The 5 Best Online Associates in Elementary Education Degrees in 2022

Online Associates in Elementary Education - featured image

While individuals with online associates in elementary education degrees aren’t eligible for a teaching certificate or license, they can enter the workforce immediately after graduation! Associate degree holders of every accredited elementary education program are qualified to work as private tutors, teacher assistants in elementary schools, and childcare workers. 

If you want to become a full-fledged elementary school teacher or preschool teacher with a teaching license, you can transfer credits earned in an associate degree to a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

This is true for most states, such as Florida and Texas where a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification are a must for public school elementary teachers. 

With an online associate degree in elementary education, you will find well-paying jobs in Washington, Utah, and New Jersey, the best states for early childhood educators. 

There’s also a rising demand for individuals with an online associate in elementary education degree due to the following reasons: 

  • Population growth resulting in increasing enrollment in elementary schools  
  • Teachers leaving the profession or retiring 
  • Increase in the number of English language learners in the country 
  • Shortages in teachers in specialized subject areas, particularly in special education, math, and the sciences 

Check this out, too: The 5 Best Online Associates in Education Degrees

Quick Summarization
Enrolling in an online associate in elementary education program prepares students for future roles as early childhood educators. Education majors can earn the associate degree in two years or less of full-time study, but it can stretch to up to three years or more with part-time study. 

Graduates of online elementary education degree programs can either enter the workforce immediately in entry-level junior positions or pursue a bachelor’s degree. The online associate degree is recognized in both private and public schools, and pursuing it first offers multiple benefits. 

You enjoy more flexibility because you can choose a specialization or switch majors in a bachelor’s degree if you started with an associate degree in Elementary Education. You will also be able to save time and money, thanks to the affordable tuition rate and accelerated pace at community colleges. 

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With an online Elementary Education degree from a regionally accredited school, you have an excellent credential to pursue a bachelor’s degree or take advantage of career opportunities! We help you decide on the best program to attend, with our list of the best Online Elementary Education degrees that were chosen based on these factors:

  • Delivered as a 100% online learning program or in a blended format with synchronous or asynchronous coursework,
  • An Elementary Education curriculum that includes core courses in the discipline to prepare students for bachelor’s programs related to the field, while also readying them to take on Psychology-related jobs,
  • A Learning Management System or a virtual platform that promotes easy access to the Psychology coursework, coupled with 24/7 technical support,
  • Transfer Pathway programs to make the transition to a bachelor’s program easy for Associate in Psychology degree graduates,
  • Online or blended learning instructors who have had actual experience in the Elementary Education field and academic expertise,
  • Financial aid including federal financial assistance, scholarships, grants, and military aid for qualified students,
  • Proper accreditation, to demonstrate adherence to the governing rules for the delivery of online academic programs,
  • Recognition from Elementary Education associations and membership in such groups that seek to promote the discipline.

Visit our Methodology page to learn about the selection process involved in putting our list of the best Elementary Education degree programs offered online.

Online Associates in Elementary Education

5 Best Online Associate in Elementary Education Degree Programs

During our school search, we came across these five online associate degrees in elementary education programs. Every elementary education program is offered by a regionally accredited school, and online students are provided with quality higher education. 

Copiah-Lincoln Community College

Copiah-Lincoln Community College

The online Associate of Arts (AA) in Elementary Education program prepares students for careers in early childhood education, from kindergarten until sixth grade in multiple disciplines. Students also prepare to enter the workforce immediately after earning an elementary education degree in entry-level positions. 

Graduates of the associate degree program in elementary education can become transfer students in several institutions of higher learning including: 

  • Mississippi University for Women (Online Partnership Pathway) 
  • Mississippi State University
  • University of Southern Mississippi
  • Delta State University
  • Mississippi College
  • Alcorn State University
  • Mississippi Valley State University 
  • Jackson State University

Graduates of the associate in elementary education degree program start as junior students in the respective bachelor’s degree programs of these schools. Many of these colleges and universities also offer online programs in education and elementary education bachelor’s degrees. 

Students will work with academic advisors on planning a program of study based on their preferred transfer institution. 

Graduates of the associate degree program in elementary education must complete at least one of these options before being admitted into a teacher education program at these four-year institutions: 

  • At least a 21 composite score on the ACT; 
  • Passing scores in reading, writing, and math in the Praxis core test; or 
  • 60 hours in core courses with at least a 3.0 GPA 

Graduates may also choose a specific subject area for licensure purposes, such as special education, social studies, or English. 

Copiah-Lincoln Community College offers two-year online programs in diverse disciplines with the general education and core courses eligible for transfer under articulation agreements (MATT). Co-Lin is accredited by the SACSCOC or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Brenau University

Brenau University

The Associate of Arts (AA) in Elementary Education program at Brenau University was formerly its online associate degree in early childhood education. Online students in the elementary education program develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become competent professionals in early childhood education. 

As education majors, their knowledge covers the fundamentals of child development from birth until fifth grade. The associate degree program covers both general education classes and core courses including: 

  • Human biology 
  • United States history 
  • Written and oral communication 
  • Reading and research writing 
  • Child psychology 
  • Introduction to teacher education 
  • Math concepts for teachers 
  • Introduction to multicultural education 

Graduates who earn an associate degree in elementary education develop skills to become homeschool teachers and private tutors. Their skills also include strategies in behavior intervention using child psychology principles. 

Online students can access student support resources like academic coaching, tutoring services, and writing support. 

The elementary education degree has a two-year time-to-completion. Most online courses have a seven-week duration. 

Students in the elementary education program are qualified for financial aid. Federal and state financial aid complement the TEACH Grant, a service-based financial aid. 

Brenau University, a private university, has accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. 

Front Range Community College

Front Range Community College

The education professionals behind the online Associate of Arts (AA) in Elementary Education program offered at FRCC understand that teaching combines art and science. Students learn pedagogy and practical teaching strategies that prepare them for success as early childhood educators, usually in entry-level junior positions. 

FRCC provides student support services that ensure students in its associate degree in elementary education online program will graduate. Students are also provided with transfer guidance if they choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree program in elementary education after earning the associate degree. 

The associate degree in elementary education program represents the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program in a four-year institution. Transfer students enter as juniors and then complete the last two years of their chosen bachelor’s degree program. 

Students earn 60 credits to earn the associate degree in elementary education. The program of study has a two-year completion duration. 

Education majors must complete a series of core courses including: 

  • Introduction to education  
  • Child development 
  • Integrated mathematics 

Students also receive well-rounded training in the pursuit of the elementary education degree through general education classes. English composition and world regional geography are examples. 

Associate degree holders complete the freshman and sophomore years of a bachelor’s in elementary education degree. 

Of the 60 credits, 41 credits can be transferred to state institutions while the 19 credits must be unique to whatever transfer institution the student wants to transfer to for the bachelor’s degree program. 

Online students can also apply for financial aid. This is because the multi-campus Front Range Community College is a regionally accredited school by the Higher Learning Commission. 

Community College of Denver

Community College of Denver 

The online Associate of Arts (AA) in Elementary Education program at the Community College of Denver prepares students to become the best elementary school teacher they can be! Online students learn teaching strategies in all academic subjects including reading, writing, and math. 

This is a transfer-friendly associate degree in elementary education program. Graduates can transfer the credits they earned to a bachelor’s degree program at several four-year institutions like the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, and the University of Northern Colorado. A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for teacher certification or license in all states for elementary school teachers. 

Transfer students save time and money by transferring the core courses in the 60-credit associate degree in elementary education program.  The core courses include : 

  • Introduction to Education
  • Literacy Instructional Techniques
  • Effective Teaching
  • Teaching, Learning, and Technology
  • English Language Learning (K-6)

Students in the online associate of elementary education degree program are eligible for financial aid. 

Community College of Denver, a public community college, is a regionally accredited school by the Higher Learning Commission and approved to offer associate degrees in various disciplines. 

Northeast Community College

Northeast Community College

The Associate of Arts (AA) in Elementary Education program at Northeast Community College is a liberal arts-centric program for aspiring early childhood professionals. The online associate degree represents the first two years of a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, too, meaning it’s a transfer-friendly option.

Online students in the associate degree in elementary education program gain hands-on experiences in elementary school settings, too. There are visits to observe and interact with professors in four-year institutions.

The associate degree in elementary education program has several professional education courses that prepare students for elementary classroom management. 

Note that the associate in elementary education program may perform a criminal background check or ask for related requirements. 

Northeast Community College, a public community college system in the State of Nebraska, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. 

If you want a respected associate degree in elementary education apart from these five schools, check out Pima Community College and its Associate of Arts in Elementary Education program. Arkansas Northeastern College also offers two associate degree programs:

  • Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education: Elementary, K-6 Option
  • Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education

Additional Resources: The Most Lucrative Education Jobs And the Degrees That Can Prepare You

Overview of Elementary Education as a Profession 

Elementary school teachers play crucial roles in early childhood development, from teaching children their ABCs and 123s to encouraging their socio-emotional development. 

Roles and Responsibilities 

With their education degree from an accredited bachelor’s in elementary education program, they have professional abilities to perform these duties: 

  • Create lesson plans for diverse subjects like reading, math, and science 
  • Provide instruction in various subject areas 
  • Grade the students’ academic performance and conduct 
  • Provide supplemental instruction, such as in special education, when necessary 
  • Assist in the development of their social and emotional skills 
  • Work with other early childhood educators and stakeholders to improve student performance 
  • Communicate with the students’ parents, guardians, and/or adults about their progress 
  • Prepare students for the state’s standardized tests 
  • Manage activities in and out of the classroom 

Students in online associate in elementary education programs also gain the knowledge and skills to perform these duties. But they can only act as teaching assistants to the full-fledged elementary school teachers. 

The typical elementary school grades are from first to sixth grades. But there are some elementary schools where teachers handle classes up to the eighth grade. 

Many elementary school teachers handle several subject areas during an entire school day. But many licensed teachers in elementary education also specialize in a specific subject area, such as math, art, or special education. The choice in specialization is typically made in a bachelor’s degree program. 

Education, Certifications, and Licenses 

Elementary school teachers in public schools must possess either a teacher certification or teacher license, usually in a specific grade level. Elementary teachers in private schools may or may not have a teaching certification or license, but it’s best to possess one. 

While each state has different requirements for teacher certification or license, the general requirements include: 

  • A bachelor’s degree in education from a regionally accredited school 
  • A student teaching practicum experience 
  • Passing a criminal background check 
  • Passing other teacher certification requirements, such as a written examination and a practical demonstration 

Elementary school teachers may also be required to complete professional development or continuing education classes to maintain their teacher certification. Many states may also require a master’s degree from elementary school teachers for this purpose.  

What if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education or you don’t have education courses on your transcript? You can complete a teacher education program where courses in child development and instructional strategies are taught. You can then apply for teacher certification after fulfilling specific requirements. 

Skills and Qualities 

Pursuing an online associate in elementary education degree will develop the skills and qualities that elementary school teachers must possess. Elementary school teachers become more effective when their teaching strategies are combined with soft skills like: 

  • Communication skills, both in communicating concepts and instructions to students and in working with parents, administrators, and stakeholders;
  • Patience since some students will require extra attention in their academics and/or in their social skills; 
  • Resourcefulness to enable them to overcome the challenges of the teaching profession

Elementary school teachers should also be physically and mentally fit because of the oftentimes challenging demands of the profession. 

In terms of career advancement, you can become a lead teacher with more work experience and continuing education. You can pursue a career as a school counselor, principal, or instructional coordinator. 

And all these great things in your pursuit of a teaching career can start with an online associate degree in elementary education! 

Online Associates in Elementary Education - fact

Overview of Online Associate in Elementary Education Programs

While community colleges are the more popular schools for an online associate degree in elementary education, many four-year institutions also offer it. Both institutions of higher learning share similarities in their associate degree programs, from their admissions process to their graduation requirements. 

Admissions Process 

Every online program has its admissions process and corresponding requirements, thus, applicants must carefully read and understand these aspects. But the majority of associates in elementary education programs have the following admission requirements: 

  • Completion of an application form online,
  • Proof of high school diploma or the GED equivalent with minimum cumulative GPA,
  • College-level credits for transfer, if any, such as from an associate degree or Advanced Placement courses 

Letters of recommendation, personal essays, and current resumes are uncommon requirements in online associate degrees in elementary education programs. Applicants to bachelor’s degree programs, however, must be ready with these documents. 

Program Duration 

Online students in a typical associate degree in elementary education program have two years to complete its academic requirements including its practicum period. But many online programs offer a part-time enrollment option, meaning a three-year time-to-completion. 

Look for an accelerated option if you want to earn an associate degree in less than two years. But note that the program of study will be fast-paced and challenging. 

Credits, Curriculum, and Course Descriptions 

Online students tackle a challenging elementary education curriculum with general education courses and core courses. The curriculum of online associate degrees mirrors the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program in elementary education. This means a minimum of 60-semester credits for completion. 

But the associate degree in elementary education can stand on its own, so to speak! The core courses prepare students for the real-world challenges of working in elementary schools and other early childhood facilities. 

Introduction to Education

The course focuses on the diverse forces shaping the public education landscape in the United States and its current issues including K-12 diversity. Students also learn about family and community relationships and early childhood education principles. 

Effective Teaching Methods 

Students learn about the best strategies for teaching at the elementary school level including lesson planning, test design, and learning styles. 

Teaching and Technology

The course prepares students for technology integration into their elementary grade curriculum. Students explore diverse teaching-related technologies, such as the Internet, audiovisual aids, and multimedia graphics. 

Literacy Instructional Techniques

Students learn about education theory and its practical applications in the classroom. 

Child Development

The course is an introduction to the stages of child development and their impact on teaching children. Students may also learn about educational psychology and child psychology. 

Components of Online Learning 

Online students in associate degree programs are just as challenged by their coursework as their on-campus counterparts. But they have the advantage of 24/7 access to most of their learning materials, thanks to asynchronous formats. 

Learning Technologies 

Online education is obviously done over the web, meaning online associate degree programs use multiple learning technologies. The typical online program, for example, uses a combination of a learning management system, productivity tools, and collaboration tools. 

The most commonly used learning management systems or LMS in the higher education sector are: 

  • Blackboard, and it is available in both SaaS and non-SaaS models
  • Moodle, a free, community-driven and open-source platform 
  • Canvas, a user-friendly platform with native web hosting features 

Some online programs may also feature digital simulations where students learn practical skills in virtual settings mimicking real-world scenarios. 

Assessments and Evaluations 

Online students are also evaluated based on their academic performance throughout the online associate degree in elementary education program. Every online program has its unique grading system and methods of evaluation but the common ones include: 

  • Lessons via recorded and live lectures
  • Reading materials 
  • Quizzes and exams 
  • Assignments with weekly deadlines 
  • Reflective journals 
  • Portfolio of lesson plans 
Internship and Practicum Requirements 

Online students pursuing an associate degree in elementary education may also be required to complete student teaching requirements. This is typically achieved through a practicum in elementary schools where they will observe early childhood educators in action, and even provide teaching-related assistance. 

The student teaching experience is an opportunity for hands-on experience to complete the classroom coursework. Check if the online education program also has a capstone course. 

Tuition and Financial Aid 

Online students pursuing an online associate degree in elementary education in community colleges agree that their tuition fees are more affordable. The tuition is made even more affordable with financial aid, such as federal financial aid and institutional scholarships. 

Careers and Salaries of Graduates of Associate in Elementary Education Programs 

Online associate’s degrees in elementary education can lead to the following occupations. But if you want to enjoy career advancement, such as a full-fledged elementary teacher, you should earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. 

Dollar figures are the average annual salary for each occupation. 

Teacher Assistant ($30,630/year

Being a teacher assistant to elementary teachers is a great way to start your teaching career since you will gain hands-on experiences in an elementary school setting. You will work in public and private schools, after-school programs, and preschools. 

Preschool Teacher ($35,950/year

You can be employed as a preschool teacher with an associate degree in elementary education or work under the supervision of pre-elementary teachers. As a preschool teacher, you will assist children through classroom instruction and play in the development of their 3Rs and social skills.  

Childcare Worker ($35,691/year

If you don’t have classroom experience yet, you may want to consider being a childcare worker with your associate degree in elementary education. As a childcare worker, you will look after the basic needs of children in childcare facilities, such as daycare centers and after-school facilities. 

Private Tutor ($30,946/year)

Children in elementary school who may have difficulty in specific subject areas or in general may seek private tutors. Since being a private tutor can be a part-time job, you may still have time to pursue a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is an Associate in Elementary Education worth the time, effort, and money? 

Yes, it is! You can find immediate employment in early childhood-related occupations, thus, allowing you to recoup your investments in time and money. 

Are there challenges to pursuing an online Associate in Elementary Education? 

Yes, and these will challenge your perseverance and patience. The challenges of reading the learning materials, submitting assignments on time, and studying for exams are common among online students. 

What are the steps in choosing an online Associate in Elementary Education program? 

First, determine your career goals starting with whether you want a teaching license or not. Then, do a school search based on accreditation, quality of instruction, cost, and student support services. 

What are the concentrations in Elementary Education programs? 

At the associate degree level, it’s uncommon for an education program to offer concentrations. But bachelor’s degree programs allow students to choose specializations. Examples include special education, mathematics, and English. 

What are the educational paths for associate degree holders of Elementary Education? 

A bachelor’s degree in elementary education is a popular choice. But you may also consider a bachelor’s degree in special education or other types of education degrees. 

Key Points to Ponder

  • An online Associate in Elementary Education can be a standalone degree that opens doors to employment as a private tutor, teacher assistant, or childcare worker. But a bachelor’s degree will make your opportunities for career advancement even better. 
  • Take advantage of opportunities for hands-on learning in elementary education settings when pursuing an associate degree. Not only will it strengthen your practical skills but lay the foundation for professional success.

Also, see: The 21 Best Online Bachelor’s in Education and Teaching

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor