Online Teacher’s Aide Degree Programs Resource
A teacher’s aide degree prepares graduates to play a key support role in the classroom. A teacher’s aide or (also known as an educational assistant, paraprofessional, para-pro, instructional assistant, or teacher’s assistant) assists one or more classroom instructors in day-to-day tasks such as maintaining order and discipline, helping students with assignments, organizing the classroom, taking attendance, and administering exams. Associate degrees that can prepare you for this career are available from traditional, brick-and-mortar schools and universities as well as through online teacher’s aide programs. Learn more about how to become a teaching assistant on our career guide.
Teacher’s Aide Degrees and Certification
An associate degree is earned after completing 60-65 credit hours of qualified classwork. In general, this takes about two years to earn for most full-time students and three to four years for most part-time students. After earning an associate degree, graduates may pursue such jobs as teacher’s aide, classroom assistant, or school library assistant. Those with an associate degree in teacher’s aide may go on to find jobs in public schools, private schools, daycare centers, nurseries, before-school programs, after-school programs, or child-centered businesses. Most accredited Associate of Science (AS) degrees and Associate of Arts (AA) degrees may be used as a stepping stone towards earning a bachelor’s degree in general education or other education degrees, with at least some of the 60 credit hours being applied towards the next degree level. Even in schools that require an associate degree as a minimum requirement, teacher’s aides who have earned a bachelor’s degree can often command higher salaries than those with an associate degree or less.
Profiles of Traditional Teacher’s Aide Education Programs
Northland College, with campuses throughout the Grand Forks area in Minnesota, offers an Associate of Science in Early Childhood & Paraprofessional. Students admitted to the program learn how to work with children at all developmental stages, including special education, from birth to adolescence. Courses in the program include Observing Assessing; Foundations of Literacy; American Minorities; and Paraprofessional Role. Graduates are prepared to work as instructors in early childhood child care programs, as family care child providers, and as assistant teachers in early childhood and elementary settings. In order to work in licensed child care settings in Minnesota, graduates must take a work experience/internship course as part of the program.
Southern State Community College (SSCC) offers a Paraprofessional Studies associate degree comprised of 64 credit hours. Classes take place on the Central Campus in Hillsboro, Ohio, and a field placement in a public school is included in the curriculum. Graduates of the associate degree in paraprofessional studies at SSCC may choose to go on to receive a baccalaureate degree in education if they so choose. Courses include Observation/Assessment of Children, Guiding Children’s Behavior & Learning, Human Growth & Development, Teaching in a Diverse Society, Educational Psychology, Paraprofessional Practicum, and Children’s Literature with Reading Approaches.
Lansing Community College in Michigan offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Teacher Paraprofessional. Paraprofessional students can choose between one of three specialties: Early Childhood (children 0-5 years old), Elementary (ages 6-12), or Special Education (ages 3 to young adult). Required courses for all specialties include Child Self-Esteem, Educational Psychology, Reading in Elementary School, Intro to Special Education, Teacher Education Practicum, and Children’s Literature. In addition, General Education Core Areas include Communication, Global Perspectives, Mathematics, Science, and Writing. The remainder of courses will be 15-17 credits in the student’s specialization area and 19 credits of related courses (electives).
Profiles of Hybrid and Online Teacher’s Aide Education Programs
The University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education offers a Teacher Assistant Program (TAP) culminating in a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree that is specially crafted for current teacher’s aides. USM’s program can be completed partly or fully online, allowing students to complete the coursework at their own pace. Students are able to complete a clinical experience as part of the program, using their current teacher assistant position if they so choose. TAP students must choose between two majors, Elementary Education and Special Education. Elementary Education majors will be eligible to become certified K-6 teachers with endorsements in reading and either Math K-8, Math 9-12, Science, Social Studies, Foreign Language, or English. Special Education majors will be able to become certified at the K-12 level with certification in mild/moderate disabilities.
Century College offers a hybrid online Associate in Applied Science – Paraeducator degree program that has flexible study options with day and evening courses on campus as well as select courses offered online. The degree requires 60 credit hours to complete. Fieldwork and service learning are an integral part of the curriculum, and all students are required to complete at least 100 clock hours of approved field-based experiences. Other courses include Reading and Study Skills Education Strategies, Creating Culturally Responsive Classrooms, and Special Education Issues for Educators. Graduates are qualified to work as paraprofessionals in Title I schools. Century College also maintains articulation agreements with several four-year schools, which can make the transfer process easier for those who wish to continue their education with a bachelor’s degree. Century College also offers a certificate in paraeducation that can be completed in 16 credit hours.
Western Iowa Tech Community College (WITCC) offers an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education for which all courses are offered at the Sioux City, Cherokee, and Denison campuses as well as online. The curriculum is geared towards preparing graduates to take on leadership roles in early childhood care facilities, managing programs and implementing effective curricula for children from birth to age eight. Required courses include Early Childhood Curriculum; Early Childhood Guidance; and Early Childhood Program Administration. Several field experiences are also included in the coursework for this degree. In total, 65 credit hours are required to earn the associate’s degree. Graduates are prepared to work as assistant teachers, lead teachers in early childcare settings, and in director or management roles in early childhood programs.
Teacher’s Aide Degree Requirements and Coursework
Most teacher’s aide programs require students to take general education classes such as liberal arts, math, English composition, and a basic science class, among others. In the second year of most teacher’s aide programs, students will take core classes that specifically address education, including courses such as Classroom Management, Leadership in Education, and Theory of Education. Some students may opt to complete an internship in a classroom to prepare them for the real-world demands of the job. It’s important to note that there are also many online teacher’s aide programs that offer a valuable education with greater flexibility.
Typical classes in a teacher’s aide degree program may include:
- Foundational Studies in Early Childhood Education
- Psychology & Education of Exceptional Children
- Technology in Education
- Curriculum: Primary and Middle Grades
- Teaching in a Diverse Society
- Mathematics: Primary and Middle Grades Laboratory
- Classroom Management
- Families, Communities & Schools
- Student Teaching I: Upper Grades
Teaching and Education Programs
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Do I need a degree to become a teacher’s aide?
Answer: It depends. Not all schools require teacher’s aides to have a degree, but usually applicants with at least some college coursework are preferred. Pursuing a teacher’s aide certificate or associate’s degree will make you a more competitive candidate for para-pro jobs. Additionally, you must have an associate’s degree to qualify as a paraprofessional in public schools that receive Title I funding.
Question: Can I get a teacher’s aide degree online?
Answer: Yes, many schools offer fully- or partially-online educational assistant degrees. If you choose an online program, be sure to choose one that has been accredited and that utilizes the same faculty as the on-campus program, to ensure you are receiving a quality education.
Question: What type of teacher’s aide degree should I get?
Answer: Teacher’s aide degrees can be pursued at the certificate, associate, and baccalaureate levels. Since a teacher’s aide associate degree can be used as a stepping stone for a more advanced education degree down the road, it is often a good place to start.