Best Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

For some educators, helping a young child meet a developmental or educational milestone resonates like nothing else in the world. Not everyone is equipped to handle the demands of educating infants and toddlers, but those who are enjoy a rewarding career where they can watch children grow and prepare them for elementary school.

As the country’s population expands, more and more educators are needed to teach young children. In fact, the BLS projects that the need for early childhood care specialists will rise approximately 17% by 2022. Most preschools and daycares prefer to hire teachers with a degree in early childhood education (ECE), and with demand for ECE degrees rising, colleges are increasingly offering the program online. This allows working adults to pursue a degree without disrupting their current professional or familial responsibilities.

Below, we’ve ranked the top online bachelor’s in early childhood education programs. Each school on our list offers specialized training and prepares students to educate young children in a flexible format. Read on below to learn more about the best bachelor’s in early childhood education online programs in the country.

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro
  • in-state tuition: $6,382
  • out-of-state tuition: $20,180
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.
2

National University

La Jolla
  • annually: $12,096
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.
3

Florida International University

Miami
  • in-state tuition: $6,496
  • out-of-state tuition: $18,895
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.

4

University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati
  • in-state tuition: $10,784
  • out-of-state tuition: $25,816
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.

5

Harding University

Searcy
  • annually: $16,170
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.

6

Granite State College

Concord
  • in-state tuition: $7,065
  • out-of-state tuition: $7,545
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.
7

Southwestern College

Winfield
  • annually: $23,886
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.
8

California Baptist University

Riverside
  • annually: $28,122
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.
9

Arkansas Tech University

Russellville
  • in-state tuition: $5,598
  • out-of-state tuition: $10,374
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.
10

Brandman University

Irvine
  • annually: $8,800
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.
11

Florida State College at Jacksonville

Jacksonville
  • in-state tuition: $2,830
  • out-of-state tuition: $9,944
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.
12

Utah State University

Logan
  • in-state tuition: $6,030
  • out-of-state tuition: $17,550
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.

13

City University of Seattle

Seattle
  • annually: $14,880
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.

14

Mayville State University

Mayville
  • in-state tuition: $6,353
  • out-of-state tuition: $8,675
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.
15

Notre Dame College

Cleveland
  • annually: $26,344
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.
16

Central Methodist University - College of Graduate and Extended Studies

Fayette
    411 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.

    17

    Western Governors University

    Salt Lake City
    • annually: $6,070
    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.

    18

    Wilmington University

    New Castle
    • annually: $9,950
    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.

    19

    The University of Montana Western

    Dillon
    • in-state tuition: $4,141
    • out-of-state tuition: $14,860
    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.
    20

    Park University

    Parkville
    • annually: $10,600
    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.

    21

    State College of Florida - Manatee-Sarasota

    Bradenton
    • in-state tuition: $3,074
    • out-of-state tuition: $11,597
    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.
    22

    Prescott College

    Prescott
    • annually: $29,732
    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.

    Working with young children is meaningful and exciting for most teachers; 77% of graduates from ECE programs report that they feel their work makes “the world a better place.” Elementary school teachers earn an average salary of about $45,000, with higher earning potential as they gain experience or move into educational administration. The combination of a rewarding career and a good salary draws many prospective teachers to the field.

    Graduates from online bachelor’s in early childhood education programs find a variety of career possibilities awaiting them. Most ECE programs prepare students for several different career paths, allowing them to pursue the specialty of their choice. Many work in elementary schools, teaching between kindergarten and third grade. Graduates also work as childcare specialists, educational administrators and children’s services workers.

    One of the keys to success in an ECE program is finding the right educational facility for your internship or practicum. Fieldwork is a requirement in most ECE programs and a significant part of your education will be spent outside of the virtual classroom. Here, you’ll encounter young children in a professional context for the first time, and it’s important to find a facility with an educational mission that matches your intellectual and professional interests. A successful internship prepares you for the kind of work you’ll do upon graduation, and it’s critical that your educational focus aligns well with your fieldwork and desired position after school.

    Ultimately, an online ECE degree prepares students to effectively work with infants, toddlers and elementary school kids. Degree holders become influential development figures in the lives of children, and play a large in role shaping the adults of future generations.

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