Nap time. Snack time. Criss-cross applesauce. These beloved phrases remind many people of their first, and maybe best, moments at school.
Why were these moments so great? They were great thanks to Early Childhood Education.
Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degrees
||University of Dayton
||Georgia Southern University
||University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
||Orange City, IA
||University of North Dakota
||Grand Forks, ND
||Northern Arizona University
||Concordia University-Saint Paul
||Saint Paul, MN
||Kennesaw State University
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What Is Early Childhood Education?
Early Childhood Education, commonly abbreviated ECE, generally refers to the education of kids aged birth-eight. ECE consists of a number of different experiences that are intended to support the cognitive and social growth of children who are about to enter or have just entered the early stages of education. It may also involve identifying and providing support for children with special needs or learning disabilities.
How Much Money Can I Earn Working in Early Childhood Education?
Early Childhood Education is a rewarding job field, both in terms of the good educators do for students and as a career path for those educators. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts jobs for Preschool and Childcare Center directors to grow by over 10 percent in the next ten years, which is faster than the national average. With more than 60,000 directors already employed, this translates to almost one thousand new job openings per year!
But Child Care Center director is just an example. One of the main benefits of pursuing ECE is the diversity of careers that are open to experts in the field. Graduates can become kindergarten/preschool teachers, assist in running Head Start programs, work with special needs students, or even pursue leadership opportunities in school administration.
Why Choose An Online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education?
Where and how a person gets their degree matters, especially with an important field like Early Childhood Education. It is vital to find schools with challenging curriculum and strong faculty, but which also meet a student’s unique needs.
Traditional graduate programs can constrain students. Professionals already engaged in education or students looking to start a family need programs that will work with them when it comes to courses and schoolwork.
Online programs offer comparable academic rigor to traditional academics program, but they also allow students to have a life outside of school. Classes can be accessed in the day or at night, in a café or on a student’s couch. And the technological interactions that online students have will help them transition more smoothly into the modern workforce, where all jobs involve interfacing with technology.
If you like the flexibility of online education but want to find the most affordable program, check out College Choice’s Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education.
What Are the Best 35 Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education?
College Choice considers several factors including institutional merit, student fulfillment, and return on investment to develop rankings. Institutional merit combines metrics such as student-to-faculty ratios, graduation rates and endowment to measure each school’s ability to provide excellent and cost-effective education for each student.
Student fulfillment measures how fulfilled current and former students felt with the services and programs offered at each school.
And finally return on investment looks at the fiscal benefits students are likely to receive from each school’s education, weighted against the costs of attendance, namely tuition and student loans. In the end, we believe these 35 schools represent the top choices for Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education.
See our rankings methodology page.
The University of Dayton is a private, Roman Catholic university located in Dayton, OH. Commonly referred to as UD, it is the second largest private university in Ohio, with around 11,000 total undergraduate and postgraduate students. It was founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary, making it one of three Marianist universities in the U.S.
Dayton offers a Masters in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy. All coursework is available online and is intended for students seeking a web-based, part-time degree program. Sample coursework includes:
- Philosophical Studies in Education
- School, Self, and Society
- History of Catholic K-12 Schools in the United States
- Foundation of Literacy through Literature
There is also an Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy certificate, which is intended for experience ECE professionals.
Students below a 2.75 GPA must submit GRE or MAT test scores. All students looking to complete the degree are required to complete a graduate leadership core sequence, in either the administrative or advocacy strand.
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University is a public research university, with its flagship campus located in Statesboro, GA. The school was founded in 1906 as a part of the University System of Georgia, and is the largest university in the southern portion of the state. Georgia Southern has around 900 academic staff members, who serve a student body of approximately 28,000 students.
Georgia Southern offers a Masters in Education in Elementary Education, which can be pursued fully online. The program strives to promote four specific learning outcomes:
- Demonstrate Content knowledge in their core subject areas
- Demonstrate Planning effective teaching and learning experiences for diverse learners
- Apply teaching techniques in field experiences
- Effectively Assess and analyze student learning
The program stresses that is provides a student-centered environment, which helps to promote collaboration, technological advancement, and lifelong learning.
Admissions requirements include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Students should have a GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. MAT or GRE scores must be presented by all applicants. Applicants should also possess or be eligible for a Georgia level four certificate in Early Childhood Education.
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is located in Aurora, CO. This campus contains the health and science related schools and colleges of the University of Colorado, including the schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry. Part of the school’s campus previously housed the Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center, the remainder of which is now home to a children’s hospital and a future VA hospital.
The University of Colorado offers a fully-online MA in Early Childhood Education through its School of Education and Human Development. The program offers three different concentrations: Administration and Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, and Teaching and Learning. Sample courses include:
- Early Intervention Strategies
- Language and Literacy in Young Children
- Working with Families and Communities
Coursework focuses on children aged birth to eight, and prepares students for work in settings such as early intervention programs and family support programs, as well as traditional education.
A student’s coursework will vary based on which of the three offered concentrations they choose to pursue. Administration and Leadership is for students looking to supervise others who work directly with younger children. Diversity and Inclusion is for students looking to work with individuals coming from diverse culture, religious, social, or other backgrounds. And teaching and learning is for students looking specifically to pursue a career in direct education of young students.
Northwestern College is a private, Christian liberal arts college located in Orange City, IA. The school is informally known as Northwestern Iowa. NWC is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, which is a mainline Reformed Protestant denomination, operating primarily in Canada and the United States.
Northwestern Iowa offers a fully-online M.Ed. degree in Early Childhood. The program involves the completion of 33 credits, and is intended to be completed in approximately 5 to 6 semesters, or around two years. Core courses include:
- Trends and Issues in 21st Century Education
- Teaching and Learning with Technology
- Master’s in Education Capstone
- Curriculum and Assessment for Student Learning
Students may also choose an area of emphasis, which will also help in deciding their elective coursework. Example electives include Leadership of Early Childhood Programs and Advanced Child Development.
Students may choose to add an additional semester after they have completed their core degree, with the goal of earning their Birth Through Grade Three Inclusive Setting Endorsement. This involves the completion of four additions credits. Credits are $325 each, with or without the additional semester.
University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota is a public research university located in Grand Forks, ND. The university was founded by the Dakota Territorial Assembly in 1883, six years before the state of North Dakota was established, which makes it the state’s oldest university. The school has an academic staff size of around 823, along with a student body of approximately 14,600 graduate and undergraduate students.
The University of North Dakota offers a Master of Science degree in Early Childhood Education through its distance learning service. Students complete 32 credits of coursework, which generally takes them around 2 years. The program aims to prepare students for interactions in a number of different settings, including:
- Public and Private Schools (PreK-Grade 3)
- Head Start programs
- Child Development and Child Care centers
- Other programs related to the education of young children
The program also emphasizes its teaching practicum course, which teaches students education methods that emphasize young children in the context of their family, gender, culture, and community.
Students receive in-state tuition regardless of residency, which is estimated at around $432/credit, including distance learning fees. Students interact through a digital platform which includes a virtual classroom. The program has been rated a top 5 program by the Center for Online Education.
Liberty University is a private, non-profit Christian research university located in Lynchburg, VA. Liberty is considered the largest Christian university in the world, with more than 15,000 students at its Lynchburg campus, as well as over 110,000 online students. Liberty has 17 colleges, and offers more than 290 bachelors degrees, 315 masters degrees, and 32 doctoral programs.
Liberty offers a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning, with an emphasis in early childhood education. The degree program is 100 percent online and includes completion of 36 credit hours. Sample courses include:
- Learning Theory
- Curriculum & Methods for Early Childhood
- Leadership & Supervision in Education
- Foundations of Exceptionality
Students may also complete an optional 3-credit practicum course towards the end of their studies. Classes are run on an 8-week format with eight different start dates offered throughout the year.
Service members, veterans, military spouses, and Department of Defense employees receive tuition discounts down to at least $275 per credit hour for graduate study. Veterans serving in a civilian capacity as an Emergency Responder can receive additional discounts. Half of the required credits may be transferred in from another program.
Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University is a public research university, with its main flagship campus located in Flagstaff, AZ. NAU has a student population of more than 30,000, including 4,000 postgraduate students. Northern Arizona offers more than 158 baccalaureate and graduate degree programs, and was ranked by Times Higher Education magazine in 2018 as one of the top 500 universities in the world.
Northern Arizona offers a Masters in Early Childhood Education through its distance learning service. The program provides students with the skills and tools to teach in preschool and elementary school. Students complete 30 units of graduate-level coursework. Required courses include:
- Early Childhood Curriculum
- Selected Topics in Early Childhood Education
- Development of Children’s Logical Concepts
Students must also choose an emphasis in Early Childhood Teaching, Early Childhood Leadership, or Early Childhood National Board Preparation. Elective courses will vary based on the emphasis chosen.
NAU is the only Arizona university accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. All work toward the degree must be completed within six consecutive years, beginning with the semester and year of admission to the program.
Concordia University-Saint Paul
Concordia University-Saint Paul is a liberal arts college located in Saint Paul, MN. Concordia is part of the ten-member Concordia University system, which is organized by the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. The school enrolls approximately 4,800 students, and has an endowment of approximately $36 million. It’s motto is, “It is good to pursue knowledge, better to know Jesus.”
Concordia Saint Paul offers a Master of Arts in Education, with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. Required courses for the degree includes:
- Play: Theoretical Foundations and Applications
- The Diverse Classroom
- Ethics for Educators
- Legal and Legislative Issues
The school designed the program, “for professional decision makers, reflective practitioners, and adaptive experts.” Students learn strategies and best practices in education, which are rooted both in the theory/philosophy of education, as well as by educational research.
Applicants to the program should posses a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Students must submit a personal statement describing why they have chose to apply to the program. Applicants must also submit a current, professional resume.
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University is a public research university located in Kennesaw, GA. KSU enrolls more than 35,000 students, which makes it one of the 50 largest schools in the country, as well as the third largest in the state of Georgia. The school has around 985 academic staff members and an endowment of approximately $37 million
Kennesaw State has an online learning service, which offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. The program is designed for those who are already certified Early Childhood Education teachers, and who wish to continue to learn more about their field and improve their practice. Example courses include:
- Curriculum and Pedagogy for Early Childhood and Elementary Classroom
- Reflective Inquiry for Early Childhood and Elementary Classroom
- Capstone Experience and Portfolio
The program enables teachers to earn their M.Ed. in 13 months, while also continuing their career in the classroom.
Students also earn an endorsement in addition to their M.Ed. These endorsements help candidates to increase their marketability after they complete their degree. Available endorsements include: Reading, ESOL, Gifted, Online Teaching, Teacher Leadership, and Leadership Preservice.
Champlain College is a private, co-educational college located in the city of Burlington, VT. The school was founded in 1878, and today offers undergraduate degrees, master’s degrees, and online certificates in more than 80 disciplines. Champlain has a student body of more than 2,000 students. Their motto is “Let Us Dare.”
Champlain offers an online M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. Classes are divided into 8-week online terms, totaling up to 36 credits hours. Example courses during the course of study include:
- Leadership, Mentoring & Quality
- The Child, Family and Community
- Early Identification & Assessment of Diverse Learners
- HR in the Early Childhood settings
Students choose a specialization, which decides their final four courses. Available specializations include Special Education, Administrative, and Teaching. Applications to the program are accepted year-round, with Start Terms in January, May, and September.
Champlain’s program was one of the first fully-online Early Education programs, as Champlain started many of its online programs as early as 1993. The degree program is not a licensure program, meaning student should contact their state regarding licensure requirements. The Best Schools ranked the program among its top 10 online M.Ed. programs in 2017.
Jacksonville State University
Jacksonville State University is a public university located in Jacksonville, AL. The university was founded in 1883 as the Jacksonville State Normal School, which primarily provided teachers with training and education for work in public schools. JSU has around 8,500 students, engaged in bachelors, masters, and doctoral programs, as well as distance learning programs centered on education.
Jacksonville State offers an Early Childhood Special Education program for those wishing to teach early education/special education in the PK-3 setting. It is intended for those who are already certified in special education or early childhood education. Online courses emphasize:
- Collaborative Methods
- Early Identification
Courses are offered fully-online through the university’s distance-learning service, and offer instruction and curriculum at a similar level to in person instruction.
The program offers clinical experiences in a variety of settings relevant to varied age ranges: Birth-3, 3-5, 5-8. The program offers specialty courses covering trends in education and early childhood methods. Students who complete the program may be eligible for an Alabama Teacher Class A Certification in ECESPE P-3.
Biola University is a private, Christian university located near Los Angeles, CA. The school was founded in 1908 and offers more than 40 major academic fields of study through nine schools and colleges. They have around 475 academic staff members and 4,000 undergraduate students. The school’s motto is, “Above All Give Glory to God.”
Biola offers a Master of Arts in Education degree in Early Childhood, which is designed for students who wish to serve in public or private programs educating kids aged birth to four. It is a 38-unit program which takes approximately 2-3 years to complete while teaching full-time. Example courses include:
- Philosophy & Values in School and Society
- Life of Christ
- Early Childhood Curriculum
- Observation and Assessment of Young Children
All courses are offered fully online, and applications are open for summer, Fall, and Spring entries.
Biola’s Student Missionary Union is the largest student-led missions organization in the United States. Coursework includes core courses in general education subjects, and then transitions to Early Education concentration courses. There is also a capstone experience course at the end of the program, which takes the form of either a thesis or a research project.
Portland State University
Portland State University is a public research university located in Portland, OR. The school was founded in 1946 as a post-secondary educational opportunity for World War II veterans. The school has around 1,800 academic staff members, who help to support around 28,000 total students, including roughly 5,000 postgrads.
PSU offers an online Masters in Early Childhood: Inclusive Education, Curriculum, and Instruction. This fully-online, non-licensure program emphasized the key values of respect, participation, constructing knowledge, and listening among others. Example courses include:
- Language and Literacy in ECE
- Young Child, Family, Culture, and Language
- Play: Curriculum in ECE
- Constructivist Curriculum: Big Ideas in ECE
Courses offered vary by the term, and also include study abroad opportunities in the summer. The program requires the completion of 45 quarter credits.
The program offers three specializations: Constructivism, Infant-Toddler Mental Health, and Early Childhood Special Education. Students may also combine courses in multiple areas of specialization, which leads to a Distributed Pathway specialization. The program also draws unique practices from the Helen Gordon Child Development Center located at PSU.
Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix
Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix Campus, as the name suggests, is the Phoenix, AZ campus of Arizona State University. This location is often referred to as ASU Downtown, and was built as a part of ASU President Michael M. Crow’s “One University, Many Places” initiative. The school has around 12,000 students, and has 10 colleges, including the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
ASU Downtown offers an online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education). The program pairs “flexibility with academic excellence,” and emphasizes meeting the education, social, and emotional needs of children from age birth to 8. Sample courses include:
- Emergent Literacy
- Mathematics in Early Childhood Education
- Child Guidance and Management: Child, Family, Community, and Culture
- Foundations of Diversity, Human Development, and the Young Child
The program includes a total of 30 hours of study, and helps lead into careers in Preschool Teaching, Social Work, School Psychology, and Education Administration.
Classes last an average of around 7.5 weeks, with a total of 10 classes throughout the course of the program. Applicants are eligible if they have received a bachelor’s degree in any subject from a regionally accredited university. Applicants must also have a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credit hours of undergraduate study.
Mercer University is a private, Catholic university with its main campus located in Macon, GA. Established in 1833, it is the oldest private university in the state of Georgia. Mercer has a student body of roughly 8,000 students, who attend 12 different schools and colleges. Mercer has a number of professional schools, including a School of Law and the Mercer University Health Sciences Center.
Mercer offers a 30-semester hour M.Ed. in Early Childhood, which is designed to “enhance the knowledge and skills of currently certified educators in grades pre K-5.” The program is offered fully online, and is intended to last 12-16 months, with each course being offered in 8-week sessions. Sample courses include:
- Reading Theory: Research & Best Practices in ECE Reading
- Preventing, Diagnosing, and Correcting Literacy Problems
- Clinical Practicum
Completing the program earns graduates a Level 4 certification in Early Childhood, and thereby become eligible to upgrade their state teaching certificate to the Master’s level.
Online students have the opportunity to meet faculty face-to-face at one of Mercer’s four campuses. Students may earn an endorsement in any of the following areas: Autism, ESOL, Mathematics ECE (K-5), Reading, or Science ECE (K-5). Students are admitted twice a year, for the Fall (August), and Summer (May) terms.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Northwestern State University of Louisiana is a public university located in Natchitoches, LA, along with other small campuses throughout Louisiana. NSU was founded in 1884 as the Louisiana State Normal School, which educated teachers and education professionals working in public and private schools. NSU has around 11,000 total students, and has the motto, “Dedicated to One Goal. Yours.”
NSU offers a Master of Arts in Teaching in Early Childhood Education, which prepares teachers seeking “an alternate certification to work with young children, their families, and their communities.” The program is a 39-semester hour degree, which includes a one-year Internship in Teaching. Other courses in the program include:
- Positive Relationships with Children, Families, and Communities
- Advanced Child Development
- Early Childhood Learning Space Design
The program meets all of the standards for the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Candidates for the degree must present a passing score on the PRAXIS II Pedagogy test prior to enrollment in the teaching internship. Applicants may begin the program in Fall, Spring, or Summer. Graduates are eligible for Louisiana initial teacher certification in grades pre K-3 and will meet the “highly qualified” educator requirement.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, also known as UNC Greensboro, is a public liberal arts college located in Greensboro, NC. UNC Greensboro offers more than 100 undergraduate, 61 masters, and 26 doctoral programs. The school has around 1,000 academic staff members, who work with a student body of around 20,000. They have an endowment of $251.8 million and their motto is “Service.”
UNC Greensboro offers a Master of Education in Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development. The program is available fully online and is jointly administered with the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. The program offers two specialization tracks:
- Early Childhood Leadership & Program Administration
- Early Childhood Leadership & Advanced Teaching Licensure
Graduates pursue careers including Early Interventionist, Child Care Consultant, Family Advocate, Program Administrator, and Community College Instructor.
The Advanced Teaching Licensure track is intended for those possessing a Standard Professional I or initial license who wish to learn more about ECE leadership and to earn an advanced teaching license. The Program Administration track is for professionals working with other educators in the field, and who wish to be leaders in the field.
Capella University is a for-profit, online university with its headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. Capella offers 142 graduate and undergraduate specializations. They have around 1,500 administrative staff members, along with approximately 36,000 students enrolled through their online courses. Eighty-six percent of their faculty hold doctoral degrees.
Capella offers a Master of Science in Education, with a focus in Early Childhood Education. The program is fully-online, and is composed of six core courses, four specialization courses, and one practicum. Sample courses include:
- Infant and Child Development
- The Early Childhood Learning Environment
- Exceptional Children in the Early Childhood Setting
- Children, Families, and Society
Capella operates on the quarter system, with courses lasting approximately 10 weeks. Price varies by course load and by term.
Students may bring in up to 12 transfer credits. The program requires completion of a total of 46 quarter credits. Graduates pursue careers including Education Coordinator, Family Education Center Director, Preschool Lead Teacher, and Early Childhood Services Director.
California Baptist University
California Baptist University is a private, Christian liberal arts college located in Riverside, CA. The school was founded in 1950 as the California Baptist College. It is formally affiliated with the California Southern Baptist Convention. There are around 9,000 total students and the school has an endowment of about $41 million.
California Baptist offers a Master of Science in Education: Specialization in Early Childhood Studies. The program is offered fully online and requires the completion of 33 major units, and is typically completed in around 12 months. Sample courses include:
- Leadership, Worldviews, and Contemporary Issues
- School, Family, and Community Partnerships
- The Exceptional Child
- Early Childhood Literacy and Language Development
The program strives to give students both broad and specific skills relevant to the field. The courses balance theories, research, and practice.
Applicants to the program are required to have a Bachelor’s degree, as well as a 3.0 GPA for unconditional admission. Students must also submit two recommendations and a 500 word personal statement. CBU offers financial aid options, including employer tuition assistance, and students loans. They are also a Yellow Ribbon Fund friendly school.
The University of Toledo, otherwise known as UT, is a public research university located in Toledo, OH. Formerly known as the Toledo Manual Training School, the university has expanded from a focus on vocational education to a broad and diverse pool of academic subjects. They now have more than 23,000 students, working with over 2,000 academic staff members.
UT offers a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education. The program is offered fully online. It is a 36-semester hour program, which is generally completed in two years, including a summer term. Example courses include:
- Curriculum & Instruction
- Meaning and Development of Play Behavior
- Theory and Research in Early Childhood
- Masters Research Seminar in Early Childhood Education
Foundation courses make up the first 12 credit hours. This is then followed by 18 credit hours of specialty courses in Early Childhood, before a final, culminating thesis or research project.
Students should contact their individual states about teacher certification requirements. This program is administered by the Judith Herb College of Education, which is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation. UT offers scholarships including sibling awards and the UT Legacy award to help students afford the program.
University of West Alabama
The University of West Alabama is a public university located in Livingston, AL. The school began in 1835 as the Livingston Female Academy, which was a church-supported school for young women. Originally the school’s main goal was to educate new teachers, but they have since diversified their offerings to include a host of academic majors and degree programs. There are around 5,000 students, 63 percent of whom are female.
West Alabama offers a Masters in Education in Early Childhood Education P-3. The program is offered online through their distance learning service. It requires the completion of 34 semester credits, and is generally completed within one year. Sample courses include:
- Technology and Education
- Educational Statistics
- Literature for Early Childhood Education
The program is intended for those seeking roles such as preschool teaching, childcare center director, family support specialist, or early childhood consultant.
Courses generally last around 8 weeks. Upon completion of the program, students earn an Alabama Teaching Certification (Class A Professional Educator Certificate). Applicants should hold a bachelor’s-level Professional Educator’s Certificate. Students may transfer up to 9 credits towards their degree.
The State University of New York at Albany, also known as SUNY Albany, is a public university with its flagship campus in Albany, NY. The university was founded in 1844, and has three campuses located in Albany, Guilderland, and Rensselaer. SUNY Albany has a student population of around 17,300 students.
SUNY Albany offers a Masters of Science degree in Early Childhood Education, which can leads to the MS degree needed for New York professional teacher certification. The program requires 30 credits of coursework, and is intended for teachers who already have initial certification. Sample courses include:
- Classroom Literacy Instruction
- Science for Children
- Literacy in Society
- Data-based Decision Making in Literary Assessment
When taken online the program is part-time only, meaning that students may take a maximum of two courses per semester.
Students choose between two different certification options. Student may opt for the NY certification option, whereby they become eligible for NY State teaching certification upon completion of the program. Or they may choose a non-NY certification option, which is intended for students looking to teach outside of New York State.
The Erikson Institute is a graduate school in child development located in downtown Chicago, IL. The school was founded in 1966 by a mixture of activists, educators, and philanthropists who all lobbied for the well-being of children. The school has around 26 academic staff members, who serve a student body of approximately 300 postgraduate students.
Erikson Institute offers an online Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, which is a non-licensure track program. Students may enroll part-time or full-time. The degree requires completion of 30 credit hours. The program offers five possible concentrations:
- Bilingual/ESL education
- Language and Literacy
- Leadership and Advocacy
- Early Childhood STEM
- Social and emotional learning
The program generally requires around two years to complete, though completion times are dependent upon enrollment status.
Applicants are not required to take or submit scores for the GRE. If a student applies for the full-time program by June 1 or August 1, the student will receive a $15,000 scholarship to used over the 20 months of the program. Applicants who are admitted part-time will receive a $9,000 scholarship.
California University of Pennsylvania
California University of Pennsylvania is a public university located in California, PA. The school was founded in 1852, and offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. There are approximately 9,400 students, including 1,981 postgraduate students. The school was originally a normal school, which helped to educated teachers and educators for the state of Pennsylvania.
Cal U offers a Master of Education degree in Early Childhood Education. The program is fully online, and has been rated one of the Best Online Programs by U.S. World News & Report three years in a row. Example courses in the degree program include:
- Advanced Childhood Development
- Literacy Development
- Special Education Foundations
- Leadership and Management in Early Childhood Settings
Courses can be taken online any time from anywhere. The program is administered in a cohort style, such that classmates can offer support to their peers while following the same class schedule.
Alumni from the program have pursued careers in public and private school K-4 education programs, preschools programs, Head Start and childcare centers, and parenting and family support programs. Cal U also offers job-placement support from the university’s Career and Professional Development Center.
Stephen F. Austin State University
Stephen F. Austin State University is a public university located in Nacogdoches, TX. Stephen F. Austin was founded in 1923 as a teacher’s college, preparing elementary and secondary teachers for jobs in education. The school has approximately 13,000 students, and an endowment of approximately $74.3 million.
Stephen F. Austin State University offers a Masters in Education in Early Childhood Education. It is a 36 credit hour program which helps turn early childhood education professionals into specialists in the field. Courses include:
- Foundations of Early Childhood
- Advocacy in Early Childhood
During a student’s first semester, they will complete an ECAP degree plan and return it to their program advisor. The degree works as a contract to help the student pursue their degree, while also learning as much as possible through their research and classroom experiences.
Instructors for the online program are certified by the Stephen F. Austin State University Office of Instructional Technology. All online courses are approved by OIT and each course undergoes a strict review before being offered online. Classes are offered in half-term formats in the fall and spring semesters.
Grand Canyon University is a for-profit, Christian university located in Phoenix, AZ. The school was founded in 1949 as a non-profit liberals arts college, and has recently received approval to return to non-profit status in 2018. The school has 19,500 on campus students, as well as roughly 60,000 online students. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs
GCU offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. The degree requires completion of 44 total units, which include courses such as:
- Development and Functional Assessment: Birth to Age 8
- Foundations of Early Childhood
- Introduction to the Exceptional Learner
- Student Teaching: K-3
The program is offered fully online, with courses being accessible at any time on any day. Courses are designed with career-oriented professionals in mind.
The program leads to an Initial Teacher License, though the completion of this may require practicum hours, state exams, student teaching and an institutional recommendation from GCU. Students may transfer up to 12 credits, and courses typically last around 8 weeks.
Emporia State University, simply referred to as Emporia State, is a public university located in Emporia, KS. Emporia was founded in March 1863 as the Kansas State Normal School, which helped to educate public school teachers. It is the third-oldest university in the State of Kansas, and has a student population of around 5,732.
Emporia State offers a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education degree, which is divided into 30 hours of core course work, as well as a capstone series, research, and an elective course, for a total of 36 credit hours. Courses in this series include:
- Validation of Teaching Experience B-K/B-8
- Collaboration in Inclusive Early Childhood Programs
- Family Involvement in Inclusive EC Programs
- Analysis of Research
The program strives to make teachers comfortable in inclusive or non-inclusive settings. It also strives to help teachers work in special education settings, as well as prepare teachers for future and present challenges in education.
Completing this degree program may lead to the Kansas License ECU birth through age eight or the Kansas ECU birth to kindergarten. To qualify for entry into the licensure program, students must have a degree in elementary education (for the ECU birth through age 8) or a related field (for birth to kindergarten). Applicants should have at least a 3.0 GPA and two supervisor references.
The University of Missouri is a public research university located in Columbia, MO. The school was founded in 1839, and is the largest university in the state of Missouri. The university has more than 30,000 students, and offers more than 300 degree programs through 20 academic schools and colleges. It is one of only 34 public schools that is a member of the Association of American Universities research group.
Mizzou offers a Masters in Education in Early Childhood Special Education/Autism. It is a 30 credit program offered fully online through the school’s Mizzou Online distance learning service. During their course of study, students may take the following courses:
- Research with Exceptional Children
- Introduction to Autism
- Young Children with Autism
- Introduction to Special Education
Most students tend to take one or two courses per semester, which leads them to finish the program in around two years.
Distance learners utilizing the Mizzou Online service automatically qualify for in-state tuition rates. The program is accredited by both the Higher Learning Commission and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Graduates have pursued careers as child-care center workers and Head Start teachers, among other professions.
Brenau University is a private, non-profit college located in Gainesville, GA. The school was founded in 1878, and now offers degrees ranging from two-year Associate’s degrees to full doctorates. Brenau has around 130 academic staff members, and a student population of roughly 3,500 students.
Brenau University offers a Master of Education degree in Early Childhood Education, which is designed to grow proficiency and professionalism for practicing and future teachers. The program is delivered in 12 courses through 34 credits. Example courses include:
- Methods of Educational Research
- Advanced Language Art Methods
- Advanced Educational Psychology
- Methods for Teaching ESOL
The program finishes with a capstone course, as well as a clinical course in Advanced Curriculum Development and Analysis of Teaching.
Applicants to the program are required to have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Students should have at least a 3.0 GPA from all college transcripts. Students must also possess a teaching certificate before they enter the program.
Missouri State University
Missouri State University is a public university located in Springfield, MO. The school was founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School, which helped to educated teachers for the state of Missouri. It is the second largest school in the state of Missouri, with a student population of around 23,000, along with around 1,100 academic staff members.
MSU offers a Master of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and Family Development. The program is offered fully online and involves the completion of 32 total credit hours. Students should complete the program in four semesters, taking courses including:
- Orientation to Early Childhood and Family Development
- Educational Research Methodology
- The Educational Role of Play
- Family Advocacy
Course sequences will differ based on individual conversations between students and their advisors.
Alumni of the program have pursued careers in child care, private/public schooling, government agencies, social agencies, and higher education. The college of education awards 60 scholarships annually to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing education and child and family development related degrees.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is a public university located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. It also has a second campus located in Erie, Pennsylvania, which is called Porreco College. Between the two schools, the university has a total student population of around 6,000 enrolled students. There are roughly 350 academic staff members and the school has an endowment of just over $28 million.
Edinboro offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. The online degree is offered in tandem with a one-week summer residency on campus, all other courses are taken solely online. Sample courses include:
- Development of Young Learners
- Play, Research, and Advocacy
- Math and Science for Young Children
- Seminar in Exceptionalities
Students in the program may also choose to pursue an Early Childhood Education certification. This can either be an add-on certification or an initial certification.
Edinboro’s Early Education program has previously been ranked first in the nation by Top Education Degrees. To pursue the teaching certification students must complete the Graduate Field Experience and Theory and Practice in Early Childhood. These courses are taken in addition to the normal schedule of classes for the Master’s degree.
Walden University is a for-profit university with its headquarters located in Minneapolis, MN. Walden offers primarily online degrees, including Masters of Science, Business Administration, Doctor of Education, and Doctor of Business Administration. They have a student body of around 51,000, and are part of a group of 80 universities in 29 countries owned by Laureate Education Inc.
Walden University offers a Master of Science in Early Childhood Studies, which helps professionals to gain a deeper understanding of how to help young minds grow. Walden offers students two different ways to pursue their degree:
- Course-based: preset course start and end dates, where you and your fellow students learn the same material at the same time
- Competency-based: progression is based on a student’s ability to demonstrate understanding of the material. Students will preset schedules with their academic coaches before the beginning of the semester
Students also choose a specialization: Administration Management, Early Childhood Public Policy, Teaching Adults in the Early Childhood Field, and Teaching Diversity.
Students complete a total of 30 credit hours. Students may transfer up to 15 credits in from other programs. Walden offers scholarships, grants, and student loans to help students with affordability issues.
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN
East Tennessee State University is a public university located in Johnson City, TN. It is the fourth largest university in the state of Tennessee, with 806 academic staff members and around 14,000 total students. ETSU was founded in 1911 as the East Tennessee State Normal School, which helped to educate teachers for the state’s public schools.
ETSU offers a Masters in Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Special Education. The program requires the completion of 39 credit hours, which is divided between core requirements, concentration electives, and field related hours. Courses within these categories include:
- Core Requirements (9 credits): Methods of Research
- Early Special Education Concentration (18 credits): Instructional Practices for Preschoolers and Evidence-Based Instruction in Reading and Language Arts
- Field Related Hours (12 credits): Job-embedded clinical practice
Students looking to earn the state teaching license will follow a pre-directed course of study that will help them meet the licensure requirements.
To be admitted into the program, students must meet all minimum requirements with the school of graduate studies. They must also present sufficient scores on the SAT, ACT, or Praxis I subtests. Students should also possess a minimum GPA of 3.0.
National Louis University
National Louis University is a private, non-profit American university, with locations in Chicago, Wisconsin, Florida, and Poland. NLU was founded in 1886 to train kindergarten teachers as part of the original early education movement. National Louis has three schools: the School of Business and Management, the School of Health and Human Services, and the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
NLU offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Administration, which is intended for both current and future of early childhood programs. Example courses include:
- Quality Child Care Infant/Toddlers
- Human Development: Infant & Childhood
- Writing & Effective Communication for ECE Administration
- Student Teaching
The program can be completed in as few as 21 months. Applicants must possess at least a baccalaureate degree. Students progress through the program in a cohort, which helps to build last relationships and contacts in the field.
Alumni have pursued careers as Head Start component coordinators, early childhood program consultants, and early childhood administration professionals. Online students can enroll through locations in either Illinois or Florida. Admitted students will have the opportunity to work towards an Illinois Level III Directors Credential.
Valdosta State University
Valdosta State University, often referred to as Valdosta State, is a public university located in Valdosta, GA. Valdosta State has around 11,000 undergraduate students, as well as an endowment of around $20 million. The school has a graduate school and five undergraduate colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Arts, and Nursing
The Department of Education offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. Candidates for the degree are expected to refine undergraduate educational skills, and to learn how to deal with more of the intricate aspects of the teaching experience. Sample courses include:
- Student Teaching and Semester in ECSE
- Student Teaching Reflective Seminar
- Differentiated Instruction
The program trains students in dealing with ages K-5. The department also offers two online endorsements, in Mathematics or Science for K-5.
Applicants must pay a $35 application fee. They must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution, with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. They must show sufficient scores on either the GRE or the MAT and go through the Verification of Lawful Presence process.