Today, early childhood education is one of the more prevalent policy issues in the U.S. Across the U.S., numerous states (like CA, TX and FL) are passing bills to ensure funding quality education opportunities for children. Due to renewed investment in early childhood education, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics believe job prospects in this field are projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

Unlike other subjects such as child development or elementary education, early childhood education generally refers to the formal and informal teaching of children up to the age of 8. With this age bracket, teachers and caregivers focus on learning through play instead of traditional instruction.

An online early childhood education degree program can teach about developmental milestones, educational theory and strategies and best practices for the classroom. Graduates of an online early childhood education teaching degree may work as preschool teachers, child care workers, child care center administrators, teaching assistants and more. (For those with degrees in other subjects and who are looking to enter the field, you may need to earn teaching credentials.)

Early childhood educators set our youngest children up for success by teaching them how to become lifelong learners and find success in school. This page offers information on the top early childhood education colleges and programs, coursework you can expect and the career outlook for the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

It's possible to complete all of your required early childhood education coursework online. However, in order to obtain licensure as an early childhood educator, it is necessary for you to obtain field experience working in a child care center, school, Head Start program or other early childhood education setting.
Any online early childhood education degree program you consider should be accredited by a third-party, regional accrediting body in the field of early childhood education. You should also be sure that the program provides the necessary training for working in the field in your state, and that it addresses the educational standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
The NAEYC Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs is the body that grants NAEYC accreditation to U.S. higher education programs. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) may accredit top early childhood education colleges at the baccalaureate, master's or doctoral levels.
In addition to the educational preparation and licensure you must have, a preschool teacher needs the following qualities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
  • Strong interpersonal and communications skills: You need to both connect well with young children and interact in a positive way with parents, administrators and other adults.
  • Creativity: Plan lessons that can engage young people and suitably address various learning styles.
  • Patience: You should respond in a calm way to potentially frustrating or difficult circumstances.
  • Physical stamina: This can come in handy when spending long hours with numerous young, energetic children.
Yes, you could also work as a school or program administrator, an instructional coordinator, a child care worker or the director of a child care facility, for example, although you may need further education or to earn an advanced degree.

Best Online Colleges for Early Childhood Education in 2019-20

To help inform your college selection process, we've developed the following list of the top early childhood education colleges for earning your undergraduate or graduate online degree. We've done our homework to uncover distinctive features present at each online college, including what you can expect out of the learning experience and what resources are available to support online students. Additionally, we've provided detailed information on specific undergraduate and graduate programs in early childhood education.

Visit our methodologies page to learn more about how we use official data to evaluate schools.


Liberty University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Lynchburg, VA
School Type
  • LU's Academic Focus: Liberty makes both our undergraduate and graduate school list of top colleges, thanks to its robust degree program offerings in early childhood education. Liberty prides itself on supporting working adults. Students may earn course credit for standardized tests, military or work experience and more.
  • Featured LU Resource: This nonprofit college emphasizes accessibility, with the ability to customize your online degree program completion plan to suit your schedule. All early childhood education certificate and degree programs are delivered 100 percent online.

Early Childhood Education at Liberty University

A.A. in Early Childhood Education

  • As one of the top early childhood education colleges, this program emphasizes the foundations of education with an ethical perspective on early childhood development and behavior, with courses such as Wellness in the Early Childhood Setting and Educational Philosophy for Teachers.
  • This fully online program does not require a practicum and does not lead to teacher licensure.

B.S. in Early Childhood Education

  • This program is designed to complement Liberty 's licensure-track Master of Arts in Teaching, with graduates being prepared to seamlessly transition into that program.
  • Students earning this early childhood education bachelor's degree online may complete an optional field experience capstone course,with the option to pursue certification through the Association of Christian Schools International.

Undergraduate Certificate in Preschool

  • Liberty approaches the teaching of education from a biblical perspective,with courses that cover the basics of education at this level,including Classroom Managementfor Teachers and Early Childhood Education Fundamentals.
    • This program can be completed in two semesters and is applicable toward Liberty's associate or bachelor's degree programs.

Pitt Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Winterville, NC
School Type
  • PCC's Academic Focus: Pitt is an "Achieving the Dream" institution, meaning it's part of a nationwide, nonprofit-led effort to make systemic improvements in student success and college completion. It offers the ability to concentrate your studies on several specific areas within early childhood education.
  • Featured PCC Resource: To bolster students' confidence in online education, Pitt requires students to complete a mandatory orientation, which may be taken online and offers tools for success as a student.

Early Childhood Education at Pitt Community College

A.A.S. Degree in Early Childhood Education

  • This Associate in Applied Science degree program provides hands-on and practical instruction, with courses including Creative Activities (with a complementary lab course) and Exploration Activities.
  • Expect two field experience practicums, at the intro and capstone levels.
  • Pitt Community College is part of a countywide continuum of education intended to enable graduates to apply associate degrees toward area bachelor's programs.

Transfer Options

  • Pitt requires all students who transfer into one of the following early education transfer programs to complete a College Transfer Success course. This course is designed to set students up for success by providing them in-depth information on college policies and culture, career exploration, academic planning and more.

Early Childhood Education: Birth through Kindergarten Licensure Track

  • Course titles includes Child Development;Child Guidance;Health,Safety and Nutrition;and Infants,Toddlers and Twos.
  • This online early childhood education teaching degree program includes teacher licensure preparation.
  • All transfer options include the College Transfer Success course as well required core courses in public speaking,humanities,science and more.

Early Childhood Education: Early Education Non - Teaching Administration Track

  • This associate degree program isfor those interested in early education who do not plan to teach.Courses are more holistic in nature,and they include Child Development;Child,Family and Community;Creative Activities(with lab);and Quantitative Literacy.
  • This program is for transfer students and includes the required courses for transfers.

Diploma in Early Childhood Education

  • Unlike the associate degree programs, which include college study outside the early childhood education field, a diploma is concentrated on early childhood education only. Diplomas may not transition seamlessly to four-year degree programs.
  • The diploma program includes two practicums and two electives.

Certificates in Early Childhood Education

  • Pitt 's early childhood certificate programs enable specialized instruction in some area of professional work in the field, making it ideal for those who currently hold diplomas or degrees and wish to enhance their current knowledge.
  • Students may choose from five specialized certificates:
    • Administration
    • Early Childhood
    • Infant and Toddler
    • School Age
    • Special Education

Craven Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
New Bern, NC
School Type

About Craven Community College

  • CCC 's Academic Focus: Founded in 1965 as an offshoot of Lenoir Community College, Craven's roots are in vocational and technical education.Thanks to articulation agreements with the University of North Carolina system and private colleges and universities,students may apply the credits earned for early childhood education associate degrees at Craven toward four - year degree programs.
  • Featured CCC Resource: Online students at Craven Community College receive access to Smarthinking,an online tutoring platform in subject areas including math,writing,business,science and more.

Early Childhood Education at Craven Community College Early Childhood Education

  • Students have three options for their Associate of Applied Sciences degree programs in early childhood;they may be either terminal or designed to transfer easily to four - year programs,and they may or may not lead to Birth - Kindergarten teacher licensure.
  • Transfer programs include core requirements such as public speaking and humanities courses.
  • Although all A.A.S.programs are offered online,not all courses may be available online at all times.


  • Craven offers two diploma programs in this subject area--a 42 - credit Birth Through Kindergarten(B - K) diploma and a 43 - credit Early Childhood Education diploma that includes an Infants,Toddlers and Twos lab,a two - credit practicum and a course on writing and research in the disciplines.


  • Certificate programs include:
    • Early Childhood Education: a 13 - credit path providing introductory - level information in early childhood education
    • Child Development: a 13 - credit program emphasizing how children learn and develop
    • Infant/ToddlerCare: a 16-credit option that concentrates studies on care and education of infants and toddlers

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Hudson, NC
School Type
  • CCCTI's Academic Focus: All of CCC&TI's early childhood education students are encouraged to join its Early Childhood Teacher's Club, which provides support for students, promotes professional development, fosters extracurricular activities among students and acts as a united voice for students on important issues in the field.
  • Featured CCCTI Resource: Caldwell offers online students a number of useful resources, including a distance learning orientation video, one-to-one assistance with course navigation and activities and even online academic advisement.

Early Childhood Education at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education

  • This A.A.S.program is designed as a career - entry program that prepares students to work in child development or child care programs,preschools,public or private schools,recreational centers,Head Start programs or school - age programs.
  • Students must complete a capstone practicum in their final semester.

Certificates in Early Childhood Education

  • Professionals seeking supplemental instruction in specialized areas of early childhood education may earn one of four certificates, which can be completed in two semesters.
  • All certificate programs include a practicum or,alternatively,a Work - Based Learning course and seminar.
  • Certificates include:
    • Child Care Operator
    • School-Age Provider
    • Teacher / Caregiver
    • Infant / Toddler

Diploma in Early Childhood Education

  • In this three-semester, career-focused program, students complete the early childhood education coursework found in the associate degree program, including the practicum/Work - Based Learning experience.
  • This early online childhood teaching degree program does not include the general education requirements found in the associate program. It's not included in articulation agreements with four-year institutions in the state.

Vance-Granville Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Henderson, NC
School Type
  • VGCC 's Academic Focus: Vance Granville is the third North Carolina community college on our list, which speaks to the state's commitment to ensuring a consistent educational experience throughout the state and seamless transitions to bachelor 's degree programs. Online programs at VGCC are designed to be customized and may be taken fully or partially online.
  • Featured VGCC Resource: VGCC offers Upswing Online Tutoring, a no-charge, convenient online tutoring service available 24 hours a day to online students.

Early Childhood Education at Vance Granville Community College

Associate in Early Childhood Education

  • This A.A.S.program mirrors others in the state 's community colleges, with an emphasis on career preparation to work in child care programs, preschools, public or private schools, school-age programs, etc.
  • Students may choose from four tracks:
    • General Early Childhood
    • College Transferable
    • Administration
    • Special Education
  • A capstone practicum is required.

Shoreline Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Shoreline, WA
School Type

About Shoreline Community College

  • SCC 's Academic Focus: Shoreline makes our Best Online Colleges in Washington list as well. It focuses primarily on career and technical education.
  • Featured SCC Resource: Shoreline boasts an eLearning support service team that's available to all students. Among its resources for online students are online advisement and e-tutoring as well as the ability to borrow school laptops for a full school quarter.

Early Childhood Education at Shoreline Community College

Certificate of Proficiency in State Early Childhood Education

  • This fully online program provides credentials for teaching assistant positions,at a minimum,at Washington - licensed child care facilities.
  • Students may apply their certificates toward Shoreline 's Associate in Applied Arts & Sciences degree programs.

Certificates of Completion in State Early Childhood Education

  • Shoreline offers three early childhood - focused Certificates of Completion:
    • Certificate of Completion in State Initial Early Childhood Education: 12-credits, with a 2-credit practicum
    • Certificate of Completion in State Short Early Childhood Education - General: 20 credits, includes courses in child development and guiding behavior
    • Certificate of Completion in State Short Early Childhood Education - Infants and Toddlers: 20 credits, for those wishing to work with the youngest children

    Certificate of Completion in Child Advocacy Studies

    • Unlike early childhood education programs,this certificate plan aims to prepare students to work with child - protection agencies in the state who advocatefor children victimized by domestic abuse.
    • Graduates may apply their learning in education as well as nursing,pre - medicine,psychology or social services.

Rasmussen College-Minnesota

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
St. Cloud, MN
School Type
  • RCM's Academic Focus: Among Rasmussen's offerings is Flex Choice,a self - directed learning path that enables students to gain creditfor prior learning and complete self - paced,project - and competency - based education courses.
  • Featured RCM Resource: Online students concerned about the lack of personal interaction may appreciate Rasmussen's live, interactive sessions with faculty and peers in its online courses. Students participate in online simulations and virtual labs as well as real-world projects that give you hands-on training outside the classroom.

Early Childhood Education at Rasmussen College - Minnesota


  • Students who already have professional experience working in early childhood education may be able to gain college credit toward their associate degree program for prior learning.
  • Two specializations available: Special Needs and Child Development
  • None of Rasmussen's online early childhood education degree programs prepare students for licensed teaching positions.


  • This is early childhood education bachelor's degree online completion program only; only associate-degree holders with qualifying grade-point averages may enroll.
  • Students may choose from two specializations: ECE Leadership,which emphasizes administration and management,and Child Development,which prepares graduates for early interventions and assisting young children with their emotional development.


  • This program can enhance existing education by allowing students to applyfor the Child Development Associate(CDA) Credential.
  • Students may choose between the Field Experience or Exploration track.
  • Rasmussen allows students to transfer certificate credits toward their associate degree programs in early childhood education.


  • This program provides the foundation for students without prior education or experience to work as(non - licensed) educators of children ages birth - 5.
  • Two specializations available: Special Needs and Child Development
  • This diploma qualifies graduates to apply for the CDA Credential or to transfer into the associate degree program at Rasmussen.

Pima Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Tucson, AZ
School Type
  • PCC 's Academic Focus: Founded as a junior college in Arizona in 1966, Pima not only offers online programs (semester-based or self-paced), but it also offers classes at more than 100 sites and televised classes on local cable channels.
  • Featured PCC Resource: As an Achieving the Dream school, Pima was one of only 38 colleges in the U.S. to receive a $100,000 grant to create online degree programs and courses that use high-quality, open-educational resources (OERs).

Early Childhood Education at Pima Community College

Associate Degree

  • Two programs are available:
    • Early Childhood Education Transfer: This Associate of Arts degree program, which prepares graduates to work in preschools or elementary schools, includes a university transfer and success course.
    • Early Childhood Studies Direct Employment: A career-focused Associate of Applied Science degree program, it is not designed to transfer to a four-year university.

Early Childhood Assistant Educator Certificate

  • As one of the top early childhood education colleges,this program was designed to serve either as a standalone training program for entry - level early childhood educators or as professional development for current educators.
  • Graduates are eligible to enroll in a CDA or early childhood education associate degree program.

Central New Mexico Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Albuquerque, NM
School Type
  • CNMCC 's Academic Focus: CNM is an institutional member of the Online Learning Consortium, a professional organization devoted to advancing the quality of online learning. It emphasizes faculty development and best practices in online education.
  • Featured CNMCC Resource: Students may complete programs fully or partially online, depending on course availability. CNM offers online students a self-paced online lab course - at no charge - that teaches students the skills they need to be successful in online classes.

Early Childhood Education at Central New Mexico Community College

Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Multicultural Education - Birth - 3 rd Grade Teacher Concentration

  • Credits earned in this program are fully transferable to a four - year college or university in New Mexico.Graduates may also meet the requirementsfor CNM 's Child Development Certificate program.
  • Students should expect to complete practicum courses and submit to a background check.

Ivy Tech Community College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Indianapolis, IN
School Type
  • ITCC 's Academic Focus: Although Ivy Tech's Early Childhood Education programs aren 't all fully offered online, they use a mix of online and video instruction, as well as some face-to-face requirements, including a practicum.
  • Featured ITCC Resource: Online students can gain access to an online library, 24/7 online tutoring and academic advisement.Additionally,some courses are offered through IvyOnline,an open online classroom program with no enrollment caps that enable students around the state to access courses they needfor credit.

Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech Community College


  • Choose from three specialty certificates:
    • Early Childhood Administration: 21-credit online early childhood education degree program that prepares students to administer, manage and lead early childhood programs
    • Child Development Associate(CDA) Process: 18-credit certification process program for students currently working with young children
    • Technical Certificate: 30-credit program providing training in the basics of early childhood education

Associate of Applied Science

  • This program may be completed entirely online.
  • Courses in this major include:
    • Developmentally Appropriate Guidance
    • Families in Transition
    • The Exceptional Child
    • Emerging Literacy
    • Cognitive Curriculum
  • Students should expect to complete at least one practicum.

Concordia University-Saint Paul

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Saint Paul, MN
School Type
  • CU 's Academic Focus: This Christian, liberal-arts institution offers career-focused online degree programs. Though instruction is Christ-centered, students of all backgrounds and faiths are welcome.
  • Featured CU Resource: Concordia offers students an online orientation course before they begin their programs, to ensure they're prepared to navigate the online classroom setting. Each program offers unique career guides and salary reports for future graduates to assist in their career planning.

Early Childhood Education at Concordia University Education with an Emphasis in Early Childhood Education

    • This accelerated program features seven - week courses and may be completed entirely online.
    • As one of the top early childhood education colleges,this program does not lead to teaching licensure.To be admitted,candidates must be employed or regular volunteers in the area of education of children.
    • The program concludes with a research - focused capstone.

Liberty University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Lynchburg, VA
School Type
  • LU 's Academic Focus: Listed in both our undergraduate and graduate lists, Liberty is a Bible-focused institution whose mission is to train students in a Christ-centered manner. Its online, graduate-level education programs are offered in eight-week course formats with eight different start dates each year and no specific login time requirements.
  • Featured LU Resource: Among its resources for online students is its Online Writing Center, which assists online students at all levels of the writing process.

Early Childhood Education at Liberty University

Master of Education(M.Ed.) in Curriculum & amp;Instruction: Early Childhood Education

  • As one of the top early childhood education colleges,this program,accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education,enables students to earn add - on or advanced teaching licensure,meaning that incoming students should possess initial licensure in elementary education.
  • Students are required to complete one of two capstone options:
    • Current Issues in Education
    • Directed Practicum

Graduate Certificate in Preschool

  • This program provides a brief overview of Liberty 's master's - level training in early childhood education.Students with elementary teaching licenses may earn add - on endorsement in early childhood education(3 - and 4 - year - olds).
  • Students also must complete a three - credit practicum to meet the field - hour requirement.

University of West Alabama

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Livingston, AL
School Type
  • UWA's Academic Focus: This university, which was originally founded in 1835 as a church-related female academy dedicated to the training of future teachers, also makes our list of the 10 Best Online Colleges in Alabama.
  • Featured UWA Resource: Online students have access to news, infographics and career guides on the UWA Online website, to help them in their academic and career planning. To assist with online courses, the school offers technical resources such as a simulated exam.

Early Childhood Education at University of West Alabama

Master 's

  • Early Childhood Education,P - 3:
    • This advanced program prepares students at the master 's level for educator or education leadership roles in preschools, child care centers or other settings.
    • Program provides a Class A Educator Certificate.
    • Professional courses comprise 19 hours,and teaching field course comprise 15 hours.


  • Early Childhood Education,P - 3:
    • This alternative Class A program provides alternative teaching certification in Alabama as well as a master 's degree program.
  • Early Childhood & amp;Elementary Education,P - 3 / K - 6:
    • Program provides master 's-level teaching certification in early childhood and elementary education.
    • Field experiences take place in preschool through grade 12 settings.


  • Education Specialist(Ed.S.) in Early Childhood Education,P - 3:
    • Program provides Ph.D.or Ed.D.subject matter that can be completed in two years and leads to a Class AA Professional Certificate and advanced leadership or advocacy roles.
    • Students can spend just 12 hours in professional courses,with the remaining 21 hours spent in teaching field courses.

Concordia University-Chicago

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
River Forest, IL
School Type
  • CUC 's Academic Focus: Concordia University Chicago's graduate programs are offered at an accelerated pace,with eight - week courses,and in a cohort format,so that students step through their programs together.This private,liberal arts,Lutheran university boasts an 11 - to - 1 ratio of students to teachers.
  • Featured CUC Resource: Compared to Concordia's on-campus, non-cohort programs, these graduate cohort programs are offered at a reduced semester-hour price. Students complete just one course at a time.

Early Childhood Education at Concordia University - Chicago

Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education

  • This program is designed to prepare students for leadership roles(administrator, policymaker, advocate, etc.) in early childhood education or nonprofit settings.
  • It does not lead to licensure,and it is intended for educators with at least two years ' experience teaching young children. Early Childhood Special Education

  • This program is for educators who already have early childhood certificates or endorsements or the LBS1(pre - kindergarten to age 21) endorsement.
  • Master 's candidates can expect to acquire the knowledge needed to teach students in early childhood who have disabilities or special education needs.

Georgia Southern University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Statesboro, GA
School Type
  • GSU 's Academic Focus: Founded in 1908 as an agricultural and mechanical school, Georgia Southern is now a Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution and is listed on the U.S. Department of Education's list of Green Ribbon Schools for its commitment to sustainability practices.
  • Featured GSU Resource: Online students can access Eagle Career Net, an online portal for students to post resumes or schedule on-campus interviews, as well as to connect to employers for internships and jobs.

Early Childhood Education at Georgia Southern University Elementary Education(Grades P - 5)

  • Students must already hold or be eligible for Georgia level - four certificates in Elementary Childhood Education or Georgia Certificates of Eligibilityfor an Induction Certificate in Elementary Childhood Education.
  • Graduates qualify for level - five certificate upgrades.
  • Courses include:
    • Transforming Learning with Technology
    • Learning Theories and Assessment
    • Action Research in Elementary Settings

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Natchitoches, LA
School Type
  • NSUL 's Academic Focus: NSU's electronic campus,eNSU,is the state 's first and largest such online campus. The university has implemented Learning for Life, a quality enhancement plan designed to expand students' opportunities for hands - on learning across its programs.
  • Featured NSUL Resource: eNSU students can receive academic tutoring online as well as proctoring services so students can complete required face-to-face exams with approved, secure equipment under qualified supervision off campus.

Early Childhood Education at Northwestern State University of Louisiana Early Childhood Education,Grades PK - 3

  • This 100 percent online professional studies program prepares graduates to be eligiblefor Louisiana initial teacher certificationfor pre - kindergarten through third grade.
  • Following the 39 hours of coursework,students complete a one - year teaching internship. Early Childhood Education

  • This is the only Early Childhood Education program in Louisiana.
  • Designedfor certified teachers to advance their learning of early childhood education,it includes a practicum experience.
  • Courses include:
    • Curriculum Development for School Improvement
    • Educational Research and Evaluation
    • Curriculum and Spaces for Infants and Toddlers

Arkansas State University-Main Campus

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Jonesboro, AR
School Type
  • A - State 's Academic Focus: Founded as an agricultural school in 1909, it began preparing teachers in the 1920s and offering graduate programs in the 1960s. Its online early childhood education graduate program is designed to meet the needs of working adults, with accelerated courses and multiple start dates year round.
  • Featured A - State Resource: Each online student is assigned a teaching assistant qualified in the designated field who has earned a master's or doctorate, to act as a supportive presence.

Early Childhood Education at Arkansas State University - Main Campus Early Childhood Education

  • This online early childhood education teaching degree program is designedfor teachers who already hold teaching licenses.It does not lead to licensure.
  • Instead of an exam or thesis,the program culminates in a capstone practicum and portfolio that demonstrates a student 's mastery of the program's objectives.

Prescott College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Prescott, AZ
School Type
  • PC's Academic Focus: This central-Arizona college was founded by Dr. Charles Franklin Parker, a minister, in the 1960s, with the intention of it becoming "the Harvard of the West".Its educational philosophy emphasizes community service, social justice, environmental sensitivity and experiential learning.
  • Featured Resource: Online graduate students may request writing help or feedback on drafts via email, and the college's online Writing Center Resources include detailed information on everything from apostrophes to essay organization or citing sources.

Early Childhood Education at Prescott College

M.Ed.Early Childhood Education

  • This program emphasizes inquiry - based learning and teaching experiences in science,technology,engineering,the arts,math,social studies and reading(STREAMS).Nature - and place - based experiential learningfor young children also is included.
  • Each course requires up to 10 hours of documented field experience.
  • Students can earn the Arizona Teaching Intern Certificate.

M.Ed.Early Childhood Special Education

  • Each course requires up to 10 hours of field experience.
  • This endorsement program meets the requirements for licensure in the state of Arizona.
  • Signature courses in all master 's programs include:
    • Curriculum Design
    • Learning Theories
    • Creating and Managing Learning Communities

Columbus State University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Columbus, GA
School Type
  • CSU 's Academic Focus: CSU is part of the University System of Georgia, and it operates on a 15-week semester basis. Its commitment to serving the needs of adult learners has led it to award credit for prior learning in certain cases, and it offers Square One, a no-charge online college-preparatory program to help refresh students'skills.
  • Featured CSU Resource: Online students can access the library's subject librarians and subject guides and GALILEO, a collection of 100-plus electronic databases. Academic advising is available by phone, email or Skype.

Early Childhood Education at Columbus State University

Master of Arts in Teaching(M.A.T.) Early Childhood Education

  • Students with bachelor 's degrees in related subjects but who do not have teacher licenses may earn licensure through this program.
  • Courses in this program include:
    • Teaching Language Arts in ECE
    • Neurological,Psychological and Physiological Development: Conception to Age 10
    • Curriculum in Early Childhood

Specialist in Education(Ed.S.) Early Childhood Education

  • Candidates must have three years ' acceptable teaching experience before being accepted into the program.
  • Students must complete at least three professional activities completed prior to the completion of the program.
  • Courses include:
    • Investigating Problems in Early Childhood Education
    • Advocacy & amp;Public Policy in ECE
    • Research in Early Childhood

M.Ed. - Early Childhood Education

  • Candidates with or without teaching certification may be admitted to this program.It can provide necessary coursework requiredfor teacher certification.
  • The program includes coursework in the areas of early childhood and elementary - level(K - 5) education.It concludes with an exit exam.

Emporia State University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Emporia, KS
School Type
  • ESU 's Academic Focus: Founded in 1863, Emporia State is a recognized teachers college. It's home to the Great Plains Center for National Teacher Certification,the Kansas Future Teacher Academy and the Flint Hills Writing Project,the state's only National Writing Project site.
  • Featured ESU Resource: Emporia State's online students have access to writing, reading and math tutoring assistance as well as to ProQuest for Graduate Students, an online resource for the development of research theses.

Early Childhood Education Emporia State University

M.S. - Early Childhood Unified

  • Candidatesfor this program must have degrees in elementary education.This program may lead to the Kansas License ECU Birth through Age 8 or Kansas License ECU Birth to Kindergarten.
  • This program trains teacher to work with young children in inclusive or non - inclusive settings or those that address special education in early childhood.

Early Childhood Unified Licensure Programs

  • Candidates who do not wish to complete a full master 's degree program but wish to obtain training in early childhood education and gain teacher licensure may complete one of Emporia State's two ECU licensure programs.
    • Birth through Kindergarten
    • Birth through Age 8
    • Students must complete a practicum,and those seeking the B - K license must also pass the Principles of Learning and Teaching(PLT) assessment.
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Early Childhood Education Programs: Overview

What can you expect from your online early childhood education degree program? This section aims to answer that question by providing details about common courses and skills gained at each degree level.

In general, however, these online early childhood education teaching degree programs are designed to foster important skills for working in this field, including an understanding of curriculum design and instruction for small children, knowledge about regulations and safety measures, cooperation and teamwork, foundations in psychology as it pertains to child development and interpersonal and communications skills. It's likely you'd be required to gain field experience in a classroom or child care program setting. Keep reading to learn more.

Earning an Early Childhood Education Bachelor's Degree Online

How Long Does an Early Childhood Education Bachelor's Degree Online Take?

The standard length is 120-180 credit hours, which usually can be completed in four years or, in an accelerated online program, as little as 18 months, depending on the program.

What are the Requirements to Start an Early Childhood Education Bachelor's Degree Online

Though you should certainly have an interest in working with children, prior experience in the field typically isn't required. Check with your desired program about admissions requirements. Note that some online degree programs are degree-completion programs, so you must have a prescribed number of credit hours under your belt before applying.

Why Earn a Early Childhood Education Bachelor's Degree Online?

You'll need this degree if you want to be a licensed teacher or administrator, or if you plan to pursue a graduate degree program in the field in order to pursue a leadership role. (Note: Not all bachelor's programs offer licensure, so if teaching is in your future plans, seek a degree program that offers this.)

Degree Program Timeline

Though every school's curriculum is unique, students can expect to see shared characteristics in terms of course progression. For the first year or two, or up to about 40 credit hours (depending on the length of the program), in your online early childhood education degree you focus on foundational courses, such as composition, literature, math, science and psychology.

You can then begin taking core courses for the major in year two or three, delving into subjects such as child development, introduction to early childhood education, early childhood growth and development or methods of teaching.

Usually, the last two years or so of your early childhood education bachelor's degree online program can be spent in courses required for your major. In your last year, you can expect to be required to complete at least a semester's worth of field experience. For programs providing teacher licensure, you can expect to work as a student teacher, under the supervision of a licensed teacher and faculty advisor.

  • 1.Common Courses
    • Classroom management and behavior
    • Developmental psychology
    • Instructional design and planning
    • Health and safety for children
    • Assessment and evaluation in early childhood
    • Community and family awareness or engagement
  • 2. Common Careers:
    • Preschool teacher
    • Child care worker
    • Nanny
    • Elementary school teacher
    • Child care center administrator or director

Earning an Online Master's in Early Childhood Education

A master's online early childhood education degree program enables students to deepen their existing knowledge of early childhood education, honing their skills in course and curriculum development, conducting research in the field, addressing special youth populations and strengthening relationships between schools and families or the community.

How Long Does an Online Master's Degree Program in Early Childhood Education Take?

Typically, a master's program involves 30-40 credit hours, or about one to two years, with those offering teacher licensure generally taking longer.

What are the Requirements to Start an Online Master's Degree Program in Early Childhood Education?

Usually, unless you find a dual bachelor's/master's degree program in this subject, a master's degree program can require that applicants already possess their bachelor's degrees from accredited institutions, and in some cases initial teacher certification may be a requirement. Typically, schools have minimum undergraduate GPA requirements as well.

Why Earn a Master's in Early Childhood Education?

If you wish to specialize in a specific area of early childhood education, such as curriculum and instruction or special education, a master's degree is a great way to do that. Also, if you wish to teach future teachers or hold a leadership role, a master's degree is a good idea.

Degree Program Timeline

Because of the relatively short period of time to complete a master's online early childhood education teaching degree program, the pacing moves quickly to focus on areas of special interest inherent in the program. For example, the first half of the program is likely to cover more general topics such as standards-based curriculum and instruction, classroom management strategies or research methodologies. Then the second half usually incorporates courses aligning with specializations, such as special education or administration.

Your final course usually can be a quarter- or semester-long practicum in which you conduct directed study in a research area in an early childhood education setting, such as a child care center or Head Start program. You may be asked to submit a formal research thesis, project or portfolio.

  • 1.Common Courses
    • Survey of research methodology
    • Language and literacy for early childhood
    • Curriculum, instruction, and assessment
    • Multicultural teaching approaches for young children
    • Behavior management
    • Leadership and supervision
  • 2. Common Careers:
    • Preschool teacher
    • Elementary school teacher
    • Child care center administrator or director
    • Head Start director
    • Adjunct or part-time education instructor

Earning an Online Certificate in Early Childhood Education

How Long Does an Online Early Childhood Education Teaching Degree Certificate Take?

Depending on the program, it may take only 18-45 credit hours to complete an undergraduate certificate in early childhood education, or about six months to a year. However, certificate programs that include teacher licensure or the CDA Credential may take up to 120 credit hours, or up to four years.

Requirements to Start an Online Certificate in Early Childhood Education?

Usually, an undergraduate certificate is an entry-level credential, so prior teaching or child care experience is not required, though the individual school may have GPA requirements for admission.

Why Earn a Certificate in Early Childhood Education?

If you wish to work in a child care or preschool setting, or in a child-centered program such as Head Start, a certificate in early childhood education provides a solid foundation in the field.

Certificate Program Timeline

An online early childhood education teaching degree program is usually fairly general at the undergraduate level, with courses covering the fundamentals of early childhood learning and development, the principles of education or classroom management strategies — particularly in the first half of the program. As students progress, courses become more focused on specific areas of education, such as assessment and evaluation or curriculum development.

If your program emphasizes CDA credential preparation, which is required in some states, you can expect to prepare a professional portfolio and take the credentialing exam. A program offering teacher certification may require field or student teaching experience. This certificate also may be good preparation for a degree program, as the credit hours generally can be applied to a degree program.

  • 1.Common Courses
    • Child development
    • Principles of education
    • Curriculum development
    • Children's literature
    • Health, safety and nutrition for young children
    • Child, family and community relationships or engagement
  • 2. Common Careers:
    • Child care worker
    • Nanny
    • Preschool teacher
    • Tutor
    • Teacher's aide

How to Earn Your Teaching Credential in Early Childhood Education

Graduating with an online early childhood education teaching degree doesn't necessarily legally qualify you to teach. You can earn a teacher certification, particularly if you wish to work as a public school teacher in grades K-3. Note that an early childhood education certificate, which is an educational program, is not the same thing as a teaching certification — similar to how a medical degree program does not immediately license you to practice medicine.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, teacher certifications are granted by state departments of education after you've earned a required amount of education and professional experience and passed an exam. No one certification program is accepted in all states, so check with your state's education department about its requirements.

Can I Earn an Online Early Childhood Education Teaching Degree Credential?

You cannot become a credentialed teacher strictly through online work. Earning a teacher credential requires professional experience in a classroom, child care center, Head Start program or other early childhood education workplace, and that requires your actual presence. However, many programs, particularly those delivered online, allow students to select their current workplaces (if you already work for such an employer) or other facilities close to home in which to gain this experience. Often, the student is allowed to select a work site that is approved by the school or program and the state's board of education.

Early Childhood Education Credentialing Differences between States

Every state determines its own requirements for working as a teacher. For example, some have specific credit-hour requirements for education, whereas others do not.

To help you get a sense of the differences among states, we've rounded up the credentialing requirements for becoming a preschool teacher in three states:

  • California: To teach preschool in California, you must earn a Child Development Permit and complete the requirements for credit hours pertaining to certain subject matter as well as work experience hours.
  • Texas: In Texas, a preschool teacher must earn at least an associate degree in early childhood education and a Certified Child care Professional (CCP) certification through the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation.
  • New York: In the Empire State, aspiring preschool teachers must complete an early childhood education program, successfully pass four exams, complete two workshops and pass a fingerprint-based background check.

The Praxis Exams

Anyone who wishes to earn teacher licensure/certification is likely to encounter the Praxis, a set of standardized tests that measure the knowledge and skills of teacher candidates. Developed by the Educational Testing Service, Praxis tests come in three varieties:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators
  • Subject Assessments
  • Content Knowledge for Teaching Assessments

Although most states include Praxis exams among their requirements for earning teaching certification, some states allow you to take their own state-specific exams in lieu of the Praxis. Consult the Praxis website for details about Praxis requirements in your state.

Alternate Early Childhood Education Credentialing Paths

Alternative teacher certification is a means for addressing teacher shortages by creating expedited pathways to teacher certification. According to the National Education Association, every state in the nation and the District of Columbia offers some form of alternative route to teacher certification. Here are a few examples from around the country:

  • Connecticut: As an alternative path to Connecticut's Early Childhood Teacher Credential, which involves producing a portfolio among other requirements, students who qualify may complete an alternate-route educational program at a state-approved college.
  • Nevada: In Nevada, students may follow an alternate route to the Early Childhood Education License by completing a state-approved college program that leads to certification.
  • New York: In New York, a handful of higher-education institutions offer registered alternative teacher preparation programs that lead to Early Childhood Birth-2 certificates.

Check your state's department of education requirements to learn whether alternative routes are available where you live.

Do I Need an Early Childhood Education Credential to Teach at a Private School?

As with any other field, jobs in the public sector are highly regulated whereas jobs in the private sector are self-governed. Preschools are no different. As the BLS indicates, teachers at public preschools must follow state requirements, but this isn't the case with private preschools, which may have their own requirements for candidates' educational and professional backgrounds. Instead, employers at private facilities may prefer to identify like-minded candidates or those whom they find particularly inspiring, rather than prioritizing certifications.

For example, Montessori schools often hire preschool teachers who have previous experience and/or have earned an early childhood education bachelor's degree online but who do not have teacher certifications.

However, be aware that if there is potential that you'll want to move into a state-funded school or program, it may be helpful to go ahead and earn your teaching certificate.

Career Outlook for Early Childhood Education

Upon completing your education, you'll turn your attention to entering the early education workforce. Early childhood educators most often work in school settings, especially preschools and elementary schools. They can also work in daycare facilities, Head Start programs, state-supported camps or child care programs and home-based child care. The common thread in each of these potential positions is that they care for and teach children from birth to age 8.

Two primary factors are driving the growing demand for preschools and teachers to fill them:

This section provides a glimpse into the job of preschool teacher.

What Does a Preschool Teacher Do?

Preschool teachers are our first teachers. They help the youngest students, generally ages 3 to 5, learn what it is like to be in school, and build learning habits that can last a lifetime. These educators are responsible for creating theme-based lessons and units to structure their classrooms, made from the best practices for working with the littlest students. To measure their progress and that of their students, they must also practice assessment and evaluation. A day might include anything from teaching lessons on colors to organizing games, supporting social and emotional development, keeping records of children's progress and much more.

How to Become a Preschool Teacher

Every state and employer is different, of course, but according to the BLS, a preschool teacher generally needs to have earned at least an associate degree. Those who wish to teach in Head Start program centers or public preschools can earn early childhood education bachelor's degrees online or a related field. Such a program should cover the development, instruction and assessment of young children.

Of course, as we explained above, most states also have some additional requirement for teacher certification at the early childhood level, which usually involves exams and a certain amount of supervised field experience, so you can check with your state's department of education to find out what it requires for those who want to teach preschool. Teaching at private preschools usually does not require teacher certification.

Note that some states and employers may also require candidates to have the CDA credential, which must be renewed every three years.

Professional Organizations

Joining a professional association in the field of early childhood education may present opportunities for networking, professional development, continuing education and more as you embark on a career in the field. Here's a sampling of associations to consider.

With nearly 60,000 members, the NAEYC promotes high-quality early learning by connecting professionals in the areas of practice, policy and research.
This organization's mission is to promote the success of licensed child care providers, which includes providing opportunities for professional development, advocacy for the profession and community engagement.
This international organization's work supports and advocates for the development and education of young children by helping to foster professional development and innovation in the field.
This professional association of educators is committed to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities through advocacy, development of standards and professional development.

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