More universities are now offering distance learning programs. These programs allow students to obtain a variety of degrees, and teaching degrees are some of the most popular online programs.
There are several steps that you must take before you can receive a teaching degree from an online university:
- Apply. Just as with any other university or college, you must apply to an online university and be accepted before you can begin the program. Because you will be participating in an online program, you may be able to apply through the Internet as well. If not, you should be able to print an application from the university's website and mail it along with any required documents. You should figure out what kind of degree you're looking for -- do you want an associate's degree online or a bachelor's degree?
- Provide Documents. You will need to send in any documentation required by your chosen university. For undergraduate degrees, you'll need to send a copy of your high school transcript as well as any college testing scores. For graduate degrees, you will have to complete a comprehensive test, such as the Miller Analogy Test, and meet a passing score before you will be allowed to apply. However, you may be allowed to take a minimum number of hours before you submit the passing score. You will also need to send transcripts from any colleges or universities that you have attended.
- Getting Started. Once you've been accepted, you'll need to discuss your curriculum requirements with an appropriate faculty advisor. It's best if you get an entire curriculum plan before you begin, so that you know exactly what classes you'll have to complete in order to receive your degree, and you'll know when certain classes are offered. Most universities have catalogs available on their websites that can be downloaded, or you can simply request that a catalog be mailed to your home address. Distance learning programs are usually flexible, so you should be able to schedule your classes around your life.
- Be Aware of Deadlines. You'll need to keep abreast of all deadlines that apply to your course of study. There will be specific deadlines for registrations and tuition payments, etc. If you miss these, you run the risk of not being able to enroll for that particular semester or you may have to pay late fees.
- Communication. Once you've registered, you should be given a specific e-mail address for your university. This e-mail address will be your best means of communication between your professors and other online students. Your professor may send your class syllabus through e-mail, or you may be able to access it at a specific area on the university's website.
- Assignments. Because you are doing most of your class work online, it is imperative that you meet all due dates and keep copies of everything you send to your professors. Most professors require that assignments be sent as attachments to e-mails, but your teachers will let you know their preferences.
- Supervisors. In most online education programs, there are two supervisors. You will have a university supervisor, and you will also have a supervisor at a local school where you will do your practice teaching. These two supervisors will communicate frequently with each other about your progress, and you may have to have individual conferences with both of them, in person, online, and via the telephone.
- Student Internship. A student internship will typically take up one entire semester of an educational program. You will be assigned to intern at a participating school in your area. If you major in more than one area, you will most likely be required to split that semester between two supervising teachers in both areas of study -- for example: Spanish and history. You will begin by spending a couple of weeks observing the supervising teacher. Gradually, you will be assigned more time during the day to teach, always under the guidance and supervision of the classroom teacher. Eventually, you will teach the entire day for several weeks. Your supervising teacher will continue to correspond with your university sponsor to discuss your performance in the classroom.
- Graduation. Once you've acquired all of your credits toward graduation, completed your student internship, and satisfied all other requirements, you are ready to apply for graduation. Your university will have a graduation form that will need to be filled out, signed, and mailed in, along with a specific graduation fee. You may be given the option of receiving your teaching certificate through the mail or participating in the actual graduation ceremony.
Don't forget to thoroughly investigate all of your options when selecting an online school, and you'll be fine!