Early childhood educators work with children, from infancy to grade school, sharing fundamental skills and knowledge.
Few occupations offer a greater opportunity to influence individuals and the world at large than jobs in education. Early childhood educators work with children, from infancy to grade school, sharing fundamental skills and knowledge in a number of areas: fine and gross motor skills, basic math, letters and reading, social studies, art and music. Teachers commit to a lifetime of learning, frequently participating in professional development, recertification procedures, and working with coworkers and parents to standardize and enhance learning opportunities for their students. Early childhood educators may work in public schools, private schools, pre-schools and learning centers, or day care facilities. Entry-level requirements for employment typically include a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Explore our rankings of 25 top schools below, which offer everything from an essential early childhood education degree to accelerated dual-degree bachelor’s/master’s programs to combination degrees in early childhood and special education.
Top 10 Best Early Childhood Education Degrees
||University of Georgia
||Arizona State University
||New York University
||New York, NY
||Florida Gulf Coast University
||Fort Meyers, FL
||University of Florida
||Kennesaw State University
||University of Central Florida
||Georgia Gwinnett College
What are the best early childhood education degrees?
Ranking methodology is based on these primary factors: institutional excellence, student satisfaction, and student success (i.e., return on investment).
Institutional excellence is decided using the following types of data: graduation rate, institutional reputation, students’ entering test scores, student-to-faculty ratio, and endowment size.
Student satisfaction is an total and weighting of student reviews found in various journalistic outlets and websites.
Return on investment is based on tuition costs, financial aid, average student indebtedness after graduating, and expected early career salary for grads. Data is taken from the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database, Payscale, individual college websites, and US News & World Report.
See our rankings methodology page.
Topping the list for the Best Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education degree is the University of Georgia, a public research university in Athens. This degree provides certification for teaching PreKindergarten through 5th grade. UGA’s Early Childhood Education program was named in the Top 5 by U.S. News & World Report.
The University of Georgia’s BSEd in Early Childhood Education gives its students hands-on, and relevant coursework. The program starts with the foundations of education courses which are critical to teaching success. Students learn to design on-point curriculum and educational best practices. They will also understand how to create challenging learning environments and how to foster successful relationships with students and parents. Classes offered include:
- Exploring Learning and Teaching
- Investigating Critical and Contemporary Issues in Education
- Special Problems in Early Childhood Education
- Exploring Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Diversity
With UGA’s strong relationship to the local school community, practical “real-life” skills are easy to build. Whether tutoring, working with small groups of children in the Reading Clinic, or participating in school culture in other ways, Early Childhood Education students walk away with eons of experience. A student’s last semester is full-time student teaching, working collaboratively with mentor teachers.
Ranking high for its Early Childhood Education program is Arizona State University. A public, metropolitan research university located in Tempe, ASU was recently named the Most Innovative School in America for the third year by U.S. News & World Report. Its Bachelor of Arts in Education for Early Childhood Education immediately stands out for its two-tiered benefits to students.
ASU uniquely combines their program for Early Childhood Education with Early Childhood Special Education, giving graduates a highly sought after dual certification. With high demand for graduates with this degree, students are making a winning, value-added choice by enrolling at ASU. Courses are offered in:
- Introduction to Nutrition, Health, and Safety
- The Developing Child: Theory into Practice, Prenatal – Grade 3
- Social and Emotional Development of the Young Child
- Family, Community, and Professional Support Systems
Student teaching opportunities, clinical experience, and internships allow students to engage fully with “real life” scenarios and receive mentorship from peers. After passing the mandated Arizona Educator Exams in their content area and based on their professional knowledge, graduates are certified to teach anywhere in Arizona from age birth to Grade 3.
New York University’s bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education combines top-tier teacher training with their acclaimed Liberal Arts Core. NYU’s 30-point Liberal Arts concentration ensures graduates have received a well-rounded education and are able to be fully certified in New York at graduation.
Getting a bachelor’s degree in NYU’s Early Childhood Education is a dual-certification program with Early Childhood Special Education. Giving ample job opportunities to graduates, the program can be specific to ages birth – Grade 2 or Grade 1 – Grade 6. Comprehensive courses are focused on:
- Human Development
- Curriculum and Pedagogy
- Inquiry Based Education
- Foundations of Education
Classroom fieldwork, done in the diverse and urban New York community, gives students practical insight to general and special education settings. Study abroad opportunities allow mind-broadening participation in classrooms on the NYU-London or NYU-Accra campus sites. Working with top scholar faculty members, graduates will leave the NYU BS in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education program with tools to help children reach full academic success.
Florida Gulf Coast University
Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, offers a B.A. in Early Childhood Education degree which prepares its graduates for certification in Florida teaching positions. This well-recognized program is for pre-kindergarten (ages 3 to 3rd grade). Included is a pre-kindergarten and disability endorsement, which amps up graduates resumes and adds to the jobs they can apply for after graduation.
A comprehensive course schedule gives students in the Early Childhood Education program challenging, but relevant classes. Methods, foundations of education, and curriculum theory are all addressed. With faculty scholars, and small, supportive classes, Florida Gulf Coast University offers an environment for success. Specific courses offered include:
- Early Learning Literacy
- Child Growth & Development
- Educational Assessment of Exceptional Students
- Young Children With Special Needs
In-classroom field experience is another part of the Early Childhood Education degree at FGCU. Student teaching is a two-level, 12 week placement in a local school or classroom setting. This allows student teachers to gain the skills for not only successful teaching, but also context for how to foster a quality learning environment. English for Speakers of Other Language training is also emphasized.
Mercer University in Georgia offers a dynamic and flexible Bachelor of Science in Education degree. Students major in Early Childhood and Special Education and are certified to teach Kindergarten to Grade 5 upon graduation. After graduating and passing state assessment, students are eligible for Level 4 certification.
Mercer’s graduates receive an education on the whole child. From the child’s environment, to their cognitive and social development, graduates are enabled to create curriculum that is suited for student success. Technology implementation, and diagnostic assessment strategies are also learning outcomes. Courses include:
- Health, Nutrition, and Safety
- Fundamentals of Special Education
- Science for All Learners
- Connecting the Home, School, and Community
Mercer’s B.S.Ed also includes practica field experiences. Offering daytime participation in a diverse combination of settings and classrooms, students gain the know-how and experience to handle many scenarios. The program is structured very flexibly, with in-class meetings once a week, and an array of online and hybrid class offerings. This makes it very accessible to non-traditional students.
The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education at Indiana University-Bloomington gives graduates dual Indiana state teaching licenses upon completion. Graduates will be fully certified in infant or toddler and preschool settings, and also have certification for teaching in Kindergarten – Grade 3 settings. ECE graduates are able to apply for employment in a wide variety of job openings.
The ECE program at IU – Bloomington gives students an impressive array of coursework, which gives them the tools needed to be successful in diverse educational settings. Focusing on inclusion, special education, and early intervention, the program boasts diverse course listings, such as:
- Teaching & Learning for All Young Children
- Methods of Teaching Language Arts
- Science in the Elementary Schools
- Introduction to Educational Thought
ECE students are also given field experiences, practicums, and opportunities for student teaching with children infant to elementary Grade 3. An optional teaching license in Reading and participation in the Global Gateway for Teachers teaching opportunity add even more value to IU – Bloomington’s robust program in Early Childhood Education.
The University of Florida’s Unified Early Childhood ProTeach program is a unique, 5 year, interdisciplinary teacher education. After completion of the 4 year degree, students may be admitted to a 1 year graduate program, resulting in a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and giving graduates incredible job options.
The Unified Early Childhood ProTeach program allows for certification to work with children in multiple brackets. Certificates for Preschool (birth to age 4), Pre-Kindergarten/Primary (age 3 to Grade 3), along with Pre – Kindergarten Disability and ESOL Endorsements are offered. Challenging coursework includes:
- Social Foundations of Education
- Language Acquisition
- Early Childhood Curriculum & Management
Students at the University of Florida are also offered hands-on practicums and engaging early childhood internships. Along with the great opportunities afforded because of the 5th year graduate degree option, the Unified Early Childhood ProTeach program is stocked with potential for students looking to earn a multi-faceted degree with lots of employment options from a top tier university.
Kennesaw State University
The Early Childhood Education Birth through Kindergarten program at Kennesaw State University enables graduates to teach young children, including those with special learning needs. A Montessori Education Concentration is also offered, giving graduates the ability to be certified through the Pan American Montessori Society.
Focused on understanding and engaging the needs of the whole child, Kennesaw State University equips students for long term teaching success. Course offerings include topics of special education, English Language Learners, classroom best practices, and child development. Specific courses offered in the Early Childhood Education Birth through Kindergarten program are:
- Developmental Aspects of Movement and Physical Domain
- Health, Wellness, and the Young Child
- The Preschool Curriculum
- Methods of Nurturing Second Language Acquisition
The Early Childhood Education Birth through Kindergarten program offers student teaching opportunities for students in a diverse array of classroom settings. Student teachers are given the practical knowledge from these direct interactions that serves them well in their careers. Implementing classroom best practices and chances to interact with the community are additional gains.
University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida offers an outstanding Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Meant for Pre – Kindergarten to Grade 3, this program feeds into receiving Florida state teaching certification. Graduates are able to serve in one of Florida’s diverse educational opportunities.
The Early Childhood Education program has English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) “infusion” in its coursework. This allows students to take ESOL embedded courses and to graduate with the ESOL Endorsement. A Reading Endorsement is also offered. Other courses offered include:
- Introduction to Diversity for Educators
- Child and Adolescent Development for Educators
- Curriculum Activities in Early Childhood
- Teaching Science and Technology to Young Children
The Early Childhood Education degree offers graduates positions in Head Start programs, public or private schools, and preschool centers. Its emphasis on education foundations, collaborative learning, and research based practices help young learners find success. A semester-long student teaching completes the coursework.
Georgia Gwinnett College
Georgia Gwinnett College provides a top-tier Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. This degree is tailored for teaching preschool through Grade 5. With small class sizes and leading faculty scholars, Georgia Gwinnett offers an incredible program.
The B.S. in Early Childhood Education program gives graduates both a Reading and English for Speakers of Other Languages Endorsement to graduates, adding to their job options. With course offerings in foundations, methods, and curriculum, as well as math and literacy education, students are challenged in their field. Specific course include:
- Learners and Learning Environments
- Geometry for Teachers
- Approaches to Teaching Writing
- Instructional Design and Delivery
Each semester, Georgia Gwinnett students participate in field experiences in the local community and have direct interaction in classrooms. The capstone to the ECE program is a full-year student teaching opportunity and leadership training program.
Recommended Online Programs