Online Early Childhood Education Degrees

If you want to make a difference in young children’s lives, becoming a teacher is one of the most fulfilling ways to inspire, educate, and contribute to the development of the next generation of students. Graduates from early childhood education programs typically become preschool teachers, childcare center directors, and kindergarten teachers. The degree requirements for early childhood educators vary depending on the state, and can range from an associate degree to a master’s with certification.

Schools always need more creative, patient, and organized teachers who love working with children. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a job growth rate of about 7% for early childhood educators between 2014 and 2024.

Online early childhood education programs are a convenient option for working professionals who want to advance their skills on a flexible schedule. For more information on early childhood education degrees, read on to learn about the many career opportunities available in the field and the academic requirements needed to earn a job.

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Online Early Childhood Education Degrees

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $11,229 13.1% 2 years N/A N/A 5.1%
Bachelor's $17,105 10.2% 4 years $34,000 $41,000 3.7%
Master's $16,562 8.6% 1+ years $49,000 $62,000 2.4%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

The degree you need depends on the educational setting and the state. Preschool teachers in states with Head Start programs, for instance, must have at least an associate degree; in other states, they may need early childhood education degrees at the bachelor’s level. BLS notes that your job prospects will increase with a postsecondary degree in the field, and many professionals choose to earn an online bachelor’s in early childhood education while they are working. Additionally, many preschools require national certification, such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) or the Childcare Professional (CCP).

Online Early Childhood Education Degrees


Online Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Associate-level early childhood education degrees may qualify you to work in some education settings, including preschools, depending on the state. Preschool teachers in Head Start programs, for instance, are required to have at least an associate degree; however, in many states they need a bachelor’s. Child care workers, family support specialists, and teacher’s aides are all positions that require at least a high school diploma. Online early childhood education programs give you the flexibility to pursue this credential at your own pace. Many associate graduates go on to earn their bachelor’s in early childhood education online to better their career prospects.


    Introduction to Early Childhood Behavior Management, Instructional Design, Child Development, Instructional Resources and Technology


    Early childhood education, child care management, teaching education


    Preschool teachers, family support specialists, teacher’s assistants, childcare workers, Head Start teachers


    The median salary for a family support specialist is $30,830 per year, $24,900 for a teacher’s assistant, and $20,320 for childcare workers.


    Job prospects in the field of early childhood education are favorable, and are expected to increase by approximately 5% through 2024.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood educators prepare young children for kindergarten and beyond and are integral to their development as happy, healthy children. Though a bachelor’s degree is not always required to become a preschool or kindergarten teacher, most teachers hold one, and having a bachelor’s makes you more marketable and increases your job prospects. Earning a bachelor’s in early childhood education online will help prepare you for the industry without disrupting your current work or at-home obligations. Some schools may offer an accelerated bachelor’s in early childhood education online.


    Children’s Literacy, Educational Psychology, Classroom Management


    Psychology, education, child care management, special education


    Preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers, preschool and childcare center directors, Head Start teachers


    The median salary for preschool teachers is $28,570; $54,550 for kindergarten and elementary teachers; $45,670 for preschool and childcare center directors.


    The BLS projects a 7% increase in preschool teachers from 2014 to 2024, 6% for kindergarten and elementary school teachers, and 7% for preschool and childcare center directors.

Online Early Childhood Education Degrees
For the 2016 rankings, has greatly refined its approach to evaluating schools and their respective programs. Our innovative method of assessing schools is what makes our rankings so distinctly authoritative. On the surface, every ranking we produce employs a basic formula: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. This final score determines where a school ends up in our rankings. Of course, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about our process.

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Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Degree Rankings

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboro$$$$$1400 Spring Garden St
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
(336) 334-5000

UNCG offers a multidisciplinary human development and family studies (HDF) program focusing on the crossroads of social and behavioral sciences as they pertain to early childhood development. The program offers two concentrations: birth through kindergarten teacher licensure and early care and education. UNCG's early childhood education bachelor's degree online program emphasizes culture, diversity and internationalization, studying early child development across cultural, school and family contexts.

  • The program is part of the 2-Plus system aimed at students who have completed an applied associate degree through a North Carolina community college.
  • Admission is a two-part process requiring a standard application to UNCG as a pre-HDF major and admission to the HDF Department.
  • Online courses are hosted through Blackboard.
2National UniversityLa Jolla$$$$$11255 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037-1011
(800) 628-8648

National University’s online bachelor's degree in early childhood education program provides students with the skills and field experience they need for a career in early childhood development. Students can pursue one of several concentrations relating to infant and toddler development, teacher education and early childhood administration. Courses are taught asynchronously, and online students enhance their classroom experience through discussion boards, lectures, readings, quizzes and interactive presentations.

  • In order to receive their degree, students must take a total of 180 credits, 45 of which must be completed through National University.
  • Students are required to pass a background and TB check to complete the required field experience portion.
  • Students are admitted on a rolling basis and can begin classes during any month of the year.
3Florida International UniversityMiami$$$$$11200 S. W. 8 Street
Miami, FL 33199
(305) 348-2000

The ECE program at Florida International prepares students for rewarding careers in a variety of childhood specialist roles. Students focus on the cognitive, language and emotional development of children from birth through five years old. The early childhood education bachelor's degree online program themes include educational psychology, special needs children, community and beginning literacy.

  • Applications for the online bachelor degree programs in early childhood education are accepted for spring, fall and summer terms.
  • All undergraduate students are paired with an online success coach.
  • Students must complete 120 credits to graduate.

Students use Blackboard for course deliverables, including lectures, readings and assignments. For webinars and live synchronous meetings with peers and faculty, Florida International uses Adobe Connect.

4University of CincinnatiCincinnati$$$$$2624 Clifton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0063
(513) 556-6000

Cincinnati offers an online bachelor's degree in early childhood education that prepares graduates for professional careers in early childhood development. Online coursework meets the competencies outlined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Graduates often become preschool teachers, infant or toddler specialists and program administrators in early childhood settings.

  • The curriculum for the online bachelor degree programs in early childhood education builds on prior coursework from associate degree programs.
  • Most classes require an in-person fieldwork assignment.
  • Applications are accepted for fall, spring and summer terms.

Aside from field assignments, the degree is available entirely online and facilitated through Blackboard. Upon enrollment, a student orientation specialist guides each student through a technology orientation to acclimate distance learners with the program.

5Harding UniversitySearcy$$$$$915 E. Market Ave.
Searcy, AR 72143
(501) 279-4000

At Harding, students may pursue a degree in birth through kindergarten education (B-K). This comprehensive program blends coursework in ECE, child development and special education. By diversifying the fields of study in the B-K program, students can obtain teaching licenses in both general and special education.

  • Students must complete 45 upper-level credits and 128 total hours for graduation.
  • As part of the program, students must complete an eight-hour textual Bible class.
  • After being accepted to Harding, applicants must apply separately to the teaching education program.
  • Seniors devote either their fall or spring semester to student-teaching courses.

Access to online materials, syllabi, assignments, quizzes and discussion boards is available through the Canvas learning management system.

6Granite State CollegeConcord$$$$$25 Hall Street
Concord, NH 03301-3471
(603) 228-3000

Granite State's online bachelor degree programs in early childhood education prepare graduates to obtain both the N-3 certificate in early childhood education and the Birth-8 certificate in special education. The program helps students understand current neurological research on children and its implications for teachers and students. The online program is supported by Moodle, a platform students can access to view course materials, check grades and participate in discussion forums.

  • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for each term.
  • Early childhood education bachelor's degree online students are required to complete a capstone project and portfolio of their teaching experience prior to graduation.
  • In addition to transfer credit, students may use testing and field experience to satisfy a portion of their degree requirements.
7Southwestern CollegeWinfield$$$$$100 College Street
Winfield, KS 67156-6224
(620) 229-6000

Southwestern College offers an online bachelor's degree in early childhood education. The program also encompasses early childhood special education, providing students a versatile teaching license upon graduation. The ECE program offers courses on infant development, child psychology and educational psychology.

In addition to their on-campus preschool, Southwestern College has partnered with early education programs across the country to provide students with practical learning opportunities. The school's distance courses are supported by Blackboard. Southwestern encourages students to "test-drive" one of their courses for free to determine if they like the online format.

  • Students must demonstrate at least three years of post-high school work experience.
  • To graduate, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75.
  • At least 30 of the required 124 credit hours must be taken through Southwestern.
8California Baptist UniversityRiverside$$$$$8432 Magnolia Ave
Riverside, CA 92504-3297
(951) 689-5771

The ECE program at California Baptist is designed for students interested in pursuing a teaching credential in early childhood education and early childhood special education. Students learn how to create developmentally appropriate educational curriculums and are taught how to assess educational progress in toddlers.

While some online programs cater only to transfer students, CBU encourages freshmen to apply as well. Online coursework is managed through Blackboard, which also hosts online labs, lectures and discussion forums.

  • The priority application deadline for fall 2016 is December 1st, 2015. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  • English 113 and English 123 are prerequisites for admission to the department.
  • Online students complete the degree in two years, on average.
  • Local students may sign up for traditional, on-campus classes if they prefer.
9Arkansas Tech UniversityRussellville$$$$$Administration Bldg 200; 1509 N Boulder Ave
Russellville, AR 72801-2222
(479) 968-0389

The ECE program at Arkansas Tech provides students with a thorough understanding of child development. As part of the curriculum, students learn the value of play for infants and toddlers, and are taught how to foster language development and healthy teaching environments for young children. The program also demonstrates how family dynamics affect child development.

  • Only students in partnerships with Ozarka Community College and North Arkansas Community College are allowed to participate in the program.
  • Only half of the program is available online; the remaining coursework consists of field experiences or face-to-face classroom instruction on campus.
  • Arkansas Tech uses Blackboard to support its online curriculum.
10Brandman UniversityIrvine$$$$$16355 Laguna Canyon Road
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 341-9800

Brandman's ECE program allows distance learners to study child development through guided fieldwork with children and faculty. The curriculum uses evidence-based practices regarding early brain development, and students learn to integrate childhood development theories into a classroom environment. Coursework is developed internally and assignments are transmitted through Blackboard.

  • The program builds upon material learned in an associate degree curriculum or previous child-care fieldwork.
  • Applicants are admitted on a rolling deadline and require at least 12 transferable baccalaureate level credits.
  • Graduates must complete 120 credits, 30 of which have to be at Brandman.
  • The program is offered entirely online but local students have the option of taking some courses on-site.
11Florida State College at JacksonvilleJacksonville$$$$$501 W State St
Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 359-5433

The ECE program prepares students for teaching careers in preschool through third grade in public and private settings. All students are required to pass the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations prior to graduation. Additionally, students are required to complete over 150 hours of fieldwork in Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Program.

  • Students may apply and enroll during the fall, spring or summer terms, and can take courses at their own pace.
  • Applicants must either have an associate degree or have completed 60 credits of college elsewhere.
  • Students can access their online courses through Blackboard, which also hosts notes, an e-bulletin board, drop boxes, interactive exams and chat services for collaborative projects.
12Utah State UniversityLogan$$$$$Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-1400
(435) 797-1000

Graduates from Utah State's ECE program are prepared for careers in child care, early intervention, child welfare and teaching prekindergarten through third grade. Students can pursue several practicum and field experiences, and select an emphasis of their choice. Options include multicultural education, arts methods, healthy living and differentiated teaching strategies.

Students are permitted to take up to 12 credits at Utah State prior to matriculating. The school distributes all online coursework through its proprietary learning portal. Courses either follow the traditional semester schedule or FLEx plan for independent learning.

13City University of SeattleSeattle$$$$$521 Wall Street, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98121
(800) 426-5596

City University offers a bachelor's in education with an endorsement in early childhood education. The program introduces students to recent research in cognitive and brain development, while also demonstrating the importance of culture, the community and play in early childhood growth. Students are allowed to complete their coursework entirely online or supplement online classes with Saturday school in a hybrid delivery option.

  • City's program satisfies requirements for a Washington State Residency Teaching Certificate at any public or private school in the state.
  • Applicants must complete lower division requirements and pass the Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic and the National Evaluation Series Subtests I and II.
  • Students must complete 180 credits to graduate.

The school creates its own course content, videos and discussion topics. These are made available to students through Blackboard.

14Mayville State UniversityMayville$$$$$330 Third Street NE
Mayville, ND 58257-1299
(701) 788-2301

Mayville State's ECE program prepares students to teach children from birth to age eight, or to focus on more specific fields like educational psychology and special needs education. The program develops leadership skills in its students, preparing them to work with families and with children with disabilities.

  • Mayville boasts a 96-98% job placement rate.
  • Admission is open to both freshmen and transfer students for the 2016 spring and fall semesters.
  • Mayville facilitates all online coursework through Moodle, its online course delivery platform.
15Notre Dame CollegeCleveland$$$$$4545 College Rd
Cleveland, OH 44121-4293
(216) 381-1680

The early childhood education license is one of two licensure tracks available to students at Notre Dame College. Students are taught current educational research as it pertains to the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession, ensuring their preparedness for the field upon graduation. Graduates pursue careers as child care workers, preschool-elementary teachers, special education instructors, principals and school administrators.

  • Applicants are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, after an interview with a course counselor.
  • NDC accepts only prior college credit above the 100/1000 level with a C grade or higher.
  • Online learning is facilitated through Moodle.
16Central Methodist University - College of Graduate and Extended StudiesFayette411 Central Methodist Square
Fayette, MO 65248-1198
(660) 248-6392

CMU's program in child development is geared towards students seeking careers in a field that doesn't require a public school teaching certificate. Coursework provides students with the skills they need to establish and manage daycare centers. Careers relating to commercial or non-profit childcare initiatives are also available for graduates.

  • Students must complete 124 credits to graduate.
  • Students looking to transfer or complete their degree must hold an associate degree or have completed at least 60 hours from an accredited college

Central Methodist delivers its online courses through its own myCMU platform. Courses run for eight weeks apiece.

17Western Governors UniversitySalt Lake City$$$$$4001 East 700 South, Suite 700
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
(801) 274-3280

WGU's ECE program is unique in its competency-based learning approach. Students are required to complete WGU’s own "assessments" to determine competency in the field of early childhood development. All assessments are accompanied by a study guide and recommended resources to help students along the way. Assessments last six months and students are graded on a pass or not pass basis. Distance learners must also complete a capstone or a professional portfolio to graduate.

  • Interested applicants without an associate degree may be required to pass the WGU Collegiate Readiness Assessment; WGU does not accept standard SAT, ACT, GRE or GMAT scores.
  • Students are assigned a faculty mentor to build their individual schedules and educational paths.

WGU provides its own student portal as a means to structure communication and connectivity across classes.

18Wilmington UniversityNew Castle$$$$$320 Dupont Hwy
New Castle, DE 19720
(877) 967-5464

Wilmington offers their online BS in education studies as an entry-level major. The program is intended for students who would like to work with young children in positions that do not require teaching licensure, or for students wanting to obtain licensure at a later date. The online curriculum introduces students to learning theory, child development and education best practices.

  • Students pursuing a teaching license may apply for admission to a parallel teacher certification program upon achieving the requisite standardized test scores.
  • Applicants must complete a state and federal criminal background check.
  • Both freshmen and transfer applicants must speak with an advisor prior to being admitted to the program.
  • All of Wilmington’s online courses are supported by Blackboard, providing distance learners with constant access to course materials, lectures, discussions and tech support.

19The University of Montana WesternDillon$$$$$710 S Atlantic
Dillon, MT 59725-3598
(406) 683-7011

The online ECE program at Montana Western is designed for students who want to teach young children. Graduates are prepared to work with children through the age of eight in an array of childcare settings. Students take courses that integrate developmentally appropriate curricula with social, emotional and trauma informed practices. Montana Western uses Moodle as its online learning management system to host assignments, facilitate discussion forums and provide access to course materials.

  • The program is open to both freshmen and transfer students.
  • Freshman applicants must submit an SAT score of 1540 or higher, or a composite ACT score of 22.
  • Students are admitted on a rolling application deadline during the spring, summer and fall terms.
20Park UniversityParkville$$$$$8700 NW River Park Dr
Parkville, MO 64152-3795
(816) 741-2000

Park offers an online BSE program in early childhood education to students pursuing teaching certification for children from birth through grade three. The degree is offered both online or in a hybrid format for local students. Coursework includes several specialties, such as family study, language and literacy development, and emotional learning for young children.

  • Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate.
  • Students must apply separately to the school of education upon earning 60 credit hours of general course credit.
  • Applicants must have a GPA of 2.75 in core class for consideration in the major.

Park University uses the Pearson eCollege learning management system to transmit course materials, lectures, quizzes and discussions to distance learners.

21State College of Florida - Manatee-SarasotaBradenton$$$$$5840 26th St W
Bradenton, FL 34207
(941) 752-5000

This ECE program is geared for students who want to teach infants and toddlers in Florida. Graduates of the program are prepared to teach children through the age of four. As part of the program, students fulfill the necessary requirements to become Head Start teachers and administrators as well as children’s services workers. The school uses Canvas as its online learning management system.

  • Students must complete 21 ECE prerequisites.
  • The school requires applicants to have completed 45 semester hours with a C grade or better.
  • Submitted ACT or SAT scores must have been taken within two years of your application.
22Prescott CollegePrescott$$$$$220 Grove Ave
Prescott, AZ 86301
(877) 350-2100

Prescott offers an online ECE program for students pursuing careers in early childhood development. Students are exposed to theoretical and in-person observational learning experiences online and in their home states. The school also offers courses in child growth and development, child guidance and classroom management, and early language and literacy for students interested in becoming educators.

  • Applicants are encouraged but not required to complete 30 semester hours of prior college coursework before applying.
  • Prescott pairs students with mentors, either virtually or in-person, depending on the student's preference.
  • Graduates are required to partake in a 12-week student teaching experience in their home state.

Prescott University employs its own MyClassroom portal to serve as its online learning management system.

Online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Many teaching positions require you to hold a master’s degree in the field, particularly in positions of leadership. Some teachers opt to earn their master’s through online early childhood education programs as they continue working. A master’s program can be completed in just one or two years after earning your bachelor’s in early childhood education online.


    Education and Psychology, Curriculum Development in Early Childhood Education, Foundations of Educational Leadership


    Special education, English, education


    Kindergarten and elementary teachers, preschool and childcare center directors, elementary, middle and high school principals


    The median salary for kindergarten and elementary teachers is $54,550; $45,670 for preschool and childcare center directors; and $90,410 per year for elementary, middle, and high school principals.


    The BLS projects most positions in the field to grow by approximately 5%.

Online Early Childhood Education Degrees
For the 2016 rankings, has greatly refined its approach to evaluating schools and their respective programs. Our innovative method of assessing schools is what makes our rankings so distinctly authoritative. On the surface, every ranking we produce employs a basic formula: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. This final score determines where a school ends up in our rankings. Of course, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about our process.

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Early Childhood Education Master’s Degree Rankings

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1University of Colorado - DenverDenver$$$$$1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400
Denver, CO 80217-3364
(303) 556-5600

University of Colorado Denver offers a master's in early childhood education online through its School of Education, the largest graduate school for education in Colorado. The degree is comprised of 36 total credit hours combining recommended core courses, performance-oriented assessments, an exam, practica and field work experience. Distance learners are required to participate in a three day seminar on-campus during the summer term.

Online courses are delivered through Canvas via week-long modules and are self-guided, taught by the same instructors and covering the same material as on-campus sessions. Distance learners have the added benefit of integrating multimedia skill-development into their online training, often preparing A/V presentations or sharing documents using innovative learning tech. Additionally, online students may now study from a tablet or phone via the UCD mobile app.

2University of DaytonDayton$$$$$300 College Park
Dayton, OH 45469
(937) 229-1000

The University of Dayton offers an online MSE with a concentration in early childhood leadership and advocacy. The degree is designed to prepare graduates for careers as administrators, supervisors, lead teachers and child and family advocates. The master's in early childhood education online program awards credit for work-related training and allows students to build on an associate degree to earn credits toward bachelor’s and master's degrees. Students pursuing the MSE must complete the program’s graduate leadership core sequence as well as either the advocacy or administration strand.

Online MSE students complete assignments through Blackboard, supported by numerous additional learning tools, including Turnitin, Isidore online training and more. Distance learners are encouraged to communicate frequently with each other and their instructors via Webinars, e-conferencing and Telecom services.

3University of North DakotaGrand Forks$$$$$264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193
Grand Forks, ND 58202-8193
(800) 225-5863

The University of North Dakota offers an early childhood education master's degree online, encompassing a 32-credit program designed to prepare teachers and leaders to address the needs of students ages 3 to 8 in public and private schools, child development and child care centers, Head Start programs and other programs related to educating young children. Graduates are also prepared to pursue director credentials for early childhood administrators in North Dakota, if desired. Coursework combines online assignments and a required teaching practicum, intended for application in a classroom setting. The program emphasizes educational methods related to children in the context of their family, gender, culture and community.

Online courses are run on the Blackboard learning management system; additional resources can be accessed through the same one-stop student portal that hosts the online learning system, including financial management, academic advising, Campus Connection communication tools and a live chat feature for program and online assistance.

4University of Alabama at BirminghamBirmingham$$$$$Administration Bldg Suite 1070
Birmingham, AL 35294-0110
(205) 934-4011

University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an online MA Ed. in early childhood and elementary education; if preferred, students have the choice in specializing in one or the other or taking a mix of courses that cover both. Courses that make up the curriculum include work in language development, curriculum seminar and special topics in special education. The online program also results in class A certification in students’ specific teaching field, be it early childhood education or elementary education.

Assignments are completed through Canvas, with numerous services available to support distance learners; students may access online tutoring, Web-based labs, Webinars and student counseling through the SREB electronic campus, the Canvas Help Center and the UAB Division of eLearning and Professional Studies.

5Erikson InstituteChicago$$$$$451 N. LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60654-4510
(312) 755-2250

Erikson Institute offers a master's in early childhood education online, ideal for educators with at least three years of post-bacc experience in the field. An optional specialization in bilingual/ESL education is also offered. Students in the 28-month program complete coursework via a cohort method, making it easy to collaborate and learn from their peers. Coursework includes core child development courses, early childhood education courses and an integrative seminar: Leadership in Early Childhood Education.

Online courses are delivered via EriksonOnline, the institute’s single sign-on portal. Student services available via EriksonOnline for distance learners include virtual library access, an online events schedule and an exclusive Webmail option.

6Concordia University - ChicagoRiver Forest$$$$$7400 Augusta
River Forest, IL 60305-1499
(708) 771-8300

Concordia University–Chicago offers an early childhood education master's degree online, designed to produce specialists in instruction, administration and advocacy in a range of education environments. Students will emerge with a strong understanding of child and language development, assessment, research, family and community relationships, theory and practice of birth to age eight educational programs. Additionally, graduates will be able to design and implement early childhood curriculum and programs in schools, home child care, districts, centers and other settings. Concordia-Chicago offers both endorsement and certification programs in ELL/ESL, special education, reading education (Type 10) and more.

Courses are delivered in a cohort model through Blackboard, with links to a variety of student services to support online learning, including a mobile learning app and Blackboard Collaborate. Concordia-Chicago offers a global classroom; students and faculty attend class online from around the globe. Each course lasts eight weeks.

7Mercy CollegeDobbs Ferry$$$$$555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
(800) 637-2969

Mercy College offers an online MS in early childhood education with a concentration in children ages birth to second grade. Candidates of the degree can pursue multiple certificates including Early Childhood, Birth to Grade 2; Early Childhood, Birth to Grade 2 and Childhood Education, Grades 1-6, and Dual Certification; and Early Childhood, Birth to Grade 2, Childhood Education, Grades 1-6, with Students with Disabilities, Triple Certification. All of these certificates are specific to the state of New York. Permanent certification requires three years of teaching experience and an initial certificate.

Online students complete assignments through Blackboard, with the support of numerous other programs and applications that enable resources such as group chat, live online job boards and extensive help desk support. Students must also complete an internship in their concentration. Mercy provides a comprehensive set of tools for distance learners to stay social and learn Webiquette while completing their degree online, encouraging the use of its Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts, as well as a fully integrated online learning center via the MercyConnect student portal.

8Stephen F Austin State UniversityNacogdoches$$$$$2008 Alumin Drive, Rusk 206
Nacogdoches, TX 75961
(936) 468-2011

Stephen F Austin State University offers an online M.Ed in early childhood education, developed around a research-based content model designed to address the needs of future elementary educators. The 36-credit-hour program emphasizes leadership skills and a mastery of concepts including language and literacy, classroom management and advanced research concerning children ages eight and under. Students may complete the program in as little as 22 months; graduates are prepared for careers as researchers, early ed. specialists, teachers and consultants.

Online assignments are delivered through Desire2Learn, using web-conferencing and streaming video tools to provide and share content and course materials. Online support services developed for distance learners include Steen Library remote access, counseling services, tutoring and academic advising and testing and proctoring services.

9Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff$$$$$1900 S. Knoles Dr, Babbitt Administrative Center
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-4132
(928) 523-9011

Northern Arizona offers an online M.Ed in early childhood education, with available emphases in either early childhood or early childhood leadership. The program encompasses 30-31 credit hours consisting of core and emphasis courses, as well as a student teacher or internship experience. The M.Ed degree at NAU stresses in-class experience as part of its required coursework, and is intended for students looking to become lead teachers or master-level instructors in preschool and primary classrooms. Online assignments are completed both asynchronously and synchronously via Blackboard, using multimedia lecture presentations and virtual discussion platforms. The university’s extended campus portal offers a variety of support services developed exclusively for distance learners, including 24/7 IT support, library access and tutoring through the NAU Student Learning Center.

10Albany State UniversityAlbany$$$$$504 College Drive
Albany, GA 31705
(229) 430-4600

Albany State University offers an early childhood education master's degree online, designed to provide master-level teaching skills for instructors of pre-k through five-year-old students, as well as lead to the T-5 certification in early childhood education. The program is comprised of 36 course credit hours, aligned within the conceptual structure of the university’s department of education to build problem-solving skills, as well as raise cultural and technological awareness through transformative education practices for young children. Graduates are eligible for careers involving teaching, administration, program development and special education, among other options.

Online assignments are completed in Desire2Learn via the Ramnet portal, with the support of numerous online resources, including an online computer lab, virtual tutoring services and a convenient ticketing system for tech support requests. Distance learners are encouraged to stay connected via ASU’s Flickr account and various other social media outlets.

11Concordia University - Saint PaulSaint Paul$$$$$1282 Concordia Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
(651) 641-8278

Concordia University–Saint Paul offers an online MA in early childhood education, designed for students with teaching or volunteering classroom experience. The degree is comprised of 33 credit hours in a variety of core courses in curriculum and instruction, ethics for educators, language development and emergent literacy and more; completion of a professional efolio is also required. Individual courses are delivered in accelerated, seven-week modules.

Online assignments are completed through Blackboard, with a range of student support resources centered on distance learning. Additional services available via the CSPConnect student portal include access to the library archives, special interest student groups and personalized tutoring services for online learners.

12Texas A & M University - KingsvilleKingsville$$$$$955 University Blvd
Kingsville, TX 78363
(361) 593-2111

Texas A & M University–Kingsville offers an online M.Ed in early childhood education. The program is designed to build skills for best practices of early childhood development through exploration of a variety of teaching methods and models, including Constructivist, Waldorf and Montessori, among others. A & M’s online M.Ed degree encompasses 36 total credit hours, in a combination of core, research and resource-area course requirements; students must also perform a graduate research project to complete the degree.

Distance students may access assignments through the exclusive Blue & Gold Connection student portal, which also directs students to a range of Internet learning resources at the same single-sign-on site; additional support tools include financial assistance, an interactive course scheduler and live registration and application services.

13University of West AlabamaLivingston$$$$$Station One
Livingston, AL 35470
(205) 652-3400

The University of West Alabama offers an online M.Ed education specialist in early childhood education program. Curriculum in the 33-credit program combines intensive research and field experience to provide advanced leadership skills for prospective child education specialists. Students seeking field certification without relevant undergraduate experience are required to complete a survey course prior to enrolling in the M.Ed program.

Online assignments are delivered primarily through Blackboard, assisted by learning tools like WebView, WebAdvisor and the university Help Desk. Additionally, support specifically for M.Ed students enrolled in early childhood education-based distance learning programs is available through the NBC Learn portal for K-12 education.

14Edinboro University of PennsylvaniaEdinboro$$$$$219 Meadville Street
Edinboro, PA 16444-0001
(814) 732-2000

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania offers an online M.Ed in early childhood education, with available tracks for both certified educators and those seeking certification with completion of this degree. The program encompasses core curriculum in pre-k through third-grade child education and development, as well as an independent study project in the field or specialty area of the student’s choice.

Though courses may be completed online through Edinboro’s learning management system, students are required to attend a one-week residency as part of the distance program. Support tools for online learners include tutoring via the SmartThinking platform, self-service email and communication through Banner and the option to create a personalized student profile on

15Northwestern State University of LouisianaNatchitoches$$$$$University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71497-0002
(318) 357-6011

Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers an online M.Ed in early childhood education, the only program of its kind in the state of Louisiana. The M.Ed degree is designed for certified teachers with undergraduate experience in education of children up to eight years of age. Coursework in this program combines core studies with a practicum experience, developed to reflect the standards set for curriculum in this field by the NAEYC.

Assignments are delivered through Moodle with the help of additional support services available through the MyNSU portal, including a student help desk and numerous orientation and tutorial modules. Additionally, distance learners may pursue academic advising, counseling, job placement support services and more through the same MyNSU subsite.

16Jacksonville State UniversityJacksonville$$$$$700 Pelham Road North
Jacksonville, AL 36265
(256) 782-5781

Jacksonville State University offers an online MS Ed in early childhood education, designed for teachers with current certification in the field. The degree combines core and specialty courses with a practicum, focused on building expertise in effective teaching methods and exploring current trends in early childhood education and development.

Online assignments are delivered through Blackboard, with supplemental Web-based resources available for distance learners, such as advising, tutoring and technical support. The online MS Ed at JSU was developed by faculty and Web designers specifically for the university’s unique virtual learning environment, with integrated learning, scheduling and communication functions.

17University of South Carolina - UpstateSpartanburg$$$$$800 University Way
Spartanburg, SC 29303-4999
(864) 503-5000

University of South Carolina–Upstate offers an online M.Ed with a focus in either early childhood education or elementary education. Candidates for the M.Ed program must have Initial teacher certification as a condition of enrollment. Both tracks of the M.Ed at USC Upstate require completion of core, specialty and related study credits; students must also complete a final seminar and graduate professional portfolio in their final semester. Both specializations are offered in an optional fast track format.

Online courses are available through Blackboard, with a wide variety of additional online tools for distance learners. Resources are available through a convenient dashboard of direct links to academic services and student support, including an online writing center, student activities board, career center, online account assistance and more.

18Champlain CollegeBurlington$$$$$246 S. Willard St
Burlington, VT 05401
(802) 860-2700

Champlain College offers an online M.Ed in early childhood education, designed for certified teachers to explore effective educational theories and build leadership skills through reflective practice. The program is comprised of 36 course credits delivered in eight-week-long online modules; it is fully online, save for one brief residency requirement to be completed on campus during the first year of the program. Students have three opportunities for enrollment throughout the year, and may pursue a part-time or full-time schedule.

In addition to facilitating convenient online courses through Canvas, Champlain prides itself on a comprehensive approach to online support for distance learners; the college’s wide range of online student services include career counseling, advising and tutoring options in accounting, math, English and writing, library access and full technical support.

19Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester$$$$$2500 North River Road
Manchester, NH 03106-1045
(603) 668-2211

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online M.Ed in early childhood education, well-suited to professional teachers looking to build advanced skills in this discipline. Completion of this degree can lead to initial teacher certification in New Hampshire, or provide additional endorsement credits for those already certified in the state. The M.Ed initial certification track encompasses 42 total credits in core courses, as well as completion of two student teaching seminars over two academic terms.

Courses are delivered through Blackboard, with links to numerous other student support resources via the mySNHU portal. Support tools for the virtual classroom offered through SHNU include a writing center, technical support, academic advising, tutoring options, an online library and online bookstore access.

20Shorter UniversityRome$$$$$315 Shorter Ave
Rome, GA 30165
(706) 291-2121

Shorter University offers an online M.Ed in early childhood education, designed to promote professional development among teachers currently practicing in the field. The program incorporates Shorter University’s faith-based principles into the M.Ed curriculum, which stresses research and field experience courses totaling 37 credit hours. The degree culminates in a required action research performance portfolio.

All online assignments are accessible through Moodle, and are typically self-paced, though occasional synchronous sessions may be scheduled via video conferencing software. Additional online resources are available to provide fully integrated student support, including a live chat feature, an exclusive university blog and a student advising center.

21Youngstown State UniversityYoungstown$$$$$One University Plaza
Youngstown, OH 44555-0001
(877) 468-6978

Youngstown State University offers an online MS in teacher education with a concentration in early childhood education. The degree is comprised of 32 credit hours in core courses, as well as cognate/specialization courses, in topics including fundamentals of curriculum development, current social issues in early childhood education and literacy and phonics. Students are required to complete an e-portfolio as a final condition of the degree.

Online YSU assignments are delivered through Blackboard, utilizing web conferencing tools and asynchronous sessions to share content. Additional online support services include e-tutoring, a math assistance center, writing center, Maag Library access and other tools provided by the Center for Student Progress.

22University of the SouthwestHobbs$$$$$6610 North Lovington Hwy
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-6561

University of the Southwest offers an online MS Ed in early childhood education, well-suited as a stand-alone program or in conjunction with teaching licensure for education of children up to third grade. The degree is comprised of 36 credits in a variety of leveling, core, specialization and elective courses, including two practicums and culminating in a comprehensive exam. Students will gain competency in child growth, development and learning; family and community collaboration; curriculum development and implementation; health, safety and nutrition; methods and materials; assessment of children and evaluation of programs; and appropriate developmental practices.

Online students complete assignments in Blackboard, with the support of additional student services including online tutoring, a virtual university store and Web-based research tools. Additionally, technology provided via MediaCAST, Tegrity and Nefis Web Conferencing, for example, help to facilitate multimedia learning in the USW portal.

23Missouri Southern State UniversityJoplin$$$$$3950 E. Newman Road
Joplin, MO 64801-1595
(417) 625-9300

Missouri Southern State University offers an online MS in early childhood education, designed for teachers looking to gain specialized training to guide young children in the classroom. The program comprises 32-33 total semester hours, including core requirements, subject field requirements, concentration and elective courses; students are also required to complete a field experience and a practicum as part of the coursework in the MS degree.

Online assignments are delivered through Blackboard, with numerous additional resources accessible through the Lion Access portal via single sign-on. Student support services include career opportunities, library access and technical help; students are also encouraged to participate in active communication through a variety of social media sites.

Online Doctorate Degree in Early Childhood Education

Doctorate holders conduct research and evaluate educational modelings, and they apply their research findings in the field. Early childhood education degrees (bachelor’s and master’s), or those from similar fields, are prerequisites for PhD program entry. Work experience as a certified teacher will also be needed for many programs. In this program, you can expect to participate in faculty-guided research, face-to-face residencies, and online courses.


    Early Childhood Policy, Social Contexts of Learning, Curriculum Development, Research Issues and Assessment Techniques


    Education, education and human development


    High school principals, researchers and advisors, leaders in teacher training, instructional coordinators, teachers of education professionals (professors)


    A high school principal earns a median salary of $90,410 per year; $62,270 for instructional coordinators; $72,470 for postsecondary teachers.


    Principalship positions are expected to grow 6-13% through 2024.

Online Early Childhood Education Choose Your Career

Average Early Childhood Education Salaries


Kindergarten Teacher

Salary: $54,550
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
6% 1,517,400 Bachelor's State licensure required for public schools

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers work in public and private schools teaching students basic subjects such as math, English, and reading. They also evaluate student aptitudes, grade assignments, monitor student progress, help students overcome challenges, and supervise them during lunchtime or recess. These professionals require at least a bachelor’s degree, such as an online bachelor’s in early childhood education. Effective teachers must have patience, creativity, and enjoy working with young people.

Childcare Worker

Salary: $20,320
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
5% 1,260,600 High School Diploma or Equivalent N/A

When parents and other relatives are unable to care for their children, they turn to childcare workers. They work in centers, which may include their own homes or the homes of children they care for. They monitor the safety of children, organize and supervise meals, change diapers, ensure children have enough rest and playtime, and monitor their development and keep record of their progress. The position requires excellent communication and instructional skills, patience, and stamina. While not always required, professionals who complete online early childhood education programs will be more qualified and stand out to employers.

Childcare Center Director

Salary: $45,670
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
7% 64,000 Bachelor's N/A

Childcare center directors are responsible for running the day-to-day operations at their facility. This includes supervising preschool teachers and childcare workers, providing professional development to staff, developing programming and standards, working with staff to interact with parents, and preparing budgets. Candidates who earn their bachelor’s in early childhood education online are typically qualified to work as childcare center directors.

Preschool Teacher

Salary: $28,570
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
7% 441,000 Bachelor's CDA or CCP

Preschool educators teach children basic skills, such as shapes, colors, numbers, and letters. They create and implement a curriculum targeting different areas of childhood development, design activities for students to explore and develop their skills and interests, and record each student’s progress. Creativity, patience, and great communication and organization skills are vital. Earning an online bachelor’s in early childhood education will qualify you to work as a preschool teacher at most schools.

Online Early Childhood Education Professional Requirements

Certified Childcare Professional (CCP)

The Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) credential is designed for teachers who want to demonstrate their knowledge of early childhood development and their mastery of the principles and techniques of working with young children. It is required for those who have yet to complete their degrees or for teachers with degrees in an unrelated field. It can take up to a year to earn the CCP, but the timeline varies from student to student based on their training.

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1 year

Childhood Development Associate (CDA)

If you want to take the next step in your career, you may benefit from the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education. The Childhood Development Associate (CDA) can be earned in four areas: Preschool (center-based), Infant/Toddler (center-based), Family Child care, and Home Visitor. The CDA is “the sole nationally recognized ECE credential, accepted in all 50 states and U.S. territories.” It is highly recommended. 120 hours of formal early childhood education training is needed. You’ll also need 480 hours of professional experience in the appropriate age group, observation by a Council for Professional Recognition certified Professional Development Specialist, a CDA examination, and a statement of ethical conduct.

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American Board for Certified Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)

The ABCTE is an online, self-paced program certifying educators in several subjects and is recognized in 12 states across the U.S. Whether you should get this certification or not depends on the state you live in. But the certification can be used in place of a master’s degree to get a temporary teaching license. This credential is a teaching certification providing professionals with an alternate pathway to becoming a teacher if they do not have traditional early childhood education degrees, for instance. It involves two exams: a subject area exam and a pedagogy exam.

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National Board Certification

National Board Certification is the most respected professional certification available in education in the United States. It is highly recommended. NBCTs are recognized for having met the highest standards set by the profession. While each state has its own licensure system, this credential signifies that the teacher has gone beyond state standards. Certification is awarded in 25 areas, from pre-K through 12th grade. Educators can complete the certification process in one year; some may take several years.

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State Specific Licensure Requirements

Each state has its own licensure requirements for educators. Click on State Specific Licensure Requirements, click on your state on the map to see the requirements.

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