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Thanks to the growth of online programs, pursuing a bachelor’s in elementary education has never been more promising or accessible. Yet, with countless options available, aspiring educators often face the challenge of identifying the best. That’s where we come in. In this comprehensive article, we have done the research to bring you a carefully curated list of the top online bachelor’s in elementary education programs available today.

Our research into undergraduate elementary education programs includes examining these degree programs, focusing on core curriculums, specializations, and unique features like student teaching. We’ll delve into the potential career paths and job prospects that await graduates, illustrating each likely possibility in the field of Elementary education.

But that’s not all; we’ll equip you with the tools to make an informed choice as you take the first step on your academic journey. From essential tips on selecting the right program to a detailed FAQ, this article is designed to be a valuable resource for everything you need to know about pursuing an online bachelor’s in elementary education.

What Can I Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education Degree Program?

Overview of online bachelor’s in elementary education degree programs

For aspiring elementary school teachers, an online bachelor’s in elementary education is an excellent way to gain the knowledge and proficiency they need to be successful in their future careers. You can generally expect:

  • A core curriculum centered around pedagogy, child development, curriculum design, and classroom management
  • To learn effective teaching strategies for various subjects like math, science, language arts, and social studies
  • Student teaching experiences in real classrooms to gain hands-on teaching skills

Potential specializations for online bachelor’s in elementary education degrees

Some programs may offer specialization tracks or concentration options for students interested in pursuing a career in a particular field. Some popular concentration options include:

  • Reading Specialist, which focuses on literacy instruction and support
  • ESL (English as a Second Language), prepares students to work with non-native English speakers
  • Speech-Language Pathology, centers on helping children with speech and language disorders
  • STEM Education, where aspiring educators focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
  • Early Childhood Education concentrates on teaching and nurturing younger elementary students, typically those in kindergarten through third grade

State-level teaching certification

Each state has unique certification requirements, so where you earn your degree can significantly impact your ability to obtain your teaching certification. Criteria like student teaching experience, exams, and specific coursework can vary widely from one state to another.

If you plan to earn your degree in one state but intend to teach in another, it’s essential to carefully research the certification requirements of the state where you plan to work. Working in a different from where you received your degree might involve additional steps, such as taking state-specific exams or completing additional coursework to align with the new state’s standards.

The Top 50 Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education Programs

Best Bachelor's in Elementary Education Programs Badge

University of Southern Mississippi

Fort Hays State University

University of Louisiana at Monroe

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Kansas State University

Liberty University

Wichita State University

University of South Carolina

The Baptist College of Florida

Drexel University

Mississippi State University

Old Dominion University

Asbury University

University of Wisconsin-Superior

Central Methodist University

Chaminade University of Honolulu

Regis University

Western Governors University

Campbell University

Mayville State University

Bemidji State University

Southern Utah University

Dakota State University

Prescott College

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

University of the Cumberlands

University of Northern Iowa

Wilmington University

Valley City State University

St. Petersburg College

Nova Southeastern University

University of West Alabama

Appalachian State University

National University

Ottawa University

Mississippi University for Women

Midway University

Bay Path University

Brenau University

Western New Mexico University

Saint Leo University

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How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best online bachelor’s degree programs in elementary education in the U.S. All are offered at nonprofit, accredited institutions, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.

We evaluated each degree program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, reputation, and student resources. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared our picks to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education?

Career outlook

The career outlook for graduates with a bachelor’s in elementary education remains promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field will see over 850,000 new job openings annually until 2032. Furthermore, the median salary for elementary education teachers was $61,620 in 2022, surpassing the average wage for all occupations, which stood at $46,310. With a strong demand for educators and competitive pay, elementary education remains a rewarding and stable career choice.

Career paths

Whether you’re passionate about classroom teaching, specialized instruction, or education leadership, there’s a role that suits your skills and interests. Here are a few career avenues to consider:

  • Classroom teaching: This is the most common career path, where graduates teach in public or private elementary schools. Some graduates may pursue a career in Special Education, where they can focus on teaching students with disabilities or special needs in inclusive classrooms.
  • Specialized instruction: At the elementary level, this can include becoming a Reading Specialist, helping students improve their reading skills by working one-on-one or in small groups, or becoming an ESL teacher, where graduates teach English to non-native speakers.
  • Curriculum development: With advanced training or adequate experience, graduates can focus on creating educational materials, lesson plans, and curriculum content for schools or academic publishers.
  • School administration: If undergraduate students pursue a graduate degree, opportunities to pursue roles like school principal, vice-principal, or curriculum coordinator will become available.

Elementary school teacher

Elementary school teachers play a fundamental role in a child’s education. They create engaging lesson plans, foster a positive learning environment, and provide personalized guidance to students in math, science, language arts, and social studies. Beyond academics, they also nurture social and emotional development, helping young learners build essential life skills while laying the foundation for a lifelong love of learning.

Reading specialist

Those passionate about literacy and who enjoy working one-on-one with young learners will thrive as a Reading Specialist. They assess students’ reading abilities, design tailored interventions, and provide instruction to improve reading comprehension, fluency, and literacy.

English as a second language (ESL) teacher

Open-minded, empathetic graduates who are culturally aware can make excellent ESL teachers. Individuals in this role work with non-native English-speaking students to help them learn and master the English language. With a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, these instructors have foundational teaching skills, classroom management techniques, and an understanding of child development to thrive in this field.

Best States for Teaching Careers

Education career opportunities span all 50 states, although employment and annual salary vary widely.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s highest-paid teachers are in Washington, DC, with an annual median salary of $76,000. Meanwhile, the lowest annual median salary is in Mississippi, where teachers earn $46,240 per year.

The U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of trained, qualified teachers, with some experts estimating as many as 55,000 open teaching positions in the country. The need is most acute in the South Atlantic and East South Central regions of the U.S.

State Annual median wage Employment per 1,000 jobs
Alabama $50,630 50.3
Alaska $61,660 63.1
Arizona $48,410 47.6
Arkansas $47,840 57.8
California $63,100 56.8
Colorado $50,180 52.9
Connecticut $63,680 73.5
Delaware $59,060 60.0
District of Columbia $76,000 43.3
Florida $49,790 42.9
Georgia $57,780 57.6
Hawaii $56,570 64.7
Idaho $47,200 55.8
Illinois $53,480 60.7
Indiana $47,880 50.0
Iowa $47,170 67.4
Kansas $47,650 64.2
Kentucky $50,240 50.0
Louisiana $49,090 57.8
Maine $49,120 64.2
Maryland $60,890 62.7
Massachusetts $64,390 64.3
Michigan $51,480 46.2
Minnesota $49,710 56.2
Mississippi $46,240 60.8
Missouri $47,940 55.0
Montana $47,630 58.4
Nebraska $50,290 58.3
Nevada $56,530 36.2
New Hampshire $51,390 63.4
New Jersey $62,640 68.4
New Mexico $55,210 60.1
New York $63,670 74.3
North Carolina $47,920 57.9
North Dakota $49,030 58.2
Ohio $60,470 58.0
Oklahoma $47,210 57.4
Oregon $60,720 53.0
Pennsylvania $60,930 56.6
Rhode Island $64,320 65.9
South Carolina $48,400 50.6
South Dakota $46,840 57.9
Tennessee $48,920 48.2
Texas $59,140 60.9
Utah $48,670 57.3
Vermont $49,720 87.8
Virgin Islands $47,790 66.3
Virginia $57,240 61.3
Washington $62,660 53.9
West Virginia $47,470 60.0
Wisconsin $49,580 55.1
Wyoming $49,930 72.6

**Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics

How to Choose the Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education Degree Program That’s Right for You

Step 1: Choose your area of study

Elementary education is a comprehensive field ideal for aspiring elementary school teachers — however, if you have specific career interests, you should explore available specializations. Options like becoming a reading specialist, ESL teacher, or specializing in special education allow students to tailor their education to match their unique passions and career goals within the broader field of elementary education. Careful consideration of these specializations can lead to a more focused and fulfilling educational journey.

You should also consider whether you learn best in a synchronous or asynchronous learning environment or if attending on a full- or part-time basis is better for you. For example, a synchronous, full-time program will give you an immersive, structured learning experience with plenty of face-to-face interaction with your peers and instructors. On the other hand, a part-time asynchronous program will lend you the flexibility to balance your education with work or family responsibilities.

Step 2: Research schools and programs

When researching schools and programs for your bachelor’s in elementary education degree, prioritize accreditation from nationally recognized bodies. Checking for this first will help ensure that your future education will be of the highest caliber, as accreditation ensures that academic programs meet specific educational standards. It’s also essential to consider factors like program reputation, faculty expertise, and curriculum alignment with your professional aspirations.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to admissions counselors to clarify any questions, and consider asking them the following:

  • What student teaching opportunities are available for undergraduate elementary education students?
  • What are the program’s licensure exam pass rates?
  • What are some available specializations within the major of elementary education?

These questions can provide foundational knowledge for each program, but you should seek information from multiple sources, including university websites, online forums, alums, and current students. Campus visits, virtual open houses, and interviews with faculty can provide valuable insights.

Step 3: Prepare for applications and tests

Preparing for standardized tests and applications to your top schools can feel overwhelming. Still, a strategic approach to these elements can help you make a solid first impression on any admissions committee.

Start by organizing your academic records, transcripts, and letters of recommendation in advance. Dedicate some time to writing a compelling personal statement highlighting your enthusiasm for teaching and any relevant, real-life examples that can further illustrate your passion. Consider enrolling in an SAT or ACT prep course to boost your standardized test scores, as many undergraduate Elementary Education programs require them.

Lastly, pay close attention to all application details and double-check deadlines to ensure all materials are submitted on time.

Step 4: Select your program

If you apply to multiple programs, you might receive numerous acceptance letters. But how do you choose?

Start by assessing each program’s reputation, location, financial aid, and the curriculum’s alignment with your professional goals. If you have a specific specialization in mind, it’s crucial to ensure that the program you enroll in either has that specialization available or has relevant coursework to support your interest substantially. Consider your preferences and priorities to make an informed decision that best suits your educational needs and career aspirations.

Step 5: Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Paying for your undergraduate degree in elementary education can be manageable by employing various funding options.

Start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal grants, work-study programs, and subsidized loans. Many universities offer scholarships and grants specifically for education majors, so research institutional awards and apply for them. Additionally, consider exploring state-sponsored aid programs and tuition assistance benefits, which might be available to aspiring educators.

After graduation, consider Teacher Loan Forgiveness, a federal program that forgives a portion of student loans for teachers working in low-income schools. Public Service Loan Forgiveness is another option for educators who work in qualifying public service jobs and make on-time payments for ten years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education Degree Programs

What are the admissions requirements for an online bachelor's in elementary education degree?

Admissions requirements for an online bachelor’s in elementary education degree typically include the following:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Standardized test scores, such as the SAT or the ACT

When drafting your personal statement, highlighting your enthusiasm for teaching and dedication to positively impacting young learners is essential. You can also benefit by discussing relevant examples of your ability to communicate effectively, capacity to adapt to diverse learning needs, and having a patient approach to helping students overcome challenges.

What is the average cost of an online bachelor's in elementary education degree?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition averages for the 2020-2021 academic year were approximately $19,374 for public universities and significantly higher at $45,920 for private colleges.

Public, in-state schools often offer the most affordable tuition rates because they receive funding from the state government. However, financial aid, scholarships, and grants can help make tuition at private colleges more affordable for eligible students.

It’s important to remember that there are multiple strategies you can utilize to help you save money — including:

  • Scholarships: Seek scholarships specifically for education majors or online students, which can significantly reduce costs.
  • Employer Tuition Assistance: Some employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement for employees pursuing further education.
  • Online Learning Materials: Many online programs provide digital textbooks and resources, saving on textbook costs.

By carefully researching financial aid options and selecting the most cost-effective program, you can make earning your undergraduate degree in elementary education more affordable.

How long does it take to complete an online bachelor's in elementary education degree?

A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years of full-time study to complete for traditional on-campus and many online programs that offer synchronous learning. However, students who enroll in an asynchronous program may meet degree requirements faster or slower than the standard four years, depending on their pace of study and how much time they have to commit to the program.

Other factors that can impact completion timelines include:

  • Part-Time Enrollment: If you enroll part-time, the completion time will be longer. It may take around five to six years or more, depending on the number of courses taken each semester.
  • Accelerated Programs: Some online programs offer accelerated options that allow you to complete your degree more quickly, often in two to three years. These programs usually require a more intensive course load.
  • Transfer Credits: If you have transfer credits from previous college courses or an associate’s degree, you can shorten the time needed to complete your bachelor’s.

Should I get a bachelor's in elementary education degree in person or online?

Both options have merits, so learning in-person or online is ultimately a personal decision. In-person degrees offer structure and face-to-face interaction, which can benefit traditional students just starting their educational journey. Online learning is ideal for those balancing their education with other significant responsibilities — like having a full-time job or being a parent.

Which major is best for elementary education?

The best major for aspiring educators at the elementary level is typically elementary education itself. The program you ultimately attend will provide the foundational knowledge and skills needed for teaching elementary school students. However, if you’re interested in a specialized role within elementary education, concentrations like Special Education, ESL (English as a Second Language), or Reading Specialist may be more suitable, depending on your specific career goals and unique interests.

Is an online bachelor's in education degree worth it?

For many aspiring educators, a bachelor’s in education is worth it because it prepares students for entry-level roles into a fulfilling and steady career.

Many individuals find teaching to be a personally rewarding profession, which can enhance the overall value of the degree. It’s important to note that the demand for teachers remains strong, meaning that a career in elementary education can lead to increased job security. In addition, a bachelor’s in elementary education provides a direct path for graduates interested in advanced roles, like school administration or curriculum development.

However, it’s also essential to weigh the cost of the degree against potential future earnings. Attending an affordable program and considering your financial aid options can make a long-lasting impact on your future.

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