technology education

Common Secondary Education Degree Courses

Combining classroom-based instruction with real-world teaching experiences, online secondary education degrees are designed to enhance the skills of teachers in any discipline. Below is a list of common coursework found in online secondary education programs.

Course Description
Introduction to Secondary Education

In this course, students receive an introductory overview of secondary education, learning about the educational system, the role and responsibilities of secondary educators, and classroom instruction.

Learning and Instruction

This course covers core concepts in education, including teaching methods, principles of learning and instruction, educational psychology, classroom management, cognitive development, and modern models of instruction.

Applied Educational Psychology

Students are introduced to educational psychology, studying both theoretical concepts and practical applications related to teaching, instructional development and teacher-student relationships.

Adolescent Development

This course offers secondary teachers an understanding of human development and how social, environmental and hereditary factors impact students’ ability to learn within a school environment.

Cultural Diversity in the Classroom

In this class, students are introduced to cultural diversity within educational settings, discussing contemporary trends in K-12 education and learning how to work with students from culturally diverse backgrounds.

What to Look for in an Online
Secondary Education Degree Program

There are multiple considerations when it comes to selecting an online versus a campus-based program of study. Below are seven factors to think about when reviewing online secondary education degrees.

  • Is the program accredited?Students should attend online secondary education programs that are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Graduating from an accredited program is a teaching licensure requirement in most states.
  • How long does it take to complete the program?Undergraduate programs can last beyond four years of study because they include student teaching, while master’s programs may be completed in as little as two years.
  • Does the program provide a research-based curriculum that is founded on current pedagogical theory?Ensure that the college to which you are applying is accredited – while employers understand that more candidates are receiving their degrees online, it is still important that degrees were earned through reputable institutions.
  • What are the entrance requirements? Students should review entrance requirements, from GPA to prerequisite coursework.
  • How are field experiences handled? Online students are required to complete classroom-based practicums. Some programs may have agreements with local school districts, others may require students to get approval for their local placements, and some may require students to attend on-campus training sessions.
  • Does the program satisfy licensing requirements?The Department of Education in each state maintains a list of approved programs that satisfy licensing requirements. Prospective students should ensure their targeted program is state-approved. This is especially important for students attending an online program based in another state.
  • Does the program prepare students for licensure examinations? To earn a teaching license, graduates must successfully complete state-based knowledge assessments. They should research how program alumni performed on these tests.

The Value of an Accredited Education Degree

Accreditation is a voluntary quality assurance process conducted by third-party, nongovernmental organizations. There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. For education, the primary programmatic accreditor is CAEP, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (formerly TEAC and NCATE). CAEP reviews and accredits schools, colleges and departments that offer teacher preparation programs.

Accreditation is valuable for two major reasons. First, it validates the quality of the curriculum and overall program, verifies that teachers understand their subjects, and ensures students receive appropriate training that allows them to teach effectively. Second, state licensing agencies typically require educators to have graduated from an accredited program.

For more information, visit our page on the overall accreditation process.

How to Prepare for a Master’s Degree
in Secondary Education

Created for new and experienced teachers alike, master’s degrees in secondary education help teachers develop the skills necessary to become leaders both in and outside of the classroom. The map below is a sample timeline for a certified high school teacher who wishes to return to graduate school to complete a Master of Arts in secondary education.

Time Before Program Start Date
Step 1

Complete a bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program and earn a teacher’s license

1 to 5+ years
Step 2

Gain professional experience as a high school teacher

1 to 5+ years
Step 3

Prepare for and take the GRE

6 months to 1 year
Step 4

Prepare essay/personal statement of interest; gather letters of recommendation; request official transcripts

3 to 6 months

Step 5

Apply to the program

3 to 10 months

Returning to graduate school is a big decision as it has long-lasting ramifications for teachers personally, financially and professionally. Graduate school is not for everyone, so prospective students should be prepared and ready for the rigors of advanced academic study. Furthermore, gaining entrance to master’s programs is competitive, but the following steps may help applicants as they prepare to go back to school.

  • Demonstrate commitment to educationDesirable candidates must demonstrate their contributions to student learning. This can include not only taking on the standard teaching requirements but also serving on school committees and coaching sports teams.
  • Make connections and networkStudents interested in specific programs can connect with alumni from the program. Making connections, visiting campus (if possible), and meeting with faculty members and graduate directors can all make a real difference when it comes time to review applications.
  • Take a GRE prep courseAlthough not required by every master’s in secondary education program, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is still a reviewed component by many application committees. Programs typically have a cut-off score, so students should prepare for the test and retake it if necessary to raise their scores.

Job Market for Secondary School Teachers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6 percent job growth nationally between 2014 and 2024, although that number can be higher or lower based on location, local and state budgets, and demand in specific school subjects. Like job growth, the earning potential for high school teachers also varies from state to state and even between school districts. Numerous factors influence pay, including teacher experience, education level and school location. Nationally, the median salary for high school teachers is approximately $56,000, but ranges from the upper $30,000s to nearly $90,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Credentials and Certifications
in Secondary Education


Becoming a teacher means not only completing a bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program, but also meeting certification and licensing requirements. Future teachers must earn a teaching license and subject endorsement to teach at the secondary level. They may also choose to further their knowledge and skills through credentialing programs. Below is an overview of the secondary school licensing process and opportunities for professional certification.

Secondary Education Teaching Credential

Although each state department of education sets regulations regarding licensing of secondary school teachers, the basic requirements are similar. Prior to enrolling in any teacher preparation program, prospective students should contact their state department of education to learn about the licensing and certification requirements and process.

Below is a checklist of common licensing steps for secondary school teachers.

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher education
  • Completion of an approved teacher preparation program
  • Student teaching (or equivalent) experience
  • Completion of state-required credit hours in a content or subject area for endorsement (e.g., language arts, reading)
  • Passing scores on state-based licensure tests and/or Praxis

Educators trained in an out-of-state online secondary education program may have additional requirements to meet prior to being issued a teaching license. Common requirements include the following:

  • Proof of completion of a similar or comparable state-approved program
  • Valid teaching license from other state (if completed)
  • Passing score on a comparable out-of-state basic skills test
  • Passing score on content- or subject-area examination

Secondary Education Teaching Certifications

Developing professionally is one way high school teachers can earn higher salaries or pivot into leadership positions. Beyond a graduate education and post-bachelor’s/post-master’s certificates, the certification and credentialing options for high school teachers is somewhat limited in scope. The two major providers of high school credential programs are the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence.

  • American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence

    In addition to being recognized as a professional credential, a certification from the American Board is recognized as an alternative form of teacher certification in 11 states. To earn American Board certification, candidates must complete a bachelor’s degree and pass two examinations: one on teaching knowledge and one in their subject area.

  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

    Candidates can select from 25 academic areas for NBPTS certification. They must have a bachelor’s degree or higher, hold a valid teaching license, and have at least three years of teaching experience. To qualify for the subject certificate, applicants must successfully complete individual components in each area. High school certificate subjects include the following:

    • Art
    • Career and technical education
    • English as a new language
    • English language arts
    • Exceptional needs specialist
    • Health education
    • Library media
    • Mathematics
    • Music
    • Physical education
    • School counseling
    • Science
    • Social studies (History)
    • World languages

Alternative Online Teaching Degrees

Teaching is a wide-reaching and rewarding occupation that allows for an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of different student populations, from toddlers to adults. Below are three potential academic avenues open to those who are not interested in secondary education but who want to teach.

Online Early Child Education Degree

The goal of early childhood education programs is to prepare professionals to work with children and families in infant-toddler programs, Head Start facilities, preschools and child care centers.

Online Elementary Education Degree

Elementary education degree programs are designed to prepare students to work in K-6 educational programs by covering an assortment of subject areas, such as science, social studies, performing arts and mathematics.

Online Adult Education Degree

Adult education degree programs prepare students for careers in adult literacy and basic education, professional education, community development, or even cooperative extensions.

Websites for Secondary Education Teachers