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Elementary Education Degree Online

While pursuing an online elementary education degree, programs teach how to effectively design and execute lesson plans to reach all children. Therefore, programs cover how to manage classroom behavior, how to assess each student’s progress, and how to adapt lesson plans to make sure that every student understands the material.

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Online Elementary Education Degrees Awarded

Online Elementary Education Degree: Basics

While pursuing an online elementary teaching degree, courses focus on the concepts, theories, and best practices of teaching students from kindergarten to 12th grade. Often, this is done by applying these theories in actual class exercises, student-teaching, and the analysis of case studies.

Some of the other topics include how to:

  • Engage in reflective practice that leads to continuous education and improvement.
  • Successfully collaborate with students’ parents as well as other professionals.
  • Assess and document that your activities have a positive impact on the lives of your students.
  • Examine theoretical and research models for educational practice.
  • Apply evidence-based solutions to improve instructional practices.

These are just some of the topics that many elementary education programs teach. However, each school has an individual makeup. Therefore, many schools look at these and other important ways of effective teaching.

What Does Elementary Education Mean?

Elementary education is the process of teaching children the fundamental skills and knowledge in a formal educational structure. Normally, this includes a single teacher instructing a number of different core subjects, some of which include:

  • Math
  • English
  • Science
  • Social Studies

There may be other subjects that teachers are responsible for. Typically, while pursuing an online elementary education degree, students take other subjects such as Music, Arts, and Physical Education as well, which are normally taught by teachers who have specialized in those fields.

How Is Elementary Education Different From Secondary Education?

Though many online elementary education degree programs cover kindergarten through 12th grade, some focus more on K through 8th. Therefore, some schools may offer a separate or additional degree in secondary education. These programs may focus on 6th through 12th grade, though each school has a different structure.

In intermediate, or secondary schools, normally one teacher is responsible for teaching one subject or a group of similar subjects. Therefore, while pursuing your elementary education degree in secondary education format, your course of study may be more focused on a specific subject. Check with a few schools to find one that matches your goals.

What Grade Is Primary School?

In the United States, primary school includes kindergarten and grades one, two, and three. Grades four, five, and six are considered intermediate, and grades seven and eight are called upper. All of these together, plus high school (grades nine, ten, eleven, and twelve), make up waht we call "elementary education."

On the other hand, many other countries refer to primary school as grades K-12. Therefore, while performing research on elementary education degrees, make sure to consider the country of origin so that you’re not including additional grades for the American primary school.

Different Online Elementary Education Degree Levels

Typically, there are five different online elementary education degree levels. Each of these levels focuses on teaching the concepts and principles of creating effective curriculum for elementary-level children.

Each of the five levels of elementary education online degrees takes a different amount of time to complete. However, the standards for full-time students are listed below, according to each of the five levels.

  1. Associates Degree in Elementary Education: 2 years
  2. Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education: 4 years
  3. Elementary Education Certificate: 1 -2 years
  4. Masters Degree in Elementary Education: 2 -3 years
  5. Elementary Education PhD: 4 – 5 years

Many programs also focus on analyzing data and understanding different learning styles to improve teaching methods. This aims to help students to achieve their educational goals and may prepare them for secondary and postsecondary school.

Keep in mind that every school is different. Therefore, the specific length of each online elementary education degree level may depend on when courses are available and at what times, as well as the specific architecture of each program. Check with a few schools to find a perfect fit for you.

Online Associates Degree in Elementary Education

Online associates degrees in elementary education broach the fundamentals of best practices, concepts, and theories in teaching children. Typically, earning an associates degree in elementary education is used as a springboard for students to transfer to four-year colleges where they can earn their bachelors degree and a teaching certification.

In addition to a number of courses in elementary education, associates degrees normally require you to take a number of general education courses. This aims to provide students with a well-rounded education.

Most schools that offer an associates degree in elementary education request that you have already attained a high school or equivalent diploma (though each school may have different admissions requirements).

Education Bachelors Degree Online

Online lementary education bachelors degrees teach how to effectively create and execute instructional lessons and curriculum. Normally, this includes analyzing a number of topics, some of which include those listed here.

  • Instructional Design
  • Assessment
  • Using Technology to Improve Lesson Plans

In order to earn your bachelors degree, many programs require that students complete a student-teaching experience under the supervision of a full-time teacher. This may allow you to gain first-hand experience of classroom management and seeing how students react to different lessons.

Most require that you’ve earned a high school or equivalent diploma. Some schools may have additional admissions requirements.

Online Certificate in Elementary Education

Certificates are short, non-degree programs that may enhance your career. Typically, they are designed to be taken by part-time students who are working full-time. Therefore, programs may provide even more freedom and flexibility to earn your certificate.

Most online elementary education certificates teach how to understand child development and use that knowledge to create effective lesson plans that engage all students. These programs may also include managing the classroom and how to use technology in the classroom setting.

Most certificate programs ask that you have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited university. Often, many programs also ask that you have already earned your teaching certificate as well in order to immediately practice classroom techniques learned in earning a teaching certificate.

Online Masters Degree in Elementary Education

Earning an online masters degree in elementary education exposes students to current research in learning, teaching, and child development. This is to provide you with a complete understanding of the principles that make effective teachers and problem solvers.

Many masters degree programs ask that you have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited university with a 2.3 GPA or higher.  

Upon completing all required courses, many schools ask that you complete a thesis or capstone project. Typically, this shows that you have a comprehensive grasp of the relevant topics, as well as the vision and skills necessary to manage complex and diverse classrooms.

Online PhD in Elementary Education

An online PhD in elementary education is the highest degree that you can earn in the field. Therefore, doctoral degrees are more difficult to earn, and they normally require more research, writing, and critical analysis from students.

Typically, while earning an online PhD in elementary education, courses cover the entire process of teaching children. This includes addressing:

  • How is the curriculum designed?
  • Who is the curriculum designed for?
  • What are the topics that should be taught?
  • What are the goals of the curriculum?

Many doctoral programs ask that you have earned a masters degree from an accredited university with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Keep in mind that each school may have additional requirements, which can include a resume, letters of recommendation, and a copy of your teaching license. However, check with a few schools to find one that matches your goals.

Upon completing all required courses, most online PhD programs in elementary education ask that you write, present, and defend a dissertation to a board of faculty. Many schools also ask that you pass a comprehensive exam in addition to completing your dissertation process.

Online Elementary Education Degree Programs: What You’ll Learn

Each of the different online elementary education degree levels teach how to effectively communicate with children so that they may achieve their educational goals. Normally, this is by developing a complete understanding of course materials and grasping how to properly discipline students, how to adapt lesson plans, and how to implement new teaching methods.

Typically, this includes assessing each student’s progress, as well as being aware of differences in culture and learning styles. Many teachers combine theory and best practices with their effective application through student-teaching and classroom exercises for an experience based upon hands-on learning. Being fuly prepared may make teachers feel more comfortable about classroom management and successfully teaching elementary-school children.

Online Elementary Education Courses

While earning an online elementary education degree, courses focus on the principles of teaching children. Therefore, courses normally analyze the different methods of creating lesson plans, assessing students’ strengths and weaknesses, and evaluating students’ progress.

In addition to your required courses in elementary education, most undergraduate programs ask that you complete a number of general education courses in order to provide you with a well-rounded and complete toolkit for teaching.

Some of the common elementary education courses include:

  • Foundations of Teaching and Learning
  • Methods of Teaching Elementary Mathematics
  • Integrating Social Studies and the Arts in the Elementary School
  • Classroom Management, Engagement, and Motivation
  • Instructional Planning and Presentation in Elementary Education
  • Elementary Reading and Literacy Methods
  • Adaptive Instruction and Assessment
  • Elementary Science Methods
  • Learning Through Technology
  • Curriculum Development

Keep in mind that typically, the higher the degree level the more difficult the course. Therefore, a bachelors-level Foundations of Teaching and Learning course would most likely be easier and require less critical analysis than a doctoral-level course with the same name. Always contact the school for details.

Concentrations for Online Elementary Education Degrees

Some online elementary education programs offer a concentration for your degree. This may provide a chance for you to have your course of study tailored to one specific subject in elementary education.

Some of the most common concentrations include those listed here.

  • English
  • Math
  • Special Education
  • Science
  • Language Arts

Concentrations are more common for graduate programs. Check with the school to find out what concentrations they offer in online elementary education degrees.

Common Careers in Elementary Education

After earning an online elementary education degree there are a number of careers that you may pursue. Typically, these roles consist of creating lesson plans and then evaluating the progress of each student by grading papers, quizzes, presentations, and their other projects.i

Some of the common teaching careers in elementary education, and their 2016 median annual salary, include those listed here.

  • Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: $55,490ii
  • Middle School Teachers: $55,720iii
  • High School Teachers: $58,030iv
  • Postsecondary Teachers: $75,430v
  • Instructional Coordinators: $62,460vi

Most instructional coordinators are required to have a masters degree, a state-issued license, and typically need to have experience in teaching or school administration.vii Most postsecondary teachers are required to have a PhD. However, some community colleges may hire those who have only earned a masters degree.viii

In order to become a kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, or high school teacher, you need to earn a bachelors degree and acquire a state-issued certification or license.

Additional Elementary Education Certifications

All public school teachers need to be licensed or certified. The specific licenses and requirements may vary depending on the grades that you teach. For instance, in some states an elementary education license may be from kindergarten to 4th grade, and others from kindergarten to 8th grade.ix Most states have a different license for high school or secondary school teachers, which may cover 7th through 12th grades.x

While each state has their own requirements for licenses, some of the most common requirements are listed here.

  • Bachelors degree
  • Complete Student Teaching
  • Minimum GPA
  • Pass Teaching Certification Testxi

Remember to check with your state for specific requirements and rules.

Take the Next Step!

Are you interested in helping children reach their educational goals? Then maybe you're ready to take the next step to earning your online elementary education degree!

Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page to review more information about them. This includes program descriptions and specific requirements. You can even contact schools directly to request more information and get attention from college recruiters who are waiting to hear from you.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-2 [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 [iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 [iv] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 [v] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-5 [vi] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm#tab-5 [vii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm#tab-4 [viii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-4 [ix] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-4 [x] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-4 [xi] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm#tab-4