After high school, selecting an undergraduate program to earn a degree equals one of the first steps toward a career in elementary education. All states require elementary teachers hold at least a bachelor’s degree to receive official licensure. Some states even require elementary teachers specialize in a certain subject, such as English or science. A strong bachelor degree program affects students’ success as teachers in the growing education field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that available positions for elementary school teachers will increase 7% by 2026.
Students can earn their elementary education bachelor’s degrees online. Online programs often offer students more scheduling flexibility than on-campus programs. Additionally, some students find that working from home can save time and money, thus making their undergraduate degree more affordable in the long run.
In the guide below, we consider important details pertaining to courses, financial aid, job outlook, and salary expectations for professionals in elementary education seeking an online bachelor’s degree.
When choosing an online elementary education degree, keep in mind that all schools offer their students unique strengths and resources. In addition to considering tuition costs and duration of the degree program, choose a school that provides opportunities for developing a strong skill base or offers a specialty area of expertise within an elementary education degree. The best schools tailor training and education for each student to prepare them as standout choices for prospective employers. In the ranked list that follows, we provide the essential details from the top online elementary education degree programs to help make an informed choice for your academic goals and career aspirations.
You can pursue a wide array of careers with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that education positions, including kindergarten, preschool, and elementary school teachers, will grow 7-8% by 2026. According to Payscale, acquiring an elementary education degree with a emphasis on a specialty area such as science, reading, or Spanish may increase earning potential. Bear in mind that no degree guarantees a career or particular salary. In the section below, several careers that graduates with a bachelor’s in elementary education typically pursue are listed.
Elementary school teachers typically teach students in grades one through five. In this position, knowledge of all basic school subjects including science, math, and social studies is required. Strong leaders and communicators, these teachers also provide constructive feedback for students and their parents. Day-to-day responsibilities include lesson planning, grading papers, and developing engaging educational activities.
Childcare workers work directly with elementary school children, combining unintrusive supervision with tutoring. With a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, you can supplement the classroom-based academic instruction and inform parents and teachers of students’ problem areas and achievements.
While located within the elementary education profession, those with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education possess the necessary organizational, interpersonal, and leadership skills to be social or community service managers. They often work within communities to develop service programs for children, the homeless, aging adults, or veterans.
Teaching assistants help reinforce the lessons presented by the primary instructor by reviewing material with students. Assistants work in both one-on-one and small group settings. Some assistants specialize in working with special needs children, including blind, deaf, autistic, and students with learning disabilities.
Recreational work is another popular career path outside of the traditional elementary school setting. In these positions, highly organized and skilled instructors work with people from all walks of life. Recreational workers often work with children at summer camps, gyms, aquatic centers, libraries, and public parks.
Sources: BLS 2018
For professionals with this bachelor’s degree, salary and job outlook for elementary school teachers varies depending on geographic location. Contributing factors to this variation include the local demand for educators and the cost of living in that area. States that employ the most elementary school teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois.
Each online bachelor’s degree in elementary education curriculum includes foundational education courses and a selection of classes indicative of the program’s strengths and unique faculty members. In that way, each school offers a unique higher education experience. Below is a small sample of courses you may encounter in an undergraduate elementary education program.
Education professionals need to have a foundational knowledge of children’s physical, cognitive, and emotional development. In this course, students explore child development philosophy and learn from recent case studies regarding students’ rate of maturation, familial and societal influence, innate abilities, and developmental variations.
Elementary educators work with colleagues, specialists, agencies, and families to provide the best instruction and garner support for students. With careful preparation and communication, elementary educators can build a supportive, collaborative network that improves students’ quality of learning and create positive experiences that last beyond the classroom.
Educational professionals learn to create safe and supportive classroom environments that promote social and emotional development while helping their students develop responsibilities and a sense of community. In many cases, this course requires hands-on training at an approved location.
Educators must understand the legal and ethical issues within the context of the classroom and other educational settings. This course focuses on the ways these issues affect student learning, the classroom environment, and the personal conduct of elementary teachers.
In this course, students learn current research, theory, and teaching methods for reading instruction. They also learn to develop comprehensive, standard lesson plans based on useful instructional models and techniques.
Several important factors affect which online degree program to choose. Every school has unique characteristics, from online resources and faculty members to its elementary education curriculum. In addition to cost, graduation rates, and retention rates, consider what the faculty, student resources, and major curriculum offer in terms of career preparation. The value of an education is also tied to a school’s reputation and accreditation status. Below are the answers to commonly asked questions of prospective students related to this important choice.
Online bachelor’s degree programs typically list the major core courses, general education, and available electives online. Transfer credits may reduce the number of general education credits required. Most programs predetermine required major specific classes and allow students to choose one or more elective courses. An academic advisor can help decide on which courses best fit your needs.
When considering schools to earn an elementary bachelor’s degree online, it is helpful to look at the list of required courses for the major and biographies, research interests, and curriculum vitaes of the faculty in the education department. While information about faculty may not be available online for all prospective schools, this information indicates the strengths of the program and what kinds of student interests would mesh well with the department’s current interests.
While many or all of classes can be completed remotely, most elementary education programs require hands-on learning at some point during the program. In many cases, this means completing a certain number of supervised hours working with children in a classroom. Some schools require more extended field experience or internship requirements up to eight weeks in duration. Official student teaching, typically a 16-week culminating field experience, is also often necessary.
As shown throughout this guide, many careers open to students after completing an online bachelor’s degree in elementary education. The leadership, organizational, and instructional skills acquired while earning this degree are useful in virtually any position that has an educational component, especially for those who work with children.
A specialization can increase earning potential. That is not, however, a reason to pursue an aspect of elementary education. In most cases, choosing a specialized area of study during enrollment isn’t necessary. Students have time within their first couple semesters to determine what interests them and which, if any, specializations makes sense for their academic needs and career aspirations.
Exhausting all funding possibilities, especially scholarships and grants, is important and can make a significant difference in pursuing higher education. These two forms of funding are especially helpful because they do not require repayment. In addition to applying for internal scholarships at prospective schools, be sure to seek out external awards through private organizations and foundations. In many cases, scholarships reserved for students in elementary education are available.
The Dillman Memorial Scholarship offers four awards of $2,500 each, reserved for current full-time undergraduate or graduate students in education. Those who plan on rehabilitating or educating the blind or visually impaired should definitely apply. Applicants must submit proof of legal blindness from an optometrist or opthamologist, two letters of recommendation, an outline of career plans, and answer three essay questions.
The Daughters of the American Revolution considers applications for the Borgens scholarship from students 25 years or older who plan to teach at the elementary school level. Applicants must be at least a college sophomore with a minimum 3.50 GPA at an accredited college or university. The one-time $1,500 award is not renewable, but recipients may reapply for consideration each year as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.
Provided by the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority National Education Foundation, the Herson scholarship ranges from a $500 to $1,000 award for one academic year. Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in elementary education programs are eligible to apply. Applications must include three letters of recommendation from a college professor, minister or community leader, and one other person of significance for the applicant, as well as a personal essay and documentation of community service activities.
The Nancy Larson Foundation sponsors annual scholarships for college juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursuing a major in elementary education. The award is a minimum of $1,000 and reserved for applicants enrolled in an accredited teacher preparation program with an outstanding academic record, involvement in community service, and have an interest in teaching elementary school science or math. Applicants must submit a personal narrative describing why they wish to teach children and should have some previous teaching experience.
Phi Delta Kappa awards over 30 scholarships each year, worth $500 to $5000, to prospective high school seniors and current undergraduate students. To be eligible, you must be a member of either Phi Delta Kappa International, Educators Rising, or Pi Lambda Theta. Phi Delta Kappa reserves some of the 30 awards for applicants who meet specific criteria, such as those who plan to attend an historically black college or university or attend select Catholic parishes.