20 Best Online Associates Degrees in Elementary Education [2021 Guide]

An online associates degree in elementary education can be the first step toward a meaningful career as a teacher.

Associates Degrees in Elementary Education

An elementary classroom is a place for children to discover a love of learning, and you can be a part of that process as a teacher or a school paraprofessional.

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Whether you want to enter the education field as quickly as possible or have plans to earn a teaching license before starting your career in the classroom, an online associate degree in elementary education can provide the foundation that you’ll need.

Online Associates Degrees in Elementary Education

Elementary teacher helping her students in class

If you enjoy working with children and helping them discover new things, then an associates degree in elementary education may help you get started on a career path that you’ll find personally fulfilling.

In an associate degree program, you’ll be introduced to fundamental concepts in education and child development. You may take classes in child psychology, classroom diversity, and educational technology. Another topic might be the history of education. You’ll also need to learn about working with students who have disabilities.

Some associate degree students explore specific content areas that elementary school teachers should know. These may include math, science, physical fitness and social studies. There will probably be courses on literacy as well, and you may have a whole class dedicated to children’s literature.

Getting an associate degree may help you secure a position at one of your local schools. You would be qualified to work as a paraprofessional, also known as a teacher aide or a student aide. Paraprofessionals do many different jobs but often assist students who need extra guidance or support.

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There may be some settings in which you can work as a lead teacher. Many preschool and daycare teachers have only a 2 year degree. In some states, there may be opportunities to teach older students at private schools. Your knowledge of children and how they learn might also help you find a job in a community organization that serves children.

Your options could include:

  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Churches
  • Health Departments
  • Social Service Agencies.

Many associate degrees transfer readily into bachelor’s programs. Typically, the credits from your associate degree will cover the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. You may be able to transfer into the program as a junior who has only upper-level classes left to complete.

Getting an elementary education bachelor’s degree can prepare you for licensure. Then, you can have the opportunity to work as a full-fledged teacher in both public and private elementary schools. In some states, your elementary license may cover early childhood or middle school as well.

Elementary Education Careers & Salaries

Elementary Education Careers & Salaries

An associate degree in elementary education may help you secure an entry-level teaching job. Other careers that involve working with children may be available to you as well.

One of the top jobs to get with an associate degree in this field is teacher assistant. As a classroom or student aide, you can facilitate children’s learning under the supervision of a licensed teacher.

This can give you valuable classroom experience that can prepare you for your own teaching position someday. Public schools require kindergarten and elementary school teachers to be licensed, which depends on having a bachelor’s degree.

In some states, though, you may be able to teach in private schools with only your associate degree. Some employers may be more willing to hire unlicensed teachers than others.

Elementary teacher teaching her students in a classroom

Even if you can’t teach in a K–6 classroom right now, you might be able to work as a preschool teacher. Childcare centers will also appreciate that you have a background in child development. With enough experience, you may even become the director of a childcare center one day.

You could also look for ways to work with children outside of the traditional classroom setting. For example, you might run educational programs for kids at a museum or recommend books in the children’s department of your local library.

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Social services are another way to help children in your community. You could be a community health worker who enrolls kids in food programs or a case assistant who checks on foster children.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, education, training and library occupations pay an average annual salary of $52,380. This field is expected to grow by 5% for the next ten years.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Archivists, Curators or Museum Worker $52,140
Preschool and Childcare Center Director $49,160
Elementary Teacher in Private Schools $50,050
Kindergarten Teacher in Private Schools $47,250
Community Health Worker $42,000
Social and Human Services Assistant $35,960
Preschool Teacher $31,930
Library Technician or Assistant $31,840
Teacher Assistant $28,900
Childcare Worker $25,460

Some companies may prefer you to have a bachelor’s degree when applying for these jobs. If you choose to continue your education and earn a bachelor’s degree, you may significantly increase your job opportunities and your salary potential.

Choosing an Online Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education

Selecting a college is a big decision. Comparing several different schools and the services that they offer may help you narrow down your selection.

  • Flexibility: Online college can make it easier to fit school into your schedule, but some programs are more flexible than others. You may want to choose a college where classes are go-at-your-own-pace, and login can be done day or night.
  • Accreditation: It’s a good idea to choose a regionally accredited school so that you’ll later be able to transfer your credits into a bachelor’s degree program.
  • Tuition Costs: Earning an associate degree before transferring to a four-year school can be a smart way to save on your overall tuition costs, particularly if you choose a school with low rates and pursue a well-rounded lineup of financial aid.
  • Educational Support Services: If you think you might need a bit of extra help, look for colleges that offer tutoring, technology support or other assistance for online students.
  • Time commitment: To get through school quickly, look for a full-time program with an accelerated calendar. If you’re balancing school with work or family, you may do better with a college that will let you enroll part-time.
  • Transfer opportunities: Some associate degree programs have arrangements with four-year schools that make it easy to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program.

If you need more information about a particular program, reach out to that college’s admissions department. Admissions teams are pros at fielding students’ questions and concerns.

Elementary Education Curriculum & Courses

Elementary teacher teaching her students how to read

In an associate degree program for elementary education, you’ll take an assortment of classes about childhood development and instruction. Here are some courses that you are likely to take:

  • Child Growth and Development: Studying the normal development of motor skills, cognitive reasoning, and social interactions can help you know what to expect of students and recognize abnormal development.
  • Child Psychology: This course provides an overview of how children think and what motivates them to learn.
  • Children with Exceptionalities: A class on exceptionalities may provide an overview of physical, cognitive and behavioral disabilities and also address gifted students.
  • Educational Technology: This course can help you learn how computers and other technology can be used to enhance children’s education.
  • Introduction to Education: To help prepare you for your upcoming courses, this survey class covers some of the fundamentals of teaching children.
  • Literature for Children: You may read a variety of children’s books and explore techniques for introducing kids to meaningful stories.
  • Math for Elementary Settings: This class can help you review basic math concepts and learn how to build children’s number sense and mathematical abilities.
  • Observation of Children and Classrooms: For this component of your studies, you may spend a good deal of time in local classrooms to watch how children behave and see how their teachers interact with them.
  • School Diversity: This course can help you learn ways to make education meaningful for all students in your classroom regardless of their background, culture, race, religion or socioeconomic status.
  • Special Education: This course may cover legal regulations about IEPs and other special education services, and you can also learn techniques for working with children who have special needs.

Getting your associate degree will probably require taking 60 to 62 credit hours of classes. In addition to these education-focused courses, you may also take several general education classes, such as composition, biology, and art history.

Admissions Requirements

Elementary Education student studying in a cafe

Your college applications help schools get to know you. Admission committees may want to know whether you’re a good fit for their programs or what sort of academic background you have.

  • Application form: You’ll start by filling out basic information about yourself, such as your name, address, birthdate and school history.
  • Letters of recommendation: The college may want to hear from people who have worked with you academically or professionally.
  • Placement tests: Some associate degree programs administer evaluation tests to determine which math or writing courses you should take first.
  • Transcripts: Your high school transcripts show your academic history. If you’ve taken any college classes, you can submit those transcripts too.

Some associate programs have stringent admission guidelines, and others take any students who have completed high school or an equivalency program.

Accreditation

Online Associates Degrees in Elementary Education Accreditation

Transferring to a four year school may be an important component of your academic plans. If so, it’s essential that you get your associate degree from a college that holds regional accreditation.

Even if you don’t plan to get a bachelor’s degree, you should still prioritize accreditation. You may decide later to return to the classroom, and most colleges will only accept transfer credits from regionally accredited schools.

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Plus, employers prefer accreditation. An accredited online degree in education is a sign that you went to a school with quality academic programs. The U.S. Department of Education maintains databases of accredited colleges and approved accrediting agencies.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

financial aid for elementary education students

Don’t let monetary worries keep you from your goal of becoming a teacher. Financial aid is designed to help students achieve their dreams. For starters, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). That’s how you can access government assistance, both state and federal.

Typically, government student aid comes in the form of grants and loans. Grants pay a portion of your tuition, and loans allow you to defer payments until after graduation. Government loans usually offer lower interest rates than private ones.

Scholarships are another valuable source of tuition help. Many organizations believe that teachers make an important contribution to society, so there are a number of scholarship funds that are just for education majors.

It’s smart to explore every avenue for student aid. For example, see if your employer has a tuition-assistance program. The college’s financial aid office may be able to offer advice as well.

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

Elementary Art Education teacher having art with his students

If you want to teach kids, then an associate degree in elementary education may be for you. This degree will set you apart as a well-prepared candidate for school paraprofessional positions. You could work with students in the classroom, in the lunchroom, or on the bus.

In certain settings, you might be able to work as a teacher. Options may include childcare centers and preschools. Occasionally, private schools hire teachers who don’t hold state licensure.

An elementary education online degree can also give you valuable skills for working with kids in non-school settings. Libraries, social service agencies, or community groups might welcome your expertise.

How Much Does an Online Associates Degree in Elementary Education Cost?

Associates Degree in Elementary Education students studying in library

Colleges typically charge by the credit hour. You may pay between $100 and $500 per credit hour. Most associate degree programs require 60 to 62 credit hours in total. Many students receive some form of financial aid. If you qualify for government or private assistance, that can affect the overall amount you’ll pay for your degree.

Two year colleges often cost less than four year schools. As a result, starting your college studies with an associate degree can be a smart way to save on the price of higher education.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Associates Degree in Elementary Education?

Associates Degree in Elementary Education students studying online

In most cases, you can earn an associates degree in elementary education online within two years. As a full-time student, you can earn about 15 credit hours per semester. After four 16-week semesters, you can accumulate the 60 or so credit hours required for graduation.

If you’d like to get done with your associate degree even more quickly, some online colleges offer the option of an accelerated schedule. The classes are each about 8 weeks long. You’ll take courses year-round until you’ve fulfilled all of the degree requirements. This approach may shave several months off of your studies.

Are There Any Affordable Online Associates Degrees in Elementary Education?

Yes, an associate degree can be affordable. Some schools charge only $100 to $200 per credit hour for two year programs.

The most affordable associate degree programs are often found at community colleges. The lowest rates may be reserved for students who live in-district or in-state. Even better, some states offer free community college enrollment to qualifying students.

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No matter which school you choose for your associate degree, take a look at your financial aid options, such as grants, loans and scholarships. Colleges that seem expensive at first may fall within your budget once student aid is applied.

Is an Associates Degree in Elementary Education Worth it?

Elementary Teacher teaches her students how to write

Yes, an associate degree in elementary education is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 5% job growth in education, training, and library occupations over the next 10 years.

Common elementary education careers in this field include teacher assistant, preschool teacher, childcare worker, childcare director and social services assistant.

In any setting where kids are learning, growing and developing, you can put your elementary education studies to good use. Both classroom and community roles may be open to you with a degree in education. Keep in mind, however, that higher pay is often reserved for those who hold a bachelor’s degree.

Universities Offering Online Associate’s in Elementary Education Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arkansas Northeastern College

Arkansas Northeastern College campus

The Associate of Science in Childhood Education in Elementary Education program at Arkansas Northeastern College is a two year degree that prepares students to transfer to bachelor’s programs in elementary education on a path to licensure. It also provides students with a firm liberal arts education and specific areas of interest.

Arkansas Northeastern College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Brenau University

Brenau University campus

At Brenau University, students in the Associate of Arts in Elementary Education program build the foundations they need to eventually become K-6 educators.

The curriculum is designed to provide students with an understanding of current educational trends, behavior intervention strategies and effective methods of tutoring and homeschooling elementary school children.

Brenau University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

College of Southern Nevada

College of Southern Nevada campus

Students in College of Southern Nevada’s Associate of Arts in Elementary Education program can receive a general liberal arts education and take the courses needed to transfer into bachelor’s programs or enter the workforce as paraprofessionals. Core courses put emphasis on the U.S. and Nevada Constitutions and teaching with technology.

CSN is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Community College of Aurora

Community College of Aurora campus

Community College of Aurora offers an elementary education transfer major Associate of Arts degree. Students in the program get the first two years of the elementary education bachelor’s degree at the community college level before transferring. Course electives are selected based on which four-year university a student plans to attend.

Community College of Aurora is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Community College of Denver

Community College of Denver campus

The online Associate of Arts in Elementary Education program at Community College of Denver has four-year transfer agreements with several different schools including Fort Lewis College, Adams State University and Colorado Mesa University. Students can complete their first two years and then transfer as a junior at any participating university.

CCD is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College

Copiah-Lincoln Community College campus

The associate’s degree in elementary education is only one of the 33 degree programs that Copiah-Lincoln Community College offers to students 100% online. The school offers a grades K-6 option, and the curriculum includes core courses and additional courses tailored to meet the requirements of the student’s chosen transfer university.

Copiah–Lincoln Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Cowley College

Cowley College campus

Students in the Associate of Arts in Elementary Education program at Cowley College meet with advisors early on to discuss where they plan on transferring. Coursework is then selected to meet that school’s requirements. Dual advising is also offered to students who want to add special education to their degrees.

Cowley College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Eastern Wyoming College

Eastern Wyoming College campus

Eastern Wyoming College offers several associate-level education programs online, including the Associate of Arts in Elementary Education.

Though students must still transfer to become licensed teachers, the program offers many relevant courses including a practicum for teachers, several elementary math courses, an introduction to special education and a teaching capstone.

Eastern Wyoming College is accredited through the North Central Association – The Higher Learning Commission.

Front Range Community College

Front Range Community College campus

The Associate of Arts in Elementary Education program at Front Range Community College consists of 41 credit hours of universally accepted core courses and 19 additional credits specific to a student’s chosen transfer university. The program has Degree with Designation transfer agreements with 11 different four-year institutions all over Colorado.

FRCC is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Georgia Military College

Georgia Military College campus

Currently, Georgia Military College offers both Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees in Elementary Education. The programs teach students about school-wide diversity, changing trends in education and psychological theories behind teaching and learning.

They prepare students to transfer or enter the workforce as paraprofessionals, assistants or daycare instructors.

Georgia Military College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Hagerstown Community College

Hagerstown Community College campus

Hagerstown Community College’s Associate of Science in Education degree is specifically designed for students planning to transfer into bachelor-level elementary education or secondary education programs at another college.

While in the program, students will continually add to their professional portfolios, which must be submitted to faculty for evaluation before graduation.

Hagerstown Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Indian Hills Community College

Indian Hills Community College campus

Students in the Indian Hills Community College Associate of Arts in Education program can build solid foundations for future teaching careers, learn to identify the unique needs of diverse learners and develop strategies to promote learning. A required field experience component should give them real-world experience and great networking opportunities.

IHCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Northeast Community College

Northeast Community College campus

Northeast Community College offers Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees in elementary education. The AA curriculum is designed for prospective transfer students. The AAS curriculum prepares students to enter the workforce immediately after two years of college.

Both programs give students ample hands-on classroom experience.

Northeast Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Pima Community College

Pima Community College campus

The Associate of Arts in Elementary Education program at Pima Community College is financial aid eligible and can be completed 100% online. The program has several important learning objectives that shape the curriculum.

Heavy emphasis is placed on understanding learner development, recognizing every student’s differences and serving those unique needs.

Pima Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Reading Area Community College

Reading Area Community College campus

At Reading Area Community College, students in the Associate of Arts in Elementary Education (grades 4-8) program learn all about Pennsylvania’s teaching certification requirements.

Students should also learn the multidimensional aspects of teaching, the philosophic, economic, social and historical bases of educational trends and the foundational basics of special education.

Reading Area Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Seminole State College of Florida

Seminole State College of Florida campus

Students at Seminole State College of Florida can enroll in the Elementary Education Pathway Associate in Arts program either as “at your own pace” virtual students or remote learners who log in at specific dates and times for live, virtual lessons. Classes are relatively small, and financial aid is available.

Seminole State College of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Scottsdale Community College

Scottsdale Community College campus

The Associate of Arts in Elementary Education program at Scottsdale Community College provides students with foundational knowledge in fields like cultural differences, child development, teaching and learning theories and effective educational practices.

Students should also learn how educational theory applies to real-world situations and demonstrate key dispositions of effective teachers.

Scottsdale Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

South Texas College

South Texas College campus

South Texas College offers online associate’s degrees in the following educational fields: EC-6 generalist, 4-8 generalist and grades 8-12. Students interested in elementary education will pursue the EC-6 concentration.

Core classes include multiple science, math and English courses, as well as introductory teaching courses and electives specific to elementary education.

South Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Tulsa Community College

Tulsa Community College campus

Students at Tulsa Community College can enroll in either Associate of Arts or Associate of Science programs in elementary education. The programs have CAEP accreditation, and students work with advisors to choose courses and electives that’ll transfer easily to their chosen transfer schools. The curriculum also features a heavy technology component.

Tulsa Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Washtenaw University

Washtenaw University campus

Washtenaw Community College’s Associate of Arts in Elementary Education program includes the most commonly accepted general education courses at four-year universities.

Students can develop their art, math, music and science curricula, learn classroom management and organization skills, incorporate technology into teaching and learn effective time management, communication and leadership skills.

Washtenaw Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education Online

Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education student studying online at home

As an education professional, you can shape children’s hearts and minds and set them up for school success. Knowing that you’re making a difference can bring great personal satisfaction. An associate degree in elementary education can help you get started in the teaching field.

With a two year degree, you may be able to work as a teacher assistant or a childcare provider. This degree can also provide half of the credits needed for a bachelor’s degree and teacher licensure. Now is the time to explore accredited colleges and enroll in an associate degree program.

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Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.