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Affordable Online Elementary Education Bachelor’s Degrees

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Online Elementary Education Bachelor’s Degrees

By Staff WritersPublished on June 10, 2020

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What Are the Goals of a Bachelor’s Program in Elementary Education?

Elementary school teachers educate young learners in foundational areas like reading, mathematics, and writing. A bachelor’s degree in elementary education prepares graduates for careers in education, such as elementary school teacher. Elementary school teachers made a median annual salary of $59,420 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

During an elementary education degree, undergraduates study research-based teaching methods, assessment strategies, and instructional design. They also complete student-teaching requirements to strengthen their classroom skills. Elementary education jobs require strong communication skills, creativity, and patience, which education majors build during their degree.

An online teaching degree offers flexibility and convenience compared to an on-campus program, appealing to students balancing school with work or personal responsibilities. Earning a teaching degree online typically takes four years for full-time students to complete. Transfer students with prior credits or those who choose a self-paced or accelerated program can complete the degree in less time.

After completing an online bachelor’s in education degree from an accredited program, educators can apply for a teaching license and pursue careers in education.

Top 10 Affordable Online Elementary Education Bachelor’s Degrees

Rank School Location
1 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
2 The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL
3 St. Petersburg College Clearwater, FL
4 University of Alaska Southeast Juneau, AK
5 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
6 Valley City State University Valley City, ND
7 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
8 Mayville State University Mayville, ND
9 Randolph Community College Asheboro, NC
10 Wilmington University New Castle, DE

Why Study Elementary Education Online?

Online learning offers several benefits. For example, many programs allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live. Online learners also save on the housing, transportation, and commuting costs that on-campus students incur.

Online students also benefit from flexibility. Many online teaching degrees use an asynchronous format, meaning students do not need to attend class at set times. Some programs also offer accelerated or self-paced study, allowing students to reach their career goals on their own schedule.

During an online teaching degree, students complete coursework requirements through their program’s learning management system, such as Blackboard or Canvas. They interact with instructors and fellow students on discussion boards and watch recorded or streamed lectures. Some programs include on-campus requirements, while others offer a fully online route to the degree.

In addition to coursework requirements, online elementary education programs incorporate student-teaching requirements to build classroom-ready skills. Online students can typically work with their program to identify a local site to meet these requirements.

An online teaching degree appeals to both current and aspiring educators. For example, educators at private schools can use a bachelor’s degree in elementary education to pursue teaching licensure and higher-paying job opportunities at public schools.

Accreditation for Online Elementary Education Programs

Prospective elementary education students should always check a program’s accreditation status before applying. Accredited schools meet the highest standards for academic excellence, and accreditation benefits students in several ways. For example, an accredited online teaching degree meets the requirements for a teaching license in every state. Additionally, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid.

Schools can receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Programs within a school can also receive accreditation, such as social work, business, and education programs. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) grants accreditation to teaching programs, including online programs. CAEP reviews educator preparation curricula, student learning outcomes, and faculty qualifications to grant accreditation.

The Distance Education Accrediting Commission also grants accreditation to online schools. Learn more about the accreditation process here.

Affordable Online Elementary Education Bachelor’s Degrees

Our list ranks the most affordable online teaching degrees to help prospective students find a program that fits their budget. Learn more about the best online elementary education programs in our rankings.

  1. University of Louisiana at Monroe

    Monroe, LA



    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.

    Students complete all of the 120 credits required to earn the elementary education degree online. However, students interested in becoming teachers in Louisiana or elsewhere must complete in-person clinical experience as a teacher. ULM does not require students to complete the field experience in Monroe, though students interested in teaching in Louisiana should earn their experience within the Bayou State.

    ULM offers accelerated eight-week courses, and most students take two courses per semester. Full-time students complete the program in under four years.

  2. The Baptist College of Florida

    Graceville, FL



    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.

    BCF's online elementary education degree requires 124 credits. To fulfill the program's 61 education credits, students must complete an educational internship and a reading practicum. Students must complete these two field experiences in person, as they lead to teaching licensure. Other required coursework includes 12 credits in biblical foundations.

    Online courses follow a semester format, and students complete online courses through MyBCF. BCF charges the same per-credit tuition rate for all online programs.

  3. St. Petersburg College

    Clearwater, FL



    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.

    SPC's online elementary education program prepares students to teach at the K-6 level in Florida. Students can earn endorsements in English to Speakers of Other Languages and in reading. All applicants must have at least an associate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 2.5 GPA. As a completion program, the elementary education degree takes about two years to complete.

    The online BS in elementary education requires 220 clinical hours in a school setting, plus a 15-week internship in elementary education and reading. Students who plan on becoming professional teachers can also earn licensure after completing the online degree.

  4. University of Alaska Southeast

    Juneau, AK



    Located in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the UAS provides on-campus students with a one-of-a-kind learning experience. While students who study online complete the majority of their degrees 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.

    The elementary education program primarily serves learners in the Juneau or rural Alaska area. Students complete most coursework online, though UAS requires a nine-month student teaching experience during each student's senior year. The program leads to Alaska licensure for teaching grades K-8.

    To become licensed teachers, distance learners must complete a student teaching experience. Before beginning the experience, students must also have a GPA of 3.0 and earn passing scores on the Praxis Core/CASE or CBEST exam.

  5. Fort Hays State University

    Hays, KS



    Fort Hays State University is a leader in accessible public education. Based in Hays, Kansas, FHSU teaches students across the Midwest, many of whom choose to study online.

    FHSU's online elementary education degree serves students interested in becoming teachers at the K-6 level. Available online or in a hybrid format, the program requires 127 credits, including in-person internship and methods courses. Distance learners can complete the rest of the program online. While the program meets Kansas' standards for teaching licensure, the program may satisfy other states' requirements.

    The program's accelerated courses last eight weeks each. Along with in-state tuition for Kansas students, FHSU also offers scholarships specifically for education students.

  6. Valley City State University

    Valley City, ND



    Founded in 1890 as a teachers college, VCSU's Valley City, North Dakota campus primarily serves students who live in the area near the Sheyenne River. Nevertheless, many VCSU students study in a hybrid format or entirely online.

    The school's online elementary education degree prepares students for initial North Dakota teaching licensure for grades 1-8. Students can complete the entire program online except for a 150-hour field experience and 12 weeks of student teaching. VCSU requires students to complete at least one certificate, endorsement, or minor, with specialization options available in special education, English language learners, and music K-12. Students usually enter the education program during their sophomore year after passing the Praxis Core test.

  7. Western Governors University

    Salt Lake City, UT



    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.

    Most of WGU's elementary education degree takes place online, though students that want to become licensed teachers must complete in-person clinical experience. Clinical experience is flexible for student needs, and the degree satisfies prerequisites for licensure in every state. Students transfer in an average of 28 credits, and most students finish the program in under four years.

    WGU's in-person requirements for the elementary education degree include 75 hours of in-classroom observation and a 20-week students teaching experience. Students complete the rest of the 40 required credits for the major online.

  8. Mayville State University

    Mayville, ND



    Created in 1889, Mayville State University now reaches students in rural North Dakota, out-of-state students, and busy working professionals through distance learning.

    MSU's online elementary education degree blends distance learning and in-person evening classes. Students must complete evening courses at either the Devils Lake or Williston campuses. MSU makes exceptions for certain students on these in-person requirements, but these students must attend synchronous online versions of the evening classes.

    Along with the major in elementary education, students must also select a minor. Minor options include early childhood education, science for the elementary teacher, and special needs education. The online degree leads to licensure, so only students from North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana may apply.

  9. Randolph Community College

    Asheboro, NC



    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. As 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 from Pfeiffer University while only taking classes through Randolph Community College.

    Available primarily online, the elementary education degree includes general education courses from RCC and major courses through Pfeiffer University. Distance learners complete major courses as part of a cohort, and students planning on earning a teaching license must also complete an in-person student teaching experience. Admitted students receive financial aid through RCC, although RCC also works to secure financial aid for students through Pfeiffer.

  10. Wilmington University

    New Castle, DE



    Wilmington University stresses student flexibility, allowing transfer students to bring in up to 90 previous college credits. Based in Georgetown, Delaware, WilmU also offers an array of online programs, including an elementary education degree.

    Available entirely online, the BS in education studies with a concentration in elementary education requires 120 credits. The program does not lead to licensure, and students interested in a teaching license must complete an in-person student teaching experience separately. Notable courses include mathematics for teachers, earth science, and world and regional geography. WilmU delivers all of the program's coursework asynchronously in an accelerated format through Canvas.

Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer undergraduate elementary education programs online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $25,000/year or less.

*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.

Ranking Factors

After compiling a list of all the colleges that offer elementary education degrees online and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in four categories:

  • Program Popularity: Out of all the education students, how many choose specifically to major in elementary education? In other words, how successful is the elementary teaching program at attracting undergraduates to their degree over another education-focused option? To find out, we looked at the percentage of all education program graduates in the most recent school year who earned their degree in elementary education.
  • Overall Strength in Education: How many different education bachelor’s degrees does the school offer? A large number indicates a college that is willing to devote a lot of time, resources, and faculty expertise to training future teachers.
  • Accreditation: Has the program obtained CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) accreditation? Not only did schools earn points for having an accredited program, but they earned more if CAEP has given their elementary education degree “nationally recognized” status.
  • Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?

After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned even 100 points.

Career and Salary Outlook for Elementary Education Graduates

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 53,100 new jobs for these professionals between 2018-2028.

Elementary school teachers earn a median annual salary of over $59,000. 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.

Geography also plays a large role in teacher salaries. Elementary school teachers in California earn over $82,000 per year, on average, while teachers in Arizona earn under $46,000 per year. While salaries often correlate with costs of living, state policies also play a large role in teacher salaries.KINDERGARTEN AND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS

Less than $39,020$59,420More than $97,900

Source: BLS

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.NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATIONBoard 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.ISTE CERTIFICATIONOffered 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.NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATOR CERTIFICATIONDesigned for K-12 educators, this certification recognizes teachers with training in conservation and sustainability. Candidates must create a capstone project to demonstrate their abilities.

Courses in Elementary Education Programs

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.

Child Development

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.

Scholarships for Elementary Education Students

Online elementary education majors qualify for multiple scholarship opportunities offered by private organizations, foundations, and the federal government. These scholarships help students afford an elementary education degree, and many let recipients renew the scholarship for multiple years. We cover several popular scholarships for elementary education students below.TEACH GRANTWho Can Apply: The TEACH grant, offered by the federal government, supports students who plan to teach in a high-needs field or a low-income area after earning their degree.
Amount: $4,000 per year
EDWARD G. AND HELEN A. BORGEN ELEMENTARY TEACHER SCHOLARSHIPWho Can Apply: Students over age 25 studying elementary education at an accredited college or university qualify for this opportunity. Applicants must demonstrate a minimum 3.5 GPA.
Amount: $1,500
ISABEL M. HERSON SCHOLARSHIP IN EDUCATIONWho Can Apply: Full-time students earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education meet the requirements for this scholarship. Applicants must provide proof of enrollment.
Amount: $500-$1,000
NANCY LARSON FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPWho Can Apply: A scholarship for elementary education majors, applicants must provide an official transcript, resume, and narrative about their inspiration for becoming a teacher.
Amount: $1,000
NEA-RETIRED JACK KINNAMAN MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIPWho 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

Financial Aid for Elementary Education Students

College students increasingly rely on financial aid to cover the cost of an undergraduate degree. Students earning an online teaching degree from an accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid, such as grants, loans, and work-study assistance. Learners apply for this aid by submitting the FAFSA, which requires information about the student’s financial situation and their college to determine their financial need.

The federal TEACH grant supports educators who agree to teach for four years in a low-income district or in a high-needs field, which includes elementary education in many states. Recipients who do not meet the service requirement must repay the grant as a loan.

In addition to federal programs, students earning an online education degree can apply for private loans, fellowships, and private grants to pay for their degree. Colleges may also offer financial aid, such as scholarships, to online students.

Learn More…

Do Most Online Early Childhood Education Degrees Require a Practicum?
Best Cheap Master’s in Child Development and Early Childhood Studies Online Programs
Best Online Child Development Bachelor’s Degrees

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