Online Degree Programs in Education
When examining the field of education as a whole, the possibilities for degree programs and occupations are seemingly endless. Degree programs in education may include bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral programs, and graduate certificates, each designed for varying levels and areas of education. Within these degree levels, education programs may range from early childhood to various aspects of adult education, preparing graduates to become teachers, administrators, organizational leaders, and other educational professionals. Between 2021 and 2031, employment in education is projected to grow at an average rate of four to seven percent, with some categories growing at 12 to 15 percent (bls.gov).
Online degree programs in education are designed to offer all or most of their classroom instruction in a distance learning format. This can be convenient for working professionals looking to advance their degree or high school graduates who may have entered the workforce before pursuing higher education. For students interested in being certified teachers, there are online degree programs in education that offer teacher certification tracks, typically including student teaching experiences that students complete in close proximity to their place of residence.
Note: Requirements for teaching certifications vary by state, and while many states have reciprocity agreements for licensed educators, students interested in earning their initial teaching certification should review the requirements for their state of residence as they research online degree programs.
Types of Online Degree Programs in Education
Online degree programs in education vary in level and scope, depending on the desired result. Online bachelor’s in early childhood education programs may lead to jobs in HeadStart programs, daycares, and preschool programs, or to further graduate education in master’s and doctoral programs. To become a teacher, students need to attend a bachelor’s education program designed to prepare them for teacher certification.
Online graduate programs in education delve further into certain subject areas or specializations and may lead to an increase in salary, higher-level teaching positions, and leadership positions. Post-bachelor’s programs may include the following:
- Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT): MAT programs are typically designed to help teachers advance their teaching skills and knowledge or to prepare bachelor’s graduates for initial teacher certification if their undergraduate degree did not include teaching licensure.
- Master’s in Education (MEd): MEd programs are typically designed for licensed educators who wish to gain knowledge in educational administration and leadership at the primary or secondary school level, or in higher education settings.
- Education Specialist (EdS): EdS programs are post-master’s degrees that are typically designed to prepare educators for specific professions in primary and secondary education, such as principal, director of special education, or superintendent. Depending on the state, EdS programs may prepare students for licensure in one of these areas.
- Doctor of Education (EdD): EdD programs are mainly designed for master’s graduates who aspire to become scholarly practitioners for leadership roles in educational and organizational settings.
Currently, OnlineEducation.com groups online education degree programs in the following categories:
Online Bachelor’s in Education Degree Programs
- Bachelor’s in General Education Programs: Bachelor’s in education programs range from early childhood to high school education, and may lead to licensure that requires student teaching practicums. Courses for all levels may focus on learning styles, learning environments, curriculum and assessments, and classroom management, while students who are interested in becoming middle/high school teachers may focus on specific subject areas.
- Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Programs: Bachelor’s in early childhood education programs typically focus on childhood development from birth up to third grade, and prepare graduates for careers in child development centers, preschools, childcare, and Head Start programs. Teaching licensure may not be included, and graduates often advance to master’s programs.
- Bachelor’s in Special Education Programs: Special education bachelor’s programs typically cover children with a range of disabilities from mild to severe, offering specializations in specific areas such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Courses may cover legal and ethical issues in special education, behavioral support strategies, team collaboration in educating special needs children, and instructional strategies for students with disabilities.
Online Master’s in Education Degree Programs
- Online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT): These programs help graduates of early childhood education programs and other bachelor’s programs to move into the world of teaching. MAT programs typically lead to teaching licensure in elementary, middle, high school, and special education settings, and usually require students to complete student teaching practicums.
- Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) Programs: Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs expand the knowledge and skills of teachers with a bachelor’s degree, and can provide opportunities for higher salaries and education-related opportunities. Professionals may pursue M.Ed. programs in curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, special education, and other specialties that allow them to improve the classroom environment and learning potential.
- Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction: Curriculum and instruction programs prepare teachers, curriculum coordinators, and curriculum administrators to help students thrive in the classroom through student-centered learning approaches, new technologies, and innovative teaching strategies. Specializations may include early childhood education, STEM, teaching elementary, middle, or high school, and teaching specific subjects.
- Online Master of Education – Literacy / Reading Endorsement: The M.Ed. in Literacy and Reading Endorsement prepares elementary, middle, and high school teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary to become experts in teaching reading and improving literacy, comprehension, and fluency. Coursework may focus on the foundations of literacy, writing, language intervention, literacy instruction, educational policies, and literacy instruction across disciplines and grade levels.
- Online Master’s in Educational Administration/Leadership: Designed for those wishing to advance into administrative or leadership roles, a master’s degree in educational leadership focuses on models of leadership, data-driven decision-making, organizational behavior, instructional leadership, school law, school and community partnerships, and more. Depending on their state of residence, graduates may have to pass the Praxis Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision exam to become certified as a principal.
- Online Master’s in Educational Technology: Educational technology professionals focus on the theory, research, and application of educational technology. Classroom applications may include the implementation of educational technologies and processes; design, development, and implementation of technology-rich learning environments; and the creation and use of methods of inquiry using technology to promote learning and better student performance.
- Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education (GATE): There are M.A., M.Ed., Special Education, and MAT programs that have specializations or concentrations in Gifted and Talented Education. Gifted and talented teachers coordinate with other teachers and professionals to create effective education plans for GATE students, team teach, and work with families of GATE students.
- Online Master’s in Higher Education: A master’s in higher education program prepares individuals with a bachelor’s degree for various roles in post-secondary education, professional development, and adult education and training. Specializations may include adult learning, college teaching and learning, global higher education, institutional marketing, leadership, student affairs, enrollment management, or distance learning.
- Online Master’s in Kinesiology, Coaching, and Physical Education: Master’s degrees in kinesiology, coaching, and physical education guide students in programs focusing on the body, sports, and health. Kinesiology programs prepare graduates for careers in exercise science, sport and exercise psychology, and athletic training. Curricula are based on the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NAPSE) coaching standards, and students typically must demonstrate mastery through practicum experiences.
- Online Master in Instructional Design: Instructional design graduates may work in educational or business settings, focusing on the design, development, implementation, evaluation, and analysis of curricula, including the use of technology for delivery.
- Online Master’s in Special Education: Special education master’s programs prepare teachers to assess and educate students with mild to severe disabilities, with specializations in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental disabilities (DD/DCD), early childhood education, emotional and behavioral disabilities, learning disabilities (LD/SLD), and other areas.
- Online Master’s in Special Education – Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): Master’s in Special Education programs with a Specialization in ABA prepare graduates to teach new skills, reduce challenging behaviors, and enhance student performance in children with disabilities, and may include preparation for certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
- Online Master’s in Special Education – Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): An M.Ed. in Special Education with a Specialization in ASD prepares educators to support autistic children and adults in educational settings, clinical settings, at home, and at work. Students learn the distinct characteristics of autistic persons, conduct interventions and assessments, apply learning theory and research to work with autistic individuals, and share information with family members on how best to navigate the challenges of ASD.
- Online Master’s in Special Education – Intervention: Special education intervention specialists primarily ensure that students with disabilities are offered the same learning opportunities as other students, which may include integration into a regular classroom setting. Intervention programs may be offered with specializations in ABA, leadership, or instructional coaching, with coursework focusing on school leadership, legal issues and policies in special education, special education assessment, and advanced academic intervention.
- Online Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): TESOL programs prepare educators to teach English to non-native speakers at many levels, including adult education. These programs may be offered as M.A. in TESOL programs or as specializations in M.Ed. programs, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction programs, or as part of Masters in Special Education programs.
Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Education
- Online Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders / Autism Studies: The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) graduate certificate prepares teachers and other professionals to work with individuals with ASD and other developmental disorders in hospitals, educational settings, governmental institutions, homes, and human service agencies. Concepts include instructional methods, lifelong support, vocational options, legal issues, medical intervention, and life transitions for developmentally challenged individuals.
- Online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design: Instructional design graduate certificate programs cover the design, development, and assessment of instructional materials and programs, and the use of media and technology in classroom or industry settings. The instructional design curriculum combines communication, psychology, and education to address gaps in individual, classroom, team, and organizational performance.
Online Post-Master’s Programs in Education
- Online Education Specialist (EdS) Programs: EdS programs are designed for master’s educated professionals who wish to advance their skills in their current profession or move into a new career, but do not need a doctorate to do so. EdS programs are typically focused on a certain subject and may lead to higher-level teaching positions or administrative roles such as principal, director of education, or superintendent.
- Online Doctor of Education (EdD) Programs: Online EdD programs are designed for professionals seeking to attain the highest level of teaching, leadership, and administrative positions in educational settings and other organizations. Graduates seek to become transformative leaders, promoting positive change in corporations, school systems, governmental agencies, and community programs
Additional Resources for Online Education Degree Programs
Each program page listed below provides a detailed and comprehensive overview of online degree programs in the field of education. The program pages offer information on aspects of each degree type, what students learn in the programs, accreditation, career opportunities, admissions, curricula, program structures, and more. In addition, OnlineEducation.com publishes carefully researched answers to commonly asked questions in our FAQ section concerning topics such as education degree programs, program accreditation, professional certification and licensure in education, and state reciprocity.