Best Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degrees

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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

Rank School Location
1 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
2 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
3 University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Aurora, CO
4 Northwestern College Orange City, IA
5 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
6 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
7 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
8 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
9 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
10 Champlain College Burlington, VT

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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?

Best Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Badge

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.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Dayton
    Location

    Dayton, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  2. Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Statesboro, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  3. University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
    Location

    Aurora, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  4. Northwestern College
    Location

    Orange City, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  5. University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  6. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  7. Northern Arizona University
    Location

    Flagstaff, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  8. Concordia University-Saint Paul
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.”

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  9. Kennesaw State University
    Location

    Kennesaw, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

  10. Champlain College
    Location

    Burlington, VT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    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.”

    Program Features

    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.

    Notables

    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.

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