Teachers have a vital job: to help mold future generations of society. With such an important task, it’s understandable that teachers must meet stringent certification or licensing requirements. One of the first steps to meeting these requirements is getting a teaching degree. Luckily, there are a variety of academic paths available to future teachers, including online degrees. In this guide, readers will gain a broad understanding of how to complete an online teaching degree and the overall process for becoming a teacher.
All else being equal, it’s nice to attend the best online school and get the highest quality and most prestigious teaching degree. But there are other factors prospective students must consider when choosing the best school for them. For instance, if finances are a concern, prospective teachers may look for the school with the lowest cost of attendance. For a student who wants the best access to professors, a school with a small faculty-to-student ratio may be a factor to focus on. Our ranking system looks at these and many other important factors students should consider when choosing a school. All ranked schools are great for future teachers as they are affordable, have accredited teacher preparation programs and offer a variety of opportunities for specialization.
Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution
At least 1 online associate degree or certificate program in subject area (2-year schools)
At least 1 online bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area (4-year schools)
Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)
Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)
Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:
Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates
Count and breadth of online programs available
6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)
% of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college
Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college
Availability of academic/career counseling services
Availability of job placement services for students and graduates
3-year loan default rate
AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*
*PBV: is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.
Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.
Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017
|Rank||University||Location||Score||Annual Tuition||# of Online Programs||Financial Aid %||Student-Teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||Mount Vernon Nazarene University||Mount Vernon, OH||99.75||$15,845||2||100%||13:1||60%||no||yes||yes|
|2||Salem College||Winston Salem, NC||99.25||$24,990||1||98%||11:1||64%||yes||yes||yes|
|3||Judson College||Marion, AL||99.09||$15,204||5||98%||9:1||41%||yes||yes||yes|
|4||University of Vermont||Burlington, VT||98.27||$14,184||1||90%||15:1||76%||no||yes||yes|
|5||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||98.27||$6,423||1||43%||14:1||90%||no||yes||yes|
|6||The University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa, AL||97.90||$9,826||3||55%||24:1||67%||yes||yes||yes|
|7||Newman University||Wichita, KS||97.70||$23,700||4||98%||14:1||50%||yes||yes||yes|
|8||University of Missouri-St Louis||Saint Louis, MO||97.69||$9,474||2||84%||17:1||46%||no||yes||yes|
|9||Mississippi College||Clinton, MS||97.64||$14,670||3||98%||15:1||53%||no||yes||yes|
|10||Mississippi State University||Mississippi State, MS||97.53||$7,140||1||74%||19:1||61%||yes||yes||yes|
|11||University of Saint Mary||Leavenworth, KS||97.48||$23,750||4||96%||8:1||53%||yes||yes||yes|
|12||University of Alabama in Huntsville||Huntsville, AL||97.32||$9,158||1||74%||16:1||48%||no||yes||yes|
|13||University of Southern Mississippi||Hattiesburg, MS||97.30||$6,980||11||76%||17:1||45%||no||yes||yes|
|14||Arizona State University-West||Glendale, AZ||97.30||$9,138||1||82%||12:1||55%||no||yes||yes|
|15||Northwest Missouri State University||Maryville, MO||97.27||$4,288||3||94%||20:1||48%||no||yes||yes|
|16||Jackson State University||Jackson, MS||97.21||$6,602||8||54%||18:1||39%||no||yes||yes|
|17||Valley City State University||Valley City, ND||97.20||$5,027||6||98%||11:1||46%||no||yes||yes|
|18||Murray State University||Murray, KY||97.08||$6,360||2||72%||15:1||53%||yes||yes||yes|
|19||Freed-Hardeman University||Henderson, TN||97.00||$20,468||1||100%||13:1||52%||yes||yes||yes|
|20||Ohio State University-Main Campus||Columbus, OH||96.99||$9,168||2||79%||19:1||83%||no||yes||yes|
|21||Arizona State University-Tempe||Tempe, AZ||96.99||$9,454||1||83%||23:1||59%||no||yes||yes|
|22||Graceland University-Lamoni||Lamoni, IA||96.93||$24,570||3||100%||16:1||47%||yes||yes||yes|
|23||North Greenville University||Tigerville, SC||96.92||$15,510||5||98%||14:1||55%||yes||yes||yes|
|24||Carson-Newman University||Jefferson City, TN||96.91||$23,300||5||99%||13:1||50%||no||yes||yes|
|25||Mississippi University for Women||Columbus, MS||96.89||$5,540||1||78%||14:1||39%||no||yes||yes|
|26||Texas A & M University-Texarkana||Texarkana, TX||96.89||$4,569||1||94%||9:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|27||University of Illinois at Springfield||Springfield, IL||96.84||$9,265||1||89%||14:1||43%||yes||yes||yes|
|28||Cairn University-Langhorne||Langhorne, PA||96.82||$23,035||2||100%||13:1||68%||yes||yes||yes|
|29||University of Virginia-Main Campus||Charlottesville, VA||96.81||$10,484||3||27%||15:1||93%||no||yes||yes|
|30||University of Maine||Orono, ME||96.78||$8,370||5||86%||16:1||56%||no||yes||yes|
|31||Wayland Baptist University||Plainview, TX||96.65||$11,880||12||91%||10:1||33%||yes||yes||yes|
|32||Webster University||Saint Louis, MO||96.65||$24,500||5||95%||13:1||59%||yes||yes||yes|
|33||Siena Heights University||Adrian, MI||96.54||$22,100||1||100%||12:1||43%||yes||yes||yes|
|34||Colorado Christian University||Lakewood, CO||96.53||$20,435||1||98%||15:1||36%||yes||yes||yes|
|35||Gallaudet University||Washington, DC||96.52||$14,498||2||88%||6:1||48%||yes||yes||yes|
|36||Southern Nazarene University||Bethany, OK||96.48||$21,990||1||99%||14:1||47%||yes||yes||yes|
|37||University of Alabama at Birmingham||Birmingham, AL||96.40||$7,510||5||72%||18:1||53%||yes||yes||yes|
|38||Harding University||Searcy, AR||96.37||$16,560||12||96%||16:1||62%||no||yes||yes|
|39||University of Toledo||Toledo, OH||96.33||$8,052||4||89%||20:1||46%||yes||yes||yes|
|40||Citadel Military College of South Carolina||Charleston, SC||96.32||$150||1||41%||13:1||69%||no||yes||yes|
|41||Northern Arizona University||Flagstaff, AZ||96.28||$8,072||13||64%||18:1||49%||no||yes||yes|
|42||Dakota Wesleyan University||Mitchell, SD||96.27||$23,550||4||98%||13:1||44%||yes||yes||yes|
|43||Brescia University||Owensboro, KY||96.25||$19,500||1||96%||13:1||30%||no||yes||yes|
|44||Iowa State University||Ames, IA||96.24||$6,648||5||74%||19:1||68%||no||yes||yes|
|45||Southern Arkansas University Main Campus||Magnolia, AR||96.20||$6,300||10||82%||17:1||30%||no||yes||yes|
|46||Fontbonne University||Saint Louis, MO||96.05||$22,770||3||93%||11:1||37%||yes||yes||yes|
|47||King University||Bristol, TN||96.05||$24,316||1||86%||16:1||52%||yes||yes||yes|
|48||The University of Texas of the Permian Basin||Odessa, TX||96.05||$4,029||3||88%||20:1||27%||no||yes||yes|
|49||University of Wyoming||Laramie, WY||96.04||$2,712||1||66%||14:1||54%||yes||yes||yes|
|50||University of Mobile||Mobile, AL||96.03||$18,720||2||97%||13:1||49%||no||yes||yes|
|Rank||University||Location||Score||Annual Tuition||# of Online Programs||Financial Aid %||Student-Teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||University Information|
|1||Eastern Wyoming College||Torrington, WY||99.22||$1,992||3||87%||18:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|2||East Mississippi Community College||Scooba, MS||97.60||$2,200||4||66%||13:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|3||Western Texas College||Snyder, TX||97.55||$1,950||2||48%||16:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|4||Hutchinson Community College||Hutchinson, KS||96.68||$2,432||2||65%||15:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|5||Otero Junior College||La Junta, CO||96.61||$3,747||3||87%||17:1||N/A||no||no||yes|
|6||Colorado Northwestern Community College||Rangely, CO||96.37||$3,394||5||57%||12:1||N/A||yes||no||yes|
|7||Snead State Community College||Boaz, AL||96.06||$3,390||3||55%||23:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|8||Arizona Western College||Yuma, AZ||95.58||$1,824||5||16%||21:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|9||College of Southern Idaho||Twin Falls, ID||95.54||$3,760||9||45%||19:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|10||Roane State Community College||Harriman, TN||95.38||$3,528||1||6%||16:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|11||Casper College||Casper, WY||95.35||$1,992||1||46%||13:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|12||Highland Community College||Highland, KS||95.32||$2,112||1||62%||20:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|13||Western Oklahoma State College||Altus, OK||95.30||$1,977||3||69%||17:1||N/A||yes||no||yes|
|14||Barton County Community College||Great Bend, KS||94.94||$1,984||2||55%||23:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|15||Tulsa Community College||Tulsa, OK||94.82||$2,103||3||41%||18:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|16||Kansas City Kansas Community College||Kansas City, KS||94.77||$2,190||1||21%||13:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|17||Gadsden State Community College||Gadsden, AL||94.64||$2,712||1||25%||18:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|18||Yavapai College||Prescott, AZ||94.55||$1,896||1||17%||23:1||N/A||yes||no||yes|
|19||Taft College||Taft, CA||94.46||$1,380||3||80%||28:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|20||Mid-Plains Community College||North Platte, NE||94.35||$2,370||3||68%||9:1||N/A||no||no||yes|
|21||Lake Region State College||Devils Lake, ND||94.33||$3,197||2||60%||13:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|22||Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College||Perkinston, MS||94.33||$2,300||5||43%||21:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|23||Southwest Virginia Community College||Richlands, VA||94.32||$3,060||3||54%||22:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|24||Dawson Community College||Glendive, MT||94.31||$3,226||1||77%||11:1||N/A||yes||no||yes|
|25||Arkansas Northeastern College||Blytheville, AR||94.25||$2,016||1||30%||13:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|26||Bevill State Community College||Jasper, AL||93.88||$3,390||3||31%||16:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|27||Northwest Mississippi Community College||Senatobia, MS||93.66||$2,550||3||28%||25:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|28||Lassen Community College||Susanville, CA||93.65||$1,104||1||49%||21:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|29||Allen County Community College||Iola, KS||93.38||$1,824||5||72%||16:1||N/A||no||no||yes|
|30||Carl Albert State College||Poteau, OK||93.30||$2,073||3||34%||24:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|31||Eastern Oklahoma State College||Wilburton, OK||93.19||$2,682||1||42%||19:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|32||Tyler Junior College||Tyler, TX||93.10||$2,310||2||20%||20:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|33||Jefferson State Community College||Birmingham, AL||93.08||$3,390||2||15%||20:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|34||Grayson College||Denison, TX||93.08||$2,088||2||29%||21:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|35||Rose State College||Midwest City, OK||93.04||$2,595||3||32%||18:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|36||Mississippi Delta Community College||Moorhead, MS||92.95||$2,490||1||54%||18:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|37||Odessa College||Odessa, TX||92.92||$3,240||10||22%||19:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|38||Northeast Community College||Norfolk, NE||92.89||$2,475||3||34%||17:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|39||Pamlico Community College||Grantsboro, NC||92.84||$2,304||2||21%||9:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|40||Southwestern Oregon Community College||Coos Bay, OR||92.64||$3,915||4||47%||15:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|41||Arkansas State University-Mountain Home||Mountain Home, AR||92.59||$2,136||1||21%||17:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|42||Central Arizona College||Coolidge, AZ||92.58||$2,400||2||20%||16:1||N/A||no||no||yes|
|43||Laramie County Community College||Cheyenne, WY||92.49||$1,992||1||43%||14:1||N/A||no||no||yes|
|44||Estrella Mountain Community College||Avondale, AZ||92.39||$2,016||1||22%||22:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|45||West Kentucky Community and Technical College||Paducah, KY||92.35||$3,528||2||N/A||18:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|46||Trinity Valley Community College||Athens, TX||92.34||$960||3||31%||24:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|47||Nebraska Indian Community College||Macy, NE||92.26||$4,080||1||77%||6:1||N/A||yes||no||yes|
|48||Holmes Community College||Goodman, MS||92.18||$2,000||6||38%||18:1||N/A||no||yes||yes|
|49||Kilgore College||Kilgore, TX||92.12||$2,376||1||22%||20:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
|50||South Arkansas Community College||El Dorado, AR||92.12||$2,184||3||5%||13:1||N/A||yes||yes||yes|
The profession isn’t known for making teachers wealthy, but individuals can expect reasonable incomes, especially when obtaining graduate degrees and teaching students at secondary school and beyond. Besides a teacher’s terminal degree, the amount of experience plays a major role in determining how much a teacher makes. For a broad overview of what individuals can expect from teaching at different grades with varying levels of experience, check out the following chart.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary: Entry-level||Median Annual Salary: Mid-level||Median Annual Salary: Late-career|
|Middle school teacher||$40,551||$45,070||$59,689|
|High school/secondary ed||$41,355||$47,880||$60,505|
Most teaching positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, although a few teachers, especially at the preschool level, may be able to get meet eligibility requirements with just an associate degree. A bachelor’s degree is also the common minimum requirement for those looking to teach at a career or technical school. However, they must have sufficient practical experience to supplement the bachelor’s degree.
A master’s degree is common for teachers at the upper-grade levels or those who want to specialize in counseling or administrative roles. And for those who want to teach at the university level, a doctorate degree is generally needed, although a master’s degree is often accepted at the community or junior college level.
Getting an online teaching degree is probably the single most significant step in becoming a teacher, but it’s hardly the only one. There are many other steps necessary to choose the right school and program to best achieve your professional and academic goals.
But in addition to following these steps, students should ensure they have the internal qualities that can help them succeed in teaching, including interpersonal skills, communication skills and patience. With these traits, as well as careful attention to the following steps, an individual can look forward to a promising future in education.
Any career in teaching will require a postsecondary degree, which in turn requires a high school diploma or GED. Time to complete: Four years.
Depending on where you want to teach, only an associate degree may be necessary. However, most likely a bachelor’s or master’s degree will be needed. Time to complete: Varies.
To become a certified or licensed teacher, students must complete an accredited teacher preparation program. Time to complete: Varies.
To enroll in many degree programs, taking the SAT, ACT and/or Praxis exams will be needed. At the graduated level, students may also need to take the GRE. Time to complete: Three or more months.
Students should except to provide any of the following: all high school and postsecondary academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, submission of test scores/results, a personal statement, resume and an interview. Time to complete: Three to six months.
The level of background checks will vary among states, but can include submission of fingerprints. Schools will require background checks if it’s also a necessary element of certification or licensing (it often is). Time to complete: Three or more months.
Students interested in receiving financial aid should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is necessary when applying for the vast majority of government and school-based financial aid, including scholarships, grants, loans and work study. Time to complete: Three or more months.
Keep in mind that there are sometimes state-specific class requirements. Students must consult with their academic advisors to make sure they take the necessary coursework for the state they intend to become licensed in. Time to complete: One to four years.
While sometimes required before admission, most students will take this during their junior or senior years, before beginning supervised teaching. Time to complete: Varies.
Often lasting a semester, students must complete a student teaching experience under the supervision of faculty members. Time to complete: Three or more months.
The precise certification process will depend on the credential sought and the state the student seeks it in. Time to complete: A few weeks to a few months.
The vast majority of states will require students to pass multiple exams before becoming licensed. These exams will cover general teaching knowledge in major academic subject areas as well as the class subject the student intends to teach. Time to complete: Up to a few months.
Even before graduating, students should be engaged in the job hunt and networking as much as possible. Time to complete: Varies.
Depending on the state, the student may be given a temporary certification and may need to renew it to a permanent one. Time to complete: Varies.
This is one of the most advanced and prestigious certifications a teacher can receive. It is not required to become a teacher, but can make it easier to become certified in other states and advance your teaching career. Time to complete: Three or more years (minimum three years of teaching or school counselor experience required for eligibility).
There are numerous online teaching programs available, which is great in that it provides a wide range of choices for students to consider. But the disadvantage is that it makes finding the best program more difficult. To choose the best online education program, a prospective student should take several factors into consideration.
One factor to think about is how a course is presented. Online programs have a wide range of course delivery options, such as synchronous and asynchronous leaning. Depending on the need for flexibility, asynchronous learning may be an absolute necessity, as it allows students to take classes anytime, anywhere.
Also evaluate the specializations offered. Teaching degrees can include a wide range of areas, such as early childhood, special education, mathematics, English, academic leadership, research methods and health and fitness. Assuming a student doesn’t have a set area they want to focus on, it might be best to choose a school with the greatest selection of concentrations available. The following search tool will help students with that goal.Start your School Search
Given the need for teachers, many organizations have stepped up to offer scholarships and grants specifically for those who will educate the future members of society. As a result, teaching related scholarships and grants provide some of the biggest opportunities for students looking for gift-based financial aid options.
Scholarships do not need to be repaid and are primarily awarded based on an applicant’s merits. As a result, students who apply for scholarships can expect to provide copies of academic transcripts, essays and evidence of an interest or desire to teach. Here’s a small sampling of scholarships available for teachers.
A very good list of 10 resources that include specific scholarships, grants and fellowships for teachers.
A resource for all things relating to college, including scholarships available for specific majors, such as teaching.
A leading online resource for college financial aid, including scholarships for specific areas of study, like education.
Like scholarships, grants do not need to be paid back. But unlike scholarships, the primary basis for awarding grants is financial need, not academic merit (although that is often a factor). So when applying for a grant, providing evidence of financial need, such as a completed FAFSA, is necessary.
Even with the high numbers of scholarships and grants available, students often find themselves struggling to pay for school and make a living after graduation. To help alleviate this burden, loan forgiveness options are available that will reduce or eliminate student loans under certain conditions, such as teaching in an underserved area.
Includes a wealth of information, including scholarships, housing assistance and loan forgiveness.
Several federal programs allow students who become teachers or teach in a public service position to have their school loans forgiven.
Remember, accreditation is critical for obtaining an education. When it comes to teaching, it’s extremely difficult – if not impossible – to obtain the necessary licensure or certification without going through an accredited program. Additionally, almost all financial aid awards will require students to enroll in an accredited school or program to receive the financial help.