One of the most popular subjects available online is education. Prospective students hoping to earn an online degree from a major university in education can find a degree at just about any level. From an early childhood education at the associate degree level, all the way to doctoral programs for school district administrators and college professors, there is an online degree program in education for everyone. While most teaching positions across the country require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, online master’s degrees in education have recently gained momentum, as many states now require that elementary and post-secondary teachers earn a master’s degree after a certain number of years teaching in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Online Education Degree Program Experience
Depending on the degree level, school, and specific program, online associate degree programs in education can be completed in two to three years, while a bachelor’s program will usually take four to five years to finish. Master’s and doctoral degrees can vary greatly by institution and specific degree, but typically take anywhere from two to five years to complete. There are also a number of post-graduate certificate degrees available for certain education specialists that can take anywhere from one to three years to complete. Almost all online education programs will require students to gain some sort of supervised teaching experience in the field, usually referred to as a practicum.
At the associate level, education students usually participate in general education courses, like composition, English, mathematics, and social and natural sciences before moving on to core courses, like learning theories, classroom management, childhood psychology, and others. At the bachelor’s level, students must complete additional general education courses, and in most cases, their programs focus on a specific area of teaching, like elementary, postsecondary, or special education. Bachelor’s-level students will also typically choose elective courses specific to the classes they hope to teach, such as history, mathematics, English, or social sciences.
At the post-graduate level, students usually participate in programs designed to prepare them for administration, or continue to narrow their focus on a specific area such as elementary, special, or secondary education. ÿIn addition to earning the right degree, it is important for any prospective educator to remember that all states require teachers at all levels to be licensed or certified in the state in which they teach. While requirements for licensure or certification will differ from state to state, most require at least a bachelor’s degree, a minimum amount of supervised teaching experience, and the successful completion of a general teaching certification test to gain initial certification or licensure. Most online education programs will prepare students for this certification examination.
Online vs. Campus for Education Degree Programs
While there are pros and cons for both online and traditional degree programs, the choice should ultimately come down to what format provides the best fit for your learning style, schedule, and capacity. Traditional, on-campus programs are typically pursued by recent high school graduates, or individuals hoping to devote the majority of their daytime schedule to pursuing a degree. Traditional programs provide structure by using a set schedule for classes, assignments, quizzes, and exams. On the downside, traditional format programs are usually difficult for working adults or non-traditional students, as their schedules are usually preoccupied with work or family duties.
Due to its flexibility, online programs are ideal for non-traditional learners and working professionals. This is especially important for online master’s degree programs in education, as many states now require teachers of all levels to earn a master’s degree at some point in their careers, the BLS notes. Earning a degree online allows teachers to continue teaching classes and earn their degree at the same time. In addition, students completing an online education program can participate in courses at their own convenience. Students have access to courses, professors, fellow students, and research and library material anywhere they have an Internet connection.
However, because of the freedom that online students have, students must be diligent in keeping up with their course load. Students must develop their own schedule and routine. Additionally, online education students must find a way to coordinate any work-study or practicum programs during their degree programs as well. All of this is a good challenge for those looking to join or advance in the education field, as organization is essential when it comes to planning and implementing curricula and staying on top of student course work.