Before earning your teaching credential, it's important to understand what kind of education suits the teaching career you are hoping to pursue. Let us provide a quick sketch of the typical requirements for some common teaching careers, followed by our list of the 20 best online colleges for earning your teaching credential.

Teacher Degree Tracks

Best Online Colleges to Earn Your Teaching Credential in 2018-19

Earning a teaching credential is an exciting step for aspiring teachers, as it is necessary to move into the workforce and put a hard-earned teaching education to good use. Fortunately, those who are busy with work and school obligations can turn to the online teaching credential to complete this requirement.

In an online teaching credential program, the courses for the credential can be taken through the distance education means offered by the school. Meanwhile, the student teaching portion of the credential can be completed at a number of other schools that the college has made agreements with. This allows students to enroll in a credential program offered in another city or even another state without forcing them to pack up and move.

But where can a student find such an online credential? The search is over: here is our ranking of the 20 best online colleges for earning your teaching credential. Curious about our methodology? Check out the bottom of the page for more information.

1. Indiana Wesleyan University - Marion (Marion, IN)

Founded in 1920, this private, nonprofit university offers numerous options for teachers at the master's level, as well as a bachelor's program in early childhood education. Students who choose to pursue the licensure track can complete not only their typical bachelor's degree work, but also 16 weeks of full-time experience in a P-3 school setting. The university also offers numerous courses in professional development and licensure renewal.

2. East Carolina University (Greenville, NC)

East Carolina University offers a wealth of opportunity for those interested in teaching. The Alternative Licensure and Add-On Licensure programs provide students with the opportunity to complete coursework before teaching, to begin teaching while still attending school, or to add another subject area onto an existing teaching license.

3. Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ)

When seeking to earn your teaching credential online, students can look to Northern Arizona University, where over 31,000 students have already discovered programs in early childhood education, autism spectrum disorders, elementary education, educational technology, community college teaching and learning, and much more. The school's Teacher Intern Preparation Program (TIPP) allows students to enter a teaching contract while they complete the requirements for an Arizona Teaching Certificate.

4. Champlain College (Burlington, VT)

This small private college was founded in 1878, long before online learning was even a glimmer of an idea. Since then, Champlain College has made up for lost time with more than 50 online degree programs, including a few in the education department. Champlain's master's programs in early childhood education and administration can potentially be completed within one year, thanks to accelerated courses.

5. Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA)

In addition to flexible courses that offer students a greater range of scheduling freedom, Liberty University also offers programs grounded in Biblical principles. Those with an eye toward teaching, especially teaching with a religious emphasis, can choose from dozens of options, including master's degrees in elementary education, middle grades, secondary education or special education, any of which can help to prepare students for licensure.


What challenges did you face as an online student? What advice would you give to other online students to help them overcome these challenges?

When earning an online degree, time management is key. As an online student, one must be highly motivated and self-driven. In contrast to a college classroom setting in front of a professor, much time devoted to the chosen program and instruction is more like a self-study. Yes, there is open communication between the professor and the student, but the difference is you're given the syllabus with a "calendar of events" and the student is expected to plan accordingly and meet all deadlines. There is no one giving constant reminders as to what is upcoming and what is due.

I started my master's degree online through Regent University in January 2012, when my children were 12, 8 and 6. I was also teaching full time. I had to learn to juggle the needs of work, home and children as well as the program I was enrolled in. Ultimately, each student has to weigh their existing commitments, as well as the demands of their desired program. And the student must also be honest about their strengths and weaknesses. An online program can definitely be a convenient way to earn a degree, but if one lacks drive and self-motivation, an online program may not be the best option.

Jasmine Williams Cage works for Mecklenburg County Public Schools as a first grade teacher and has touched every grade K-8 over the past 20 years.

6. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

When students at University of Florida aren't cheering on the Gators, chances are good that they're working hard to complete degree programs, either on campus or online. UF has truly embraced online learning -- the university offers more than 100 degree programs online, including nine master's programs through the College of Education. These programs strive to prepare students for the Florida Teacher Certification Exam, an important part of being certified to teach at schools across the Sunshine State.

7. Saint Leo University (Saint Leo, FL)

The oldest Catholic higher education institution in the state of Florida, Saint Leo University began offering online courses in the 1990s. Today, numerous programs are available 100% online, including several online teaching programs at the master's level. Though some are designed for working teachers, others are designed to help students to earn their teaching credential. A good example is the master's in exceptional student education, which offers three educational tracks for interested students.

8. Texas A&M University - College Station (College Station, TX)

In the 2016-17 school year, over 62,500 students called themselves Aggies -- the term for those who attend storied Texas A&M University. These Aggies can find a plethora of online programs to choose from, several in the field of teaching. Some of these programs, such as the Master's of Science in health education program, combine earning the master's degree with earning one's teaching credentials, allowing interested students to tackle two birds with one program.

9. Oklahoma State University - Main Campus (Stillwater, OK)

OSU was founded on Christmas Day in 1890 -- a great gift for the people of Oklahoma and beyond. The OSU College of Education, Health and Aviation provides numerous options for students who want to earn their teaching credential, as well as some online options for those who want the flexibility of asynchronous learning. One example is the program for the graduate certificate in online teaching, which provides students with an opportunity to hone their teaching skills in the hopes of teaching online courses to various grade levels.

10. University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)

Over 66,000 students took advantage of UCF's many on- and off-campus degree programs in the 2016-17 school year. Students seeking an opportunity to teach can find it through the university's Substitute Teaching Certificate, which can be taken entirely online. These courses help to prepare an individual to move into teaching in their local school district. Students who are taking online courses from another state might want to check with their local school district to ensure the UCF certificate completion qualifies them to substitute teach in their state.


How did earning a degree online help you reach your educational and career goals?

As an English teacher in South Korea, I have been lucky enough to teach hardworking Korean students for the past seven years, but I knew that I couldn't do this one-year contract job forever. Therefore, I decided to go back for my master's degree at Clarion University in hopes of better positioning myself to get a job at an international school, where I will have more job security and a brighter future.

What challenges did you face as an online student? What advice would you give to other online students to help them overcome these challenges?

As an online student, the biggest focal point is online communication. I mostly relied on email and D2L to communicate with my professors and other classmates. Thankfully, my professors were quick to respond, so my classmates and I could complete the assignments in a timely manner. This, however, made group assignments a bit more challenging because there was less accountability with it being online. Because of this, I recommend asking your group members for their social media accounts as an easier way to contact them.

Alyson Rudy is a Native English Teacher at GEPIK Teachers in Anyang, Gyeonggi-do, Korea. She is a passionate teacher who wants to help shape the minds of young learners through the use of culture in the classroom.

11. University of Cincinnati - Main Campus (Cincinnati, OH)

Founded in 1819, this university in the heart of Cincinnati is currently home to over 44,000 students and over a quarter million alumni. The opportunities through the UC college of education are robust, and the online options are just as impressive. Those looking for an online teaching credential for PreK can find it through the bachelor's degree in early education. Other teaching credentials are available as well, such as those in behavioral analysis and gifted education.

12. University of Oklahoma - Norman Campus (Norman, OK)

University of Oklahoma has a rich history, dating back to 1890 and including a wealth of interesting tidbits, such as the "Boomer Sooner," the Oklahoma land run, and the Sooner Schooner, a wagon pulled by two ponies -- named, appropriately enough, "Boomer" and "Sooner." But the school really shines in academics, with numerous options for those seeking their teaching credential. From master's degree programs that can help prepare students for the licensing exams, to alternative ways of becoming a teacher, University of Oklahoma brings the options right to your fingertips.

13. Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA)

Originally part of the College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University in Virginia is now an institution of higher learning in its own right, with over 100 online programs available across seven colleges. Those programs include many that can lead to licensure for teachers in the state of Virginia, including Special Education, School Librarianship and Teaching License, the Military Career Transition Program, Elementary Teacher K-6 and more.

14. Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Drexel University has been offering online courses since as early as 1996! Numerous online programs are available at the university, among them options for earning your teaching credential online. These include the post-bachelor's teaching certificate for grades PreK-4 or secondary education, as well as the graduate intern teaching certification in the same categories. Numerous add-on credentials are also available for licensed teachers, including leadership, autism spectrum disorders and more.

15. Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, TX)

The 14th largest college in the state of Texas in 2017, Sam Houston State University's students can pursue professional certifications for principals, superintendents, school librarians, reading specialists and teachers. Teacher certification at SHSU may be completed within 12-24 months, depending upon when someone enrolls and how hard they work. Interested students from outside the state should consult with SHSU to determine if they qualify to enter the university's teaching certification program.


How did earning a degree online help you reach your educational and career goals?

Earning a degree online through Clarion University has helped me in my career path at Rimersburg Head Start and in continuing my education. Being able to receive my degree online has been a true blessing. As a working mother, it gave me the opportunity to complete my assignments around my life. I also had a unique opportunity to attend school along with my daughter, and we graduated together on May 13, 2016 -- on Mother's Day weekend. This was a great memory for us.

What challenges did you face as an online student? What advice would you give to other online students to help them overcome these challenges?

As an online student and older adult, I have faced many challenges along the way that I had to overcome. It had been many years since I had attended school and I had many adjustments to make as far as studying, routine, and many late nights being online completing assignments.

My advice to others that may want to acquire their degree is to just do it. Never give up on your dreams and your future. Online college is a great opportunity for those who need to work college around their lives.

Jodi Mansfield works at Rimersburg Head Start in Pennsylvania. She is married with four children.

16. Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

One of the world's premiere research universities, Johns Hopkins has made a name for itself in a variety of fields, including education. Students seeking to earn their teaching credential can opt for alternative licensure programs at Johns Hopkins, including those through Teach for America or TNTP (formerly known as The New Teacher Project). These Master of Science in educational studies programs can serve as excellent sources of knowledge for students who are working to obtain their teaching credential or to move forward into more specialized study.

17. North Carolina State University at Raleigh (Raleigh, NC)

Many students at North Carolina State have opted to pursue their teaching certificate through online means. Strong emphasis is placed on various forms of teacher licensure at NC State, with options for agriculture professionals, business and marketing education, and English as a second language, as well as an alternative teacher education program through NC Teach. Though licensure is designed for those in North Carolina, students from other states might be able to apply what they learn to their own state's licensure; check with the licensing board for details.

18. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN)

The University of Minnesota was dedicated to teaching students as early as 1851, a full seven years before Minnesota actually became a state. Today this land-grant university offers a plethora of programs, including several in the education department, and many are available entirely online. One of those is the Master of Education in family education, which can prepare students to earn the parent education specialty teaching license. Other options are available as certificates through online learning.

19. University of Missouri - Columbia (Columbia, MO)

Founded in 1839, "Mizzou" was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. More recently, the university dove into distance learning in a big way, offering over 100 degree programs and over 1,000 courses for those enrolled online. The MU College of Education features dozens of programs, as well as multiple ways to earn an online teaching certificate. Potential certifications include those for principal, superintendent, gifted education and more.

20. Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX)

Texas Tech University has been providing distance education, in one form or another, since 1966 (and no, that's not a typo!). Online teaching students have multiple options for education at Texas Tech, but in particular, they may want to look into the Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Principal Professional Certification Preparation Program. This program serves a dual purpose: not only does it give students a chance to earn a master's degree, but it is designed to help students prepare to earn the necessary credentials to become a school principal.

Methodology & Sources