Online Teaching Programs in Tennessee

Tennessee offers rural and urban teaching opportunities in private and public schools, and is also home to several professional organizations to help new teachers launch their careers. Tennessee is a particularly fertile ground for students seeking state- and field-specific scholarship opportunities. Moreover, Tennessee’s Department of Education (TNDOE) maintains similar licensure requirements to the majority of other states, maximizing convenience for students who want to earn their teaching certificate in TN. Compared to national averages and adjusted for cost of living, Tennessee teacher salaries rank in the middle

Recommended Online Programs

Tennessee provides several state-approved educator preparation programs that operate entirely online, allowing students to save money and continue working in their local communities while preparing to teach in Tennessee

Tennessee provides several state-approved educator preparation programs that operate entirely online, allowing students to save money and continue working in their local communities while preparing to teach in Tennessee. Students who are Tennessee residents but who take courses in an educator preparation program in a different state can earn licensure in Tennessee if their requirements meet TNDOE’s standards (these students may have to earn their licensure in their program’s state and then apply as out-of-state teachers to transfer their licenses to Tennessee).

Below, we discuss the requirements, benefits, costs, and post-graduate job outlook for earning a teaching degree online. We will explain how you can become a teacher in Tennessee, how much it will cost, and what a typical program’s curriculum looks like. Additionally, we will provide a list of scholarships and resources and answer some frequently asked questions about earning teaching licensure online in TN.

How Do I Become a Teacher in Tennessee?

The teaching requirements in Tennessee for earning licensure are similar to those in most other states: Students must have a bachelor’s degree, complete one of Tennessee’s state-approved teacher preparation programs, and receive a recommendation for licensure from that program. In teacher preparation programs, students delve into various education-related courses and experience hands-on student teaching. Additionally, students must earn qualifying scores on the general knowledge Praxis (Praxis I) and the content-area specific Praxis (Praxis II). Students who fulfill these requirements can earn their practitioner licenses, which last for three years.

As state teaching licenses do not transfer, teachers who hold licenses in other states — commonly known as “out-of-state teachers” — must apply for Tennessee licensure through the online TN Compass platform. These candidates must upload certain documents, including their teaching license from their previous state and previous transcripts.

Educational Requirements

While having an associate degree in teaching is an asset, anyone interested in teaching in Tennessee must have a bachelor’s degree to earn licensure. But note that bachelor’s degree need not be in education or teaching. Students can complete an additional state-approved educator preparation program — either a straight licensure program or a master’s program — to earn their practitioner license. This initial TN teaching license lasts for three years.

Students who enroll in bachelor’s programs that double as state-approved educator preparation programs can complete their education and enter their own classroom within four years.

The amount of time it takes to become a teacher in Tennessee varies. Students who enroll in bachelor’s programs that double as state-approved educator preparation programs can complete their education and enter their own classroom within four years. Students who have a bachelor’s degree in a non-education field must complete a master’s or credential program, which adds an additional year or two of study. In most Tennessee counties, teachers who have a master’s degree earn higher salaries than those with bachelor’s degrees.

No matter whether they pursue graduate study, all students must complete student teaching hours. Tennessee does not list a minimum student teaching hour requirement. Though state teaching licenses are not automatically transferrable to other states, Tennessee maintains reciprocity agreements with 46 other states, meaning that teachers who earn their teaching certificate in Tennessee can apply as out-of-state teachers. In these 46 states, these teachers will have to submit proof of their licensure and degrees to transfer their license, avoiding requirements such as taking the Praxis again.

Common Courses for Teaching Degrees in Wisconsin

Associate Degree in Teaching

Principles of EducationLooks at education through lenses of history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and law; considers the modern lexicon in education.
Psychology of ChildhoodExamines how children grow and develop, and how such stages inform best practices in education.
Classroom Management for TeachersTeaches students about methodology, materials, and approaches for managing classrooms; requires completion of case studies.

Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching

Issues in EducationDiscusses teaching as a profession, diversity, accountability, and student achievement; teaches academic writing.
Educational PsychologyProvides theoretical background on how people learn; considers research methods for current best practices in education.
History of American EducationSummarizes major events and developments impacting education in the U.S.

Master’s Degree in Teaching

Methods of Teaching Writing Across the CurriculumExplores theory and practice about teaching writing, multiculturalism, and cultural competency.
Content Instructional ProceduresExamines individualized instruction and best practices for grouping students; focuses on translating theory to practice.
Teaching LiteracyFocuses on specific age groups and how to develop literacy in students through various methodologies and current research.

How to Get a Teaching Certificate in Tennessee

Requirements for earning a teaching license in TN are relatively similar to those in most other states. Again, all students must have a bachelor’s degree and must complete one of Tennessee’s approved educator preparation programs, earning a recommendation for certification upon completion.

Students must also prove competency in general knowledge and in their content area. The most common method for meeting this requirement is earning a qualifying score on the Praxis I (general knowledge) and II (content area). Students who meet these requirements receive a practitioner’s license — good for three years — from the Tennessee Department of Education (TNDOE). After those three years expire, teachers must apply to renew their licenses. Out-of-state teachers looking to transfer their license to Tennessee must fill out a separate application. Math teachers — especially high school teachers instructing algebra or geometry — have additional employment standards that they must meet.

Upon graduating, students should be well-prepared to earn the necessary scores on the PRAXIS II, although additional studying is certainly important

Educator preparation programs consist of theory coursework and a student teaching experience, the latter of which allows prospective teachers to practice their craft while receiving support from a licensed teacher and faculty mentor (for sample coursework, see the table in the previous section). Often, students can enroll in a bachelor’s program that doubles as an approved educator preparation program, and complete both requirements at once. Upon graduating, students should be well-prepared to earn the necessary scores on the PRAXIS II, although additional studying is certainly important.

The TNDOE oversees all matters related to teacher licensure in Tennessee and processes all applications through its online TNCompass platform. What’s more, current teachers can visit TNCompass to monitor the status of their licensure.

Choosing a Degree Program in Tennessee

Choosing an online teaching program can pose a challenge to students. At first glance, many programs seem similar; however, there are certain factors that differentiate online educator preparation programs to the trained eye.

First and foremost, students should look at the cost of potential programs, consider what they afford, and make sure their chosen program falls in their price range. Fortunately, several of Tennessee’s online teaching programs either allow online students to pay in-state tuition or charge all students the same per-credit tuition rate, which is often lower than the on-campus rate.

Prospective teachers who want to specialize in a specific content area or field should verify that their program includes their speciality.

Second, students should take into account school location. If they want to pursue teaching in TN, it makes sense to enroll in a TN-approved educator preparation program. In addition, school location can influence student teaching placements, and living close to your school makes on-campus requirements much easier and resources much more accessible.

Third, prospective teachers who want to specialize in a specific content area or field should verify that their program includes their speciality.

Finally, students should check how long their program will take. As a rule, synchronous programs running on a cohort model can offer more predictable completion times than asynchronous self-paced programs. Below, we discuss the feasibility and advantages of earning an online teaching degree in the Volunteer State.

Can You Earn a Teaching Degree Online in Tennessee?

Earning a teaching degree online is a option for students who live in remote areas, students who live in other states who want to earn their Tennessee teaching certification to teach in the Volunteer State in the future, and students who want to save money on per-credit tuition. Additionally, online educator preparation programs are often a good option for mid-career professionals who want to become teachers but who want to continue making money while they attend school.

Earning a teaching degree online does not affect a student’s TN licensure. That said, the process to licensure is slightly different. Specifically, online students may have more autonomy over their student teaching placements by student teaching in their local communities (as opposed to schools with which their program has connections). Students should check the TNDOE’s list of approved educator preparation programs to see if their online program meets the state’s requirements. The TNDOE oversees both online and on-campus educator preparation programs. As such, students enrolling in an online program do not need to worry about any accreditation differences from on-campus programs in Tennessee.

Directory of Teaching Schools in Tennessee

Paying for Your Teaching Degree in Tennessee

There are many avenues available to students unable to pay full tuition price while pursuing their teaching certificate in Tennessee: federal aid, scholarships, loans, loan forgiveness, tuition reimbursement, and grants. Without question, the first avenue future teachers should explore is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the gateway to most of the federal government’s financial aid programs. A FAFSA application can lead to federal student loans that graduates will eventually have to pay back, but by serving as teachers after earning their teaching certificate in TN, individuals can have a significant portion of these loans forgiven.

The following section explores additional avenues beyond FAFSA, delving deeper into federal- and state-level loan forgiveness programs in addition to several scholarships specific to future teachers in Tennessee. These scholarship opportunities include options that never require students to pay back any money. Most of these programs require students to major in education, plan to major in education, or enroll in a state-approved teacher preparation program. To qualify for most of these scholarships, applicants must also be Tennessee residents and U.S. citizens.

Loan Forgiveness for Tennessee Teachers

Loan forgiveness programs provide students with financial assistance in exchange for a postgraduate commitment. In most cases, these programs provide one year of assistance in exchange for a year’s commitment to a specific job. For example, students can trade a five-year postgraduate work commitment for five years of financial assistance while they earn their degrees. These types of programs are most common for prospective teachers enrolled in teacher preparation programs who commit to teaching in high-need subjects or geographical areas after they graduate.

While loan forgiveness programs exist at the federal level for future teachers — allowing these individuals to cancel out many of their federal loans by working as teachers — the following section focuses on loan forgiveness programs for students in Tennessee. The TNDOE offers additional assistance to Tennessee residents in exchange for a promissory note in which the teacher commits to teaching in K-12 schools in Tennessee for a year for every year s/he receives assistance. Tennessee loan forgiveness programs include the following: the Tennessee Teaching Scholars Program, the Minority Teaching Fellows Program, and Tennessee Math and Science Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

Scholarships for Tennessee Teaching Students

The listed price of college tuition is often akin to the sticker price on a car: a starting point that students can lower by pursuing scholarships, grants, loans, and other financial aid packages. Students need not pay full tuition to earn their teaching license in TN. Below, we discuss six of the best Tennessee-specific scholarships, all of which cater to future teachers.

Tennessee Teaching Scholars Program Varies

Who Can Apply: Tennessee residents and U.S. citizens who are not licensed or practicing teachers who have earned a minimum GPA of 2.75 during their studies. All recipients must commit to teaching in a K-12 Tennessee school for one year per year that they receive the award. If they break this promise, they must pay back the award. View Scholarship

Minority Teaching Fellows Program $5,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be minority U.S. citizens and Tennessee residents, and must be either high school students with a GPA of at least 2.75 or college students with a GPA of at least 2.5. All recipients of the award must commit to teaching in a K-12 Tennessee school for one year per year that they receive the award. If they break this promise, they must pay back the award. View Scholarship

Christa McAuliffe Scholarship Program $500

Who Can Apply: Applicants must have completed the first semester of their junior year at an accredited Tennessee college. Applicants must also be enrolled in a teacher preparation program and must have the minimum GPA threshold of 3.5. View Scholarship

Metropolitan Nashville Education Foundation Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be first-year college students who are graduates of Metro Nashville Public Schools. Applicants must also commit to becoming school teachers in MNPS once they graduate. The foundation does not list a penalty for breaking this commitment. View Scholarship

Tennessee Math and Science Teacher Loan Forgiveness $2,000 Annually

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be Tennessee residents and U.S. citizens either seeking an advanced degree in math or science, or a Tennessee teaching certificate in math or science. Recipients must commit to teaching math or science at a K-12 Tennessee school for a year for every year they receive this award. They must pay back the award if they break that commitment. View Scholarship

Don Sahli-Kathy Woodall Scholarship Program $500 to $1,000

Who Can Apply: Awarded by the Tennessee Education Association, these are a series of five scholarships awarded to undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must plan to major in education or must currently be majoring in education. Requirements vary slightly among the five scholarships. View Scholarship

Job Outlook and Salary for Teachers in Tennessee

LocationEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
United States8,636,430$54,520

Compared with mean teacher salaries nationwide, Tennessee’s teachers earn lower wages. However, when adjusting these salaries for cost of living, Tennessee teachers actually fall in the middle nationwide, ranking 25th among all states. Teachers in Tennessee’s urban areas — primarily Nashville, Chattanooga, and Memphis — generally earn higher salaries than teachers in rural areas since the cost of living is higher in these cities. Additionally, suburban counties such as Williamson offer excellent schools and offer good wages to longtime teachers who earn master’s degrees.

In many states, there is a divide between how much money kindergarten teachers earn annually and how much their counterparts in elementary, middle, and secondary school make. Notably, this divide does not exist in Tennessee: kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers all earn similar salaries. Preschool teachers make significantly less money than their counterparts in Tennessee, as they often work shorter hours. This division between preschool teachers and other teachers is not unique to the Volunteer State, reflecting a nationwide trend.

Average Annual Salary by Teaching Level in Tennessee
Source: BLS
Preschool Teachers$30,910
Kindergarten Teachers$50,210
Elementary School Teachers$50,090
Middle School Teachers$49,580
Secondary School Teachers $50,870

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in Tennessee

How do I get a teaching license in Tennessee?

Prospective teachers who want to earn their Tennessee teaching license must first hold a bachelor’s degree in any field. Prospective teachers do not have to have a degree in education. Next, prospective teachers must complete either a Tennessee-approved teacher preparation program or an alternative certification program.

How much does a teacher make a year in Tennessee?

According to the BLS as of May 2017, Tennessee elementary school teachers earned a mean annual wage of $50,320. Tennessee middle school teachers earned $50,060, and secondary school teachers made $51,390.

How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in Tennessee?

Students who pursue teaching certification in Tennessee through a bachelor’s program will often need to spend four years studying before they can earn their own classroom. Students who did not earn an undergraduate teaching degree — or students who want to spend additional time studying teaching — will often need to spend an additional year or two in a master’s program to earn their TN teaching license.

Resources for Teachers in Tennessee

  • Tennessee Department of Education TNDOE oversees all matters related to public education in the Volunteer State. Its website provides information on educator licensure and other requirements for becoming a teacher in Tennessee. Prospective teachers in Tennessee should be able to find most of the information they need on the TNDOE website.
  • Environmental Education in Tennessee EE in Tennessee provides a list of resources for current Tennessee teachers who want to implement more environmental education in their classrooms. The organization also offers membership in the Tennessee Environmental Education Association, which puts on conferences and webinars each year.
  • Teach Tomorrow Tennessee Teach Tomorrow is a national organization dedicated to helping aspiring teachers become practicing teachers. The organization’s Tennessee page includes information on teaching colleges and scholarships in the Volunteer State.
  • Tennessee Education Association TEA’s mission is to advocate for students, the teaching profession, and excellence in public schools in Tennessee. Tennessee’s largest professional organization in the teaching field, TEA focuses on advocacy efforts and offers events such as conferences and summits to its members.
  • Future Teachers of America FTA aims to help steer top-flight high schoolers toward the teaching profession. The organization also deploys one-on-one reading mentors to schools to help out struggling students and has powerful connections in the education industry. Membership here can have significant networking implications for prospective teachers.