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.
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.
University of Georgia
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $14,956
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.
Arizona State University
College Choice Score: 97.83
Average Net Price: $13,007
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
College Choice Score: 96.68
Average Net Price: $35,147
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
College Choice Score: 95.66
Average Net Price: $13,842
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.
College Choice Score: 94.77
Average Net Price: $20,692
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.
College Choice Score: 93.72
Average Net Price: $12,621
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.
University of Florida
College Choice Score: 92.70
Average Net Price: $14,761
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
College Choice Score: 91.70
Average Net Price: $17,441
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
College Choice Score: 91.49
Average Net Price: $15,533
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
College Choice Score: 90.76
Average Net Price: $12,384
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.
Oral Roberts University
College Choice Score: 90.58
Average Net Price: $21,595
Oral Roberts University provides a Christian environment for teachers to learn the skills necessary to be successful. Offering a BS in Early Childhood Education, the Oral Roberts model takes a three-tiered approach offering: professional education, general education, and specialized subject area education.
Early Childhood Education students focus on all areas of development for children birth to age 8. Upon graduation, students receive licensure to teach. Oral Roberts also allows students to choose a specialized concentration of study in either English as a Second Language or Special Education. Course offerings include:
- Foundations of Early Childhood Education and Physical Development
- Psychosocial Development and Guidance of the Young Child
- Literacy Assessment
- Elementary Reading Methods
With practicums, opportunities for clinical experience, and focused study, Early Childhood Education students gain the skills needed for long-term success. Student teaching with the guidance of a mentor teacher is the capstone of the ECE degree. For those looking to be trained as a Christian educator, Oral Roberts University’s program should be of note.
Valdosta State University
College Choice Score: 89.66
Average Net Price: $14,573
Valdosta State University offers fantastic Bachelor of Science in Education with an Early Childhood Education major. This is a program suited for those looking to teach Pre-Kindergarten through 5th Grade. After completion of the degree and passing state content and performance assessments, graduates will receive state teaching certification.
The Valdosta State University program is focused on the personal growth and development, as well as the intellectual, emotional, physical, and social aspects of children. Graduates are able to learn educational theory and put it into practice with the field experience aspect of the program. Specific classes that are a part of the coursework are:
- Exploring Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Diversity
- Exploring Learning and Teaching
- Introduction to the Management of Learning Environments
- Advanced Management of Learning Environments
Students in the program gain the ethical, theoretical, and pedagogical skills that help foster positive classroom experiences. With Valdosta State University’s solid partnership with local public schools, community agencies and other educational settings, students receive hands-on, practical experience.
Northeastern State University
College Choice Score: 87.31
Average Net Price: $8,365
The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education at Northeastern State University provides offers a top-notch program at a great value. Northeastern States faculty scholars and small classes provide the environment for students to find success.
The Early Childhood Education degree lays the foundation with educational theory and child psychology and development courses. It then offers specific classes that will be relevant and practical for teachers in a learning environment. Classes offered include:
- Organization and Implemenations of Early Childhood
- Technology in Education
- Creative Expression for Early Childhood
- Cognitive Development of Young Children
With internships, specialty seminars, and student teaching opportunities, graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education feel equipped with the knowledge to create positive classrooms. Students are also required to pass the Oklahoma General Education Test.
Wayne State College
College Choice Score: 85.85
Average Net Price: $12,139
The Early Childhood Inclusive Education degree offered at Wayne State College gives students the skills to provide young children a high-quality learning atmosphere. With a well-respected education faculty and low student-to-faculty ratio, students reach success in teaching birth to Grade 3.
Courses at Wayne State College give students understanding of child development and psychology, but also real-world applicable skills that will benefit them when they work in classrooms. Methodologies and curriculum planning meet child safety and leadership and supervision. Some of the specific courses offered include:
- Early Reading
- Instructional Media and Technology
- Diverse Family Systems
- Organization and Administration of Early Childhood Programs
Students enrolled in the Early Childhood Inclusive Education program have a full semester of clinical practice to complete their degree. Wayne State College also offers opportunities to engage in Service-Learning Projects, join student clubs, associations, and honor societies related to early childhood education.
SUNY Buffalo State
College Choice Score: 85.51
Average Net Price: $12,046
The Bachelor of Science program in Early Childhood Education at SUNY Buffalo State carries a strong reputation for excellence. The degree is geared toward students studying to teach young children birth to Grade 2. With SUNY Buffalo State’s high caliber faculty and community networking, program participants are able to learn teaching best practices.
Early Childhood majors are introduced to the theoretical and foundational side of education through a robust course of study. With course ranging from child development to psychology, students are able to gain a strong understanding of young children. Specific courses offered in the ECE program include:
- Introduction to Literacy
- Integration of Technology in Education
- Behavior and Classroom Management
- Parents, Schools, and Community
Early Childhood Education majors have two student teaching opportunities which highlight different age groups and learning scenarios. With one expected to be in an urban environment, student graduates feel equipped to succeed in the diverse educational system. Special seminars mandated through New York State on relevant topics in education today are also a part of the SUNY Buffalo State program.
College Choice Score: 83.39
Average Net Price: $17,797
Clemson University’s Bachelors in Early Childhood Education focuses on working with children from birth to Grade 3. The program promotes understanding diverse populations of students and offers cross-cultural experiences. Clemson’s faculty scholars work hard to present varying points of view, giving students a well-rounded education.
Classes in the Early Childhood Education major emphasize child development, curriculum planning, and methodology. Specific offerings in the major include:
- Foundations of Early Childhood Education
- Observation and Assessment in Clinical Settings
- Critical Issues and Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Education
- Family, School, and Community Relationships
The Clemson ECE degree exceeds fieldwork requirements, and provides a 72 day student teaching internship, also exceeding state requirements. With accreditation from several national organizations, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Clemson graduates are poised for career success.
The University of West Florida
College Choice Score: 82.66
Average Net Price: $11,175
The University of West Florida offers students excellent coursework and field experience to obtain a B.A. in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood Education. This degree leads to teacher certification in Florida for Kindergarten – Grade 6. A Reading, English for Speakers of Other Languages Endorsement, and Pre-kindergarten/Primary Endorsement is also available.
The University of West Florida’s Early Childhood Education minor allows students to gain the practical skills necessary for work with young children. Through classes in child development, curriculum, and classroom management, students are prepared to teach well. Class opportunities include:
- Educational Assessment
- Planning and Curriculum
- Emerging Technology in the Classroom
- Applied Foundations of Education
With opportunities for student teaching, seminars, and internships, graduates of the University of West Florida’s Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood have high job placement potential. Whether working in Head Start programs, preschools, or pre-kindergarten disability classes, they have the skills to give young students a quality education.
Ohio State University
College Choice Score: 82.14
Average Net Price: $17,971
The Bachelor of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education program at the Ohio State University is tailored for students interested in working with students Pre – Kindergarten to Grade 3. Upon completion of the program, students will be recommended for an Ohio teaching license.
Focused on implementing inquiry based strategies and creating a cooperative learning environment, students combine teaching methods with practical tools. With a strong commitment to engaging in diverse learning opportunities and achieving social justice for young students, the BSEd program is highly competitive. Specific courses include:
- Early Child Pedagogy
- Understanding Phonics
- Language Arts for Children Age 3-9
- Teaching and Learning Math Pre-K-3
Preschool field experiences and a year-long Kindergarten – Grade 3 elementary student teaching placement bring to real-life interaction and experience to students. BSEd students also work with local early childhood organizations to design curriculum.
College Choice Score: 79.02
Average Net Price: $9,037
Marshall University’s BA in Early Childhood Education degree equips students with the skills and teaching strategies for best guiding young children. Focusing on children from birth to 5 years old, graduates will receive licensure for teaching preschoolers with special needs as well. The Early Childhood Education degree can be completed as a stand-alone degree, or as an endorsement to a Elementary Education degree.
Early Childhood Education students are given a robust course of study. With classes on assessment, foundations of education, and curriculum planning, students feel empowered to teach and filled with practical knowledge. Some of the classes specific to the degree include:
- Early Childhood Wellbeing
- Early Education Technology
- Early Childhood Programs
Marshall University’s ECE program provides a high concentration of clinical experience. Opportunities for knowledge are gained in preschool environments and day care centers. An internship is the capstone of the Early Childhood Education learning experience.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College Choice Score: 76.81
Average Net Price: $16,683
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a highly respected Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. The program prepares students to teach young children from birth to grade 3 (changing to Grade 2 after 2019). An Early Childhood Special Education license can also be qualified for.
ECE students focus on learning about who the young child is, as well as the best ways to plan curriculum, and support their educational goals. Courses on assessment strategies and overcoming learning difficulties are offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign’s top-tier faculty scholars. Specific courses that are part of the major include:
- Language Literacy in Early Childhood Education
- Educational Psychology
- Families, Communities, Schools
- Mathematics in Early Childhood
Practice teaching in early childhood classroom environments and with students who have special needs is an invaluable part of the coursework. Upon completion of the degree, students will be recommended for licensure in the state of Illinois. This degree is a part of the Gateways to Opportunity Program Professional Development System in Illinois.
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
College Choice Score: 75.48
Average Net Price: $16,242
The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities offers students looking at a career in early childhood education a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood. The program is applicable to jobs in non-licensure environments and prepares candidates for entry into the MEd, which is the U of M’s initial licensure program.
With a liberal arts core, students receive the knowledge necessary to successfully implement learning strategies that work for young children. From educational psychology to development, this foundational track gives students depth and breadth to the life of a young child. Specific course in the B.S. in Early Childhood include:
- Social and Philosophical Foundations of Early Childhood Education
- Education of Preschool Children With Disabilities: Methods and Materials
- Facilitating Social and Emotional Learning in Early Childhood Education
- Diversity in Children’s Literature
Students who intend to continue their studies for licensure in early childhood education are able to enter program sub-plans, which complement their further study. If not interested in licensure, they are able to focus on an individual study plan with their advisor. Practicums and student teaching opportunities are a part of the B.S. in Early Childhood as well.
College Choice Score: 72.39
Average Net Price: $22,112
Southwestern College provides a Bachelor of Arts in Education Degree with a Major in Early Childhood Education. This dual program offers early childhood education and early childhood special education into a single license. It is applicable for licensure working with young children from birth to 8 years old.
With a strong liberal arts core, students at Southwestern are equipped to enter and engage whatever learning environments they decide to work in. Early Childhood Education courses are highly attuned to understanding the young child. Classes offered in the degree include:
- Infant Development
- Technology in Special Education
- Introduction to the Reading Process
- Motor Development, Expressive Arts, Social Studies
Southwestern College uniquely as it own preschool on-campus, giving students easy access to their observation requirements and teaching opportunities. Student teaching offers two different grade levels of experience, adding another level of depth to the program.
Silver Lake College of the Holy Family
College Choice Score: 70.40
Average Net Price: $19,989
Silver Lake College of the Holy Family offers a highly regarded Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education. Students pursuing this degree will be equipped to teach young children from birth to age 8 and will be eligible for Wisconsin state teaching certification at the end of the program.
Silver Lake College of the Holy Family places strong value on a liberal arts foundation. Combined with core classes in teacher education and early childhood education, studies are balanced and thorough. Classes offered in the major include:
- Emergent Literacy and Language Arts
- Reading and Remediation
- Early Childhood Curriculum and Methods
- Intro to Early Childhood for Diverse Learners
With hand-on, practical application working with children, Early Childhood Education students gain understanding how to best achieve learning outcomes. An engaged faculty, small class sizes, and a dedication to professional ethics make the Silver Lake College of the Holy Family a program of note.
University of South Florida
College Choice Score: 69.42
Average Net Price: $11,398
The University of South Florida offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education that is applicable for Pre-Kindergarten through 3rd grade students. After completing the program, graduates will be able to gain Florida teacher certification. The University of South Florida program comes with a full English for Speakers of Other Languages Endorsement.
The Early Childhood curriculum allows students to put into practice their theoretical and foundations courses. With courses focused on innately understanding all aspects of the young child, student feel equipped to enter new learning environments and be successful. Class offerings for the major include:
- Teaching Literature and Writing in Early Childhood
- Language and Emerging Literacy
- Current Trends and Issues in Early Childhood
- Science for Young Children
Students at the University of South Florida have three tiers of field experience, giving invaluable real-life applications to their course studies. The degree culminates with a final teaching internship working with early childhood aged students. The Early Childhood degree is set up as a cohort model and can be completed in 5 semesters.
College Choice Score: 68.69
Average Net Price: $13,682
Lander University offers a dynamic BS in Early Childhood Education. Focused on working with young children from Pre – Kindergarten to Grade 3, the program also differentiates itself by offering a Montessori teacher education programs which is accredited by the American Montessori Society. Candidates it the Early Childhood Education program can add a Montessori endorsement to their degree after completing the additional courses.
Students in the Early Childhood Education program at Lander follow the EPIC strategy. As educators they learn to Engage, Plan, Integrate, and Communicate. The program adheres to a robust Teacher Education curriculum and certification is available at graduation. Specific courses in the Early Childhood Education program include:
- Introduction to Early Childhood
- Health and Movement in Early Childhood
- Children and Families
- Reading and Language Arts for Early Childhood
With initiatives like the South Carolina Teaching Fellows program and Call Me MISTER, Early Childhood Education recruits and supports worthy candidates to Lander University. A culminating student teaching experience complements the 4 year coursework and sends graduates into the field prepared for successful classroom settings.