We all remember teachers who have made a major positive impact on our lives. But even teachers we have forgotten have made a major impact on us, whether for good or ill. It’s from teachers that we learn the ideas, values, and skills that shape our lives.
Teaching is therefore a very special profession. But it is also a very practical profession. The job market for teachers is huge, the demand for them is constant, and the salaries are competitive. For example, the annual median salary of all elementary school teachers in the United States today is about $55,000 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS). For secondary school teachers, the figure is slightly higher.
Salaries in the teaching profession depend upon three major factors: geography, educational attainment, and length of service. Many teachers who (a) work in urban school districts, (b) have advanced degrees, and (c) have been around awhile, may achieve salaries that range upwards of $70,000 or $80,000, or even higher.
Teacher education programs are also an avenue into school administration. The median annual salary for elementary and secondary school principals is about $87,000, and many of them make $100,000 or more.
As everyone who reads the newspapers knows, the teaching profession is in turmoil right now. Many efforts are underway to institute reforms designed to increase teaching effectiveness. In addition, the current recession has not spared teachers. Due to budget cutbacks at the local, state, and federal levels, teaching jobs have been lost.
Nevertheless, the overall employment outlook for teachers remains bright. Nearly all reform efforts endorse the concept of smaller class sizes. And as long as the population keeps growing, teachers will continue to be needed.
The BLS predicts:
Employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected because of both declines in student–teacher ratios and increases in enrollment. However, employment growth will vary by region.
In order to teach in a public elementary or secondary school in the United Sates, you must obtain a credential known as a teaching certificate. Most private schools require a teaching certificate, as well.
The certification process is controlled by the Board of Education of each individual state, and the requirements for certification may vary somewhat from state to state. However, all states require that aspiring teachers obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Normally, the student will work towards a bachelor of science degree in education. The program will normally include both study in an academic subject like English, history, math, or a science, and also specialized study of pedagogy (the study of the skills involved in teaching itself). An alternative route would be a bachelor’s degree in an academic subject, plus supplementary coursework in pedagogy.
There are many excellent programs around the country that allow students to complete their coursework for the bachelor of science in education chiefly or wholly online. (Student teaching experience may be arranged in the locality where the student resides.) Many of these schools offer online programs leading to the master of science in education, as well.
We have compiled the following ranking of teacher education programs on the basis of three main factors: academic excellence (measured by faculty education and productivity), program depth (measured by number of courses available), and affordability.
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The University of Massachusetts system offers one of the largest public-university online programs in the country—UMass Online.
UMass Online was created in 2001 as a portal to showcase the wide array of online programs available through UMass’s five campuses, and today features more than 1500 online courses in over 100 undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs.
UMass presently offers 20 diverse degree and certificate programs in the field of education alone, including the following:
- Master’s Degree in Curriculum Studies with Concentration in Autism Studies or Science Education (UMass Lowell)
- Bachelor of Arts—Children’s Learning and Development Concentrations (UMass Amherst)
- Educational Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction: Education of Diverse Populations (UMass Lowell)
- Master of Education—Vision Studies (Vision Rehabilitation Therapy) (UMass Boston)
- Master’s Degree in Educational Administration (UMass Lowell)
Tuition costs for UMass’s online classes vary widely, depending on the nature of the program and the course. However, as an example, courses in the Bachelor of Arts—Children’s Learning and Development program cost $385 per credit. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state residents.
UMass Lowell, UMass Boston, and UMass Amherst are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the School of Education at the campuses are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
2. Western Governors University (Salt Lake City, UT)
Western Governors University (WGU) was formed in 1997 by a coalition of governors of 19 states, led by the governors of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.
All academic operations of WGU are online. While the main administrative offices are located in Salt Lake City, affiliated institutions with an independent administration exist in the states of Indiana, Texas, and Washington.
WGU’s mission is to “improve quality and expand access to post-secondary educational opportunities by providing a means for individuals to learn independent of time or place.”
WGU is divided into four colleges, each of which offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree. The four colleges are: College of Business, Teachers College, College of Information Technology, and College of Health Professions.
Teachers College, which has more than 10,500 students nationwide, offers bachelor’s degree programs in nine areas of specialization, such as the following:
- Early Childhood Education
- Special Education (K–12)
- Science (5–9)
- Biological Sciences (5–12)
Teachers College also offers post-baccalaureate and master’s degree programs in 22 different fields, including:
- M.A. Teaching, Elementary Education (K–8)
- M.Ed. Instructional Design
- M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction
- M.Ed. Learning and Technology
- M.S. Special Education (K–12)
- M.S. Educational Leadership
Full-time tuition in WGU’s College of Education is a very affordable $2,890 per six-month term (15 credits).
The College of Education is accredited by National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
3. Liberty University Online (Lynchburg, VA)
Liberty University (LU) was founded as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971 by Rev. Jerry Falwell.
LU describes itself as a Christian academic community. Today, it has some 12,500 students enrolled on its residential campuses, and over 70,000 students enrolled in classes through LU Online.
LU Online offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in education in many areas of specialization, including:
- Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education
- Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education in Interdisciplinary Studies
- Bachelor of Science in Special Education in Interdisciplinary Studies
- Master of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Education
- Master of Education—Program Specialist (Reading)
- Master of Education—Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood)
- Master of Science in Sport Management—Sport Administration
- Doctor of Education
LU Online is one of the most affordable distance-learning institutions in the nation. Tuition costs for full-time students for undergraduate programs are $325 per hour; for master’s-level programs, $465 per hour; and for doctoral-level programs, $495 per hour.
LU Online is accredited by the National Commission on the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
4. University of Nebraska at Kearney (Kearney, NE)
University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) is one of four campuses of the University of Nebraska state system. The Kearney campus was founded in 1905 as the Nebraska State Normal School.
UNK’s online program has won “Honor Roll” ranking by U.S. News & World Report.
UNK offers many fully online programs in education, including a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood (Unified) and a Master of Arts in Education.
The Master of Arts in Education degree may be pursued in many areas of specialization, including the following:
- Art Education
- Curriculum and Instruction (three concentrations)
- Education Administration (three concentrations)
- Instructional Technology
- Music Education
- Physical Education
UNK also offers a number of online endorsement programs, including the following:
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Gifted Education
- Mild/Moderate Special Education
- School Librarian
UNK’s online courses are very affordable. Tuition costs for out-of-state students are $319 per credit hour (undergraduate courses) and $375 per credit hour (College of Education graduate courses). Tuition costs for Nebraska residents are lower still.
University of Nebraska at Kearney is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) and by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
5. Drexel University Online (Philadelphia, PA)
Established in 1891, Drexel University has been a premier online university since 1996, when it first began offering degrees online as an option for students.
As a part of a university with a strong background in technology and research, Drexel University Online brings unique strength in academics to the online learning experience.
Drexel University’s School of Education is ranked among “America’s Best Graduate Schools 2011″ by U.S. News & World Report.
Drexel University Online’s education degrees, teacher certification programs, and courses incorporate current research on teaching and expose teachers to the latest developments in pedagogy and instructional technology.
Drexel University Online offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and teaching certificates in a wide variety of areas of specialization.
Tuition rates vary according to program. Currently, new students enrolling in the College of Education’s graduate program are being offered a heavily discounted rate of $784 per credit.
Drexel University Online is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
6. Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
Arizona State University was founded in 1885 as the Tempe Normal School. Today, the university has four traditional campuses in and around the metropolitan Phoenix area, as well as the highly regarded ASU Online virtual campus.
ASU Online offers the following degree programs in the field of education:
- Master of Arts or Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
- Master of Education in Educational Administration & Supervision
The Curriculum and Instruction degree programs are offered with a number of areas of specialization, including the following:
- Early Childhood Education
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Teaching and Learning, Austism Spectrum Focus
- Teaching and Learning, Gifted Education Focus
Several online programs leading to graduate certificates in education are also available.
Tuition costs for ASU Online courses are the same for everyone, regardless of residency status. For undergraduate courses, the cost is $442 per credit hour (fall semester); for graduate courses, the cost is $463 per credit hour (fall semester). Tuition costs are slightly lower for the spring and summer semesters.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
7. University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH)
Founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati is a public research university with an enrollment of more than 42,000 students.
The University of Cincinnati is divided into 14 schools and colleges, including the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH).
CECH’s graduate program in education is ranked #58 in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
Undergraduate and graduate programs of study are available in many areas of specialization, including Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Instructional Design and Technology, Middle Childhood Education, Secondary Education, Special Education, and Urban Educational Leadership.
Nearly 100 courses in CECH are now available fully online.
The tuition costs for CECH’s online courses are $693 per credit hour for undergraduate courses and $828 for graduate courses (tuition costs for Ohio residents are considerably lower).
The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the Higher Education Commission (North Central Region) and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
8. Graceland University (Lamoni, IA)
Graceland University, which traces its roots all the way back to 1895, is a nondenominational university sponsored by the Community of Christ. Originally founded in Lamoni, IA, a second campus began operations in Independence, MO, in 1969. Online courses began in 1999, and today both institutions offer a wide range of online degree programs.
Graceland has been a pioneer in distance learning, with decades of experience providing exceptional education in the comfort of students’ homes.
Graceland offers a fully online Master of Education of degree program to educators who hold an undergraduate degree in education or an educational endorsement from an accredited university. To be accepted into this program you must also have a current Teaching Certificate and verification of current teaching employment that includes at least 20 hours per week in the classroom.
A number of online degree and certificate programs are available, including a Certificate in Special Education. The following areas of specialization for the Master’s of Education degree are offered:
- Management in the Inclusive Classroom
- Collaborative Teaching and Learning
- Differentiated Instruction
- Technology Integration
- Mild/Moderate Special Education
Graceland’s tuition costs for its online courses are very affordable. Please contact the school for more information.
Graceland University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) and by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
9. Kaplan University (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Kaplan University was founded in 1937. It provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs and continuing professional education via its online and on-site campuses.
The School of Education provides programs that nurture the development of teachers and administrators. Students are provided a strong foundation in teaching methods. They learn how to integrate research-based practices into the classroom. The instructional approach is based on adult-learning theory.
Whether you are a practicing elementary or secondary school teacher seeking higher education or a career changer preparing to enter the teaching profession, Kaplan University’s online certification and master’s degree programs offer a flexible, convenient opportunity to pursue your professional development.
Kaplan University offers a college education at a competitive price. Several options are available to students interested in financing their education, and Kaplan University can help you find the financial solution that is right for you.
Tuition for online courses in teacher education is $385 per quarter credit hour.
Kaplan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
10. Walden University (Minneapolis, MN)
Walden University was founded in 1970, and today is a world leader in student-centered, online education.
Walden University’s mission is to provide a diverse community of career professionals with the opportunity to transform themselves into scholar-practitioners capable of bringing about positive social change. Quality, integrity, and student-centeredness are at the core of Walden University’s values, demanding high standards of excellence, uncompromising honesty and openness, and focused attention on the progress of students.
Walden University’s Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a total of 13 specializations.
Tuition varies by degree program.
Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
11. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
Founded in 1880, the University of Southern California (USC) is one of the world’s leading private research universities.
The student population is very diverse and roughly balanced between undergraduate and graduate students. About an eighth of undergraduates and a quarter of graduate students are international students.
The faculty are highly distinguished, including at present three Nobel laureates.
USC is divided into an undergraduate College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, a Graduate School, and 17 professional schools. Among the latter is the Rossier School of Education.
The Rossier School offers three non-degree, professional-development programs in K–12 and continuing education, seven master’s degree programs, and three doctoral degree programs.
The Rossier School recently began to offer its Master of Arts in Teaching program fully online.
The tuition cost for graduate degree programs at the Rossier School is currently $1,420 per unit.
The Rossier School is accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
12. George Washington University (Washington, DC)
George Washington University (GWU) was founded by Baptist minister Luther Rice. It was chartered in 1821 by an act of Congress as a private, nondenominational college to be called Columbian College in the District of Columbia. The institution assumed its present name in 1904.
GWU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, and selected individual courses that are exclusively online, as well as other areas of study that combine online and classroom learning.
GWU’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development offers a wide variety of master’s degree, education specialist, doctoral degree, and certificate programs in the field of education.
The following are some of the degree and certificate programs in education that may currently be pursued fully online:
- Education Specialist in Educational Leadership and Administration
- Graduate Certificate in Bilingual Special Education
- Graduate Certificate in Brain Injury: Educational and Transition Services
- Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology Leadership (six sub-specialties)
- Master’s in Bilingual Special Education
- Master’s in Educational Technology Leadership
- Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling
Tuition costs vary according to program and individual course. However, as an example, online courses in the master’s degree in bilingual special education program cost $619 per credit hour.
George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and by the National Commission for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
13. Grand Canyon University (Phoenix, AZ)
Grand Canyon University, founded in 1949, is a private, non-denominational, Christian University.
The university offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs through its campus-based and online programs. The school provides over 60 degrees programs, all based in the Christian heritage. The campus includes colleges specializing in business, nursing & health sciences, liberal arts, and entrepreneurship.
The students are taught by experienced, qualified professors who provide a curriculum based in the Christian heritage. The instructors help students with their spiritual and educational development.
For over 60 years, Grand Canyon University has maintained a strong reputation as a prestigious teaching college. The primary goal of GCU’s College of Education is to provide you with the confidence to achieve excellence in your career as a teacher or administrator. At GCU, you can choose from a large variety of teaching college programs, including TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages), elementary, secondary, and special education, and educational administration.
Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
14. University of Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ)
University of Phoenix is a pioneer in offering higher education online. It was founded in 1976, and from the beginning has emphasized providing continuing education and flexible schedules to adult learners.
The University of Phoenix offers a very broad program of online classes in a wide variety of fields. The university is organized into nine separate colleges offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
The College of Education offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in 17 specializations.
Tuition for full-time work online towards a Bachelor of Science in Education degree is $420 per credit.
The University of Phoenix is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
15. Concordia University Portland (Portland, OR)
Founded in 1905, Concordia University Portland (CUP) is private Christian liberal arts college associated with the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, but open to students of any faith.
Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, CUP is committed to preparing students both for life and for earning a living.
CUP offers 25 undergraduate majors, with more than 20 fields of concentration. Postgraduate degrees are offered by the College of Education and the School of Management.
There are two online Master of Science in Education degree programs, with concentrations in a total of 13 different areas.
Tuition is $820 per semester credit (full-time) and $395 (part-time).
Concordia University Portland is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
16. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
University of Florida was founded in 1853, and has been in its present location in Gainesville since 1906. It is considered to belong among the top tier of publicly funded, state universities in the country.
The College of Education offers a wide variety of bachelor’s, specialist, master’s, and doctoral degree and certificate programs.
Fully online programs leading toward the Master of Education degree are offered in the following areas of specialization:
- Educational Leadership
- Curriculum and Instruction—Teacher Leadership for School Improvement
- Curriculum and Instruction—Education Technology
- Special Education
Tuition costs vary widely based on residency, first enrolled term of current degree, and course. However, as an example, full out-of-state tuition is $27,936 per year (30 credits) for undergraduates and $29,344 per year for graduate students. Tuition for Florida residents is much lower.
University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
17. University of Scranton (Scranton, PA)
University of Scranton, founded in 1888, is a nationally recognized Jesuit university located in the Poconos Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Education Department of the Panuska College of Professional Studies offers a wide variety of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in education.
At present, only the Master of Science in Education degree program is offered 100% online. This program is offered with two areas of concentration to choose from: Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Administration.
Tuition cost is $887 per credit.
University of Scranton is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the National Commission on the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
18. Northcentral University (Prescott Valley, AZ)
Northcentral University was founded in 1996 as the web-based sister institution of Southern California University for Professional Studies. It has always been a 100% online university.
Northcentral University was the first university in the country to offer a fully accredited online doctoral program.
With respect to teacher education, Northcentral University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in 15 areas of specialization, including Athletic Coaching, Early Childhood Education, and Special Education.
Tuition varies according to degree program. The tuition cost of a Bachelor of Science in Education is $397 per credit; of a Master of Science in Education, $503 per credit; and of a doctoral degree in education, $793 per credit.
Northcentral University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
19. California Coast University (Santa Ana, CA)
California Coast University (CCU) has been a pioneer in distance learning since its founding in 1973. Today, all instruction is conducted online.
CCU offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of disciplines.
CCU’s School of Education offers the Master of Education degree in two areas of specialization and the Doctor of Education degree in three areas of specilization.
Tuition costs at CCU are especially affordable, at only $230 per unit for the master’s degree programs and $290 per unit for the doctoral degree programs.
California Coast University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council.
20. Western New England University (Springfield, MA)
Western New England University (WNE) was founded in 1919 as a division of Northeastern University. Until 2011, the school was known as Western New England College.
WNE’s Department of Education offers full undergraduate programs in both elementary and secondary education, with a variety of areas of specialization, as well as Master of Education degrees in Elementary Education and Curriculum and Instruction.
The M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction degree program may be pursued 100% online. Students may concentrate in either elementary or secondary curriculum and instruction.
WNE is committed to keeping a quality private education affordable for its students. Tuition for courses at WNE is $570 per credit hour.
Western New England University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
21. Ashford University (Clinton, IA)
Ashford University, which combines a traditional college campus with effective learning online, emphasizes four simple ideas: engaging curricula, modern digital tools, a vibrant community, and a cherished tradition.
Ashford offers nine specializations for the bachelor’s of science degree in education and two for the master’s degree, as well as an associate’s degree in early childhood education.
Courses last between five and six weeks and are taken one at a time. You will know your entire schedule when you begin each course, so you can plan to work on your assignments at your own convenience.
Each new student is assigned a dedicated Admissions Counselor who will answer your questions and set you up for your first course. In addition, your Financial Services Advisor will walk you through your payment options and your Student Advisor will help you with your course schedule. If your employer offers benefits, such as tuition assistance, Ashford will help you to apply those benefits toward your education. Ashford also strives to assist you in your personal development through career services and networking opportunities.
Tuition for online courses is $402 per credit. Qualified military personnel and family may qualify for an Ashford Military Grant, which covers your undergraduate tuition over $250 per credit and includes learning materials for all required courses.
Ashford University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
22. American InterContinental University (Hoffman Estates, IL)
American InterContinental University (AIU) was founded in Switzerland in 1970 by an American couple. Today, it has grown into a network of five traditional campuses in the U.S. and abroad, and a virtual campus known as AIU Online, which was launched in 2001.
AIU advertises itself as “America’s Un-party School” and “Serious U”—because it is so serious about providing you with an excellent education.
AIU offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in a wide variety of fields.
AIU Online offers a fully online program leading to a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree, with five areas of specialization:
- Classroom Integration of Technology
- Educational Assessment and Evaluation
- Instructional Design and Technology
- Adult Education and Training
- Leadership of Educational Organizations
Tuition for AIU Online’s M.Ed. program is $442 per credit hour.
American InterContinental University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
23. Post University Online (Waterbury, CT)
Post University was established in 1890.
The university is divided into Post College, the School of Business, the School of Education, and the John P. Burke School of Public Service.
Post University Online offers degree courses in eight-week modules, six times a year, so you can earn your bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months, and a master’s degree in just 14–24 months.
The School of Education offers an associate’s degree in early childhood education, a bachelor’s degree in child studies, and three master’s degrees in the following areas of specialization:
- Higher Education Administration
- Instructional Design and Technology
- Teaching and Learning
All of the above programs may be taken 100% online through Post University Online.
Tuition costs vary according to program, but as an example, the cost for a Bachelor of Science in Child Studies degree is $490 per credit hour.
Post University Online is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
24. Capella University (Minneapolis, MN)
Capella University, established in 1993, offers many online degree programs in a wide range of disciplines.
With respect to the field of education, Capella offers the Master of Science in Education in twelve fields of specialization, including Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Leadership in Educational Administration, and Higher Education Leadership and Administration.
Capella also offers the Doctor of Education (D.Ed.) or Ph.D. in Education degree in six specializations.
Tuition varies according to program, but the cost of an M.S. in Education degree, for example, is $420 per credit.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
25. Strayer University (Herndon, VA)
Strayer University has evolved out of Strayer’s Business College, which was founded in Baltimore in 1892.
Granted university status in 1998, Strayer University now operates campuses in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia.
As of 2011, Strayer University had an enrollment of some 50,000 students, 30,000 of whom took 100% of their courses online.
The School of Education offers a Master of Education degree program fully online. The program includes four areas of specialization:
- Adult Education and Development
- Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
- Instructional Technology
- Teacher Leadership
Tuition for graduate courses is $2,250 per course.
Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education.