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Online Associate's Degree Programs in K-12 Education

Online associates degree in elementary education programs teach how to effectively create and present lesson plans to students from kindergarten to 12th grade. This includes studying how to manage classroom behavior, different discipline techniques, and assessing the progress of each student. Many programs are also including how to use technology to increase the engagement of students.

Did You Know?

A 3rd grade student who reads at a 3rd grade level compared to a 3rd grader who doesn’t is four times more likely to graduate high school by the age of 19.

Online Associates Degree in Elementary Education: Basics

While earning an associates degree in elementary education online, programs teach how to create, present, and change lesson plans to fit into the overall curriculum. Another important aspect of elementary education is understanding how to assess the effectiveness of different lessons. Therefore, many schools teach how to adapt lesson plans to reach all students.

As elementary education covers grades K through 12, many programs study different methods of teaching students at various age levels as well as with different learning styles and culturally diverse backgrounds. This includes analyzing the principles of classroom management and understanding child development.

Online Associates Degree in Elementary Education

Elementary Education Associates Degree Admissions Requirements

Most elementary education associates programs ask that you have earned a high school or equivalent diploma. However, each school may have their own admissions requirements. Some of the most common additional requirements include those listed below.

  • Minimum GPA
  • Interview
  • Transcripts
  • Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Placement Tests

Usually, the minimum GPA is a 2.0 or higher, though some schools are stricter than others. Keep in mind that some schools may offer provisional acceptance if your GPA is below the minimum. Check with a few schools for their specific requirements to find a perfect match for you.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Associates Degree in Elementary Education Online?

Typically, it takes full-time students two years to earn their associates degree in elementary education. However, this depends on specific programs and when courses are available. Normally, it takes part-time students longer to earn their associates degree.

What Is Elementary Education?

Elementary education is the teaching of children from kindergarten through 12th grade. As this covers a wide range of years, and some of the most formative years of a students’ life, there are a number of topics that elementary education programs teach.

Some of the important lessons you may study include how to help children learn the following tasks.

  • Communicate with others
  • Study for tests and quizzes
  • Prepare for standardized tests
  • Overcome learning challenges
  • Solve problems
  • Develop critical thinking skills [i]

Elementary education focuses on providing children with a foundation of learning that they may use the rest of their lives. Therefore, elementary education focuses on helping them develop the skills so that they may achieve their educational goals, such as problem solving and critical thinking.

What Grades Does Elementary Education Cover?

Online associates degree in elementary education programs normally cover kindergarten through 12th grade. However, many states break grades up into different groups. Typically, state governments organize schools into the distinctions listed below.

  • Elementary or Primary Schools: Kindergarten through 5th Grade
  • Middle or Intermediate Schools: 6th Grade through 8th Grade
  • High School or Secondary Schools: 9th Grade through 12th Grade

These are the most common layouts of public schools. However, each state may have different formats. For instance, some states may view elementary or primary schools as 1st grade through 7th grade, and others go through the 5th or 6th grade. Therefore, you should check with your state to find specific formats.

How Is Elementary Education Different From Secondary Education?

Many elementary school teachers are responsible for teaching a number of subjects. As a result, many elementary education programs focus on the fundamentals of those subjects and how to effectively teach them to students in kindergarten through 4th grade. However, online associates degree in elementary education programs may vary, and teach through 6th, 8th, or 12th grade.

On the other hand, many intermediate and secondary school teachers only teach one subject or a group of similar subjects. Therefore, if you choose to focus your elementary education degree on secondary school, your course of study will probably focus around one particular subject.

Online Associates Degree in Elementary Education: What You’ll Learn

Associates degree in elementary education online programs cover a number of different topics. One of the most important topics is how to adapt lesson plans to make sure that each student understands the material. This may help students of different backgrounds achieve their educational goals so that they may close the achievement gap.

Other subjects that elementary education programs look at may include how to perform some of the tasks listed here.

  • Designing Lesson Plans
  • Assessing Student Progress
  • Grade Assignments
  • Communicate Progress to Parents
  • Develop and Maintain Classroom Rules[ii]

As a result, courses typically look at theories, concepts, and best practices of a number of different situations. Often, while earning an online associates degree in elementary education, you will analyze case studies, as well as perform research and writing assignments to apply these theories to real-life situations.

However, each school has a unique design and course of study. Therefore, check with a few schools and the topics they focus on to find a perfect match for you.

Other Elementary Education Topics You May Learn

In addition to the tasks mentioned above, many associates degree programs analyze the guiding principles of effective teaching. Typically, these subjects are more focused on the core philosophies of teaching.

Therefore, some other topics that courses may cover include how to:

  • Understand the learning process
  • Analyze current trends and practices
  • Effective strategies to teach culturally diverse classrooms
  • Critically analyze societal and historical influences that affect education

Typically, these topics are more focused on the analysis and critical thinking than the tasks and responsibilities of effectively managing a classroom. Therefore, these topics may include more research, writing, and critical analysis.

Online Elementary Education General Education Courses

While pursuing your online associates degree in elementary education, programs look to provide you with a well-rounded education so that you may be prepared to continue your studies. Therefore, many schools ask that you take a number of general education courses, which may include courses in subjects listed below.

  • Science
  • History
  • Math
  • English
  • Business

These courses may help fulfill any general education requirements to earn your degree and are typically transferable to many bachelor degree programs. However, each school has different transfer rules. Therefore, you should check with a few schools to make sure your credits will transfer.

Online Elementary Education Classes

In addition to any general education requirements that your school may have, you will also take a number of courses in elementary education. These courses strive to teach a foundation of educational principles such as curriculum design, assessment, and how to use technology to help make topics more engaging and help all students achieve their educational goals.

Some of the common online elementary education classes include those listed here.

  • Foundations of Education
  • Child Development
  • Fundamentals of Elementary Math
  • Classroom Techniques
  • Literacy Development and Instruction
  • Educational Psychology
  • Curriculum Development
  • Children’s Literature
  • Education Technology
  • Introduction to Instructional Design

Keep in mind that each school has a unique design. Therefore, specific courses and titles may vary from school to school. Check with a few options to find the specific courses that each school offers to find one that matches your goals.

How to Use Technology in Elementary Education

As technology continues to impact modern life, many online associates degree in elementary education programs teach different methods of incorporating technology into lesson plans and curriculum. This may help create more engaging lessons, which, as a result, may end up being more effective.

Some of the ways you can use technology in the elementary education include those listed below.

  1. Create a PowerPoint Game Show
  2. Create a Class Webpage
  3. Have Students Give Multimedia Presentations
  4. Listen to or Create a Podcast
  5. Try a Webquest

These are ways to allow your students to further to develop their technological skills. Plus, by choosing projects that aren’t overly scripted, your students may be able to have the freedom to adapt and solve problems.

What’s the Difference Between Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education?

Early childhood education is focused on providing cognitive and social skills to children from birth through preschool. On the other hand, elementary education is focused on teaching students how to apply those skills to acquire a foundation of knowledge through the end of high school.

Early childhood teachers typically have more patience and come up with fun ways of presenting lessons. On the other hand, elementary school teachers usually are focused on organizing and structuring lessons and curriculum to meet the needs of the school, state, and students.

What Are the Different Learning Styles?

There has been some debate about the number of different learning styles. Some say that there are seven and others say four. There are even some who say there are only three. Often, these all cover the same common learning styles, only broken into more specific classifications.

Typically, many online associates degree in elementary education programs teach methods to reach the seven different learning styles, which are listed below.

  1. Visual (Spatial)
  2. Aural (Auditory-Musical)
  3. Verbal (Linguistic)
  4. Physical (Kinesthetic)
  5. Logical (Mathematical)
  6. Social (Interpersonal)
  7. Solitary (Intrapersonal)

Keep in mind that some schools teach VARK (Visual, Auditory, Read and Write, and Kinesthetic), which covers all of the seven styles listed above. Other schools reduce it even further into VAK (Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic). Therefore, check the design of a few schools to find one that matches your goals. 

What Can You Do With an Online Associates Degree in Elementary Education?

Typically, most states require that kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers have a bachelors degree and license.[iii] Therefore, after earning an associates degree in elementary education, many students choose to continue their education and earn a bachelors degree. In fact, many associates degree programs tailor curriculum specifically to prepare you to continue your education and become a licensed teacher.

However, some students choose to become a preschool teacher because some states only require that you have a high school diploma or some undergraduate studies. However, requirements vary from state to state, so check with your state to find specific requirements. [iv]

Common Careers in Elementary Education

There are a number of teaching careers available for students who go on to pursue an online bachelors degree in elementary education. These positions include those listed below with their 2015 median annual salary.

  • Kindergarten Teachers: $51,640
  • Elementary School Teachers: $54,890 [v]
  • Middle School Teachers: $55,860 [vi]
  • High School Teachers: $57,200 [vii]

Remember, each of these positions require a bachelors degree. In addition, when teaching at a public school, these positions also require a state license or certification. Teachers at private schools do not have the same licensing requirement. [viii]

Additional K-12 Teaching Certifications

While all states require that you earn a bachelors degree in order to become a licensed teacher, the other requirements to acquire a state teaching certification vary from state to state. For instance, some states offer certifications from kindergarten through 3rd grade and others offer certifications from K through 8th grade. Check with your state to find specific certifications.

In addition, each state may also have different requirements in order to earn your certification. Some of the most common requirements are listed here.

  • Bachelors degree
  • Student-teaching
  • Minimum GPA
  • Pass certification exam[ix]

In order to pursue your teaching license or certification, check with your state for specific rules. Some schools that offer an associates degree in elementary education may provide information on where many students transfer in order to earn their bachelors degree and what else you may need to become licensed in your state.

Take Control of Your Future Now

Do you enjoy working with children? Are you interested in working with students to improve the future of society? Then take the next step to earning your online associates degree in elementary education.

Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page to read program descriptions and see specific requirements. You can even reach out to your top candidates directly to request more information and apply today.


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

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