Online Early Childhood Education Degree Programs Resource
Earning an early childhood education degree will prepare you for a rewarding career teaching young children, ranging in age from birth to eight or nine years old, which is traditionally about 3rd grade. Early childhood educators play a critical role in their students’ lives; they lay the foundation for a lifetime love of learning. They may also be expected to identify and instruct children with special needs, learning disabilities, or developmental delays. The ideal candidate for an early childhood education job will be service oriented, with good communication and active listening skills. The job requires dependability, integrity, and adaptability. Many schools offer an early childhood education degree online, which can allow a student to study on their own time and at their own pace, often while maintaining regular employment. You can learn more about how to become an early childhood educator on our career guide and continue reading below to find out more about early childhood education degree programs.
Early Childhood Education Degree Requirements and Coursework
Coursework for a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education typically includes classes in language and literacy, child growth and development, equity and cultural diversity, curriculum design, and theories in instruction. Most early childhood education programs will also require student teaching.
Early childhood education degree programs are formatted to give pre-service teachers a specialist education in working with Pre-K to grade three. This degree is a good fit for students who wish to teach at these grade levels and achieve state-level certification. Many programs offer coursework leading to specialist endorsements in such areas as reading, English as a second language, and special education.
Typical classes in an early education degree program may include:
- Introduction to Early Childhood Education
- Language Development in Early Childhood
- Beginning Literacy
- Assessment and Evaluation in Early Childhood Education
- Language Arts and Reading for Early Childhood
- Science for Young Children
- Child Health and Safety
- Student Teaching and Professional Practicum
Best Value Early Childhood Education Schools with On-Campus Programs
To help you find the best early childhood teaching program, we have researched top not-for-profit teaching schools in the US offering a program in early childhood education. The schools on our best value list below have a high graduation rate of 80% or above and a low net price of less than $20,000 per year. A high graduation rate is typically an indicator of a school’s success and a low net price is important for students interested in finding the best bang for their buck. In addition to these, we have also included data such as retention rate, loan default rate, percentage of faculty with tenure, and US News & World Report national rankings and undergraduate teaching school rankings. To sort the table by any value, click on the corresponding column header.
|School||Grad Rate1||Retention Rate*1||Transfer Out Rate**1||Student Loan Default Rate1||% Tenured Faculty2||US News National Rank3||US News Undergrad Teaching Rank4||Net Price1|
|University of Washington-Seattle Campus||84%||94%||N.Av.||2.5%||51%||#59 tie||N/A||$9,443|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||91%||96%||3%||1.5%||43%||#30 tie||#34 tie||$11,100|
|Brigham Young University-Provo||83%||90%||N.Av.||1.3%||46%||#66 tie||N/A||$12,979|
|University of Florida||88%||96%||3%||1.9%||52%||#35 tie||N/A||$15,283|
|University of Georgia||85%||95%||6%||2.4%||54%||#46 tie||#34 tie||$15,934|
|University of Delaware||82%||91%||N.Av.||2.8%||57%||#89 tie||N/A||$16,286|
|Florida State University||80%||94%||7%||3.4%||43%||#70 tie||#52 tie||$16,450|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||85%||92%||N.Av.||2.2%||51%||#46 tie||#43 tie||$16,638|
|Clemson University||82%||93%||6%||1.9%||47%||#66 tie||#16 tie||$18,757|
Early Childhood Education Degrees and Certification
Completing an early childhood education degree program will qualify you to seek positions in both public and private schools. Daycare centers, preschools, kindergartens, and elementary schools are the most common places of employment for those with a degree in early childhood education. Salary ranges widely, depending upon what kind of setting an educator works in. The median annual wage for preschool teachers is $28,570 per year, while daycare workers earn a median salary of $26,210.1 The median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is $54,550.2 The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job growth between 6 and 7% for these teacher groups through 2024.1,2
Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education prepares an instructor to teach small children, including infants and small children up to the third grade. They help children develop social, personal, and academic skills to properly prepare them for higher levels of education. These educators must align their teaching to education standards which are constantly changing and improving while also acting as caregivers who care for small children in their parents’ absence. Early childhood teachers must have skill and passion for working with children. Self-motivation, creativity, patience, a love of teaching, and the ability to demonstrate cooperation are attributes that complement this career. Teachers at this level must be able to create a safe, educational, and caring environment where children are able to maximize their potential and achieve or surpass learning milestones.
Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
Students graduating with a master’s degree in early childhood education are prepared to work as senior teachers in elementary school settings. Many universities only offer early childhood education master’s degree programs to students who are already certified to teach in elementary settings, so earning a bachelor’s degree and state certification is the first step. Many online degree programs offer master’s degrees in early childhood education. Teachers who have earned a master’s degree often have higher earning potential than those with only a bachelor’s degree and can be more competitive candidates for administrative positions.
Early Childhood Education Degree Online
Prospective Pre-K to 3 educators can also pursue an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. An online early childhood education degree program can offer additional flexibility compared to on-campus study for individuals who prefer this option. Online education continues to improve with innovations like live streaming virtual classrooms with video conferencing and use of interactive social technologies that allow collaboration and discussion with classmates.
Profiles of Traditional Early Childhood Education Programs
Texas A&M University offers an Early Childhood generalist certification program for teacher certification in elementary school to Grade 6. An intensive series of field placements that give students an active role in actual classrooms are built around blocks of methods-based learning for classroom and learning management. Students admitted to the program receive personalized advising throughout their studies, with one-on-one advising sessions scheduled at least once per semester. All College of Education students have access to financial assistance packages, global education experiences, and personalized learning communities, including an undergraduate peer mentor program for academically talented pre-service teachers. An Education Career Fair is held once per semester to give students the opportunity to network with potential employers. As the largest producer of teachers in high-demand fields in the state of Texas, Texas A&M University can give “Aggie” graduates a competitive edge in the career marketplace.
The College of Education and Human Performance at the University of Central Florida offers a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development and Education that leads to teacher certification for pre-kindergarten through grade three. The program track includes the ESOL and Reading Endorsements in line with Florida Educator Accomplished Practices (FEAP). Field experiences begin early in the course sequencing, integrating theory and practice learned in the classroom in real school settings. Student reflection is encouraged through a continuously faculty-reviewed personal professional portfolio. The program curriculum emphasizes the creation of safe and nurturing environments for all young children in education partnerships with family and the community. Although this degree is not a fully online degree, many classes are offered in hybrid classroom/online formats, and select courses are delivered through online instruction. In addition to school-wide scholarships, the College of Education and Human Performance offers several scholarships that are only available to Early Childhood Development and Education students.
Kent State University’s Early Childhood Education program leads to the award of a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (ECED). Field experience is heavily emphasized in the curriculum, with field placements and teaching experiences occurring in classroom settings at the Pre-K and K-3 levels. The ECED program holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Ohio State Department of Education. The College of Education, Health, and Human Services at Kent State is also a member of the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching, which offers overseas student teaching placements to qualified students. Program graduates may be interested in earning a second license or endorsement through one of Kent State University’s numerous other education programs. An Early Childhood Generalist Endorsement for Grades 4-5 may be added to the P-3 Teaching License after Block IV of the ECED program is completed; the Grades 4-5 endorsement is an online program.
Profiles of Hybrid and Online Early Childhood Education Programs
Florida State College at Jacksonville’s online early childhood education teacher preparation program provides graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to educate children from pre-kindergarten through grade three. Most courses are available online, though students must complete an in-person field experience as well as a semester-long student teaching engagement in order to earn the degree. Students must have completed an associate’s degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) or another school plus three prerequisite courses at FSCJ in order to be admitted. The core curriculum includes such courses as Integrated Science & Math for Young Children, Language & Literacy in Early Childhood Education, and Language Principles for Teachers. Once all degree requirements are met, students are conferred the Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education. FSCJ also offers an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Management which includes technical coursework that can be transferred to the bachelor’s program.
Kansas State University’s Global Campus offers an online bachelor’s degree completion program that prepares graduates to seek licensure as early childhood educators in Kansas. The blended curriculum includes study in general as well as special education. Online early childhood courses in the professional studies component of the program include Family Relationships & Gender Roles, Exceptional Development in Early Childhood, and Emergent Literacy. While most courses are offered online, students must complete a supervised field experience in a public or private school. To be considered for admission, students must have at least 50 college credit hours with a GPA of at least 2.75 and be formally admitted to the teacher education program. In addition to teaching in early childhood education programs, graduates of the program may find work in community agencies and other organizations that promote learning and development for children from birth through kindergarten.
The University of Alabama offers an online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in early child development. The program curriculum focuses on growth and development in children from birth to age five as well as the design and evaluation of early childhood education programs in schools and in the community. Up to 60 credit hours can be transferred from a two-year institution and all core courses are available online. Required courses include Child Development, Adolescence; Developmental Perspectives of Young Children with Disabilities; and Parent and Family Development. Students must also complete an in-person field experience, which may be arranged in the student’s local area, to meet the six-credit Human Development and Family Studies Internship requirement. Financial aid, including grants and scholarships specific to the early childhood education program, is available to distance education students.
Top Early Childhood Education Blogs
See our list with reviews of top early childhood education blogs that provide an inside look into the classrooms and practices of current early childhood education teachers.
Interviews with Early Childhood Education Teachers
See our teacher interview series to read career interviews with current teachers who share their experiences, insights, and advice for early childhood education teachers.
Teaching and Education Programs
Early Childhood Education Program Student Reviews
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How long does it take to complete an early childhood education degree program?
Answer: Most early childhood education degree programs are four-year undergraduate degrees that lead to teaching certification. In most cases, these programs can be completed in four to six years. Students that already hold an associate’s degree in another field may be able to complete the degree in less time under a transfer program.
Question: Can I earn an early childhood education degree online?
Answer: Early childhood education degrees typically involve intensive field work to qualify students for state-level teacher education, but in many cases the required courses are offered in online or hybrid formats to give flexibility to working professionals.
Question: What are the typical admission requirements for a degree in early childhood education?
Answer: Students are usually admitted to early childhood education programs after completing one to two years of general coursework in the liberal arts and maintaining a minimum GPA. You can check with schools in your area and online for the best fit based on your past education and experience.
Question: Is teacher certification automatically awarded with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education?
Answer: In most cases, teacher certification is based on passing state-level certification exams after earning a bachelor’s degree. However, there are alternative pathways to certification. The board of education for your state can provide answers on the best way to become certified in your circumstances.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Preschool Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm
Table Notes and References:
All data is based on undergraduate statistics.
*The retention rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who continued to a second year of study at the same institution.
**The transfer out rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who transferred their credits to another institution within 150% of the normal time to complete their degree.
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
3. US News & World Report National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
4. US News & World Report Best Undergraduate Teaching National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/undergraduate-teaching