Kindergarten and elementary school teaching is an important field that helps shape the foundation of young people across the globe. In this role, teachers help give children the foundational knowledge they’ll use for the rest of their lives. If you’ve always wanted to work with children while sharing knowledge of the world, this might be the career for you.
This field also offers both steady growth and salary potential, too. The 2020 median pay in this field was about $60,660 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also projects jobs in this field to grow by 4% through 2029, which is about as fast as average for all occupations.
If you want to enter this field, you should know that kindergarten and elementary school teachers usually must have at least a bachelor’s degree in teaching or a related field to enter the field, along with certification and licensure — though requirements will depend on the state or district you’re looking in. The best place to start your path to elementary education is by looking at the top affordable online elementary education bachelor’s degrees.
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Have Questions About Elementary Education Bachelor’s Degrees? We Have Answers.
Do elementary education programs help you attain licensure?
Yes, most elementary education programs will help you attain licensure. That said, whether or not your program will help will depend on what school and program you enroll in, but most location-based programs do help prepare you to attain local licensure to work in public schools. State licensing is usually required to work in public schools.
Do I have to major in a specific area of education?
Yes, you may be required to major in a specific area, but that isn’t always the case. Some programs will require that you major in one content area, like math or science. Check carefully to find out the program requirements at the schools you are considering enrolling in. If you wish to teach in a public school, be sure to also check with state requirements, as some states may require you to major in a specific content area. Nearly all will require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in teaching or a degree in a related area.
How do I get classroom experience in an online program?
Many online elementary education bachelor’s programs will help you set up to earn classroom experience, whether you’re required to complete observation or student teaching at a local school. In almost all cases, student teaching will count toward degree requirements.
Top 10 Affordable Online Elementary Education Bachelor’s Degrees
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The main focus of an elementary education degree online is to prepare you to work in a public or private elementary school upon completion of the program. Public schools require a bachelor’s degree in education, and many private schools do as well. If you want to be a teacher, you will most likely need to choose this type of degree.
An online elementary education degree serves the dual purpose of preparing students in both the content they will be teaching and in the teaching skills they need, like classroom management. Programs like these aim to produce well-rounded graduates who are effective classroom leaders.
When searching for the right affordable online elementary education bachelor’s degree programs, you will also want to look at the program’s educational philosophy. Many have features that emphasize a focus. For example, some programs focus on how to teach in multicultural environments with compassion and diversity in mind. These usually have courses focused on multiculturalism topics. Other programs might focus on specialties like special education.
Degree requirements can vary by program, so it’s important to check the specific requirements of the schools you are considering. That said, to successfully get accepted into the program, you generally have to show certain SAT/ACT scores or a certain high school GPA. These requirements can vary by program, and some programs may require admission after you complete general education requirements with a certain GPA.
Most bachelor’s degrees generally require the completion of 120 credit hours to graduate.
There may also be GPA requirements to keep in mind, which are often designated by overall GPA and major GPA, such as a 2.0 GPA in all courses and a 3.0 in major courses, for example.
You might also have to complete requirements like a certain number of hours of student teaching. This is a typical requirement for licensing and graduation from programs focused on teaching or elementary education.
Elementary Education Courses
During an online elementary education degree, undergraduates take courses that build their teaching skills. By studying instructional design and assessment, majors learn to plan instructional materials that align with curriculum standards and assess student learning. Specialized courses in areas like teaching math and English language arts to elementary students also build classroom-ready skills.
Teacher training programs also include a practicum, or student-teaching experience, to give learners hands-on experience in the field. In addition to elementary education classes, undergraduates complete general education requirements that build critical thinking and analytical skills. Below, we outline several common courses found in online teaching degree programs.
Fostering Engaging Learning Environments
Elementary educators must create engaging and supportive learning environments for students. This class explores approaches to promoting active engagement, self-motivation, and collaborative learning in the classroom. Students review theoretical and practical perspectives on creating an engaging learning environment.
Instructional Design and Assessment
Courses on instructional design and assessment train future teachers to plan instructional materials and conduct assessments. The course covers curriculum standards, information assessment strategies, and differentiated instruction, with a focus on elementary education. Students may complete practicum or field experience requirements to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world settings.
Many elementary education programs include a course in child development, which examines how children grow and develop. The class examines cognitive, social, linguistic, and emotional development, linking child development to the learning process. Education majors also explore the knowledge acquisition process and student motivation. After taking the course, educators can build learning experiences that align with student development.
Mathematics for Elementary Teachers
Classes on mathematics for elementary teachers train students to teach K-5 math skills, including set theory, numeration systems, and integers. Coursework focuses on problem-solving skills and critical thinking in a mathematical framework. Students may also study number theory, rational numbers, proportions, and ratios to build a strong foundation in math education.
Teaching English Language Arts
In this course, elementary education majors learn research-based methods to teach reading and writing skills. Students learn to apply concepts from child development to the instruction process while building strong literacy skills.
The career path for an elementary education major is one of the most straightforward. People who major in this field typically want to teach at public or private elementary schools in some capacity.
Certain degree programs in this field may allow you to focus on specializations, like English as a second language, special education, or reading specialist. Some states may require you to major in a subject specialization, like math, arts, or science.
These specializations allow graduates the opportunities to work in settings that make use of the specialized skills, like working with special needs classrooms or in a school that has arts-focused curriculums, for example.
Some elementary school teachers may eventually decide to transition into an administration role. To do this, they will need to continue their education by getting graduate degrees in school administration or a master’s in education, which not only opens up opportunities for administration roles, but also strengthens teaching skills and expands specializations.
Job Outlook & Salary
Elementary school teachers work in every county across the country. The BLS reports that over 1.5 million kindergarten and elementary school teachers currently work in the U.S., and the organization projects 56,100 new jobs for these professionals between 2019-2029.
Elementary school teachers earn a median annual salary of over $60,660. Several factors affect teacher salaries, including location, school type, and experience. For example, educators with a master’s degree generally earn higher salaries than those with a bachelor’s degree.
According to the BLS, 85% of elementary and secondary school teachers worked in local public schools and 13% worked in private schools. 81% of kindergarten teachers worked in local public schools, 14% worked in private schools and 3% worked in child daycare services.
Scholarships & Financial Aid for Elementary Education Students
Who Can Apply: Members of the National Education Association student program can apply with an essay, two letters of recommendation, a paragraph demonstrating financial need, and a transcript indicating a minimum 2.5 GPA. Amount:$2,500
Certifications and Licensure for Elementary Education
Elementary school teachers who work in public schools typically need a state-issued teaching license. Many private and charter schools also require a teaching license for classroom positions. The requirements for a teaching license vary by state, so prospective teachers should research the process and requirements in their state.
In general, a teaching license requires a bachelor’s degree, completion of a teacher preparation program, and passing scores on an educator examination. Teaching candidates must also undergo a background check, which often includes a fingerprint screening.
Educators in New York, for example, must submit an application for an initial teaching certificate. Candidates for the credential must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a state-approved teacher preparation program, and pass a test. The license remains valid for five years, at which point educators must meet continuing education requirements to renew the license.
In addition to a teaching license, educators can stand out in the job market by pursuing voluntary certifications.
Board certification recognizes experienced educators in 25 certification areas. Candidates must demonstrate advanced knowledge and experience in their certification area by completing an assessment and portfolio.
Offered by the International Society for Technology in Education, this credential recognizes educators with training in using technology in the classroom. Candidates must create an e-portfolio and undergo a review to earn certification.
Designed for K-12 educators, this certification recognizes teachers with training in conservation and sustainability. Candidates must create a capstone project to demonstrate their abilities.
Secondary Education Degree
This degree is typically offered as a bachelor’s degree and allows you to teach at a secondary level, meaning you can teach at the middle and high school levels. If you want to focus on working with older children and teenagers, you may want to consider this degree. These degrees typically require you to specialize in a certain subject, like English or math.
Master’s Degree in Educational Administration
For those who want to eventually work in administration as a school principal, continuing your education with a master’s degree in educational administration might be a good choice. These types of degrees are generally required to be hired in an administrative capacity at a public school.
Master’s Degree in Library Science
Another similar degree would be in library science. Librarians can work in elementary schools to pass on important literature knowledge to children. They also help children find information for school projects and teach children how to use library resources. Librarians typically need to get a master’s degree in library science to work in this field.
The Top 25 Affordable Online Elementary Education Bachelor’s Degrees of 2021
Founded in 1931, ULM has over 65,000 alumni who provide a large regional network to help graduates find internships or jobs. Many of those alumni graduated from online programs at ULM, which include an elementary education degree.
Baptist College of Florida is located just over an hour outside of Tallahassee in Graceville, Florida. Founded on Christian principles, BCF was originally called Baptist Bible Institute and requires all students — including distance learners — to complete some biblical/theological foundation courses.
SPC in Florida is a private college that does not offer in-state tuition. However, most SPC students receive financial aid, thanks in large part to the tight-knit alumni network. Some students study on campus in St. Petersburg, Florida, but over 20,000 students enroll at SPC through online courses.
Located in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the University of Alaska Southeast provides on-campus students with a one-of-a-kind learning experience. While distance-learning students complete the majority of their degree requirements online, UAS encourages online students to visit campus. Furthermore, some online degrees require in-person practice, such as the university's online elementary education degree.
Fort Hays State University is a nationwide leader in accessible public education. Based in Hays, Kansas, Fort Hays State University teaches students across the Midwest and the nation, many of whom choose to study online.
Founded in 1890 as a teachers college, Valley City State University’s campus, located in Valley City, North Dakota, primarily serves students who live in the area near the Sheyenne River. Nevertheless, many VCSU students study in a hybrid format or entirely online.
WGU is an online college based in Salt Lake City, Utah. WGU also offers competency-based education, meaning that students with relevant professional experience can test out of certain requirements. WGU also offers start dates throughout the year and accelerated courses to meet student schedules.
Based in North Carolina's Uwharrie Mountains, Randolph Community College is a two-year public school that is part of the larger North Carolina Community College System. Because RCC is a two-year school, students cannot complete a four-year elementary education degree entirely at Randolph Community College. However, students can earn an online bachelor's degree in elementary education through Pfeiffer University while taking classes through Randolph Community College.
Wilmington University stresses student flexibility, allowing transfer students to bring in up to 90 college credits when they enroll. Based in Georgetown, Delaware, WilmU also offers an array of online programs, including an elementary education degree.
Ottawa University is a private, Christian school that is based in Ottawa, Kansas. OU also operates campuses in Phoenix, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and offers degree plans online. The online campus offers the most flexibility, letting students study asynchronously and eliminating in-person requirements in most programs.
Located in Williston, North Dakota, Williston State College is a two-year community college that offers a range of transferable two-year degrees. Because WSC only offers two-year degrees, students cannot become teachers solely by studying through WSC. However, WSC offers an online elementary education degree that awards a bachelor's through Mayville State University.
One of the fastest-growing universities in the region, Wichita State University sits atop a hill and offers views of downtown Wichita, Kansas. WSU owes some of its rapid growth to the expansion of its distance learning programs.
One of the largest research institutions in the region, the University of Southern Mississippi now operates a distance learning program that caters to students enrolled in a wide range of majors across the nation. All of the university's online students gain access to financial aid advising, the online library, and USM's vast alumni network.
Founded in 1863, Kansas State University is a large public research institution based in Manhattan, Kansas. While the campus has grown significantly over the past 150 years, K-State's distance learning presence has expanded even more rapidly. As a result, the university now offers over 100 programs that are entirely online. While online graduates from K-State typically have a 95% job placement rate, some degrees — including K-State's online elementary education degree — have an even higher placement rate.
Located in Norfolk, Virginia, Old Dominion University serves over 24,000 students both online and on campus. To supplement its on-campus offerings, ODU offers programs through distance learning, just as it has since the 1980s.
Campbell University is an inclusive Christian university with an enrollment of roughly 6,800 students. Because of Campbell's religious roots, all students — including students pursuing the online BS in elementary education — must complete a three-credit introduction to Christianity course as part of their program’s general education requirements.
The University of Wisconsin-Superior has an enrollment of nearly 2,600 students, and nearly 900 of these students study online. Originally founded as a school for teachers, UW-Superior is a local leader when it comes to educating future teachers. As such, the university's online elementary education degree is among its most popular programs.
Based in Bemidji, Minnesota, Bemidji State University was first founded as an institution for teachers in 1919. These days, it provides higher education to north-central Minnesota and students across the nation via its online programs. It is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and serves over 5,400 students, many of whom study online.
Regis University is a private Jesuit school based in Denver, Colorado. While Regis University encourages students to take religious courses, these types of courses are not required. Rather, Regis requires liberal arts courses that are meant to provide students with a holistic education.
Founded in 1893, Western New Mexico University counts over 3,500 students who are enrolled at its campus in Silver City and in its online courses. The average class at this university has just 18 students, which helps to provide all students — including distance learners — with personalized instruction from the professors.
North Carolina Central University is a public, state-supported liberal arts institution and historically black university located in Durham, North Carolina. This university offers a number of online programs, including an online elementary education bachelor’s degree program.
Bay Path University is a university located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, with additional campus locations across Massachusetts and online. Created as a women's college, Bay Path only accepts women into undergraduate programs, including those programs offered online.
Southwestern College is a private school in Winfield, Kansas, and was founded in the Methodist tradition. Southwestern College maintains an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, and every accepted student receives financial aid. As such, SC's online elementary education degree provides an affordable option to aspiring educators.
Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, the University of the Cumberlands is primarily a graduate school with over 9,000 enrolled graduate students. However, the university also operates an undergraduate program, and 850 of the roughly 2,200 undergraduate students choose to study online.
Michelle Lovrine Honeyager is a freelance writer living in Southeast Wisconsin who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Grad School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, among others.
Angelica Leicht is the schools editor at Best Value Schools who oversees our college rankings, school profiles, and other higher education coverage. She previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.
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