free online course in early childhood education

If you are considering early childhood education as a career or maybe want to improve your skills and confidence in working with young children and parents then this free online course is for you.

If you’re one of those people who can’t stand hearing children cry, then you should consider looking into an online course in early childhood education. It will probably be the most enjoyable experience of your life.

In summary, here are 10 of our most popular early childhood education courses


Frequently Asked Questions about Early Childhood Education

  • What is early childhood education?‎Early childhood education is the period of learning that children experience from the time they’re born until they’re around eight years old or in third grade. While the term technically includes both formal and informal education, it’s often used in the professional world to describe federal, state, local, and private education programs for preschool and elementary school students. Experts believe this period of learning is one of the most important aspects of a person’s life, as it can impact and shape a child’s development for the rest of his or her life. Some theorists believe that early childhood education should address a child’s physical, social, emotional, language, and cognitive needs.‎
  • Why learn about early childhood education?‎If you work with young children or have young children in your family, you can benefit from learning about early childhood education. When you learn about a child’s developmental milestones and fully understand the learning process and how it affects those milestones, you can help ensure the young children in your personal and professional lives receive the tools, access, and instruction they need for success.‎
  • How can online courses on Coursera help me learn about early childhood education?‎Taking early childhood education courses online on Coursera can help you figure out if you want a career in the field, or if you already have a career in the field, it can help you build upon your previous education. If you’re a parent or caregiver, these courses can help you understand your child’s needs and provide you with some ideas on how to help your child reach his or her full potential during the first eight years of life. You can choose from basic courses about everyday parenting or more specialized topics, like teaching children with visual impairment in the classroom and ADHD strategies for elementary students.‎
  • What are typical careers that use early childhood education?‎Many people who study early childhood education are teachers at the preschool or elementary level. Special education teachers and teaching assistants also require knowledge of early childhood education. However, anyone who wants to work with kids should focus on early childhood education, including childcare workers and directions, nannies, school counselors, child psychologists, and social workers.‎

This FAQ content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Earning an early childhood education (ECE) degree will prepare you for a rewarding career teaching young children ranging in age from birth to eight or nine years old, which is traditionally about third grade. Early childhood educators play a critical role in their students’ lives; they strive to lay the foundation for a lifetime love of learning. They may also be expected to identify and instruct children with special needs, learning disabilities, or developmental delays. Teachers at this level must be able to create a safe, educational, and caring environment where children are able to maximize their potential and achieve or surpass learning milestones.

The ideal candidate for an early childhood education job will be service-oriented with good communication and active listening skills. The job requires dependability, integrity, and adaptability. Many schools offer an early childhood education degree online, which can allow students to study on their own time and at their own pace, often while maintaining regular employment. You can learn more about how to become an early childhood educator in our career guide or continue reading below to find out more about early childhood education degree programs.

Quick Facts

  • There are 1,116 colleges and universities with early childhood education programs.1
  • 328 schools offer a certificate in early childhood education.1
  • 481 schools offer an associate’s degree in early childhood education.1
  • 547 schools offer a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.1
  • 285 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in early childhood education.1

For not-for-profit colleges and universities.

Early Childhood Education Degrees and Certification

Most early childhood education degree programs are found at the bachelor’s level, though there are some associate’s degrees as well as graduate degrees available in early childhood education for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject. Early childhood education programs are typically formatted to give pre-service teachers a specialist education in working with pre-K to third grade students. This degree is a good fit for students who wish to teach at these grade levels and achieve state-level certification. Many early childhood programs offer coursework leading to additional specialist endorsements in such areas as reading, English as a second language, and special education.

Completing an early childhood education degree program will qualify you to seek positions in both public and private schools. Early childhood educators in public K-12 schools will need to have teacher certification. In order to get certified, teachers must ensure they attend an educator preparation program that is approved by their state’s board of education. Upon graduation, they must take their state’s exams to qualify them for certification as early childhood educators. Teachers in private schools or childcare centers may not need to hold state certification. For teachers who want to go above and beyond state certification, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers a voluntary Early Childhood Generalist Certificate for teachers of students from three to eight years old. In order to qualify for National Board Certification, applicants need an accredited bachelor’s degree or higher, at least three years of teaching experience, and a state teaching license where required. Due to the rigorous assessment they receive, National Board-certified teachers may be more competitive for early childhood education positions and command higher salaries than their peers.

In many cases, early childhood education is the specialization of a degree in another subject (education, curriculum and instruction, special education, etc.). However, some early childhood education degrees may offer further levels of specialization (also called concentrations, specialties, or emphases), including:

  • Bilingual/ESL Education: Prepares graduates to teach English as a second language to young learners.
  • Gifted and Talented Education: Prepares graduates to teach young learners who have been identified as gifted.
  • Special Education: Prepares graduates to teach very young children with various disabilities.

Teacher Quote: “Regardless of where they work or what their specific job titles are, however, early childhood teachers are professionals. This means that they make decisions based on a specialized body of knowledge, continue to learn throughout their careers, and are committed to providing the best care and education possible for every child. The opportunity to make a difference in this exciting field has never been greater.” –Sue Bredekamp, Effective Practices in Early Childhood Education: Building a Foundation

Certificate in Early Childhood Education

ECE certificates can be helpful for prospective caregivers who wish to work in daycare or preschool settings. Since many caregiver positions at this level do not require a degree, ECE certificate graduates may be more attractive to potential employers than other candidates with no credentials. A certificate can also be a good introduction into the field of early childhood education for students who are not yet ready to commit more time and money to a degree. For graduates who decide to continue on to a higher degree, some credits from certificate programs may transfer to an associate- or bachelor’s-level ECE program. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that 328 US schools offer early childhood education certificate programs.1

Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Some prospective preschool teachers pursue an associate’s degree in early childhood education, which is the minimum education required for many jobs at this level. Daycare workers may also seek an associate degree in early childhood education to earn higher pay or be more competitive in the job market, even though formal education may not be required. According to NCES, over 480 non-profit colleges across the US offer an associate degree in early childhood education.1 Associate degrees typically take two years of full-time study to complete and prepare graduates to teach and care for young children at daycares and preschools. An associate degree in early childhood education can also typically be transferred towards a bachelor’s degree in education; in fact, some associate degree programs are specifically designed for transfer in order to provide a more flexible pathway towards a four-year degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Since a bachelor’s degree is typically required to work in public schools and for teacher certification, the vast majority of early childhood education degrees are found at the bachelor’s level. A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education prepares an instructor to teach young children, including infants and children up to the third grade. Teachers at this level help children develop social, personal, and academic skills to properly prepare them for higher levels of education. These educators must align their teaching to education standards (which are constantly changing and improving) while also helping children meet their basic needs during the school day. Bachelor’s degrees typically take four years of full-time study to complete. NCES reports that over 500 public and non-profit colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education.1

Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Students graduating with a master’s degree in early childhood education are prepared to work as teachers or administrators in early childhood and elementary school settings. Many universities only offer early childhood education master’s degree programs to students who are already certified to teach in elementary settings, so earning a bachelor’s degree and state certification is typically the first step. Many online programs offer master’s degrees in early childhood education in addition to traditional on-campus degrees. Teachers who have earned a master’s degree often have higher earning potential than those with only a bachelor’s degree and can be more competitive candidates for administrative positions. NCES reports that nearly 300 non-profit institutions offer advanced degrees in early childhood education.1

Early Childhood Education Degree Online

Prospective pre-K to third grade educators can pursue an online degree in early childhood education. An online early childhood education degree program can offer additional flexibility compared to on-campus study for individuals who prefer this option. Online education continues to improve with innovations like live-streaming virtual classrooms with video conferencing and the use of interactive social technologies that allow collaboration and discussion with classmates. An increasing number of online programs are also offered asynchronously, meaning that students do not have to “attend” virtual class at a certain time, but can learn and complete assignments on their own schedule, providing they meet deadlines set forth by the teacher. This method allows even more flexibility for working and otherwise busy students who prefer to learn on their own time.Teacher Quote: “You should only choose education as your career if you are willing to put your whole self into it; don’t do it if you are just halfway in. You will have a classroom full of children depending on you to teach and care for them. For some, you will be all they have. You must be willing to go the extra mile for them and you must love what you do in order to make that happen.” –April Larremore, Texas Kindergarten Teacher

Top-Ranked Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Niche’s Best Schools with Early Childhood Education Degrees 2020

  • Vanderbilt University (#12; on campus)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#43; hybrid)
  • New York University (#46; on campus)
  • Boston University (#60; on campus)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (#64; on campus)
  • University of Georgia (#66; on campus)
  • Bucknell University (#70; on campus)
  • Brigham Young University (#78; on campus)
  • Purdue University (#83; on campus)
  • University of Washington (#92; on campus or online)2

FIND SCHOOLS

Best Value Schools with On-Campus Early Childhood Education Programs

To help you find the best early childhood teaching programs, we have researched top not-for-profit teaching schools in the US offering a program in this subject. The schools on our best value list below have a graduation rate of 80% or above at the undergraduate level and a net price of less than $20,000 per year for undergraduates. A high graduation rate is typically an indicator of a school’s success and a low net price is important for students interested in finding the best bang for their buck. In addition to these, we have also included data such as percentage of faculty with tenure, degrees offered, and US News & World Report undergraduate teaching school and national rankings.

SchoolUndergrad Degree(s)Grad Degree(s)US News Undergrad Teaching Rank3US News National Rank4Grad Rate1% Tenured Faculty5Net Price1
University of Washington-Seattle CampusBA Early Care and Education (online);
BA Early Childhood & Family Studies
M.Ed./Certificate Early Childhood Special EducationNR#59 tie84%51%$9,443
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillM.Ed. for Experienced Teachers: Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support#34 tie#30 tie91%43%$11,100
Brigham Young University-ProvoBS Early Childhood EducationNR#66 tie83%46%$12,979
University of FloridaUnified Early Childhood ProTeach ProgramDoctoral Concentration Early Childhood;
Graduate Certificate Early Childhood;
MAE Early Childhood Emphasis;
Minor Early Childhood;
Unified Early Childhood ProTeach Program
NR#35 tie88%52%$15,283
University of GeorgiaBSEd Early Childhood EducationM.Ed. Early Childhood Education;
MAT Early Childhood Education;
EdS Education: Early Childhood Education;
PhD Educational Theory and Practice: Early Childhood Education
#34 tie#46 tie85%54%$15,934
University of DelawareBS Early Childhood Education;
4+1 BS/MS HDFS: Early Childhood Development and Inclusive Education
4+1 BS/MS HDFS: Early Childhood Development and Inclusive Education;
MA Early Childhood Development and Programming
NR#89 tie82%57%$16,286
Florida State UniversityEdS Curriculum and Instruction: Early Childhood Education;
MS Curriculum and Instruction: Early Childhood Education (online);
PhD Curriculum and Instruction: Early Childhood Education
#52 tie#70 tie80%43%$16,450
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignBS Early Childhood EducationM.Ed. Early Childhood Education#43 tie#46 tie85%51%$16,638
Clemson UniversityBA Early Childhood Education#16 tie#66 tie82%47%$18,757

Best Value Schools with Online Early Childhood Education Programs

The table below represents the best value schools with early childhood education programs that can be completed partially or fully online. Since early childhood education programs almost always have a practicum component for future teachers to gain real-world experience, these programs will rarely be able to be completed 100% online; but with teachers in high demand, many schools are offering online coursework to make becoming a certified teacher easier for busy students. The schools represented in our best value online table have a graduation rate of 65% or above and a net price of less than $20,000 per year at the undergraduate levels, which together are indicators of student success and overall value in education schools. We have also included other helpful information, including degrees offered, US News & World Report rankings, and percentage of tenured faculty.

SchoolUndergrad Degree(s)Grad Degree(s)US News Undergrad Teaching Rank3US News National Rank4Grad Rate1% Tenured Faculty5Net Price1
University of Washington-Seattle CampusBA Early Care & EducationNR#62 tie84%48%$9,765
University of FloridaGrad Certificate Early Childhood#49 tie#34 tie90%50%$11,313
Florida State UniversityMS Early Childhood EducationNR#57 tie83%44%$13,318
University of Missouri-ColumbiaM.Ed. Early Childhood EducationNR#139 tie69%33%$17,833
West Chester University of PennsylvaniaM.Ed. Early Childhood EducationNRNR75%40%$19,091
Clemson UniversityM.Ed. Experiential Learning for Early Childhood#34 tie#70 tie83%45%$19,508
Harding UniversityEarly Childhood/Special Education Integrated B-K EndorsementNR#240 tie67%0%$19,580
Fresno Pacific UniversityBA Early Childhood DevelopmentNRNR66%7%$19,965

FIND SCHOOLS

Select Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Traditional Programs

Kent State University

Kent State University’s Early Childhood Education program leads to the award of a Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) in Early Childhood Education (ECED). Field experience is heavily emphasized in the curriculum, with field placements and teaching experiences occurring in classroom settings at the pre-K and K-3 levels. The ECED program holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Ohio State Department of Education. The College of Education, Health, and Human Services at Kent State is also a member of the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching, which offers overseas student teaching placements to qualified students. Program graduates may be interested in earning a second license or endorsement through one of Kent State University’s numerous other education programs. An Early Childhood Generalist Endorsement for Grades 4-5 may be added to the P-3 Teaching License after Block IV of the ECED program is completed; the Grades 4-5 endorsement is an online program.

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Interdisciplinary Studies (INST) with a certification in EC-Grade 6 Core Subjects/Generalist program. An intensive series of field placements that give students an active role in actual classrooms is built around blocks of methods-based learning for classroom and learning management. Students admitted to the program receive personalized advising throughout their studies, with one-on-one advising sessions scheduled at least once per semester. All College of Education students have access to financial assistance packages, global education experiences, and personalized learning communities, including an undergraduate peer mentor program for academically talented pre-service teachers. An Education Career Fair is held once per semester to give students the opportunity to network with potential employers. As the largest producer of teachers in high-demand fields in the state of Texas, Texas A&M University can give “Aggie” graduates a competitive edge in the career marketplace.

University of Central Florida

The College of Education and Human Performance at the University of Central Florida offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Early Childhood Development and Education that leads to teacher certification for pre-kindergarten through third grade. Two program tracks are offered in Education, Pre-Kindergarten-Primary (PK-3) and Early Childhood Development, as well as a minor and a Master of Science (MS) in Early Childhood Development and Education and a PhD in Early Childhood Education. Field experiences begin early in the course sequencing, integrating theory and practice learned in the classroom in real school settings. Student reflection is encouraged through a continuously faculty-reviewed personal professional portfolio. The program curriculum emphasizes the creation of safe and nurturing environments for all young children in education partnerships with family and the community. In addition to school-wide scholarships, the College of Education and Human Performance offers several scholarships that are only available to Early Childhood Development and Education students.

University of Delaware

The University of Delaware (UD) offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Early Childhood Education with dual certification in Early Childhood Special Education, a 4+1 BS/Master of Science (MS) in Early Childhood Development and Inclusive Education, and a Master of Arts (MA) in Early Childhood Development and Programming. The BS is aimed at those who want to teach in schools, child care, or other inclusive environments and requires practicum experience at UD and local schools, where students can learn first-hand about teaching methods and child development. Primary areas of study include child development, classroom management, inclusive curriculum, diversity and families, and literacy instruction. The 4+1 includes the BS plus an MS, offered through the College of Education and Human Development, which can be completed in just five years. The MA in Early Childhood Development and Programming can be completed in as little as one year and is focused on preparing those with undergraduate degrees in early childhood education for administrative roles leading program development for young children.

Online and Hybrid Programs

Florida State College at Jacksonville

Florida State College at Jacksonville’s online early childhood education teacher preparation program provides graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to educate children from pre-kindergarten through grade three. Most courses in the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Early Childhood Education program are available online, though students must complete an in-person field experience as well as a semester-long student teaching engagement in order to earn the degree. Students must have completed an associate’s degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) or another school plus three prerequisite courses at FSCJ in order to be admitted. The core curriculum includes such courses as Integrated Science & Math for Young Children, Language & Literacy in Early Childhood Education, and Language Principles for Teachers. Once all degree requirements are met, students are conferred the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Early Childhood Education. FSCJ also offers an Associate of Science (AS) in Early Childhood Management which includes technical coursework that can be transferred to the bachelor’s program.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University’s Global Campus offers an online bachelor’s degree completion program that prepares graduates to seek licensure as early childhood educators in Kansas from birth to kindergarten (B-K). The blended curriculum includes study in general as well as special education. Online early childhood courses in the professional studies component of the program include Family Relationships & Gender Roles, Exceptional Development in Early Childhood, and Emergent Literacy. While most courses are offered online, students must complete a supervised field experience in a public or private school. To be considered for admission, students must have at least 50 college credit hours with a GPA of at least 2.75 and be formally admitted to the teacher education program. In addition to teaching in early childhood education programs, graduates of the program may find work in community agencies and other organizations that promote learning and development for children from birth through kindergarten.

University of Alabama

The University of Alabama offers an online Bachelor of Science (BS) in Early Childhood Education qualifying them to apply for the Birth to PreK Child Development Certificate in Alabama. The program curriculum focuses on growth and development in children from birth to age five as well as the design and evaluation of early childhood education programs in schools and in the community. Up to 60 credit hours can be transferred from a two-year institution and all core courses are available online. Required courses include Child Development, Adolescence; Developmental Perspectives of Young Children with Disabilities; and Parent and Family Development. Students must also complete an in-person field experience, which may be arranged in the student’s local area, to meet the six-credit Human Development and Family Studies Internship requirement. Financial aid, including grants and scholarships specific to the early childhood education program, is available to distance education students.

Early Childhood Education Degree Requirements and Coursework

Early childhood educators should be patient and have a passion for helping children learn and develop skills that will be the foundation for them to lead successful lives. Other characteristics that are helpful for early childhood teachers include creativity, high energy, and organizational skills. To be admitted into an early childhood education degree program, typically a minimum high school GPA is required, as well as qualifying exam scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Some common courses in an early childhood education program include:

  • Assessment in Early Childhood Education
  • Children with Differing Abilities
  • Developing Family and Community Relationships
  • ECE: Science and Social Studies
  • ECE: Art and Music
  • Early Childhood Curriculum and Methods
  • Early Language and Literacy
  • Education Practicum
  • Educational Psychology
  • Guiding Child Behavior
  • Infancy and Early Childhood
  • Introduction to Early Childhood Education
  • Introduction to Exceptional Children
  • Learners and the Diversity of Learning
  • Methods of Teaching Reading

Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2022

Pursuing a career in early childhood education shouldn’t break the bank. We’ve rounded up 10 of the most affordable online programs and discuss how to apply to school.

For students who want to support the development of young children, an online bachelor’s in early childhood education leads to many career possibilities. These programs equip learners with a diverse skill set that they can apply to both teaching and administration positions, including education administrator and childcare center director.

This page explores online bachelor’s in early childhood education programs in more detail, highlighting course requirements, career options, and the most affordable study options available.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2022 Most Affordable Accredited Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Programs

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#1 Online College in Washington

University of Washington

School Information
LocationSeattle, WA
Admission Rate52%
Graduation Rate84%
Institution TypePublic
AccreditationYes ?
Percent Online Enrollment8% ?

Visit Site 

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $231
Out of State | $231

Credits to Graduate
180

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

The University of Washington-Seattle Campus offers a fully online bachelor’s in early childhood education degree completion program. Full-time students typically graduate in two years, while part-time learners can graduate in three. Admission requirements include at least 45 prior college credits. 

UW’s 180-credit bachelor’s in early childhood education requires classes, such as equity in early care and education, family and community engagement, child observation and assessment, and exceptional children. Early care and education majors must complete a senior project that incorporates hands-on practice, research, and theory.View less about this program –

#2 Online College in Florida

Florida International University

School Information
LocationMiami, FL
Admission Rate58%
Graduation Rate63%
Institution TypePublic
AccreditationYes ?
Percent Online Enrollment68% ?

Visit Site 

100% Online

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $229
Out of State | $346

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

Distance learners can pursue a fully online bachelor’s in early childhood education from Florida International University. The 120-credit curriculum explores teaching methods, classroom management, child development, and language and literacy development. 

Admission requirements for FIU’s bachelor’s in early childhood education program include at least 60 credits of lower division coursework, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and a university core or general education associate degree from a public, accredited Florida college.View less about this program –

#3 Online College in California

National University

School Information
LocationLa Jolla, CA
Admission Rate89%
Graduation Rate29%
Institution TypePrivate
AccreditationYes ?
Percent Online Enrollment53% ?

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100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $370
Out of State | $370

Credits to Graduate
180

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

The curriculum for National University’s bachelor’s in early childhood education focuses on play, policy, and practice. The 180-credit degree requires classes, such as early cognition, play as pedagogy, children with special needs, and infant and toddler care. Students learn to create curricula, design appropriate learning environments, and craft effective instructional strategies.

This program features four-week classes and year-round enrollment. Students must complete at least 45 credits at National University.View less about this program –

#4 Online College in Iowa

Iowa State University

School Information
LocationAmes, IA
Admission Rate92%
Graduation Rate74%
Institution TypePublic
AccreditationYes ?
Percent Online Enrollment23% ?

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100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $430
Out of State | $430

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No

Iowa State University’s completely online bachelor’s in early childhood education explores topics in technology and young children, working with families, and understanding diversity. The degree takes an average of 33 months to complete.

Early care and education majors take classes, such as child development, development of curriculum, understanding and adapting for developmental differences, and supervision in early childhood settings. The bachelor’s in early childhood education program also requires three practicums, including a 15-week, 300-hour teaching experience.View less about this program –

#5 Online College in Florida

Florida State College at Jacksonville

School Information
LocationJacksonville, FL
Graduation Rate37%
Institution TypePublic
AccreditationYes ?
Percent Online Enrollment74% ?

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Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $105
Out of State | $219

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

The online bachelor’s in early childhood education degree completion program from Florida State College at Jacksonville prepares graduates for careers as teacher assistants, childcare workers, and education administrators.

The 120-credit bachelor’s in early childhood education requires classes like child growth and development, introduction to diversity for teachers, childcare and education programming, and introduction to educational technology. Students must complete a supervised field experience at an early childhood education program or center.View less about this program –

#6 Online College in Connecticut

Charter Oak State College

School Information
LocationNew Britain, CT
Institution TypePublic
AccreditationYes ?

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100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $319
Out of State | $419

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

Charter Oak State College’s online bachelor’s in early childhood education program offers concentrations in early childhood teacher credential, infant and toddler, preschool, and Montessori. Students can add a certificate in speech and language pathology studies or a Connecticut director’s credential.

Classes include diversity and ethics in early childhood, psychology of play, the exceptional learner, and observation and assessment in early childhood programs. Early childhood education majors complete a capstone in their final term.View less about this program –

#7 Online College in North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

School Information
LocationGreensboro, NC
Admission Rate82%
Graduation Rate59%
Institution TypePublic
AccreditationYes ?
Percent Online Enrollment51% ?

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100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $184
Out of State | $369

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

The bachelor’s in early childhood education degree competition program from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro welcomes transfer applicants with an associate of applied science from a participating North Carolina community college. The online program includes synchronous and asynchronous courses.

The 120-credit, interdisciplinary curriculum explores general early childhood education, early childhood special education, and the social and behavioral sciences. Students take classes like children with exceptionalities; health, safety, and nutrition; infant and toddler curriculum; and a capstone practicum.View less about this program –

#8 Online College in California

University of Massachusetts Global

School Information
LocationIrvine, CA
Admission Rate89%
Graduation Rate60%
Institution TypePrivate
AccreditationYes ?
Percent Online Enrollment96% ?

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100% Online or Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $500
Out of State | $500

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

The University of Massachusetts Global offers an online bachelor’s in early childhood education that prepares graduates to care for children from birth to age eight. Admission requirements include at least 12 transferable college credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants submit official transcripts from all prior coursework.

The 120-credit curriculum requires classes like teaching in a diverse society, dual language learners and their families, and social and emotional competence in early childhood education. Students must complete fieldwork and two practicums under guided supervision.View less about this program –

#9 Online College in Ohio

Mount Vernon Nazarene University

School Information
LocationMount Vernon, OH
Admission Rate73%
Graduation Rate68%
Institution TypePrivate
AccreditationYes ?
Percent Online Enrollment41% ?

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100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Year
In State | $33,918
Out of State | $33,918

Credits to Graduate
83

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

Distance learners can earn an online bachelor’s in early childhood education from Mount Vernon Nazarene University that explores educational technology, learning processes, early childhood education curriculum, and family and community relations. The program accepts transfer students and advanced undergraduates but not first-time freshmen.

Required classes include foundations of inclusive education, education and cultural diversity, language and literacy fundamentals, and classroom management in early childhood education. Early childhood education majors must complete 6-12 credits of student teaching. View less about this program –

#10 Online College in Iowa

Northwestern College

School Information
LocationOrange City, IA
Admission Rate70%
Graduation Rate68%
Institution TypePrivate
AccreditationYes ?
Percent Online Enrollment37% ?

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100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $340
Out of State | $340

Credits to Graduate
124

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

Northwestern College offers a fully online bachelor’s in early childhood education degree completion program that takes as few as two years to complete. The curriculum explores child development, behavior, and assessment. Learners must complete at least 30 credits from Northwestern. 

The 124-credit bachelor’s in early childhood education includes core courses like positive behavioral support for young children, learning with digital media, supporting dual language learners, and resiliency and wellness for educators. Students also create a professional portfolio.View less about this program –

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Program?

While a BA provides more general training and can lead to non-teaching careers, a BS tends to provide more focused teacher training and prepares graduates for a teaching license.

Bachelor’s in early childhood education programs offer various pathways that can impact students’ career options. Choosing the right route depends on each person’s interests and goals.

Generally, these programs require 120 credits and take four years to complete. Many of the best programs also feature an internship that helps satisfy licensure requirements.

Curricula and career possibilities vary considerably by school, and specializations can open new doors. Compassionate and patient degree-seekers with an interest in working with children may consider pursuing concentrations in language development or specific age groups. Detail-oriented aspiring administrators and directors may prefer a curriculum development or leadership concentration.

Some schools also offer a choice between a BA and a BS. While a BA provides more general training and can lead to non-teaching careers, a BS tends to provide more focused teacher training and prepares graduates for a teaching license.

After graduation, learners often choose between certifications and licenses, which has a major influence on career pathways. For example, most teaching positions require licensure, so students need to understand their specific state requirements. Childcare directors may also require certification, such as the child development associate credential.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Program?

The list below details some of the most common early childhood education classes online that degree-seekers may encounter, along with some courses that may appear in all education programs.

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Child Development

In this class, students learn about how children develop mentally, physically, and socially. The class covers various environmental factors that influence development, assessment, and identification processes. Learners also discuss how to help children manage different developmental issues. Degree-seekers assess how to support children based on their unique situations and needs.

Play-Based Learning

Students in this course learn how to create and facilitate play-based lesson plans. Learners also explore how and why play has such a strong impact on mental, physical, and social development.

Curriculum Planning

This course teaches students how to create lesson plans that encourage discovery and engagement with peers, instructors, and various environments. Common topics include play-based learning, imagination, and physical interactions. Students also learn how to evaluate children’s knowledge.

Assessment and Evaluation for Young Children

In this course, students examine tools and methods for evaluating children in various educational settings. They look at ways to improve student outcomes through motivational techniques and challenges. Degree-seekers also learn how to identify special needs and overcome linguistic and learning barriers.

Center Leadership

This course teaches learners how to manage a childcare center, including finance and budgeting, staff training and development, and human resources. Students explore ways of livening up program design and community involvement.

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What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Degree?

Graduates with a bachelor’s in early childhood education can access many careers across educational settings. Licensure requirements for teaching positions vary by state, and these positions often require additional training.

Additional careers include childcare center director and educational administrator, which feature strong salaries. Job growth projections for educational administrators in childcare settings are nearly double the average rate for all occupations.

Learn more about child development careers on this page.

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Childcare Director

Childcare directors manage childcare centers and programs, ensuring that staff and educators follow procedures and protocols and meet the standards of the organization. They also handle budgeting, develop policies, and design programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 65% of these professionals work in childcare centers, 12% work in religious organizations, and 6% work in schools.

Childcare Administrator

Education administrators work in various schools and centers to manage tasks like finances, program admission, and staff support. They may also work in program design and communicate with families and the community. According to the BLS, most childcare administrators work directly in childcare services, but some work in the elementary school system or family services.

Kindergarten Teacher

Kindergarten teachers design and implement lesson plans that teach basic skills to young students. They assess and address student needs and evaluate learners in various ways. According to the BLS, most kindergarten teachers work in the public school system.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers support the development of students before they enter kindergarten, helping them with social skills and self-confidence. They observe students in various settings, looking for potential developmental concerns while developing programs that help children learn about the world and themselves. According to the BLS, preschool teachers typically find work in childcare centers, religious organizations, and public and private schools.

Childcare Worker

Childcare workers take care of the children in various educational centers, feeding, cleaning, supervising, and recording their activities throughout the day. They may also create lesson plans and activities based on observations and child interests. The BLS reports that most childcare workers are employed in childcare centers, although many are self-employed or work in private residences.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Programs

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What skills do you need for early childhood education?

Early childhood educators who work in classrooms typically need problem-solving and communication skills, along with patience, resourcefulness, and creativity. Administrators and directors need leadership and organizational skills. All professionals should be able to design programs and evaluate students.

Is an early childhood education degree worth it?

Yes. Early childhood education graduates can access careers that pay decent salaries and feature large workforces. The field also allows professionals to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of children, their families, and the community as a whole.

What can I do with a bachelor’s in early childhood education?

Depending on state licensure requirements, graduates can teach in childcare centers, preschools, and kindergarten classrooms. They can also manage childcare centers, work in education administration, and seek out policy-related positions in the government and nonprofit organizations.

How much money can I make with a bachelor’s in early childhood education degree?

According to the BLS, the top 10% of childcare center directors and education administrators make more than $52,000 annually. Childcare directors and education administrators earned a median annual salary of $49,160 in 2020.

What are the highest paying jobs with a bachelor’s in early childhood education?

According to the BLS, kindergarten teachers earned a median annual salary of $60,660 in 2020. Early childhood education graduates can often find work as kindergarten teachers if they also earn a state teaching license.