Best Online Associate in Education Degrees for 2023

Associate Degree in Education Career Options & Salary

Search Programs

If you think the teaching profession might be a rewarding career, a good way to enter the education field and find out is to earn an on-campus or online associate degree in education. A two-year degree is less expensive and time-consuming than getting the traditional bachelor’s program, and it could be a good way to gauge if a teaching career is something you’ll enjoy for the long-term. After all, working as teacher assistants or preschool teachers isn't for everyone. If you decide to pursue teaching, you can obtain one of the many online associate degrees. An education online program is often a cheaper option than traditional in-person classes. Furthermore, continuing your education online with an online bachelor's degree program is relatively easy, and you may even have the experience of already having been in a classroom as a teacher's aide or a job as a child care worker to help you along.

An associate degree in education is usually available either as an Associate of Arts in Education or as an Associate of Science. These associate in education programs are available from local community college options and from larger colleges and universities, as well as being available through online courses from schools all over the country. Whether you choose an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science depends on your education goals. Either of these degrees in education will let you move of into a bachelor's program. Their core courses will cover general education and basics such as reading and mathematics. An education program at this level may also cover core courses in early childhood education, elementary education, child development, and even childcare management. Eligibility requirements will vary by program, but are likely to consist of not much more than a high school diploma or an equal level of education. Plus, you may qualify for federal financial aid to help with school costs and most schools let you transfer credits should you choose to go from a local community college to a university or to one of the online degree programs from one of the many online colleges offering online associate degree programs with national or regional accreditation.


  • You can get into a classroom faster by completing an associate degree in education program. With a two-year degree in education, students can get paraprofessional educators positions such as a teacher’s aides or teaching assistants. In some states, you can even teach preschool or work as a substitute teacher.
  • Starting out in a paraprofessional position is a good way to determine if you want to dedicate yourself to pursuing a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or elementary education and to become a certified lead educator. It’s also a good way to get a foothold in a school district so that, in the event you do decide to pursue a higher-level education program and become a lead teacher, employment opportunities will be more readily available.
  • You can earn an online associate degree in education with many online associate degree programs offering the majority of classes online. In order to complete your education degree online in one of these online programs, you will only need to take a few in-person courses and complete your student teaching internship at the end, which must be done in person at a school.


  • Associate degree graduates will make less than a lead teacher. Obviously, since the lead teacher has more education and possibly more experience in childcare management, your income will be lower than those who have gone the extra mile to earn their education degree and credentials.
  • For associate degree graduates, the chance to lead a classroom isn’t very high. Your lead teacher will most likely let you help with the curriculum, but the teaching will mainly be their job and you will be there to assist.
  • Without pursuing a higher degree, there is little room for advancement for associate degree holders.
  • Jobs are becoming scarce for those without at least a bachelor’s degree, as more and more states realize the importance of early education and tighten the requirements for teachers.
  • Certain certifications can only be pursued with a bachelor’s degree or similar bachelor's programs.

Search Programs

What are the Best Online Education Associate Programs?


Ohio State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,936
    • Out-of-State: $35,019
  • Net Price: $18,884
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 87%
  • Total Enrollment: 61,369
  • Undergrad Students: 46,984
  • Graduate Students: 14,385
  • Grads Salary: $41,500
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • Ohio State University

Saint Francis University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $39,502
    • Out-of-State: $39,502
  • Net Price: $28,883
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,769
  • Undergrad Students: 2,279
  • Graduate Students: 490
  • Grads Salary: $48,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Saint Francis University

University of Cincinnati

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $12,598
    • Out-of-State: $27,932
  • Net Price: $20,827
  • Retention Rate: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 73%
  • Total Enrollment: 40,826
  • Undergrad Students: 29,933
  • Graduate Students: 10,893
  • Grads Salary: $42,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • University of Cincinnati

Dakota County Technical College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,208
    • Out-of-State: $6,208
  • Net Price: $10,567
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,319
  • Undergrad Students: 449
  • Graduate Students: 1,870
  • Grads Salary: $45,700
  • Student-to-faculty: 22:1
  • Dakota County Technical College

LeTourneau University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $33,490
    • Out-of-State: $33,490
  • Net Price: $25,932
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,122
  • Undergrad Students: 2,853
  • Graduate Students: 269
  • Grads Salary: $47,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • LeTourneau University

Concordia University-Saint Paul

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $23,900
    • Out-of-State: $23,900
  • Net Price: $15,944
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,585
  • Undergrad Students: 3,578
  • Graduate Students: 2,007
  • Grads Salary: $46,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • Concordia University-Saint Paul

Campbell University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $38,160
    • Out-of-State: $38,160
  • Net Price: $23,163
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,964
  • Undergrad Students: 3,720
  • Graduate Students: 2,244
  • Grads Salary: $45,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Campbell University

Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,976
    • Out-of-State: $7,976
  • Net Price: $18,808
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Total Enrollment: 10,944
  • Undergrad Students: 6,495
  • Graduate Students: 4,449
  • Grads Salary: $47,700
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global

National University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $13,320
    • Out-of-State: $13,320
  • Net Price: $9,966
  • Retention Rate: 45%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Total Enrollment: 18,070
  • Undergrad Students: 8,441
  • Graduate Students: 9,629
  • Grads Salary: $42,700
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • National University

UMass Global

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $12,480
    • Out-of-State: $12,480
  • Net Price: $26,346
  • Retention Rate: 40%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Total Enrollment: 10,986
  • Undergrad Students: 6,114
  • Graduate Students: 4,872
  • Grads Salary: $48,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 22:1
  • UMass Global
Full Ranking Report

Certificate Vs. Associate's in Education

In the field of education, certificates are generally attained at the undergraduate or graduate level. Therefore, they are usually not attainable by someone with an associate degree. Certificates in education usually indicate that the person has extra knowledge or teaching strategies in a certain element of education, or in teaching certain age groups or specific subjects. For example, a teacher can earn an online certificate in early childhood education, which indicates that the teacher has gained extra knowledge to assist with teaching students enrolled in preschool or kindergarten. Another example would be a certificate in special education, which indicates that a teacher has additional teacher education for teaching children with educational challenges and special needs.

What Education Associate Degrees are Available?

There are four main types of associate's degrees:

  • Associate of Science (AS):
    This designation is reserved for degrees focused around the sciences such as math education fundamentals, biology, chemistry, or general science and they are often less accessible through distance learning or online education programs.
  • Associates of Arts (AA):
    This designation is for two-year degrees in the arts and humanities such as English, psychology, or history and are often more accessible education majors through online education.
  • Associates in Applied Science (AAS):
    These degrees cover similar material as the AS but are more focused on education courses that get the graduate into the work force rather than preparing them for higher levels of education. Applied degrees may be equally accessible through on-campus or online education, but it depends on the school you wish to attend and whether they offer education online through an online program.
  • Associates in Applied Arts (AAA):
    This teaching degree covers the same areas as the AA, but it’s usually a terminal degree that prepares the degree holder to work in his chosen field.

To summarize, if you are seriously contemplating continuing your education in the future, then getting an AS or AA is ideal, whether you attend online or an on campus program. But, if you intend to work in your field with just a two-year degree for the foreseeable future, then getting an AAS or AAA might be your best bet. It is strongly recommended to consider advancing education to obtain a bachelor's degree in education or a higher degree at some point in your education career.

Admission Requirements to Enter an Associate in Education Degree Program

In order to be admitted into an education degree program you’ll need to meet the following requirements whether they plan to attend online, in a traditional classroom, or through a hybrid education program (with online and in-person courses):

  • Must have a high school diploma or GED
  • Take the ACT or SAT and achieve the minimum required score, if required (The minimum score varies by school)
  • Fill out the application for the school you want to attend
  • Pay the application fee (if required)
  • Submit transcripts from all schools previously attended - including online courses
  • Supply any other requested information that the school might want - This could include admission essays, a resume, proof of community involvement, letters of recommendation, etc. These requirements tend to vary by school so it’s important that you follow the school’s application process to the letter.

How long does it take to earn an Associate Degree in Education?

In most cases, associate degrees or an online associate degree in education can be completed in two years. However, there are cases where it might take longer, even for online degrees. For example, for students who are going to school part-time, it could take an extra year or more. Most schools require that a two-year degree be completed within four years of starting the program. Although it is possible for it to take less than two years to complete an associate degree program, this doesn’t happen often, especially if there is an observation and student teaching requirement. However, online students pursuing an online associate in education may choose to take extra online courses during the school year, or to take an online course over the summer to speed up their education.

Potential Careers in Education with an Associates

Although a traditional teaching job is generally not attainable with an associate's degree in education, there are still job options available to those with a two-year education degree. Some of them even allow workers to teach in a certain capacity.

Below are some of the jobs prospective students with an associate degree in education is qualified to hold:

  • Teaching Assistant:
    As a teacher assistant, you’ll assist the lead teacher in executing curriculum plans and may be in charge of managing the students when they aren’t in a classroom setting, such as in the gym or while on the playground. Teaching assistants typically help a preschool teacher, or other early childhood education licensed teachers at educational institutions. This person could also be tasked with riding the bus or taking care of other duties as they’re assigned to help with early childhood education.
    Average Salary - $24,314
  • Preschool Teacher:
    In this position, you’ll work with children younger than school age, generally between 3 and 5 years old. A preschool teacher thinks about child psychology and creates and executes curriculum plans to help these children prepare to start school by setting and reaching certain educational benchmarks so that they can achieve student success in their general education courses. The classroom generally has two teachers as classes in preschools can be on the larger side or may consist of students of different ages and abilities so it can be beneficial to have a second teacher or teacher assistant.
    Average Salary - $32,500
  • Childcare Worker:
    When parents of young children work, they need reliable people to take care of their children. Childcare workers can work in a daycare setting or they can offer services in client homes. These people ensure that children are safe, fed, entertained, and educated. The worker might use a prepared curriculum or allow free play as a learning tool for the child.
    Average Salary - $30,554

Salary by Occupation

Occupations Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Middle School teacher $40,300 $48,100 $59,100
Special Education Teacher, Early Education $40,500 $49,200 $60,900
Postsecondary Professor $60,100 $69,600 $99,900
Preschool Director $34,400 $41,200 $48,300

Options to Advance

To advance an education career, additional education will be required because of state and federal mandates. Some school districts have levels of paraprofessionals, but once you’ve reached the top tier of that profession you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in education to advance further. If you are interested in pursuing this teaching career path, you might consider continuing education by taking courses online. Many programs offer online learning that has the majority of classes online. However, online students will have to attend a few in-person courses and complete your student teaching internship at the end, which must be done in person at a school where you will teach at the level you are looking to receive certification for your associate education degree.

Search Programs