Online Bachelor's in Elementary Education

An elementary education degree provides you with the content knowledge and skills needed to teach children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Both online and on-campus elementary education programs can lead to teaching licensure or certification. While most graduates pursue careers as elementary school teachers, they may also work as guidance counselors, school psychologists, or juvenile corrections workers. Employers may require additional education and training for these careers.

Elementary education presents an exciting challenge, with no two classes or days being the same. Many educators only teach for 10 months each year, with time off during the summers and throughout the year to relax, travel, or earn additional income.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nearly 1.9 million job openings for educators in preschool through postsecondary school between 2014 and 2024.

As the teaching field grows, new job opportunities arise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nearly 1.9 million job openings for educators in preschool through postsecondary school between 2014 and 2024. Specifically for kindergarten and elementary teachers, the BLS projects employment to grow 7% from 2016 to 2026 -- about as fast as the national average occupational growth rate. With student enrollment increasing and a substantial number of teachers retiring in the next decade, the need to fill teaching positions should rise.

Since many areas of the country boast a surplus of elementary school teachers, employment opportunities vary by region and school setting. Most private and public schools require elementary education employees to hold at least a bachelor's degree.

Read below to learn more about online elementary education degrees.

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

An online bachelor's degree in elementary education gives candidates many options based on their chosen school and program. Some regionally accredited online colleges even include teacher education programs and licensure tracks as part of their degree. The below sections provide some general information about online elementary education degree programs.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education

The curriculum for an online bachelor's degree in elementary education differs by institution. However, online elementary education programs usually entail classes in foundations of education, educational psychology, and classroom management. Degree candidates may also complete basic courses in math and children's literacy. View a sample curriculum in the list below.

Educational Psychology

This basic course provides an overview of psychology principles and theories related to education. Students explore the theoretical and applied aspects of human development, learning, motivation, personality, assessment, and evaluation in educational settings. Designed for aspiring teachers and counselors, this course involves examining cognitive, emotional, and social learning processes in the classroom.

Teaching Diverse Populations

This course helps aspiring teachers explore issues of diversity in the classroom, including race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. Through class discussions, reflection, and research, students develop the skills, attitudes, and dispositions required to work with diverse student populations. This course also examines the history of prejudice and discrimination in the classroom.

Classroom Management

Designed to help future teachers and administrators develop skills to effectively manage student behavioral problems, this course explores foundational knowledge for effective classroom management. Aspiring elementary school educators learn vital strategies for creating safe, positive learning environments. This course also involves developing appropriate classroom rules, consequences, and rewards for students.

Technology for Education

This course provides an overview of how teachers and administrators can use technology in the classroom to promote learning and increase productivity. Aspiring educators learn about new techniques and tools for community building and student assessment. The class typically explores the pros and cons of using technology.

Foundations of Education

By providing an overview of the historical, social, philosophical, and legal foundations of education, this introductory class examines educational trends, movements, and state and federal laws. Degree candidates typically discuss historical events, contemporary topics, and policy formation. Learners also explore the teaching profession and other career opportunities in contemporary education.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education?

The length of an online bachelor's degree in elementary education depends on many factors, including enrollment status, how many courses the student takes each term, and program type. Accelerated programs give learners the opportunity to complete their degrees more quickly, whereas self-paced programs provide more time to finish. An online elementary education degree may also require an internship, which could incur additional time.

When researching the best schools for an online teaching degree in elementary education, check on whether the program follows an asynchronous format, in which students work through the program individually at their own pace, or a cohort learning format, which entails a group of students moving through the program's requirements as a team.

Cohort learning typically requires learners to start courses at a set time with their group. With full-time study and 120-127 credits, distance learners can usually graduate with their online elementary education degree in four years.

Is Online Learning Right For Me?

Online learning usually requires unique skills and attributes, including time management, effective communication, and self-discipline. Distance learners often work, care for family, and juggle other commitments at the same time, therefore, time management plays a crucial role in online learning. Synchronous classes require distance learners to attend online classes at specific times, whereas asynchronous classes give degree candidates more flexibility to complete their assignments at any time.

Online learners can make the most effective use of their time by creating schedules and prioritizing tasks to meet important deadlines.

With flexible schedules, these assignments require strong motivation and self-discipline. Online learners can make the most effective use of their time by creating schedules and prioritizing tasks to meet important deadlines.

Communication and collaboration with other distance learners remains a vital skill, as well. When completing group projects in a virtual environment, online learners must communicate clearly and concisely to avoid miscommunication. Online colleges for elementary education degrees usually provide technical support, but distance learners should also possess some technical skills, especially for using the internet to research.

Elementary Education Certification

Teaching license requirements depend on location. All states require public school teachers to obtain licensure or certification, which usually involves completing a teacher education program and passing subject-matter or pedagogy tests. Private school teachers typically do not need licensure or certification. Educators may also need to pass a background check and complete continuing education classes to maintain certification or licensure.

Some states require teachers to earn a master's degree after receiving a job offer and certification.

Many organizations offer professional development opportunities for elementary school teachers. Such organizations include the National Education Association and American Psychology Association. Educators may also bypass continuing education requirements in some states with a National Board certification.

To help educators enter the profession or continue teaching, some states offer alternative teacher certification or reciprocity agreements with other states. Reciprocity agreements allow teachers with out-of-state licenses to earn licensure in their new state after meeting state-specific requirements.

Elementary Education Careers

An online elementary education degree prepares learners for various career paths and fields in education. Many graduates find employment as elementary school teachers in public and private schools, while others pursue specialized fields, such as special education. Teachers typically work during regular school hours, but usually need to meet with parents, students, and faculty before and after school. Educators also spend weekends and evenings grading papers and preparing lessons. Learn more about elementary education careers below.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Description In order to prepare young students for future schooling, kindergarten and elementary school teachers generally educate children in kindergarten through fifth grade. They also create lesson plans, grade assignments, and communicate with parents. All states require teachers to hold a bachelor's degree, but some states also require educators to hold a master’s.
Median Annual Salary $57,980
Projected Job Growth Rate 7%

Special Education Teacher

Description Special education teachers work with students with learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They also manage staff, coordinate curriculums, and provide safe learning environments. Special education teachers must hold at least a bachelor’s degree to work in public schools, but some states require these educators to earn a master's degree for certification.
Median Annual Salary $59,780
Projected Job Growth Rate 8%

English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher

Description ESL or English for Speakers of Other Languages teachers help students learn to read, write, and speak English. They also teach practical vocabulary to learners for daily living and jobs, and they may help immigrants prepare for citizenship exams. Some community colleges prefer to hire ESL teachers with master's degrees.
Median Annual Salary $43,291
Projected Job Growth Rate N/A

Middle School Teacher

Description These professionals typically educate students in sixth through eighth grade, but middle school teachers help learners prepare for high school, as well. They assess students, create lesson plans, and grade assignments. Some states require middle school teachers to major in elementary education and, upon receiving a job offer, earn a master's degree.
Median Annual Salary $58,600
Projected Job Growth Rate 8%

Elementary School Principal

Description Principals oversee all school operations, including daily school activities. They also manage staff, coordinate curriculums, and provide a safe, productive learning space for students. To become a principal, candidates typically need several years of teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field, and a master's degree in education administration or leadership.
Median Annual Salary $95,310
Projected Job Growth Rate 8%
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