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Online Associate Degree Programs in Education Resource

An associate’s degree in education provides the skills and knowledge needed to enter the education field and is a good first step towards a career in teaching. Those who earn an associate degree in education from an accredited school may qualify for paraeducator positions such as teaching assistant, teacher’s aide, or in some states, preschool teacher or substitute teacher. You must also earn a bachelor’s degree in education to be certified as a lead teacher. An associate degree program in education typically focuses on a specific area of teaching, such as early childhood education. In addition to on-campus programs, there are many online associate degrees in education that can help you prepare for support roles in the classroom as well as for transfer to a four-year degree program.

Reasons to Pursue an Associate Degree in Education

An associate’s degree in education can be a good starting point for someone who is interested in teaching but doesn’t yet want to commit to a four-year degree. It can also be a way to explore whether becoming a teacher is right for you. Earning an associate degree can be less expensive than earning a bachelor’s degree due to the reduced course load, and many course credits can typically be transferred to a bachelor’s program later. This provides students with the option to switch their area of focus, continue to a traditional four-year degree program, or seek employment as a paraeducator. There are several education jobs available to those who possess an associate’s degree in education including teacher assistant, teaching aide, substitute teacher, school library technician, or childcare specialist. Since federal law requires that teacher aides in Title I schools have college training, two-year associate degree programs in education may be a good option for those seeking an education career.

Similar to an on-campus program, an online program can typically qualify the graduate to become a teacher’s aide in Title I schools or seek support roles in programs like Head Start. Online programs are also a good way to prepare for a four-year program of study, especially for those who are not yet sure which grade level(s) or subject(s) they may wish to teach. Many online associate’s degrees in education are specifically designed to transfer towards a bachelor’s degree in teaching.

Online Associate’s in Education Degree Program Formats

If you looking for a flexible alternative to on-campus study and researching online associate’s degrees in education, there are numerous programs from which to choose. Many distance education programs at the associate’s degree level are formatted to allow students to complete the majority of coursework online. However, programs that are designed to prepare graduates for paraprofessional positions will typically require an internship and/or other field experience, which must be completed in-person. If you are attending a program located in another state, you may still be able to complete this requirement in a school district local to you. It’s a good idea to check with the programs you are considering for guidance on these requirements and to check with your local school district(s) to ensure that internships are available for those who are attending online programs. In order to ensure that your degree is recognized and to ease the transfer process, you should make sure that the programs you are considering are accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education.

Admission Requirements for an Associate’s Degree in Education

teacher assistantSpecific admissions requirements vary from school to school and program to program. However, those interested in earning an associate’s degree in education should have a high school diploma or GED. Some schools and programs may require that applicants meet certain scores on the ACT or SAT exams. Many schools also require placement tests in core subjects like math and English. Prior to working with children in an internship or field experience, students should also expect to complete a health exam and criminal background check. Online associate’s degrees commonly hold similar requirements.

Coursework for an Associate’s Degree in Education

Courses in an associate degree program that specializes in education typically involve a combination of core liberal arts and science classes and introductory courses on education topics. Some degree programs also include an internship component where students can apply what they learn in a classroom setting.

Examples of courses in an associate degree program include:

  • Introduction to Child Development
  • Intro to Early Childhood Education
  • Intro to Elementary Education
  • Child Psychology
  • Basics of Curriculum
  • Basics of Assessment
  • Instructional Strategies
  • Supervised Field Experience

Profiles of Traditional Associate in Education Degree Programs

Vincennes University

Vincennes University offers numerous associate degrees in education that are designed to transfer to four-year programs: an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education, an Associate of Science in Elementary Education, and several distinct associate of science (AS) programs in different areas of secondary education, including chemistry, English, and mathematics. The school also offers associate’s degrees in education with focus areas in K-12 art, physical education, special education, and technology. All programs focus on developing in-depth content knowledge and proficiency in teaching skills, including classroom management and monitoring individual learning. Education courses offered in the AS curriculum include Psychology of Childhood and Adolescence; Initial Experiences in Education; Introduction to Exceptionalities; and Computer Technology for Teachers. Students must also meet the university’s core curriculum requirements, which will typically also transfer towards core curriculum requirements in a bachelor’s degree program.

Community College of Philadelphia

Community College of Philadelphia is home to four transfer-oriented associate’s degrees in education: Early Childhood (Birth to 4th Grade); Middle Level (4th to 8th Grade); Secondary Humanities/Social Studies; and Secondary Math/Science. All four programs include field experiences designed to help future paraeducators gain hands-on knowledge through both observation and participation. Students acquire both theoretical and functional knowledge applicable to teaching careers and are well-prepared to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. For admissions consideration, applicants must take the college’s placement tests and earn satisfactory grades in any required developmental courses. Students must also be able to provide satisfactory criminal history reports and health clearances in order to meet the field experience requirements. Courses offered include Cognition and Learning in the Classroom; Applied Computer Technology; Child Psychology; and Introduction to Special Education and Inclusive Practices.

Houston Community College

The Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) at Houston Community College (HCC) leads students through a curriculum that is designed for transfer to a four-year teaching degree program and preparation for teacher certification in the state of Texas. Courses taken for the AAT, which requires a minimum of 60 credit hours, typically satisfy the lower-division coursework requirements of a bachelor’s degree in education. Courses in the program include Math for Teachers; Introduction to Special Populations; Multicultural Education; and Introduction to the Teaching Profession. To ease the transfer process, HCC maintains articulation agreements with several four-year institutions. HCC also offers a state-approved Accelerated Teacher Certification Program (ATCP) for those who have earned a bachelor’s degree but did not complete formal teacher preparation. HCC has campuses conveniently located throughout the Houston metro area, and select courses may also be offered online.

Profiles of Hybrid and Online Associate in Education Degree Programs

Northampton Community College

Northampton Community College, located in Pennsylvania, offers a hybrid online associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education: Infant to Grade Four. Courses can be completed on a full-time or part-time schedule and students can complete courses online, on campus, or through a combination of methods. Though most coursework is available online, certain fieldwork requirements must be completed in person. For distance students, these requirements can be met at an approved work site or a more local community college program. Core courses that have field/lab work components include Infant-Toddler Development and Learning; Early Childhood Literacy and Language; and Early Childhood Math. Graduates are prepared to work as a teacher or assistant teacher in child care settings, as well as to transfer to a four-year teaching program in order to earn a bachelor’s degree and qualify for a state teaching certificate.

Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University features an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education that can be completed online. Students typically focus on taking one eight-week course at a time. The eight-week course rotation also offers the opportunity for new students to begin the course sequence in the fall, winter, spring, or summer quarters. Core courses include Current Issues and Trends in Early Childhood; Emergent Literacy; and Parents, Families, and Communities as Partners. Students additionally complete a service learning capstone experience. A total of 60 credit hours is required to earn the associate’s degree. After graduation, students may go on to work with children from birth to age eight in paraeducator or paraprofessional roles. Graduates may also seek admission to four-year degree programs as transfer students.

Richmond Community College

The associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education – Early Childhood Specialist at Richmond Community College is designed to teach students how to successfully work with children from birth to age eight in learning support roles. The coursework for the degree can be completed entirely online. In addition to covering the learning and developmental needs of children, the curriculum focuses on their creative development, physical and motor skills, and physical and nutritional needs. Students are required to earn a “C” or better in all core courses, which include Children with Exceptionalities; Language & Literacy Experiences; and Child Guidance. An early child capstone practicum is also required, which includes an on-site component. With full-time study, the program can be completed in as few as four semesters.

Teaching and Education Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions about Earning an Associate Degree in Education

Question: Can I become a teacher with only an associate degree?

Answer: All states require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to obtain a teaching license or certification. However, with an associate’s degree you can become a paraeducator, such as a teacher assistant, educational aide, or childcare specialist.

Question: What are the skills required to be a teacher?

Answer: Teachers need a variety of skills, many of which are taught in teacher preparation programs. Teachers must be able to communicate effectively and to work well with a variety of types of people. Teachers need to be calm and patient and good at working collaboratively. Teachers also must have good presentation skills and basic technology skills.

Question: How do I get a teaching degree online?

Answer: There are several schools that offer online education degrees. A quick search online will turn up many options. Once you have a few options, contact the schools to find out how to apply, tuition costs, and other important information. Choose a school, apply for admission, and work towards your education degree.

Question: How do I become a teacher without a teaching degree?

Answer: There are several alternative pathways to become a teacher if you already have a bachelor’s degree. Some are available at the state level, such as the New York City Teaching Fellows, while others are national like Teach for America. Most of these programs require that participants have a college degree, but it does not need to be in education.