University Degrees Online
Many students are earning traditional university degrees online. How can you take advantage of emerging online education degrees?
- Ask the right questions
- Plan your course work carefully
- Don't take no for an answer
Ask the right questions:
If you want to become a teacher, you will be dealing with two major institutions, neither of which will be eager to tell you the truth about teacher certification requirements.
First, the college or university of your choice. The folks at your own college do not necessarily want to help you find the cheapest, shortest path to a teaching career. They will likely try to sell you on an education master's program, one that may cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Second, the state in which you plan to teach will have codes and regulations and requirements so convoluted you will have trouble interpreting them yourself. And again, the state education department is not equipped to help you find the shortest, cheapest path to certification.
To deal with these two institutions, you need to ask the right questions.
- Do I need a Master's Degree to teach in my home state?
Few states require teachers to earn a master's degree. You don't need an masters in education to work as a teacher. Those few states that do require an MA allow five years after the time of hire for the completion of the advanced degree. Of course, earning the MA will increase your pay and prepare you for advanced work in your subject area. So get the MA in any subject you would like to teach!
- How many education credits are required for the initial teaching license in my state?
If you complete a master's degree in education, you will earn (and pay for) more education credits than you need to become a teacher. It's plain and simple: colleges and univesities want you in their established education department program because they need full-time students to pay the tuition to keep the programs alive. If you want to teach science, math, art, languages, history, English, or any other subject, you don't need a degree in education. So absolutely find out exactly which education credits are required to become a teacher in your state, and take only those courses!
- Can I earn those required education credits at an online college?
Your college or university education department won't like this question. But you need to ask it. For the answer, however, you will likely need to ask your state education department. The truth is, neither the state nor the school district hiring you cares where you earn these credits. So earn them online, if that's cheaper and easier for you. Just double check with the state teacher certification requirements to make sure you have the right mix of course work to qualify for an initial license. States do accept credits from university degrees online.
- How can I meet the requirement for student teaching if I am not pursuing a degree in education?
Here's a tough one. Your college or university will try to tell you that you need their full program in order to complete the student teaching requirement. But school districts and states offer many alternative paths to fill this requirement. Find out from your state education website. Or possibly even pose the question to school districts in which you would like to work. If they like you and want to hire you, an alternative to the university program will be found.
- Is the subject area I intend to teach considered a high-need area in my home state?
Many subject areas, such as advanced science, advanced math, and less commonly taught languages, are considered high need areas for recruiting qualified teachers. If you plan to teach in a high need area, the rules for certification are very different. You might just find yourself teaching full time as you earn the minimum credits for certification.
Plan your course work carefully:
If you decide to take an alternative path to teacher certification, it is critical that you plan carefully to meet every state requirement for certification.
Find out for certain what those requirements are before taking a single class. Earning your university degree online can save you a bundle of money and time, but only if you plan in advance to ensure all requirements are met.
Don't take no for an answer:
Persistence and determination will get you through to your ultimate goal of starting your teaching career. Many people and institutions along the way may try to convince you that their $25,000 master's degree is just what you need. They don't want students earning university degrees online.
Inform yourself of the real requirements. Make a list of every item to be completed for initial teaching certification. And then go out and complete the list.
Online courses may help get you there, faster and for less money than a traditional MA in education. University degrees online are becoming more common every year.
Learn more about ten great schools offering online teacher certification.
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