Best Online Early Childhood Education Programs

If you have a heart for helping children and a great deal of patience, a career in early childhood education might be for you. Check out our list of online...

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by Stefanie Grodman

Published on March 18, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022

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Early childhood education focuses on the development of children 1-8 years old. This field offers several promising careers, including positions as educators and administrators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many early childhood education positions available to bachelor's degree-holders provide median annual wages that exceed the national average.

The best early childhood educators are usually compassionate and want to help children. With a bachelor's in early childhood education, graduates can pursue careers as preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school teachers. Read on for more information about the degree and careers in the field.

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

A bachelor's in early childhood education can prepare students for many careers, depending on their interests and choices. People who have patience and strong problem-solving skills who wish to be directly involved in children's development may become educators. Those with detail-oriented minds and analytical skills may pursue administration.

An online bachelor's in early childhood education usually features about 120 credits and takes about four years to complete. Most programs require a classroom practicum. After graduation, students can take an exam to qualify for teaching licensure in most states.

Depending on their interests, students can choose from many concentrations in their program. Before committing to a specific discipline, learners should consider their career goals and check state requirements. Some possible concentrations include the following:

Learners may also choose between a BA and a BS degree, which may lead to different career options. For example, the BA typically provides a more general emphasis, which can help students transition into non-teaching and related fields. The BS offers more focused training, which prepares degree-seekers specifically for teaching licensure. Schools typically do not prefer one degree over the other.

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Popular Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs

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

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

While curricula can vary considerably by program, many bachelor's in early childhood education programs feature similar core curricula. The list below outlines some of the standard courses in all types of education programs, along with some specific early childhood education online classes.

Child Development

This course teaches students about development principles for young children, including the impact of environmental, social, and biological elements. Students learn how to deal with different situations and conditions and how to implement appropriate support strategies.

Curriculum Development

In this course, students learn about the leading theories in curriculum planning and design. Covered topics include the various factors that influence curricula and the ways children respond to different material and lesson structures. Learners also examine how to properly assess children, incorporate important content, and ensure participants make in-class connections.

Center Administration

This course focuses on the administration and management of early care centers. Students learn leadership strategies, financial management, and communication skills. Some versions of this course may explore more complex topics such as policy development, program creation, and family and community integration.

Creating Inclusive Environments

In this course, students learn to encourage participation among all young children through lesson plan design, environment staging, material usage, and engagement. These environments help children self-regulate and build confidence.

Current Issues in Early Childhood Education

In this course, learners look at the critical issues, trends, and best practices in the field. Students also learn how to critique early childhood education issues and explain how and why current childcare programs touch on key developmental milestones.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Program?

Generally, admission requirements for online and on-campus programs do not differ significantly. Both program types consider academic, extracurricular, and professional experiences for entry. Many colleges use interviews, writing samples, and recommendation letters to learn about applicants' abilities.

Many online bachelor's in early childhood education programs cater to students who return to school after spending time in the workforce. As a result, admissions personnel may focus on applicants' resumes or professional certifications rather than qualifications that apply specifically to recent high school graduates.

Application

Nearly all colleges require a formal application. In this document, prospective students share basic information like their high school GPA, postsecondary coursework, extracurriculars, test scores, and intended field of study. Applicants often share many of these items in more detail in other application materials. Online platforms like Common App allow students to organize their application materials and submit preliminary information to colleges at once.

Test Scores

Although a growing number of schools are test optional, exact requirements depend on the institution. Submitting strong SAT or ACT scores can reflect well on students' academic aptitudes. Students can prepare by accessing free practice tests and answer keys on the official CollegeBoard website.

Letters of Recommendation

For applicants to online bachelor's in early childhood education programs, GPA and test scores provide limited insight into applicants' abilities to work in early childhood education careers. Letters of recommendation provide a more holistic account of individuals' character, background, and abilities. The best letters come from mentors, such as supervisors, employers, teachers, and school administrators, with whom applicants are well-acquainted.

Essays

Like letters of recommendation, essays can reveal a lot about applicants' backgrounds, values, characters, and career goals. Many schools require an open-ended personal statement essay. Some schools require shorter, supplementary essays in which applicants respond to more specific prompts. These pieces also give admissions personnel a sample of applicants' writing abilities.

Official Transcript

Most schools require applicants to submit their high school transcripts and transcripts from previously attended postsecondary institutions. These documents showcase applicants' previous academic performance and which courses they have completed. Many institutions accept transfer credits and use transcripts to assess which credits will carry over.

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

Career Outlook

Unlike other popular fields, where automation and economic conditions can impact job prospects, young children need supervision, education, and care. As a result, early childhood education professionals may benefit from consistent, in-demand career prospects.

For example, between 2020-2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that kindergarten and elementary school teacher jobs will grow by 7%, accounting for 111,500 new jobs. The BLS projects roles for childcare center directors to grow by 11% and preschool teacher jobs to grow by 18%, surpassing an average 8% growth rate for all careers.

Many people in childcare and education roles earn above-average salaries. Although preschool teachers earned a median salary of $31,930 in 2020, those employed by elementary schools earned a median salary of $48,410. In the same year, special education teachers earned a median salary of $61,500. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned a median salary of $60,660.

See where a bachelor's in early childhood education can take you. Learn more about early childhood education careers.

Career Paths

Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher

These educators plan lessons according to state and district-specific requirements. They create developmentally appropriate classroom activities for kindergarten through fifth grade students. They also monitor individual students' progress with reading, math, and social skills.

Median Annual Salary: $60,660

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers work with children between two and five years of age. Like elementary school teachers, these educators facilitate age-appropriate learning outcomes through class activities, crafts, and play. Curricula lay the foundation for elementary education and may focus on children's recognition of colors, numbers, letters, shapes, and basic vocabulary.

Median Annual Salary: $31,930

Childcare Center Director

People who hold a bachelor's degree and have teaching or childcare experience can become preschool or childcare center directors. These professionals oversee the daily functions of their center or school, hire and train staff, and determine budgets. They also market services and communicate with parents.

Median Annual Salary: $49,160

Childcare Worker

These individuals supervise small groups of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children at daycares. They must closely monitor childrens' safety and hygiene. They also adhere to daily care routines that may include meals, crafts, reading, and outdoor activities.

Median Annual Salary: $25,460

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers specialize in helping children with various social, emotional, and intellectual abilities navigate curricula. They may use students' individualized education programs to plan lessons and help their students develop necessary life skills outside of academics.

Median Annual Salary: $61,500

Early Childhood Education Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Special Education Careers Child Development Careers Teaching Careers

Continuing Education

Often, aspiring elementary school or special education teachers earn state-issued teaching certifications along with their online bachelor's in early childhood education. They supplement traditional coursework with student teaching or fieldwork.

Professionals who hope to teach postsecondary courses or assume leadership roles in early childhood education may pursue a master's in early childhood education. People more interested in school administration may earn a master's in education administration.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Program?

Cost

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average in-state learner at a public four-year school paid $9,349 in tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year. The average out-of-state learner paid $27,023 at public institutions. Students attending private four-year institutions paid an average of $32,769 per year.

While the costs of online programs are comparable to those of in-person programs, online learners often avoid expenses like dining, transportation, and room and board.

Program Format

Students can choose from various formats to incorporate coursework into their schedules. Many learners select a full-time schedule, which typically takes four years to complete. Students who wish to earn their degree faster can pursue accelerated programs. Working students may prefer part-time coursework.

Online bachelor's programs may feature synchronous or asynchronous learning formats. Synchronous programs include set meeting times and deadline-oriented course schedules. Asynchronous programs consist of more self-paced coursework.

Location

For many students pursuing an online bachelor's in early childhood education, an institution's location does not matter. However, some remote learners take advantage of affordable in-state tuition or resident-specific financial aid programs and may attend an online college in their home state. Other remote learners welcome the opportunity to use campus resources, take hybrid courses, or meet up with students and faculty in person.

Accreditation

Prospective students should always research whether programs have received institutional or programmatic accreditation. Accrediting bodies carefully evaluate schools according to academic excellence standards, such as instruction quality, course content, faculty credentials, and learning outcomes. Accreditation reflects well on education quality, adds to the merit of graduates' degrees, and determines transfer credit eligibility.

Student Support

Institutions should provide students, especially remote learners, with student support services. Online student services may include academic support, such as tutoring services or an online digital library. Colleges should also offer career development resources such as mentorship programs, internship opportunities, and career counseling.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs

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

Is a bachelor's in early childhood education worth it?

Many early childhood education professionals enjoy guiding young children through crucial stages of development and setting the foundation for lifelong learning. Although pursuing this degree is a substantial commitment, many degree-holders feel that it is a worthwhile investment.

Many roles in early childhood education require a relevant bachelor's degree. Nearly all schools require elementary school teachers and special education teachers to hold a bachelor's degree. Public schools require these individuals to supplement their degree with a state-issued teaching certification.

Some schools and childcare centers only require teachers and caretakers to hold an associate degree. But a bachelor's in early childhood education can make these individuals eligible for leadership positions, like childcare center director.

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

A background in early childhood education teaches learners human development and classroom management tools to work with children under eight years old. Many graduates, such as preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers, and elementary school teachers, work with children in classrooms. Some professionals may pursue a special education concentration and work with students with special needs in individual or group settings.

Other graduates may wish to work in more childcare-oriented settings as nannies or childcare workers. A bachelor's degree may qualify these individuals to work in leadership roles and manage other childcare providers.

Are early childhood education majors in demand?

According to BLS projections, the number of jobs for childcare workers will grow by 8% between 2020-2030, which equals 84,200 new jobs. The BLS also projects roles for elementary school teachers to grow by 7%, which amounts to 111,500 new jobs.

During the same period, specific jobs are projected to grow more rapidly. The BLS projects jobs for childcare center directors to grow 11%, special education teachers who specialize in preschool care to grow 12%, and preschool teachers to grow 18%.

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

Salary prospects for graduates with a bachelor's in early childhood education vary by role, experience level, location, school district, and specialization.

Preschool teachers earned a median wage of $31,930 in 2020. A bachelor's degree in early childhood education can help these individuals find positions with more competitive pay. Teachers who work for public school-affiliated preschools earned a median of $48,410.

In the same year, elementary school teachers earned a median annual salary of $60,660. Special education teachers earned a median of $61,500, and childcare center directors earned a median of $49,160.

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

Many bachelor's in early childhood education degree-holders earn above-average salaries. Elementary school teachers at local public schools earned a median annual salary of $62,050 in 2020, while the top 10% of earners made over $100,480. In the same year, the top 10% of special education teachers earned over $100,570 per year.

Childcare center directors employed by elementary schools earned a median salary of $65,220 in 2020. The top 10% of these professionals earned over $86,040.

Image Source: Ariel Skelley, Getty Images

Beyond helping you advance in your career, postsecondary education can also help better your health and self-empowerment. Not everyone wants to teach for decades. If you're ready to move out of the classroom, these jobs for former teachers can help you find the right path. If you love education and want to become a teacher, going back to college for a teaching degree can set you up on an exciting and fulfilling career path.

BestColleges.com 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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