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Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Elementary Education

Rankings, Salaries & Courses

Updated on: 12/04/2018
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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.

Best Online Elementary Education Programs 2018-2019

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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.

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Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Liberty University Lynchburg, Virginia$15,10588%24%55%1Yes Yes Yes

Liberty University is a private, Christian-affiliated university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty's online Bachelor of Science in elementary education is a fully accredited degree program that can be completed 100% online. An optional 300-hour practicum is available for those interested in obtaining hands-on experience. Students must complete 120 credit hours to earn this degree, with up to 75% of those hours being transferrable from other institutions. An average of 3.5 years is needed for completion of all required studies. Potential career options for graduates include jobs at education centers and private schools, as well as in homeschooling, education ministries, paraprofessional teaching, tutoring and more. This degree does not fulfill all teaching licensure requirements, but licensure requirements for Virginia can be fulfilled by completing a 5th year Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Students from outside Virginia are advised to contact the licensing board of their individual states for details on licensure requirements before enrolling in this Liberty University degree program.

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2 Bemidji State University Bemidji, Minnesota$7,36047%64%47%1Yes Yes Yes

Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota, offers its Bachelor of Science in elementary education in an online/on-site hybrid, degree-completion format. This Distributed Learning in Teacher Education (DLiTE) degree program is designed to be completed in 3 years and combines online coursework with 3 face-to-face meetings per year in the Minneapolis area. Face-to-face meetings typically require 2 to 3 days' attendance each. Students must have their A.A. degrees or have completed the MN transfer curriculum, with a 3.0 cumulative GPA, to be eligible for this degree program. Completion of 63 credits in the major course of study are required, all of which must be taken through BSU. The program meets all Minnesota Board of Teaching requirements, leading to teaching licensure in the state. Out-of-state students should contact their own states' licensing agencies for information on licensure requirements before enrolling. A B.S. in elementary education typically prepares graduates for careers as preschool, kindergarten and elementary school teachers.

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3 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, Arizona$8,69882%78%54%1No Yes Yes

Northern Arizona University's Bachelor of Science in elementary education degree is offered in a blended format that combines online coursework with in-person classes at 1 of 11 community college campuses located throughout the state. NAU's B.S.Ed. in Elementary Education can be completed as a cohort program, school-based program or traditional program and requires a minimum of one semester of student teaching. The degree is available with 5 concentration options: history/social studies, humanities, language/cultural diversity, math and science. Students must successfully earn 120 total credit units, of which 64 may be transferred from other institutions. A total of 66 units must be completed in the major course of study, with an additional 12 units completed in the student's chosen concentration. At least a "C" grade must be earned in all major and concentration courses, with a cumulative GPA of 2.5. Graduates are eligible for state certification in Arizona in Elementary Education for grades 1 through 8. NAU is the only university in Arizona that is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (NCATE).

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4 Mayville State University Mayville, North Dakota$5,05372%55%43%1Yes Yes Yes

Mayville State University's Bachelor of Science Education in elementary education is designed to allow working adults and others to complete their MSU teaching degrees through a combination of online coursework and evening Interactive Video Network (IVN) classes. IVN classes are offered at 5 North Dakota locations: Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, Williston State College in Williston, North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, Dakota College in Bottineau and the MSU campus itself. As an alternative to in-person attendance, students may attend classes via desktop conferencing for synchronous coursework in North Dakota. Students are also required to choose specializations or minors. Specialization options include early childhood, reading and special education. Minor choices include accounting, business administration, early childhood education, general science, library media and information science, mathematics, science for the elementary teacher and special needs. Students must complete a minimum of 123 credits to earn this degree. Study may be pursued either full-time or part-time, but courses must be taken in the specific order as outlined in the cohort rotation.

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5 University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, Nebraska$5,46070%85%60%1No Yes Yes

The Bachelor of Arts in early childhood inclusive degree offered through the University of Nebraska Kearney's eCampus program is designed for nontraditional students, such as in-service teachers, preschool assistants and HeadStart staff members who are interested in earning their degrees but are unable to attend traditional on-site classes due to work obligations and/or geographic location. This hybrid program consists of online, asynchronous coursework and in-person student teaching and school-based experiences. Students can choose between 2 specialization options: birth through kindergarten, for working with infants and toddlers, or age 3 to grade 3, for individuals interested in teaching at the elementary education level up to 3rd grade. The degree requires completion of 120 credit hours, including 45 general education credits, 50 program-specific credits and 24 professional sequence credits. Students wishing to apply credits previously earned from other schools can consult UNK's Transfer Guide for information on transfer eligibility. Graduates earn early childhood teaching certificates that allow them to teach children ages 0 through 5, in special education settings and children ages 0 through 8 in regular education settings.

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6 Judson College Marion, Alabama$16,24897%58%44%1Yes Yes Yes

Located in Marion, Alabama, Judson College is a private, Baptist-affiliated institution and the 5th oldest women's college in the United States. Judson offers a hybrid Bachelor of Science in elementary education degree that can be earned through a combination of online classes and field experience participation. Students must complete their general education requirements prior to starting their major degree courses. A cumulative GPA of 2.75 must be maintained throughout the program. Courses are taught in a cohort model, meaning online students begin and finish classes at the same time as their on-campus counterparts. Courses are offered during 3 yearly terms: August to December, January to April and May to June. Judson's B.S. in elementary education is designed to support state and national education standards and prepare graduates for employment as teachers at the K-6 grade levels. However, Judson College certifies Alabama degree candidates only, and all field experience and clinical practice observation placements are made exclusively with Alabama schools.

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7 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, Mississippi$7,54968%60%51%1No Yes Yes

The University of Southern Mississippi's online Bachelor of Science in elementary education is unique in that it is designed to support persons employed as teacher assistants in obtaining their bachelor's degrees and becoming certified as teachers while maintaining their current jobs. This degree can be completed entirely online. However, as part of the Southern Miss Teacher Assistant Program (TAP), students complete a semester of student teaching in the classroom. Many TA's will complete this student teaching semester in the classrooms where they are currently employed, while others will require separate placements, as determined by the TA's school district. The State of Mississippi requires candidates for teacher certification to obtain endorsements in two subject areas. The degree program itself provides the student with a reading endorsement, and the student chooses a second endorsement in one of the following 6 subjects: social studies, foreign languages, mathematics K-8, mathematics 9-12, English and science. Graduates with this degree typically pursue careers as K-6 teachers, although others may find jobs with titles such as behavior intervention specialist, community education coordinator, curriculum specialist, reading interventionist and many others.

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8 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, North Carolina$4,35650%72%71%1No Yes Yes

The University of North Carolina Wilmington's online Bachelor of Arts in elementary education is a degree-completion program designed for students entering their junior year of study. It's offered in a hybrid format in which all coursework is completed online, with the exception of in-person tutoring, classroom visits and extensive field experiences in elementary classrooms. For non-resident students, field experience participation is dependent on individual state authorization and UNCW's authorization status with the state. To learn more about your specific state's authorization status, see UNCW's Authorization by State. Students are required to choose from among 9 concentrations: behavioral studies, English as a second language, early childhood, fine arts, international studies, language arts, math and technology, science and health, and social studies. Most courses are asynchronous, meaning that students can access and complete coursework at times most convenient to them. However, coursework is not self-paced and students should expect to complete assignments by given due dates. UNCW's online B.A. in elementary education program leads to licensure in the state of North Carolina to teach grades K through 6.

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9 Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu, Hawaii$23,18098%91%51%1Yes Yes Yes

Chaminade University of Honolulu is a private, coeducational university affiliated with the Roman Catholic Marianist religious order. For those interested in the elementary education field, Chaminade offers a Bachelor of Science in elementary education degree. Coursework can be completed entirely online, with the exception of certain in-person activities, including a student teaching experience. Students must pass the Praxis II Licensure Field Content Verification examination prior to student teaching. The degree requires completion of 120 credit hours, which includes general education, pre-major and major required classes and a small number of electives. Upon successful completion of the degree program, graduates are licensed to teach on the K through 6th grade level, based on the Hawaii Teachers Standards Board licensure guidelines. Graduates are also qualified to teach K through 6 in most other states. Students residing outside of Hawaii, however, are advised to consult their home states' licensure agencies prior to enrolling in Chaminade's B.S. in elementary education program to determine if this degree results in eligibility for teaching licensure in their states.

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10 University of Wisconsin-Superior Superior, Wisconsin$6,53527%76%46%1Yes Yes Yes

The University of Wisconsin-Superior's online bachelor's degree in early education is a hybrid program in which students complete their coursework online and participate in in-person teaching internships in elementary or middle school settings. Students must complete their general education/University Studies requirements or earn their A.A., A.S., B.A., or B.S. degrees from other institutions prior to starting this program. The early education program requires students to choose from among 6 specialized minors. Students successfully completing the minor in early childhood education are eligible for teaching licensure for PK-6 (ages 0 through 12), allowing them to work in early childhood/Head Start programs, 3K, 4K and preschool classrooms. Those completing the special education minor are eligible for licensure to teach grades 1-8 (ages 6 through 13 or 14) and grades 6-8 (ages 12 through 13 or 14) in special education class settings. Minors in geography, health, language arts and social studies lead to licensure in grades 1-8 (ages 6 through 13 or 14) and allow graduates to teach middle school in the field related to the corresponding minor.

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11 Fort Hays State University Hays, Kansas$3,78973%91%44%1No Yes Yes School website
12 East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina$4,36542%70%61%1No Yes Yes School website
13 Hobe Sound Bible College Hobe Sound, Florida$5,60086%-67%1No No No School website
14 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, Utah$5,7801%-19%1No No Yes School website
15 University of West Alabama Livingston, Alabama$7,28657%53%36%1Yes Yes Yes School website
16 Sterling College Sterling, Kansas$23,40099%37%43%1Yes Yes Yes School website
17 The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, Florida$9,90056%59%49%1No No Yes School website
18 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, Louisiana$5,78862%76%41%1No Yes Yes School website
19 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, Texas$18,90070%23%42%1Yes Yes Yes School website
20 University of Alaska Southeast Juneau, Alaska$5,93643%49%17%1Yes Yes Yes School website
21 Western New Mexico University Silver City, New Mexico$3,74052%-25%1No Yes Yes School website
22 Lees-McRae College Banner Elk, North Carolina$24,878100%63%39%1No Yes Yes School website
23 Midway University Midway, Kentucky$23,10074%60%29%1Yes Yes Yes School website
24 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, Kentucky$22,640100%71%36%1No No Yes School website
25 William Penn University Oskaloosa, Iowa$23,78099%59%31%1No Yes Yes School website
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Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wesson, Mississippi$2,39035%33%1Yes Yes Yes School website
2 Northwest Mississippi Community College Senatobia, Mississippi$2,80021%22%1Yes Yes Yes School website
3 Western Texas College Snyder, Texas$2,08844%43%1Yes Yes Yes School website
4 Arkansas Northeastern College Blytheville, Arkansas$2,15642%28%1Yes Yes Yes School website
5 Northeast Community College Norfolk, Nebraska$2,70040%48%1Yes Yes Yes School website
6 Southern Arkansas University Tech Camden, Arkansas$3,24044%43%1Yes Yes Yes School website
7 Southwestern Community College Sylva, North Carolina$2,1289%30%1Yes Yes Yes School website
8 Yavapai College Prescott, Arizona$2,28020%27%1Yes No Yes School website
9 Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville, North Carolina$2,4322%12%1Yes Yes Yes School website
10 Eastern Wyoming College Torrington, Wyoming$2,13689%33%1No No Yes School website
11 Arizona Western College Yuma, Arizona$1,92016%16%1No Yes Yes School website

How Much Can You Make in a Elementary Education Career?

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.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 7%
Job Description

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.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 7%
Job Description

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.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 18%
Job Description

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.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 8%
Job Description

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.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 9%
Job Description

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.

What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Elementary Education Degree?

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.

Child Development

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.

Collaboration Methods

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.

Community Building in 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.

Legal and Ethical Issues

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.

Elementary Reading and Language Arts

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.

How to Choose the Best Online Elementary Education Program

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.

How should I choose my elementary education courses?

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.

How do I know if I will be a good fit in a department?

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.

Will all my classes be online?

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.

What can I do with this degree outside of teaching in an elementary school?

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.

Should I find a specific curriculum focus?

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.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Elementary Education Programs

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.

American Foundation for the Blind – Rudolph Dillman Memorial Scholarship

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.

Edward G. and Helen A. Borgens Elementary Teacher Education Scholarships

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.

Isabel M. Herson Scholarship in Education

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.

Nancy Larson Foundation Scholarship

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 Prospective Educator Scholarships

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.