Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

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Updated January 6, 2023

Explore degree programs and potential careers in early childhood education in this guide.

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Courses, career paths and expert advice for teaching young learners

Early childhood educators play an integral role in the social and cognitive development of children. Early childhood degree programs provide future teachers with a theoretical foundation in child development as well as hands-on experience in the classroom. Explore degree programs and potential careers in early childhood education in this guide. It includes information on what to look for in a program, what courses students can expect to take, and the relevant job growth and salary data.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Best Early Childhood Education Programs

OUR METHODOLOGY+

To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:

  • Accredited at the institutional level
  • Private nonprofit or public school
  • Minimum of 1 bachelor's or master's degree in subject area for 4-year schools
  • Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools

Schools were then scored on factors such as:

  • Cost & Financial Aid
  • Number and variety of program offerings
  • Student-teacher ratios
  • Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
  • Placement and support services offered
  • Academic/Career counseling services
  • Employment services
  • Loan default rates

These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or "bang for your buck" of a college or degree program.

While there are many early childhood education degree programs available, some provide more value to students than others. To help students make good choices, we have ranked schools based on the quality of their faculty members and campus facilities, strength of student-teacher ratios, and affordability of tuition. Follow the link below to review the best programs for early childhood education.

#1 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Chaminade University of Honolulu

  • Honolulu, HI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A leader in higher education, Chaminade University of Honolulu provides educational opportunities to Hawaii-based students and distance learners. Students seeking robust study in early childhood education will benefit from the college's programs. The school boasts an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, enabling personalized study. Enrollees benefit from close collaboration through faculty-driven research projects and more.

Degree-seekers can pursue in-person or online learning. They can enroll full or part time. To date, 40% of the college's programs enable online study. Throughout their studies, degree candidates can access academic advising, career services, and other institutional resources.

Chaminade University of Honolulu at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 52

Number of Online Programs: 21

Admission Rate: 95%

Graduation Rate: 59%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 99%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 38%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $7,105

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,020
Out-of-state
$26,020
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
95%
Students Enrolled
2,167
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Muskingum University

  • New Concord, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Muskingum University supports numerous programs, both in person and online, from its main campus in New Concord, Ohio. The college's early childhood education program equips learners with industry-specific knowledge, transferrable skills, and learning experiences that prepare them for the demands of their field. The college boasts an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, enabling personalized study. Degree candidates benefit from close collaboration with faculty through research projects and more.

Enrollees can earn their degree remotely or in person. Of all programs offered through the college, 1% can be completed fully online. Degree-seekers benefit from access to campus resources, such as career services and academic advising.

Muskingum University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 84

Number of Online Programs: 1

Admission Rate: 81%

Graduation Rate: 53%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 96%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 78%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $7,068

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$28,100
Out-of-state
$28,100
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
2,370
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Boston University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Boston University reaches learners worldwide through its flexible academic programs, available in person and online. The college's early childhood education program provides learners with a world-class education. Beyond the classroom, students can pursue experiential learning opportunities, such as faculty-driven research projects and internships.

Degree candidates can often take advantage of online and hybrid offerings, which add flexibility for working students. Of its programs, 8% allow for fully online study. Both in-person and remote students benefit from institutional resources, like academic advising and career services.

Boston University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 433

Number of Online Programs: 33

Admission Rate: 19%

Graduation Rate: 88%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 55%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 31%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,679

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$54,720
Out-of-state
$54,720
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
19%
Students Enrolled
33,720
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#4 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Ball State University

  • Muncie, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University provides a flexible, competitive education to students near and far. The school's early childhood education programs build theoretical and practical knowledge, preparing candidates for many careers in the field. Learners benefit from the program's collaborative nature. They can pursue research projects and other learning opportunities while enrolled.

Degree-seekers can attend classes on campus or online. Remote students can choose from one of 113 fully online degrees. Students seeking academic and career guidance can benefit from the college's many resources, such as career services and academic advising.

Ball State University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 316

Number of Online Programs: 113

Admission Rate: 77%

Graduation Rate: 67%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 91%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $10,497

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 56%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,903

Average Price After Aid: $13,533

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,358
Out-of-state
$26,138
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
22,443
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Saint Xavier University

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Saint Xavier University supports numerous degrees from its main campus in Chicago, Illinois. Learners looking to advance in the early childhood education field should consider enrolling at this college. Degree-seekers benefit from a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, enabling collaborative endeavors such as faculty-driven research projects.

The early childhood education program supports in-person and online learning formats. Prospective applicants seeking remote study should know that 2% of the college's programs support fully online study. Throughout their program, students can access academic advising, career services, and other institutional resources.

Saint Xavier University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 100

Number of Online Programs: 2

Admission Rate: 73%

Graduation Rate: 56%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 100%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 80%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,522

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$33,300
Out-of-state
$33,300
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
3,623
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Colorado Christian University

  • Lakewood, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Colorado Christian University provides diverse learning opportunities from its main campus in Lakewood, Colorado. The college's early childhood education program equips students with industry-relevant study, preparing them for the demands of the field. Enrollees benefit from a supportive learning community, customizable study, and a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Degree candidates can often take advantage of online and hybrid offerings, which add flexibility for working students. Prospective applicants seeking remote study should know that 69% of the college's programs support fully online study. Whether in person or online, enrollees can access institutional resources and receive career and academic guidance throughout their studies.

Colorado Christian University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 78

Number of Online Programs: 54

Admission Rate: Data not available

Graduation Rate: 55%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 100%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 49%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $9,908

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$23,502
Out-of-state
$23,502
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
7,587
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Long Island University

  • Brookville, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Long Island University connects learners with competitive educational opportunities through in-person and online programs. The school's early childhood education programs equip students with a well-rounded education through their rigorous curriculum. Enrollees seeking supplementary study can benefit from faculty-driven research projects and other collaborative learning opportunities.

Degree-seekers can learn in person or remotely. Both in-person and remote students benefit from institutional resources, like academic advising and career services.

Long Island University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 323

Number of Online Programs: 1

Admission Rate: 80%

Graduation Rate: 46%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 95%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 35%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $7,877

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$36,452
Out-of-state
$36,452
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
15,546
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#8 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Barry University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Barry University is a private college located in Miami, Florida. Learners seeking flexible study in early childhood education will benefit from the college's program. With a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, enrollees benefit from personalized study. Degree-seekers can explore collaborative opportunities such as faculty-driven research projects.

Enrollees can attend classes on campus or online. Prospective students seeking remote study should know that 16% of the college's programs support fully online study. Throughout their program, degree candidates can access institutional resources, benefiting from academic and career advising, library services, and more.

Barry University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 130

Number of Online Programs: 21

Admission Rate: 51%

Graduation Rate: 35%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 100%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 55%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $7,601

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$29,700
Out-of-state
$29,700
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
7,401
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
16% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Xavier University

  • Cincinnati, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Xavier University is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based college supporting academic programs in dual modalities. The college's early childhood education program provides students with a world-class education. Learners complete major-specific coursework and attend industry-relevant lectures. Enrollees can pursue further learning through internships and research projects.

Degree-seekers often take advantage of online and hybrid offerings, which add flexibility for working students. Of its programs, 14% allow for fully online study. Enrollees can access numerous campus resources throughout their studies, including academic advising and career services.

Xavier University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 148

Number of Online Programs: 20

Admission Rate: 76%

Graduation Rate: 73%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 100%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 56%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,890

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$40,220
Out-of-state
$40,220
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
6,973
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

University of Alaska Anchorage

  • Anchorage, AK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Alaska Anchorage supports numerous programs, both in person and online, from its main campus in Anchorage. The early childhood education program prepares students for professional advancement through industry-relevant coursework, lectures, and projects. Enrollees benefit from learning opportunities within and beyond the classroom. They can pursue collaborative projects such as faculty-driven research, internships, and more.

Degree candidates can attend classes on campus or online. Prospective applicants seeking remote study should know that 18% of the college's programs support fully online study. Both in-person and remote students benefit from institutional resources, like academic advising and career services.

University of Alaska Anchorage at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 158

Number of Online Programs: 29

Admission Rate: 83%

Graduation Rate: 29%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 82%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $7,033

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 21%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,577

Average Price After Aid: $12,564

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,804
Out-of-state
$26,152
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
12,766
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#11 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

California University of Pennsylvania

  • California, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California University of Pennsylvania, a public college based in California, Pennsylvania, provides competitive educational opportunities to learners from all walks of life. The college's early childhood education program provides students with transferrable skills and knowledge necessary for the field. Students complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining a well-rounded education.

Degree candidates seeking further opportunities for study can pursue internships or collaborate with faculty on research projects. Of its programs, 44% allow for fully online study. Both in-person and remote students benefit from institutional resources, like academic advising and career services.

California University of Pennsylvania at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 119

Number of Online Programs: 52

Admission Rate: 97%

Graduation Rate: 50%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 97%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $7,159

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 71%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,603

Average Price After Aid: $18,264

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,716
Out-of-state
$11,574
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
6,842
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
64% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#12 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Johnson University

  • Knoxville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Johnson University provides diverse learning opportunities from its main campus in Knoxville, Tennessee. The school's early childhood education programs build theoretical and practical knowledge, preparing candidates for many careers. Students complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining a well-rounded education.

The program accommodates both in-person and remote study. At the college, 30% of all programs accommodate remote learning. In-person and distance learners can access campus resources like career services and academic advising.

Johnson University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 71

Number of Online Programs: 21

Admission Rate: 53%

Graduation Rate: 63%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 97%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 64%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,495

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,480
Out-of-state
$15,480
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
1,037
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#13 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Converse College

  • Spartanburg, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A leader in higher education, Converse College provides educational opportunities to Spartanburg, South Carolina-based students and distance learners. Degree-seekers looking to advance in the early childhood education field should consider enrolling at the school. Degree candidates benefit from 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, enabling collaborative endeavors such as faculty-driven research projects.

Students can complete their degree in person or online. Of its programs, 3% allow for fully online study. All enrollees can access institutional resources and receive personal and professional guidance.

Converse College at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 79

Number of Online Programs: 2

Admission Rate: 89%

Graduation Rate: 58%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 99%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 74%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $7,231

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$18,890
Out-of-state
$18,890
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
89%
Students Enrolled
1,455
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#14 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

SUNY Buffalo State

  • Buffalo, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Buffalo, New York, SUNY Buffalo State offers a variety of academic programs in person and online. Degree candidates seeking robust study in the early childhood education field will benefit from the college's early childhood education program. Enrollees benefit from a supportive learning community, customizable study, and a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Learners seeking further opportunities for study can pursue internships or collaborate with faculty on research projects. Of its programs, 2% allow for fully online study. Degree candidates seeking academic and career guidance can benefit from the college's many resources, such as career services and academic advising.

SUNY Buffalo State at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 187

Number of Online Programs: 3

Admission Rate: 67%

Graduation Rate: 46%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 94%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $9,107

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 60%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,467

Average Price After Aid: $12,230

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,070
Out-of-state
$16,980
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
8,658
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#15 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Saint Mary's College of California

  • Moraga, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Saint Mary's College of California reaches learners worldwide through its flexible academic programs, available in person and online. The college's early childhood education program equips learners with industry-specific knowledge, transferrable skills, and learning experiences that prepare them for the demands of their field. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining a well-rounded education.

Degree-seekers can often take advantage of online and hybrid offerings, which add flexibility for working students. Career services and academic advising are just two of the many campus resources available to learners.

Saint Mary's College of California at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 113

Number of Online Programs: Data not available

Admission Rate: 81%

Graduation Rate: 78%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 99%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 68%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $7,324

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$48,988
Out-of-state
$48,988
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
3,692
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#16 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Canisius College

  • Buffalo, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Canisius College connects learners with competitive educational opportunities through in-person and online programs. The college's early childhood education program equips learners with industry-specific knowledge, transferrable skills, and learning experiences that prepare them for the demands of their field. Degree-seekers benefit from an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, with many chances to interact closely with professors.

Learners can earn their degree on campus or online, depending on their scheduling needs. Remote students can choose from one of 24 fully online degrees. Throughout their program, students can access institutional resources, benefiting from academic and career advising, library services, and more.

Canisius College at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 124

Number of Online Programs: 24

Admission Rate: 83%

Graduation Rate: 73%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 97%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 63%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,440

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$27,940
Out-of-state
$27,940
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
3,102
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#17 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Marshall University

  • Huntington, WV
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Marshall University, a public college, is located in Huntington, West Virginia. The school's early childhood education program prepares students for future careers through foundational and specialized coursework.

Degree-seekers can often take advantage of online and hybrid offerings, which add flexibility for working students. Of all programs offered through the college, 17% can be completed fully online. Regardless of learning modality, distance learners can access institutional resources, such as career services, geared towards student success.

Marshall University at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 166

Number of Online Programs: 29

Admission Rate: 87%

Graduation Rate: 49%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 96%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $10,313

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 50%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $8,190

Average Price After Aid: $8,508

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,190
Out-of-state
$18,044
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
12,852
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#18 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Endicott College

  • Beverly, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Endicott College is a private institution in Beverly, Massachusetts. Learners looking to advance in the early childhood education field should consider enrolling at the college. Degree-seekers benefit from rigorous coursework and opportunities to collaborate with faculty through research and more.

Degree candidates can often take advantage of online and hybrid offerings, which add flexibility for working students. Remote learners can choose from one of 21 fully online degrees. Students can make use of campus resources, such as academic advising and library services, while enrolled.

Endicott College at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 70

Number of Online Programs: 21

Admission Rate: 69%

Graduation Rate: 74%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 95%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 62%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,505

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$33,304
Out-of-state
$33,304
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
4,741
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#19 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Loyola University Chicago

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A private institution, Loyola University Chicago operates a main campus in Chicago, Illinois. Its programs, such as the early childhood education program, foster learning through a robust curriculum and supportive learning community in person and online. Degree candidates benefit from rigorous coursework and opportunities to collaborate with faculty through research and more.

Enrollees can often take advantage of online and hybrid offerings, which add flexibility for working students. Online programs make up 2% of the college's programs. Students can make use of campus resources, such as academic advising and library services, while enrolled.

Loyola University Chicago at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 324

Number of Online Programs: 7

Admission Rate: 67%

Graduation Rate: 74%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 99%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: Data not available

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 57%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,690

Average Price After Aid: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$44,105
Out-of-state
$44,105
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
17,159
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#20 Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

The University of Alabama

  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Alabama supports in-person learning and distance learning opportunities from its main campus in Tuscaloosa. The school's early childhood education programs build theoretical and practical knowledge, preparing candidates for many careers. Beyond the classroom, degree-seekers can pursue experiential learning opportunities, such as faculty-driven research projects and internships.

Enrollees can attend classes at the college's campus or pursue fully online learning. The college reports that 20% of its degrees sustain online study. In-person and remote students can access campus resources while enrolled, including career services and academic advising.

The University of Alabama at a Glance:

Total Academic Programs: 214

Number of Online Programs: 43

Admission Rate: 83%

Graduation Rate: 71%

Percent of Students Awarded Aid: 79%

Average Amount of Aid Awarded: $9,249

Percent of Students Awarded Loans: 38%

Average Amount of Loans Awarded: $6,408

Average Price After Aid: $20,623

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,780
Out-of-state
$30,250
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
38,100
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Educators can work with students of any age. The following graphic shows the degrees that are similar to early childhood education and what grades educators are preparing to teach when they enroll in these programs.

  • Early Childhood Education
    Grades: Preschool to 3rd grade
    Ages: 0 to 8
  • Elementary Education
    Grades:Kindergarten to 6th grade
    Ages: 5 to 12
    READ MORE
  • Secondary Education
    Grades:6th to 12th grades
    Ages: 13 to 18
    READ MORE
  • Special Education
    Grades: Preschool to 12th grade
    Ages: 0 to 22
    READ MORE

Early Childhood Education Degrees by Level

Students in early childhood education degree programs learn about the needs of young learners and develop an appreciation of how they develop cognitively, emotionally, socially and physically. Undergraduate programs prepare students to enter the field and receive a teaching license, while graduate degree programs are geared toward those already working in the field who are looking to advance their careers or transition into college-level teaching or education research. This section explains what students can expect from early education programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION ASSOCIATE DEGREES

Type of Schools:
Community colleges, online schools

Time to Complete:
Two years, full-timer

Career Opportunities:
Preschool teacher, child care worker, camp counselor, recreation coordinator, infant/toddler caregiver

Students in this program learn about the development of young children and the research-based strategies that educators use to teach them. In addition, these programs discuss how to use age-appropriate and culturally sensitive instruction methods in the classroom. Prospective students must have a high school diploma or its equivalent before enrolling.

The coursework in early education associate degree programs is designed to provide a foundation that students can use to earn higher-level degrees or obtain entry-level positions after graduation. The following are examples of classes that can be found in associate degree programs.

INTRODUCTION TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Provides an overview of early childhood education, including its history and current trends in the field. In addition, students learn about the laws that govern how educators work.

EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN
Students examine strategies for working with special needs children in the early education classroom. Topics include physical impairments, types of learning, behavioral problems and exceptional development.

CHILD GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Explores the genetic and environmental factors that influence the development of young children. Developmental milestones from birth to age eight are also discussed.

EARLY CHILDHOOD LITERACY
Students learn the best practices for teaching preschool children how to read, write and communicate.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION BACHELOR'S DEGREES

Type of Schools:
Four-year colleges and universities, online schools

Time to Complete:
Four years, full-time

Career Opportunities:
Preschool teacher, teacher assistant, recreation worker, child care worker, camp counselor

Prospective early childhood education bachelor's degree students must first earn a high school diploma. Bachelor's programs teach students how to create an appropriate curriculum for early learners, assess the needs of students and monitor their progress, and help families support their children's education needs. Toward the end of the program, students must serve as student-teachers in a real classroom to earn the degree.

Students earning early childhood education bachelor's degrees learn the skills they need to teach young children reading, writing and math by leveraging their understanding of how children develop cognitively, emotionally and physically. The following descriptions provide an overview of some of the courses found in bachelor's programs. 

ISSUES IN EDUCATION
Providing information on how to address common challenges early childhood educators face, Issues in Education looks in-depth at topics such as classroom management and learner accountability.

EARLY CHILDHOOD CURRICULUM PLANNING
Students learn how to incorporate student-teacher interactions, caregiving and play into the classroom as they explore curriculum-development strategies appropriate to young children.

FAMILY, SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY
Explains the underlying factors that influence the ways children learn and the ways educators work. It includes information on how teachers can partner with their students' families to deliver a quality education.

CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
Students learn about types of children's literature and how to select media that align with children's cognitive, social and emotional development.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION MASTER'S DEGREES

Type of Schools:
Four-year universities, online schools

Time to Complete:
Two years, full-time

Career Opportunities:
Adjunct instructor, family education center director, education coordinator, preschool director, preschool lead teacher

Master's degree programs in early childhood education build on the previous education and work experience students have gained and help them become experts in a general topic in the field. In addition to learning advanced concepts, students also learn about seminal early education research, as well as gain practice in original or secondary research. Schools generally require applicants to earn a minimum of a 2.5 GPA in their undergraduate programs and take the GMAT or GRE to gain entry into a master's program.

Early childhood education master's degree students learn advanced concepts in the field that can help them get high-level jobs. Some examples of courses in these programs are below.

INTRODUCTION TO EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH
This course familiarizes students with how education research is conducted, including commonly used qualitative and quantitative methods.

PLAY
Students learn about the importance of play in a child's development. Professors relay information on how children play both with each other and alone.

HISTORY OF SCHOOLING AND CURRICULUM FOR PRE-K TO GRADE 3 PROGRAMS
This class explores the political, social, historical and legal foundations of the early education field in the United States.

LEARNING THEORIES AND INSTRUCTION
Students survey different evidence-based learning theories and the practical classroom applications of each. Course topics may include motivation, the social context of learning, and classroom problem-solving techniques.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION DOCTORATE DEGREES (PHD, EDD)

Type of Schools:
Four-year universities, online schools

Time to Complete:
Three to five years

Career Opportunities:
Advocacy specialist, early childhood administrator, education researcher

To be admitted into an early education doctoral degree program, applicants are expected to hold a bachelor's or master's degree in education and to take the GRE or GMAT. Students in these programs can prepare to become education researchers, school administrators, educational consultants and college professors. Programs allow students to pursue a concentration, which gives them expertise in a specific area of early childhood education.

To move up in their careers and become experts in a certain area of early childhood education, students in doctoral programs take advanced coursework, such as the classes listed below, before conducting original research.

TRENDS, ISSUES AND RESEARCH IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Students analyze findings in early childhood education research and how they apply to the classroom. Research topics covered include political, legal and social issues educators face.

EARLY WRITING: COGNITION, LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
This course explores how early learners acquire writing skills. Students review the latest research in this area.

PSYCHOSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD
Students study how children relate with others and develop individual identities.

MODELS OF ASSESSMENT
Students in this course can expect to learn about the types of assessments used to evaluate students and design curricula.

Early Childhood Education Programs: Pre-Enrollment Checklist

Not at early childhood education programs are the same. After narrowing down your school options, it's important to follow a checklist such as this to determine which school will best fit your educational needs and set you up for a future career.

  • Accreditation
    To ensure they receive an education that positions them to receive a teaching license in their state, students should look for programs accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. This organization certifies that early childhood education degree programs are delivering a quality education that meets industry standards.
  • Opportunity to pursue specializations
    Students interested in working with a specific student age group, such as preschool-aged children, can benefit from programs that offer specializations because they allow students to become very knowledgeable on a specific topic, which can open up job opportunities.
  • Classroom experience
    While education theory provides the foundation for becoming a successful teacher, it is important for students in early childhood education programs to receive as much hands-on experience as possible. To that end, students should look for degrees with strong field networks so they can both observe real-life teachers in the classroom and teach their own classes.
  • Faculty interests
    While researching early education programs, prospective students should look for faculty members who specialize in their areas of interest. For example, those who want to specialize in day care education can benefit from programs that have faculty members who have run day care centers.
  • Research opportunities
    Students interested in becoming education researchers should look for programs that provide opportunities to conduct original studies. This will allow them to contribute to others' research or conduct their own.

Careers & Specializations for Early Childhood Education

Early education graduates learn skills — such as working with students in the classroom, conducting assessments, and collaborating with parents — that can be used in several different jobs. The following are examples of careers graduates may pursue:

BROWSE CAREER PROFILES

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers help children under the age of five learn subjects such as reading, writing and science by instructing them on skills like letter and number recognition. Professionals must be able to tailor their curriculum and teaching styles to accommodate young children.

Job Growth (2014-2024)
7%

Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
$28,570

Typical Education
Associate or bachelor's degree, depending on the employer; some states require a Child Development Associate credential

Child Care Workers

Child care workers are responsible for meeting young children's basic needs, including feeding and bathing them, changing their diapers and playing with them. In addition, these professionals also pay attention to children's developmental progress and help them explore their environment. Child care providers work closely with parents to ensure students are developing emotionally, socially and cognitively.

Job Growth (2014-2024)
5%

Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
$20,320

Typical Education
High school diploma

Preschool & Child Care Center Directors

Directors oversee the operations of preschool and child care centers. This work entails hiring, training and supervising employees; developing education programs; and managing the organization's finances. In addition, preschool and child care center directors are required to keep abreast of state regulations and maintain compliance with applicable laws.

Job Growth (2014-2024)
7%

Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
$45,670

Typical Education
Bachelor's degree (and credential in some states)

Teacher Assistants – Preschool

Teacher assistants provide instruction to young children under the supervision of licensed teachers. Job duties include enforcing classroom rules, keeping records, maintaining class materials and supporting lesson plans.

Job Growth (2014-2024)
6%

Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
$24,900

Typical Education
Associate degree

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2015)

In-Depth: Preschool Teacher Employment & Salary by State

The salary range of preschool teachers varies depending on the state they work in. The following map shows the annual median wages of preschool teachers in each state along with the employment prospects for teachers.

[Us map]

Essential Skills & Experience for Professionals

  • Professional certifications
    Depending on the state they work in, early childhood educators may be expected to earn professional certifications. Required certifications may include the Child Development Associate (CDA) or the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) credentials.
  • Physical stamina
    Young children have a lot of energy that needs to be channeled. As a result, professionals must have the physical stamina to keep up with their students as they explore their environment.
  • Patience
    Working closely with one child requires a great deal of patience, so those who work with a classroom full of children must have the patience needed to deal with potentially overwhelming situations.
  • Decision-making
    Educators who work with young children need strong decision-making skills to deal with what's going on in their classroom from one moment to the next. These professionals must think on their feet and make quick decisions about appropriate instruction and discipline.
  • Instruction skills
    Working with early learners requires a specialized set of instruction skills. Professionals need to know how to effectively work in the classroom, as well as how to create lesson plans that are appropriate for young students.
  • Time management
    Teachers must juggle many responsibilities, and when working with early learners, it's easy to get sidetracked. These workers must manage time effectively while keeping in mind that children can be unpredictable.
  • Active learning
    The education industry is continually changing as pedagogical techniques evolve. As a result, it's important to have active learning skills in order to keep abreast of the changes in the field and incorporate new theories into the classroom.

Advice from the Field: Expert Interview

What can students expect to learn in an early childhood education degree program?

Although programs vary from state to state and school to school, in general early childhood education students can expect to learn about child development and developmentally appropriate teaching practices. They can also expect to be introduced to teaching and learning theories, and to develop knowledge of curriculum, pedagogy and various types of assessments. Because school-family relationships are critical to successful early childhood programs, students can also expect to learn about working with diverse families in ways that can benefit young children.

How do early childhood education programs differ from other types of education programs?

Education programs that focus on older children usually emphasize cognitive growth and academic progress, while in early childhood education programs the focus is on the development of the “whole child.” In other words, cognitive, social, emotional, linguistic and physical development are all priorities in early childhood education programs.

What skills and qualities do professionals need to be successful in the early childhood education field?

Early childhood educators need to understand the significance of child development and play in young children's lives. They should have strong background knowledge in child development, early literacy and early childhood instructional strategies. They should be excellent communicators and have the ability to multitask. They should be able to use various types of assessments to monitor student learning and be able to adapt instruction to meet individual learning needs. Additionally, because young children are typically very eager to learn new things and are full of energy, they need patient, caring, intelligent teachers who will support their growth and development in ways that are nurturing and positive.

What advice would you give to those who want to enroll in an early childhood education degree program?

I have three suggestions. First, consider your career goals and decide if a degree in early childhood education can help you reach those goals. Second, talk to early childhood professionals about their work and visit early childhood education facilities as you consider whether entering the early childhood education field might be a good fit for you. Finally, avoid enrolling in an early childhood program simply because you “love kids.” Although early childhood educators should certainly enjoy being around children, educators are paid to teach children and not just spend time with them. It is unlikely that earning a degree in early childhood education will be easy, but for those who enroll in such programs, the rewards are well worth the effort.

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