What to Look For In an Online Teacher Prep and Certification Program

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You have probably seen a number of advertisements for various online teacher preparation and certification courses. Commercials regularly run on the web and on TV emphasizing the convenience of e-degrees. An estimated 1700 educational institutions in the United States now offer online teacher certification programs . Narrowing down your search can seem daunting. Here are a few important things to consider when you’re looking at distance learning courses.

Are they Accredited?

Career in Teaching
If you do a quick Web search for distance colleges, you are likely to get thousands of hits. The question is whether or not these institutions’ accreditation is recognized by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the U.S. Department of Education. There are a couple of ways to determine this. The simplest and fastest way is to call the university offering online classes and ask directly.

It’s a major red flag if you cannot call a University and speak with an actual human being. The second thing you can do is research their status on the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. One important thing to note is that their list is not necessarily comprehensive, so your best bet is to call the University and speak directly to a qualified representative or admissions counselor.

State Requirements

Academic and certificate requirements for teachers vary from state to state. For example, many of them require that potential educators pass a series of tests in order to be certified. Still others require that high school teachers have a Bachelor’s degree that relates to their subject area.If you are looking into more specialized options such as online special education masters programs, there may be additional prerequisites for obtaining your certification in your state.

Reach out to your local department of edu and talk with them about your plans. It’s likely they will have some good recommendations for virtual learning that align with your state’s teaching eligibility. If they have prerequisites beyond completing your curriculum, you can pursue those at the same time you’re getting your degree.

Choosing the Best Program for You

Think about your needs. Cost, convenience and timelines are all major considerations. Distance Learning colleges provide a variety of majors. Your personal needs likely depend on your state’s requirements for licensure. If it requires that you get an advanced degree to pursue your career in education, you may want to look into post-graduate (master’s) or combined degree programs if you’re still an undergraduate.

Many distance learning institutions offer combination of bachelor’s/master’s with teaching certifications. Combined programs typically offer an accelerated course allowing you to complete your graduation in shorter time than if you were to pursue both degrees separately. But the right area of studies should be chosen based on the bigger picture of where you are in your life right now and what you hope to accomplish.

When you are choosing an online college, there are a few important things to consider. Figuring out your state’s requirements, your needs and determining accreditation status will help you narrow down your search and put you on the path to success. 

Alaska Pacific University4101 University Dr, Anchorage, Alaska 995084-year, Private not-for-profit
Oklahoma State University - Institute of Technology1801 E 4th St, Okmulgee, Oklahoma 74447-39014-year, primarily associate's, Public
Southwestern Adventist University100 W Hillcrest, Keene, Texas 760594-year, Private not-for-profit
University of West AlabamaStation One, Livingston, Alabama 354704-year, Public

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