People with an online master’s in early childhood education often work as elementary school teachers, learning mentors, social workers, special needs teachers, and more. If you already work in the field and are looking to further your studies, a flexible online degree may be the perfect option for you. More and more colleges are catering their programs to those who have jobs, family obligations, or just need flexibility. This is even more important and relevant to those in the field of Early Childhood Education.
What kind of Early Childhood Education degree should you get?
Early childhood educators will always be needed; in every state, town, and city, there are kids who need to learn. It can be difficult to figure out what kind of degree you should get–should you attend online? Or on-campus? If you’re already working and flexibility is key for you, an online program may be your best bet.
Perhaps you need to further your studies but don’t have a lot of time or money to do so. Online schools might be your best option. For a look at other online education options, check out College Choice’s Most Affordable Online Graduate Schools.
How much money do people make with an Early Childhood Education degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics holds the median salary for preschool teachers at nearly $29,000, and the median salary of those working in elementary and primary schools at $55,490. This is a career that often allows frequent promotion and advancement.
People place a high value on quality early childhood education with certified staff. The number of new preschool students alone has risen by 43 percent according to the The Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2019, early childhood education is expected to have the highest job availability of any area of education, rising by 18 percent.
What are the requirements for a obtaining a Master’s in Early Childhood Education?
Each state has different requirements for working in early childhood education. Some careers require teaching licensure or special certifications, while others don’t. Our list will give you an understanding of which online programs provide endorsements (for specific age groups, special education students etc.) and which only amp up your early childhood education credentials and job options.
Most of the below programs are for those working professionals who are already in the field or those who already have a degree in the industry.
What are the best Early Childhood Education degrees?
There are so many degrees in early childhood education out there – how do you choose the best? If you’re looking to earn an advanced degree with the flexibility to learn on your own time, these Online Early Childhood Education Master’s programs below are a great starting point. Our ranking methodology is based on three primary factors: institutional excellence, student satisfaction, and student success (or, return on investment).
See our rankings methodology page.
Portland State University
Average Net Price: $14,481
This public research university was founded in 1946 and is located in downtown Portland, Oregon. Home to mascot Victor E. Viking and over 27,000 students, Portland State University has been ranked as one of the nation’s Top 10 Most Innovative Universities by U.S. News and World Report. Check out the university’s online Masters in Early Childhood: Inclusive Education and Curriculum & Instruction.
This fully online non-licensure program requires students to complete 45 quarter credits. Core courses may include:
- Issues in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education
- Foundations in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education
- Child Development in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education
Students may also choose from one of the following three areas of specialization: Constructivism in Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Special Education, or Infant Toddler Mental Health. Graduate students may also choose the Distributed Pathway which combines courses from all three areas of specialization. All students must complete an Action Research Project to earn their degree.
With competitive tuition rates and a variety of available scholarships, Portland State University is extremely affordable. In fact, Affordable Colleges Online ranks Portland State #1 on the list of Oregon’s most affordable online colleges. U.S. News and World Report also ranked PSU as having one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs.
Average Net Price: $16,538
Capella University is an online institution headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The school is unique in that they offer two paths for their degree programs: FlexPath, which is self-paced, and GuidedPath, which is a more interactive setting. Now, through Capella’s Harold Abel School of Education, students can earn an affordable online Master of Science in Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Education.
This fully online program is made up of six core courses, four specialization courses, and a practicum. Required courses may include:
- Infant and Child Development
- Children, Families, and Society
- The Early Childhood Learning Environment
- Early Childhood Reading and Literacy Instruction
- Exceptional Children in the Early Childhood Setting
Looking to earn your teaching licensure? Capella University offers a licensure team that supports all graduates through the license application process. The cost of the program is $453 per credit, with 46 total quarter credits and a max of 12 transfer credits.
With 24/7 online access to your virtual classroom, Capella makes it easy to earn a quality degree at your own pace. Perhaps you’re looking for a more specific degree option in the field. Capella also offers a Master of Education with specializations in Special Education, Personalized Learning, and English Language Learning and Teaching.
Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix
Average Net Price: $12,876
Located in the downtown area of Phoenix, Arizona, ASU is a contemporary hub of research and innovation. Ranked one of the Top Public Universities in America, Arizona State University offers a variety of degree options. If you’re looking for a flexible way to earn your master’s, check out ASU’s Online Master of Education In Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education).
Offered through ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, this program consists of ten courses for a total of 30 credit hours. Each course is 7.5 weeks long. Required courses may include:
- Emergent Literacy
- Mathematics in Early Childhood Education
- Foundations of Diversity, Human Development, and the Young Child
- Child Guidance and Management: Child, Family, Community, and Culture
If you’re looking to pursue the M.Ed. with Certification, you’ll have to complete 45 credit hours. Also, prospective students should note that although all classes are online, practicum placement are completed in person.
This affordable online program is perfect for those who are looking to pursue one of the following careers: Preschool Teacher, Child and Family Social Worker, School Psychologist, or Education Administrator. Of course, the list doesn’t end there. Earning your degree from ASU will open up a number of doors in your teaching career.
University of North Dakota
Average Net Price: $14,693
Located in the city of Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota was established in 1883 and is both the largest and oldest university in the state. With over 200 fields of study, early education remains one of their Top 10 Degrees. Now, UND offers an online distance learning program with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education.
This 32-credit online non-licensing degree takes most graduates two years to complete. Courses combine both theory and research. Required courses may include:
- Collaborative Relationships: Home, School, and Community
- Curricular Foundations in Early Childhood Education
- Language Development & Cognition in Children
- Foundations of Reading Instruction
This program is best for folks looking to work in settings including: public and private schools (PreK-Grade 3), head start programs, child development and child care centers, or other programs related to the education of young children. All graduate students may choose to complete a thesis track or a non-thesis track.
Students from every state are eligible to receive in-state tuition for this online program. This program does require a UND-approved, 60-hour teaching practicum near your local community. Working professionals should consider UND as an alternative to a full-time, on-campus early childhood education program.
University of Toledo
Average Net Price: $15,919
Located in Toledo, Ohio, this public research university is home to mascots Rocky the Rocket and Rocksy the Rockette. With over 20,000 students, the University of Toledo offers one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs, according to U.S. News and World Report. Interested in a flexible, yet affordable degree option? Check out UT’s Online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.
This non-licensure degree program is designed for preschool, childcare, and early learning educators and administrators. Offered through UT’s Judith Herb College of Education, this 36-semester-hour program may include the following courses:
- Infant/Toddler Curriculum
- Child Behavior and Development
- Modern Educational Controversies
- Issues and Innovations In Learning and Instruction
All graduate students must also complete a culminating thesis or project.
The University of Toledo offers a variety of scholarship options for those looking to save money during their degree pursuit. In fact, 75 percent of new students receive a scholarship or grant, and 80 percent of new students receive state or federal aid. From the UT Achievement Award to the UT Legacy Award, there are plenty of opportunities for you to save. Additionally, the university offers special scholarships for out-of-state students.
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Average Net Price: $13,751
Home to mascot Milo the Lynx, the University of Colorado Denver is a public research university that was founded in 1912. CU Denver has several highly ranked programs and now offers many of them online. In fact, students can now pursue a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education completely online at UC Denver.
Offered through CU Denver’s School of Education and Human Development, this 30-credit MA degree usually takes two to three years to complete. During that time you’ll take courses like:
- Language and Literacy in Young Children
- Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
- Research in Schools
- Basic Statistics
While the coursework is completed virtually, all online students are required to attend a 3-5 day seminar in Denver each summer. The Early Childhood Education program at CU Denver also offers a license in Early Childhood Special Education Specialist – Birth to Age 8. This license is offered to students online as well as those on campus.
The affordable online MA in ECE program at CU Denver is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the Colorado Department of Education, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Georgia Southern University
Average Net Price: $16,121
Located in Statesboro, Georgia this public university was originally founded in 1906 as a land grant college. Now, Georgia Southern University is home to over 20,000 students. Popular areas of study among students include business, engineering, and education. Check out GSU’s affordable online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education.
This fully online program is for those who currently hold a Professional Level 4 Certificate. Graduate students in this program must complete 36 credit hours. Most students complete this program in as little as one year. Courses may include:
- Advanced Science Methods
- Learning Theories and Assessment
- Action Research in Elementary Settings
- Transforming Learning with Technology
- Teaching Communication Across Cultures
- Teaching Writing in the Elementary School
All graduate students may select one of the following endorsements or certificate options as well: English for Speakers of Other Languages Endorsement, Online Teaching and Learning Endorsement, Reading Endorsement, or the Curriculum and Pedagogy for Social Justice Certificate.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked Georgia Southern among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs as well as the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. This university is consistently ranked among the most affordable in the nation as well. For those interested, Georgia Southern also offers a Master of Arts in Teaching with a Secondary Education Concentration.
Northern Arizona University
Average Net Price: $14,678
This public university is located in Flagstaff, Arizona. Home to mascot Louie the Lumberjack and over 29,000 students, Northern Arizona University is abuzz with eager students looking to change the world. Check out Northern Arizona’s affordable 30-credit hour online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education.
Students in this online program can choose from three areas of emphasis, including: Early Childhood Continuing Professional, Early Childhood Leadership, and Early Childhood National Board Certification Teacher Preparation. Required courses may include:
- Educational Sociology
- International Education
- History Of American Education
- Legal Aspects Of School Administration
- Creativity and Giftedness In The Classroom
- Development Of Children’s Logical Concepts
Fieldwork experience in this program is optional.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked Northern Arizona University as having one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs. This university also offers one of the most affordable programs on this list. In fact, NAU students receive more than $325 million annually in scholarships, grants, and other financial aid.
Average Net Price: $20,692
Mercer University is the oldest private university in Georgia and currently has over 8,500 students enrolled in 12 schools and colleges. Mercer is ranked among the Top National Research Universities by U.S. News and World Report, and was named one of the 25 Best Value Schools in the nation as well. Check out Mercer’s online M.Ed. in Early Childhood program.
This 30-semester-hour M.Ed. program is designed for currently certified educators in grades pre K-5. Graduate students in this program will have the option to earn an endorsement in one of the following areas: Autism, ESOL, Mathematics ECE (K-5), Reading, or Science ECE (K-5). Required courses may include:
- Issues of Diversity: Language, Cognition, and Culture
- Culturally & Educationally Responsive Pedagogy
- Contemporary Curriculum Practices in ECE
- Introduction to Educational Research
- Research Project in Education
Upon completion of the program, educators with a Level 4 certification in Early Childhood will be eligible to upgrade to a master’s Level 5 by the Georgia Professional Standards Committee. Each class is delivered in 8-week sessions and the program can be completed in 12-16 months.
Offered through Mercer University’s Tift College of Education, the tuition rate of this program is $590 per credit hour. Students may also be eligible for financial aid or scholarships to assist in payment.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Average Net Price: $10,403
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a public liberal arts and research university. Founded in 1891, it is now home to nearly 20,000 students. More and more working professionals are choosing UNC Greensboro’s online programs; not only are they flexible, but they’re affordable too. The university now offers an online Master of Education in Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development.
Offered by the university’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies, this program offers two concentrations:
- Early Childhood Leadership & Advanced Teaching Licensure: This concentration is designed for students with a Standard Professional I or an initial license seeking education in early childhood leadership and an advanced teaching license.
- Early Childhood Leadership & Program Administration: This concentration is for teachers, directors/administrators, and other professionals looking to advance their careers.
All students must complete 37 semester-hours to receive their degree. Graduates must also participate in a culminating capstone experience.
Research is a core value among faculty at UNC Greensboro. In fact, faculty who teach in the above program focus on the following research topics: preparation of early childhood educators for family-centered practice, measurement of child care quality, inclusive practices, and collaboration in early childhood programs and services.
Missouri State University
Average Net Price: $14,862
Located in Springfield, Missouri and home to mascot Boomer the Bear, Missouri State University has been ranked one of the Top Public Schools in the nation. Founded in 1906, MSU is now home to 26,000 students. For those looking for a flexible degree without compromising the quality of education, MSU has great online options. In fact, the university now offers an online Master of Science in Early Childhood and Family Development.
All students must complete 32 approved graduate hours to earn their degree. Required courses may include:
- Programming and Policy Issues for Early Childhood Settings
- Children and Families in a Diverse Society
- Educational Research Methodology
- The Educational Role of Play
Graduate students also have the option of pursuing a four-semester degree option, a three-semester degree option or the Accelerated Masters Program option. Whether you decide to take one course a semester or finish in three semesters, the program offers the flexibility for you to succeed.
The childhood education and family studies program at Missouri State University is taught by faculty members who have tons of professional experience working with children and families. They bring to the classroom not only their degrees, but also their professional insights, practical approaches, and devoted enthusiasm. They are recognized leaders in the field who will help you to become a leader as well.
Average Net Price: $24,794
Home to mascot Sparky the Eagle, Liberty is a private university based in Lynchburg, Virginia. With over 125 master’s programs, Liberty University is the premier destination for online learning. Coupled with the strong Christian teaching method and a 24/7 support staff, students can now pursue a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning – Early Childhood Education Online Degree Program.
This M.Ed. program was created for those who need a flexible academic schedule without losing quality of the degree. Students can complete this degree in as little as two years. The program requires completion of 36 total credit hours. Required courses may include:
- Current Issues in Early Childhood Education
- Leadership & Supervision in Education
- Childhood Development
- Behavior Management
A three-credit-hour practicum is an optional part of this M.Ed. Program. All courses last approximately eight weeks and there are no set login times.
Prospective students should note that the Teaching and Learning program at Liberty University is a non-licensure track. If you are a service member, veteran, military spouse, or Department of Defense employee, you can benefit from a tuition break at Liberty. Courses may cost as little as $275 per credit hour.
Grand Canyon University
Average Net Price: $21,168
Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Grand Canyon University has a student body largely made up of online students. With so many online students, GCU has mastered the art of delivering an incredible campus experience in a completely virtual setting. Among GCU’s popular online graduate programs is a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education.
Offered through the university’s College of Education, this M.Ed. leads to Initial Teacher Licensure for grades K-3. Required courses may include:
- Child Guidance, Management, and the Environment
- Introduction to the Exceptional Learner
- Foundations of Early Childhood
- Early Literacy Development
All graduate students must complete 44 credits. Each course lasts a total of eight weeks. The tuition rate is $515 per credit. You will be required to complete eight weeks of student teaching in a birth to pre-K setting and eight weeks in a K-3 grade setting.
Grand Canyon University offers a variety of online degrees in the area of education. If you’re not set on early childhood education, check out their other degree programs. From their Master of Education in Secondary STEM Education to their Master of Education in Special Education, this university will prepare you for life in the classroom.
Kennesaw State University
Average Net Price: $17,441
Located just north of Atlanta, Georgia, Kennesaw State serves over 35,000 students and offers nearly 150 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. It is Georgia’s third-largest university and students can pursue nationally ranked degrees in a variety of subjects. Check out Kennesaw’s Master of Education in Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
This program is geared towards teachers who are already certified in Early Childhood and are looking to further hone their skills. Graduate students typically complete all program requirements in as little as 13 months. Opportunities for endorsement or certification include:
- ESOL Endorsement
- Gifted Endorsement
- Reading Endorsement
- Special Education Certificate
- Online Teaching Endorsement
- Teacher Leadership Endorsement
- Pathway to Tier 1 Leadership Certification
This fully online program includes some synchronous (real-time) online sessions, but most of the work is completed as group-paced, asynchronous activities.
U.S. News and World Report ranked Kennesaw as having one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs. The university is also known for its innovative spirit. In fact, KSU researchers have been funded by federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Education, State Department, Army and Air Force, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, and more!
Average Net Price: $19,650
Brenau is a small, private college whose main campus is in Gainesville, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. Founded in 1878, Brenau is now home to nearly 3,000 students. Check out Brenau’s Master of Education in Early Childhood Education offered through the College of Education. This program is ideal for both current teachers and those looking to become teachers.
This 12-course, 34-credit degree requires students to complete a minimum of 25 hours in a classroom setting. In addition to this instructional sequence, required courses may include:
- Methods of Educational Research
- Advanced Educational Psychology
- Contemporary Issues in Education
- Curriculum and Pedagogy in Multicultural Education
All graduate students must also choose from one of the following endorsements: English for Speakers of other Languages (ESOL), Math, Reading, or Science.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked Brenau University among the Top 50 Best Value Schools in the country. Brenau has also been ranked as one of the Best Colleges for Veterans, as well as one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs. Financial aid, scholarships, study abroad programs, internships, and an honors program are all available to students. Brenau also offers special services such as assistance to veterans, a women’s leadership series, and a child development center.