Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs

We've ranked the most affordable online bachelor's in early childhood education programs. Compare schools by cost, convenience, and academic quality.

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by Doug Wintemute

Updated August 9, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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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.

www.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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How Much Does an Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Cost?

The cost of a bachelor's in early childhood education varies by school and program. The most affordable online bachelor's in early childhood education programs cost approximately $100 per credit. However, these programs can cost more than $2,000 per credit at the higher end of the scale.

Prospective students should look at the true program cost to determine the total cost of their education. This factors in additional fees, travel expenses, and room and board, along with any income lost during their education. For some, an online bachelor's in early childhood education can lead to reduced travel expenses and more easily maintained work schedules.

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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?

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.

Child Development

In this class, students learn about how children develop intellectually, 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 strongly impacts intellectual, physical, and emotional 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

Students examine tools and methods for evaluating children in various educational settings in this course. 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 creating engaging program design and community involvement.

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

While every online bachelor's in early childhood education has its own unique admission requirements, prospective students typically need a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some schools require candidates to meet a minimum GPA for entry. Online learners may also need to meet certain technological requirements.

Application

The standard college application usually includes the items listed below, as per our undergraduate application guide. Prospective students can submit their applications directly to their schools of interest or to multiple schools at once through a service like the Common Application.

Test Scores

Some applications require prospective students to include the results from their college entrance exams. Applicants typically submit SAT or ACT scores when applying to undergraduate programs. Though many schools have granted test waivers for all incoming students, candidates may still need competitive scores to be accepted to their intended schools and programs.

Letters of Recommendation

Most schools require prospective students to submit three letters of recommendation as part of their application. These letters come from current or former teachers or employers and address the candidate's strengths and potential. Applicants should start asking for letters of recommendation early and provide their references with clear deadlines.

Essays

College application essays give prospective students space to talk about themselves and add personality to their paperwork. Undergraduate applicants typically write about their personal and academic journeys. Some schools and programs may require candidates to answer specific questions in their essays.

Official Transcripts

Prospective students need to submit official transcripts along with their applications. Transcripts provide schools with information on the applicant's grades and prerequisite training. For candidates transferring from community college to university, transcripts can help schools issue transfer credits.

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

Career Outlook

The demand for graduates with a bachelor's in early childhood education should grow as the country recovers from the COVID-19 recession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of more than 80,000 new childcare workers between 2020 and 2030, plus over 150,000 annual openings.

In addition to these entry-level positions, bachelor's graduates can pursue teaching and management positions in schools and childcare centers. The flexibility of this education program helps make it one of the most popular college majors. Wages after graduation can vary considerably depending on which route graduates decide to take. For example, childcare workers earned median annual wages of $25,460 in May 2020, while childcare center directors earned $49,160.

Learn more about child development careers and discover what roles a bachelor's in early childhood education can lead to.

Career Paths

Childcare Director

Childcare directors manage childcare centers and programs, ensuring that staff and educators follow procedures and protocols and meet the organization's standards. They also handle budgeting, develop policies, and design programs. According to the BLS, 64% of these professionals work in childcare centers, 11% work in religious organizations, and 7% work in schools.

Median Annual Salary: $49,160

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.

Median Annual Salary: $49,160

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. >Most kindergarten teachers work in the public school system.

Median Annual Salary: $60,660

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.

Median Annual Salary: $31,930

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.

Median Annual Salary: $25,460

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

Continuing Education

A bachelor's in early childhood education provides an effective stepping stone for various graduate degrees for graduates wanting to continue their training. A bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field is a requirement for most direct graduate pathways, such as a master's in early childhood development and a master's in child development.

Graduates can also move into other education disciplines, such as a master's in education, master's in educational leadership, master's in education administration, or a master's in special education program. These master's degrees can lead to management, program development, and policy-making positions.

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

Cost

Prospective students usually think about cost when choosing a school and program. During this process, they should consider comparing online and on-campus program costs, public and private schools, and in-state and out-of-state programs. Online learners have a greater variety of schools to choose from and can be more selective based on price.

Program Format

Program format impacts how and when learners study. Prospective students should think about their work schedules and ideal training times. They might want to compare synchronous vs. asynchronous programs, full-time vs. part-time schedules, and the top accelerated programs to find the right learning format for them.

Location

Regardless if they choose online or on-campus studies, prospective students should consider location. For on-campus students, location impacts travel and living arrangements. Also, some online programs have on-campus requirements. Some online colleges and universities offer in-state tuition rates for out-of-state learners.

Accreditation

As per our online accreditation guide, regional accreditation is one of the most important considerations for prospective students. This can affect a student's access to financial aid, employment, and continuing education. Early childhood education programs may receive voluntary programmatic accreditation from one of several organizations, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Student Support

Traditional student services and online student services can alter a learner's experience by offering them more support and opportunities. As per our internship guide, work experience programs can lead to greater employment chances after graduation. Furthermore, academic support programs, career services, and college mentors can foster student success.

How Do I Pay for an Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education?

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be the first step for most students when looking for financial aid. As mentioned in our financial aid and FAFSA guide, this application can lead to loans, grants, work-study programs, and scholarships.

Loans

According to our college loans guide, students have access to several loan types, including federal and private loans. Learners may qualify for subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Early childhood educators may be eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

Grants

As per our scholarships and grants guide, degree-seekers with financial need have access to various federal grants, including Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. Prospective teachers may also qualify for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant.

Work-Study Programs

Federal work-study programs provide paid work experiences for students who demonstrate financial need. As per our federal work-study guide, these jobs offer funding, valuable and targeted experience, and flexible schedules. The available work-study jobs depend on the school, and positions may be available on campus or in the community.

Scholarships

According to our scholarship guide for college students, learners can search for scholarships in various ways. These financial aid programs come from the federal, state, and local governments as well as specific colleges, universities, and organizations. Early childhood education students can access scholarships through various national education organizations, such as the National Education Association.

Most Affordable Accredited Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Rank Schools

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

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.

#1

University of Washington

School Information
Location Seattle, Washington
Admission Rate 52%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

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.

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

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#2

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

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.

100% Online

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

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

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#3

National University

School Information
Location La Jolla, California
Admission Rate 89%
Graduation Rate 29%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

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.

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

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#4

Iowa State University

School Information
Location Ames, Iowa
Admission Rate 92%
Graduation Rate 74%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

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.

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

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#5

Florida State College at Jacksonville

School Information
Location Jacksonville, Florida
Graduation Rate 37%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 74% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

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.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

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

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes

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#6

Charter Oak State College

School Information
Location New Britain, Connecticut
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

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.

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

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#7

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

School Information
Location Greensboro, North Carolina
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 59%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

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.

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

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#8

University of Massachusetts Global

School Information
Location Irvine, California
Admission Rate 89%
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

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.

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

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#9

Mount Vernon Nazarene University

School Information
Location Mount Vernon, Ohio
Admission Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

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. 

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

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#10

Northwestern College

School Information
Location Orange City, Iowa
Admission Rate 70%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

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.

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

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

Bachelor's in early childhood education programs offer various pathways that 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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Early Childhood Education

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

Yes. A bachelor's in early childhood education can be very worthwhile for aspiring childcare professionals. The training leads to several in-demand teaching and childcare careers, as projected by the BLS. These degrees can also help graduates enter master's programs in education.

The value of an online degree may come in different forms for learners. Many online students benefit most from the schedule flexibility, which can lead to more manageable work schedules and shorter overall study times. Others find the school selection and more independent learning formats preferable.

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

A bachelor's in early childhood education provides graduates with an effective foundation for entering the workforce or continuing their training. Graduates can work in different roles within childcare centers, including management positions. They can also pursue traditional classroom positions, such as teacher and teacher assistant roles.

A bachelor's in early childhood education can also prepare graduates for more advanced training. Learners can expand on their early childhood education studies with a master's degree in the field. They may specialize in a field like child development, special education, or curriculum and instruction.

Are early childhood education majors in demand?

Yes. As the country recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, graduates with a bachelor's in early childhood education will be in demand in schools and childcare centers. The BLS projects that jobs for childcare workers will grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030, and an 11% growth in jobs for childcare center directors over that same period.

Other positions for early childhood education program graduates are also projected to have healthy growth over the next decade. For example, the BLS projects 9% growth in teacher assistant jobs, 8% growth in special education teacher jobs, and 18% growth in preschool teacher jobs. For comparison, jobs across all occupations are projected to grow by 8% from 2020-2030.

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

The amount of money available to graduates with a bachelor's in early childhood education depends on several factors. Location, employer, position, and experience can all affect wages. For example, childcare workers earned median hourly wages of $12.24 in May 2020, while the highest 10% of earners made $18.13, according to the BLS.

Preschool teachers earned median annual wages of $31,930 in May 2020, and childcare center directors earned median annual wages of $49,160. The top 10% of professionals in those fields earned $58,230 and $86,040, respectively.

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

The highest-paying jobs for graduates with a bachelor's in early childhood education belong to special education teachers. According to the BLS, these professionals earned median annual wages of $61,500 in May 2020. The top 10% of earners in the field brought in more than $100,570.

The median annual wage for special education teachers varies by classroom age and school type. Special education teachers in preschool classrooms earned median annual wages of $61,400 in May 2020. In kindergarten and elementary school classrooms, these teachers earned $60,620. Special education teachers may need a teaching license to teach in public schools.

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