Can I Get an Education Bachelor’s Degree Online?

Online Bachelor's in Education DegreeThough there is a great need for qualified teachers all across the country, it is still rather difficult to find an online education bachelor’s degree that will translate into a real job as the head of a classroom. Very few online universities actually offer a bachelor’s degree in education, and even the programs that are offered leave graduates without the ability to apply for traditional jobs in elementary, middle, or high school classrooms. For those considering online coursework for a future in the education industry, there are a few very important things to understand about why this will likely remain the case for some time.

Online Degrees Don’t Permit for Student Teaching Experience

One of the most important requirements of any education degree is that it contain a student teaching component, as seen in the University of Kentucky’s program.┬áMost students in offline education degree programs spend their senior year of that program working one or more classrooms alongside a qualified teacher as they plan lessons, actively engage and teach students, and even develop their own tests and other activities. These lessons and exams are observed by their supervising professor at the school, who grades them on their classroom performance. Student teaching is considered so important that those students who cannot do so successfully will typically not be allowed to graduate. They certainly won’t be able to pursue state licensing without student teaching.

This presents real problems in the world of online coursework: Professors can be tens, hundreds or thousands of miles away, teaching hundreds of students and unable to observe any of them. Furthermore, online universities generally don’t have student teaching agreements with schools local to their students. As a result, it’s generally not possible for online institutions to offer education programs through distance learning. Only programs for non-certified positions, like early childhood education or paraprofessional work, are typically offered.

Related Resource: Transferring Online College Credits to a Regular College Campus

Existing Online Education Degrees Have a Big Catch

While it’s highly unusual to see a bachelor’s degree program in education offered online, some schools do still offer bachelor’s degree programs in elementary or secondary education. So far, each of these programs has a unique catch that will probably make a non-starter with today’s aspiring educators:

– Online programs in education actually advertise themselves as non-licensure degrees. That means students typically won’t be able to qualify for certification exams or state education licenses, and their degree will qualify them only for roles as tutors, paraprofessionals, or homeschooling. This is not the ideal outcome for most people enrolled in an education degree program.

– Many schools that offer a four-year education degree do so without regional or approved national accreditation. In addition to denying students access to crucial federal financial aid funds, these school’s lack of accreditation means that students will not be able to apply for certification exams, state licensing or even graduate-level program.

An Online Master’s Could Be a Good Substitute

Nationwide, about half of all states require teachers to have obtained a bachelor’s degree in education in order to sit for certification and be granted a license. That is not a universal rule, however. For those students who are disappointed by the lack of online undergraduate programs in education, it’s worth noting that many states will allow those who attended a graduate-level education program to take those exams and apply for a continuing, or permanent, license to practice education in that state. In many cases, those licenses can then be transferred to other states after a few years of experience. This might just resolve the near impossibility of earning a useful, portable, and accredited online education bachelor’s degree.