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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Degrees

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

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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.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

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

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Early childhood education, child care management, teaching education

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

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

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    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.

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    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.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Children’s Literacy, Educational Psychology, Classroom Management

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Psychology, education, child care management, special education

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

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

  • AVERAGE INCOME

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

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    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, OnlineColleges.net 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

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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.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

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

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Special education, English, education

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

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

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    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.

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

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

Online Early Childhood Education Degrees
For the 2016 rankings, OnlineColleges.net 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

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

The University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus is headquartered in Aurora, Colorado and primarily serves students in the health science professions. However, its online degree programs extend beyond the health sciences into other disciplines such as English writing and education.

CU Denver is an excellent choice for non-traditional students who want to obtain an early childhood education master's degree online; 95% of students work full-time. In addition to traditional coursework, this degree requires students to complete their practicum hours at a qualified educational institution. The core classes teach students about advanced literacy teaching methods and educational statistics. CU Denver’s school of education and human development is the largest graduate school of education in Colorado and has extensive partnerships with urban schools.

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

The University of Dayton is a private Catholic research university in western Ohio. The school has over 3,000 post-graduate degree students taking courses both online and on campus. UD’s online offerings feature small class sizes and hybrid formats for students who wish to complete some of their classes in person.

The master’s of science in education in transdisciplinary early childhood development degree program at UD is targeted at students who want to work with young children and their families. The program has a blended format, focusing on both special education and general education. Students are required to complete courses in educational research, statistics, advanced pedagogy, and early childhood literacy. A practicum at an approved early childhood educational institution is also required.

3Erikson InstituteChicago$$$$$451 N. LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60654-4510
(312) 755-2250

The Erikson Institute is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and specializes in the study of child development. The school is named after the famous developmental psychologist Erik Erikson. Currently, the only online master’s degree offered by the Erikson Institute is a master’s of science in early childhood education. This is a 28-month program that teaches graduates the skills they need to serve in leadership or specialist roles at early childhood education centers.

This online master's in early childhood education program focuses on essential childhood development theories, early childhood teaching theories, and leadership skills in the field of early childhood education. Students can elect to add a bilingual/English as a second language specialization to their degree, which requires additional courses in linguistics and ESL teaching theory.

4West Chester University of PennsylvaniaWest Chester$$$$$University Avenue and High Street
West Chester, PA 19383
(610) 436-1000

West Chester University of Pennsylvania is a public university located about 30 miles west of Philadelphia. It is one of 14 state universities that belongs to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. WCU’s online offerings include four different master’s programs in education, business, and nutrition. Aspiring teachers who want to work with pre-K to eighth grade students can enroll in WCU’s early childhood education master's degree online.

Research, courses in advanced teaching theory, and a practicum are all required to complete this program. In WCU’s early education program, students conduct fieldwork during their very first semester of graduate school. Fieldwork is supervised by professors who have extensive experience working with urban or rural populations. The school offers two different early childhood education tracks: a program administrators track and an accomplished teachers track.

5Concordia University - ChicagoRiver Forest$$$$$7400 Augusta
River Forest, IL 60305-1499
(708) 771-8300

Concordia University-Chicago is a private liberal arts university with a main campus located 10 miles west of Chicago. CU Chicago offers several undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees that can be earned online in business, education, and arts and sciences. Online coursework is delivered through online lectures, videos, discussion boards, and assessments. CU Chicago’s master’s of arts in early childhood education program teaches students the skills and information required to take on leadership, research, and public policy roles in the field of early childhood education.

Coursework focuses on assessment, curriculum development, and professional leadership. This program culminates with a capstone course where students design a project to show that they are proficient in the National Association for the Education of Young Children advanced standards. CU Chicago also offers an MA in early childhood special education.

6Texas A&M University - CommerceCommerce$$$$$2600 South Neal
Commerce, TX 75429-3011
(888) 868-2682

Located about 60 miles northeast of Dallas, Texas A&M University-Commerce is a public research university that belongs to the Texas A&M University System. This school was founded in 1889 and is the fourth oldest university in Texas. Today, A&M-Commerce reaches many online students through a variety of innovative degree programs. Most of its degrees can be completed at least partially online and many can be finished without ever stepping foot on campus. The school currently offers a variety of early childhood education master's degrees online, including an MED, MS, and MA.

The coursework for these programs differs slightly. The MA requires students to learn about the foundations of advanced study in the field, the MS requires additional statistics and research courses, and the MED requires additional research and more credit hours. Students can also add an ESL or bilingual education specialization. All ECE students must pass a written comprehensive examination after completing all of their courses.

7University of North DakotaGrand Forks$$$$$264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193
Grand Forks, ND 58202-8193
(800) 225-5863

The University of North Dakota is a public research university based in Grand Forks. It was established in 1883 and is North Dakota’s oldest university. Thousands of students are enrolled in online courses and degree programs at UND. Many of UND’s online degree programs boast in-state tuition rates, even for out-of-state students; this includes the school’s online master's in early childhood education.

This program awards a non-licensing degree and has coursework that focuses on teaching methods that consider a child’s family, gender, community, and culture. This program requires completion of a two-credit teaching practicum at a qualified school or head start program. UND early childhood education graduate students can also enroll in additional courses to earn the national director credential for early childhood administrators.

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

Stephen F. Austin State University is a public university headquartered in Nacogdoches, Texas. It began as a teacher’s college in 1923 and continues to produce graduates that excel in the field of education. SFA Online is comprised of 20 degree programs in a variety of fields. One such offering is its master’s of education, which provides EC-6 and 4-8 alternative teaching certifications.

The coursework in the master’s in early childhood education online program at SFA teaches students in-depth theory and research regarding child development, classroom practices, learning strategies, and child psychology. Classes are offered in half-term formats in the fall and spring semesters, and all courses are available online. Students can choose to take two extra classes or complete a research-based thesis focusing on an area of early childhood education. Graduates of this program are eligible to apply for elementary school certification in Texas and select other states.

9Mercy CollegeDobbs Ferry$$$$$555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
(800) 637-2969

Mercy College is a private liberal arts institution in Dobbs Ferry, New York with satellite locations throughout the state. It also has online degree programs to serve non-traditional students. The 30 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs at Mercy College are delivered through Blackboard, and online students benefit from video recordings of lectures and discussion boards. The master’s of science in early childhood education from Mercy College provides students with New York State certification to work in preschool through grade two classrooms.

The curriculum requirements of the online master’s in early childhood education include coursework that focuses on educational assessment, language acquisition, and child psychology. Field work at approved institutions is also required for every online class. Course requirements differ slightly based on the certification preferences of students, and distance learners residing outside of New York may have different requirements for certification.

10University of Alabama at BirminghamBirmingham$$$$$Administration Bldg Suite 1070
Birmingham, AL 35294-0110
(205) 934-4011

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is a public research university that belongs to the University of Alabama System. UAB’s eLearning and professional studies department offers several online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that can be completed entirely online, including a master’s in early childhood and elementary education.

Graduate students studying early childhood education online at UAB learn about cognitive theory, literacy and math instruction best practices, and research and assessment in education. A third of the credits needed to earn a degree at UAB consist of field work in approved educational settings. Blended courses that include both online and on-campus class sessions are available, and Saturday and summer classes are offered for some courses. Additionally, UAB has an alternative master’s program that is designed for individuals who hold an undergraduate degree in a field outside of education who want to become certified teachers.

11Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff$$$$$1900 S. Knoles Dr, Babbitt Administrative Center
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-4132
(928) 523-9011

Northern Arizona University is a public research university based in Flagstaff, Arizona. It has 36 satellite campuses around Arizona as well as many online offerings. With over 113 online degree programs spread out among 14 different disciplines, NAU is an authority in online education. Most of NAU’s online classes are asynchronous and do not require students to log in and attend class at set times. The master’s in early childhood education at NAU is meant for practicing pre-school and primary teachers who want to develop new skills and methods of working with young learners.

Students pursuing an early childhood education master’s degree online from NAU learn about developmental psychology, curriculum practices, and classroom management. They also conduct field work. In order to graduate, distance learners must successfully pass a series of assessments that are embedded into their required courses.

12Pacific Oaks CollegePasadena$$$$$55 Eureka Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 529-8500

Pacific Oaks College is a private college with a main campus in Pasadena, California. It is dedicated to providing students with degrees that are related to social justice, child development, and human development. Several education and human development bachelor’s and master’s degrees available to distance learners. Seven-week courses and a faculty mentorship program are highlights of the online educational experience at Pacific Oaks College.

The online master’s of arts in early childhood education teaches students the skills they need to assume leadership roles at schools, state agencies, and nonprofits in the early childhood education sector. Specific course topics include early childhood public policy, family and community studies, and combatting oppression in schools. This master’s in early childhood education online program can be completed in one year by full-time students, but part-time students are also encouraged to apply.

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

Founded in 1835, the University of West Alabama is a public university headquartered in Livingston, Alabama. Fully-online and hybrid degree programs in business, education, liberal arts, and the sciences are offered at UWA.

UWA’s master’s in early childhood education teaches subjects related to educational planning, educational research, and technology and education. Students are also required to complete field work at an approved school or organization. Graduates from this program learn the skills and theoretical background needed to become leaders, administrators, advanced teachers, and specialists who work with preschool through third grade students. UWA offers six terms a year that are each eight weeks in length in the fall through spring and six weeks in length during the summer. Students who do not have previous experience with special education must take a general survey course on the subject.

14Georgia Southern UniversityStatesboro$$$$$Brannen Hall, Room 2015, 2670 Southern Drive
Statesboro, GA 30460-8126
(912) 478-5391

Georgia Southern University is a public university based in Statesboro, Georgia. It belongs to the University System of Georgia. GSU is the sixth largest school in Georgia’s university system and has recently expanded its reach by offering online courses and degree options to students across the country. GSU has online programs in healthcare, business, and education. Hybrid course options that combine online and in-classroom activities are also available. GSU’s online master’s in early childhood education is designed for students who are currently certified and working in the field. Curriculum development, learning theories, educational research, and cultural issues in education are emphasized in this master’s in early childhood education online program. Full-time students can obtain this degree in a little over a year by taking classes in consecutive summer, fall, spring, and summer terms.

15Concordia University - Saint PaulSaint Paul$$$$$1282 Concordia Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
(651) 641-8278

Concordia University-Saint Paul is a liberal arts university based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is a part of the Concordia University System, which has many locations across the country. The university currently offers 19 bachelor’s degree programs and 20 master’s degree programs. It is a leader of online education in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Online students at CU-Saint Paul have access to an easy-to-use online education portal and a help desk. Online courses in CU-Saint Paul’s master’s of arts in early childhood education are seven weeks in length and explore topics such as the theory of play, emergent literacy, diversity in the classroom, and ethics for educators. In order to be accepted into this program, applicants must be employed in some kind of early childhood education capacity.

16Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale$$$$$3301 College Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
(954) 262-7300

Nova Southeastern University is a private university with a main campus located in Davie, Florida. Founded as Nova University of Advanced Technology during World War II, the university later merged with the Southeastern University of Health Sciences. NSU currently provides many bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs online. NSU’s master’s of science in education - prekindergarten through primary education curriculum focuses on research, child development, curriculum planning, and educational assessment. Coursework is primarily synchronous and is delivered through real-time video streaming software. Students are required to complete field work at an institution approved by NSU as the final step of the program before they are eligible to graduate. NSU provides online courses through Sharklearn, which is based on the Blackboard learning management system.

17Biola UniversityLa Mirada$$$$$13800 Biola Ave
La Mirada, CA 90639-0001
(562) 903-6000

Biola University is a private, Christian university based in La Mirada, California. It is strongly committed to providing students with a faith-based educational experience. Biola University offers three bachelor’s degree programs and 13 master’s degree programs online. The school’s online programs are delivered through the Canvas learning management system. The teachings of the bible are integrated into course offerings to help students develop academically and spiritually. The master’s of arts in teaching - early childhood from Biola University qualifies graduates to apply for child development permits from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Biola University’s master’s in early childhood education online program covers topics that focus on education, child development, and assessment of early learners. Completion of field work and a capstone research project are also required in order to graduate.

18University of South AlabamaMobile$$$$$307 N University Blvd
Mobile, AL 36688-0002
(251) 460-6101

The University of South Alabama (USA) is a national research university with a main campus in Mobile, Alabama. USA is the only public higher education institution in the upper Gulf Coast region of the United States. The university serves this region and beyond with traditional and online courses and degree programs. USA’s distance learners have access to online forums and web conferencing. The master’s in early childhood education at USA is designed to qualify graduates for the Alabama Class A Professional Early Childhood Education (P-3) certificate. Some of the course subjects in this program include instructional planning, trends in literacy and math instruction, and educational research. This degree program also requires early childhood education internships. USA’s online offerings are accessible through the Sakai learning management software.

19Edinboro University of PennsylvaniaEdinboro$$$$$219 Meadville Street
Edinboro, PA 16444-0001
(814) 732-2000

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is a public university headquartered in northwest Pennsylvania. It is one of the 14 colleges and universities that belongs to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Edinboro University’s online degree programs are delivered through the D2L LMS. Its master’s in early childhood education program teaches students advanced research techniques and practices. It also requires a one-week summer residency that must be attended on campus during the summer after a student’s first year. The remainder of the coursework for this program can be completed entirely online. Course subjects include educational research, curriculum development, and child development. This program also requires students to complete a research project and present their results in a written report to a faculty member. Students may also choose to pursue an additional early childhood education certification.

20Champlain CollegeBurlington$$$$$246 S. Willard St
Burlington, VT 05401
(802) 860-2700

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a private college with a main campus in Burlington, Vermont. Many of its students are distance learners who complete coursework remotely. Champlain’s master’s in early childhood education takes a project-based approach and utilizes an asynchronous course schedule, which allows students to view lectures, videos, and other course resources on their own time. The specialized tracks in this program include special education, teaching, and administration for early childhood education. Coursework for these tracks differs slightly, but all online master’s in early childhood education students at Champlain learn about essential child development and pedagogy theory. Courses are offered in eight-week terms and distance learners must participate in a four-day, face-to-face academic residency during their first year of enrollment in the graduate program.

21Northwestern State University of LouisianaNatchitoches$$$$$University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71497-0002
(318) 357-6011

Northwestern State University of Louisiana is a public university with a primary campus in Natchitoches, Louisiana and additional locations across the state. The school’s online campus participates in the Louisiana Transfer Degree Program, and distance learners pay the same online tuition rate regardless of their state of residency. The online master’s of arts in teaching - early childhood education from NSU meets the standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and qualifies graduates for certification in Louisiana as well as select other states.

NSU’s early childhood education master’s degree online program requires a year-long internship at a school or early childhood education organization in addition to online coursework. Classes focus on foundational and specialized topics including advanced child development, assessment of children, educational research, and community relations.

22Western Kentucky UniversityBowling Green$$$$$1906 College Heights Blvd
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1000
(270) 745-0111

Established in 1906, Western Kentucky University is a public research university in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The school’s online division has consistently received recognition from organizations such as U.S. News & World Report due to the caliber of its offerings. Support services for online students include tutoring, success coaching, and career search help. The online MAE in early childhood education/teacher leadership prepares early childhood teachers to assume leadership roles.

Students learn to create and plan experiences to support the development of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners, as well as their families, including children with disabilities. This program is offered approximately 80% online and requires some in-person participation at WKU’s main campus or at one of its regional locations. The coursework in the program emphasizes pedagogy, research, and leadership training.

23Jacksonville State UniversityJacksonville$$$$$700 Pelham Road North
Jacksonville, AL 36265
(256) 782-5781

Jacksonville State University is a public university based in Jacksonville, Alabama. The university was established in 1883 as a state teacher’s college. Today, the school offers degree programs from all major areas of study, but its main focus remains on teaching educators. Online@JSU boasts a dedicated team of IT personnel and instructional designers who ensure that students receive a quality online education. Technical assistance is available to all JSU online students 24/7. JSU offers online master’s degrees in early childhood education and early childhood special education.

Online students in these programs learn about technology use in education, children’s literature, educational assessment, child behavior, and educational research. Students who choose the early childhood special education degree program take additional specialized coursework that focuses on teaching children with special needs.

24Saint Ambrose UniversityDavenport$$$$$518 W Locust St
Davenport, IA 52803-2898
(563) 333-6000

Saint Ambrose University is a private liberal arts school located in Davenport, Iowa. It has a Catholic affiliation. The university offers a variety of degree programs and courses that can be completed online. Some courses are available in an asynchronous format, while others must be virtually attended at specific days and times. The curriculum of the online master’s of early childhood education program at Saint Ambrose University focuses on promoting the wellbeing of children, making teachers more self-reflective, and promoting social justice. Course topics include cognitive science, teamwork, literacy development, and professional development. This program also requires a capstone research project. Applicants should have previous experience as a practitioner in an area of early childhood education, including working as a teacher, early interventionist, speech therapist, counselor, or social worker.

25University of the SouthwestHobbs$$$$$6610 North Lovington Hwy
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-6561

The University of the Southwest is a private university headquartered in Hobbs, New Mexico. The school provides bachelor’s degrees in several disciplines as well as master’s degree in business and education. Distance learners at USW pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of their state of residency. Courses are delivered through Blackboard, CAMS-Enterprise course management software, and innovative video conferencing. Students enrolled in USW’s master’s in early childhood education online program can also choose to obtain a teaching license while completing their degree.

Child development, early childhood language acquisition, nutrition, family and community studies, and curriculum development are major facets of the required coursework at USW. This degree program also mandates that students complete a practicum at an approved early childhood education establishment.

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.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

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

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Education, education and human development

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

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

  • AVERAGE INCOME

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

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

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

Online Early Childhood Education Choose Your Career

Average Early Childhood Education Salaries

$54,550
$20,320
$45,670
$28,570

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.

Is it required?

Yes

How long will it take?

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.

Is it required?

Recommended

How long will it take?

Varies

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.

Is it required?

Varies

How long will it take?

Varies

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.

Is it required?

Recommended

How long will it take?

Varies

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.

Is it required?

Varies

How long will it take?

Varies