Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

Online early childhood education degree programs prepare you to teach young children. Discover the best programs, financial aid, and career paths.
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Most Affordable Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Early Childhood Education

Have you ever felt a sense of pure joy when you helped a young kid learn something new? Maybe it was teaching them how to write their name or ask for something they wanted.

That's a feeling that early childhood educators get to experience all the time at work. They're trained to work with children in various settings — such as preschools or childcare centers — and teach them foundational skills that will help set them up for success later in life.

The best jobs for early childhood educators often require a bachelor's degree. Fortunately, many schools offer affordable degrees to make the investment worthwhile.

Popular Online Programs for Early Childhood Education

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

Most Affordable Early Childhood Education Online Programs

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#1 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

Florida International University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $236
Out-of-State | $649

Credits to Graduate: 120

Florida International University's early childhood education bachelor's program teaches the cognitive, linguistic, and emotional development of children. Enrollees must complete 120 total credits, with 30 credit hours focusing on professional education, including foundations, teaching methods, and early childhood education. Online students have access to a success coach and the ability to connect with other students and professors.  

The fully online program does not offer licensure or certification tracks. FIU recommends prospective teachers to contact the Department of Education to confirm certification requirements.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,168
Out-of-state
$18,566
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$911
Out-of-state
$2,003
Retention Rate
91%
Acceptance Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
54,906
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

National University

  • San Diego, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Cost per Semester:
In-State | $13,284
Out-of-State | $13,284

Credits to Graduate: 180 quarter units

National University's early childhood education program prepares enrollees to positively impact young childrens' educational development. The school does not guarantee that graduates can sit for licensure or certification exams. 

Attendees can choose to take courses online or on site. Online enrollees must complete an in-person teaching assignment. Applicants can apply anytime as the institution offers year-round enrollment.  

The university funds scholarships and grants for prospective students. Applicable scholarships for early childhood education students include the NUevo Futuro Scholarship and the Opportunity Scholarship. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$13,320
Out-of-state
$13,320
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$15,480
Out-of-state
$15,480
Retention Rate
64%
Acceptance Rate
55%
Students Enrolled
17,972
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
80% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#3 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

Oakland City University

  • Oakland City, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $300
Out-of-State | $300

Credits to Graduate: 120

OCU's online early childhood degree offers a nontraditional, nonlicensure program. The online BA program is intended for working educators who want to advance their education. The curriculum covers child development theories, special education, and children's programming. 

Graduates can pursue leadership positions at childcare facilities, Head Start programs, and public and private school settings. Students wanting to earn a teaching license must transfer to the in-person program and complete a 10-week teaching experience. Non-licensure students need a minimum 2.0 GPA overall and a 2.3 GPA in the major to graduate. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$25,740
Out-of-state
$25,740
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,000
Out-of-state
$9,000
Retention Rate
75%
Acceptance Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
867
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#4 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

Florida State College at Jacksonville

  • Jacksonville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $105
Out-of-State | $219

Credits to Graduate: 120

The online bachelor's in early childhood education from Florida State College at Jacksonville that requires lower division, professional core, and education courses. Students must complete a background check, fingerprinting, and 150 hours of field work. 

Attendees must pass the Florida Teacher Certification Exams, complete an internship, and develop a portfolio before graduation. Interns must work at a teaching position at an accredited primary school. The school offers internal financial aid resources which discuss scholarships, grants, and payment plans. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$2,095
Out-of-state
$7,947
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
20,717
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
78% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#5 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

Charter Oak State College

  • New Britain, CT
  • 4 years
  • Online

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $329
Out-of-State | $329

Credits to Graduate: 120

Charter Oak State College's bachelor's in early childhood education teaches the fundamentals of early childhood theories and practices. In addition to the 27 core credits, enrollees choose and complete one of five concentrations, including preschool, montessori, and program administration. 

Individuals that want to teach can pursue the program's early childhood teacher credential track. This track requires 30 credit hours of specialized courses, including two six-credit field experience courses. Graduates will receive a Connecticut early childhood credential from the Office of Early Childhood. 

The school offers scholarships for qualified attendees. Students receive an email when the online scholarship application opens. Academic advisors may refer students to apply for specific programs. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,656
Out-of-state
$10,056
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,288
Out-of-state
$9,720
Retention Rate
67%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,618
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#6 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

Campbellsville University

  • Campbellsville, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $424
Out-of-State | $424

Credits to Graduate: 120

Campbellsville University's B.S. in early childhood education provides a fully online program that can be completed within four years. The Education Professional Standards Board of Kentucky (EPSB) approved Cambellsville's program for teacher certification. 

The program's curriculum includes general education and core courses. Students may take additional courses to specialize in the Montessori model and how to incorporate it in learning environments. Enrollees must complete fieldwork guided by professionals and practicum. Students can optionally choose to teach overseas. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$24,900
Out-of-state
$24,900
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,473
Out-of-state
$8,473
Retention Rate
61%
Acceptance Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
10,238
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#7 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

Central Methodist University

  • Fayette, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $270
Out-of-State | $270

Credits to Graduate: 120

Central Methodist University's early childhood education program offers online and in-person choices. Students will learn how to teach young children through courses including student teaching, developmental psychology, and child development. The program engages students via hands-on learning in projects, presentations, and internships. 

Prospective enrollees can apply for multiple school scholarships, including merit-based, athletic, and miscellaneous scholarships. An applicant's GPA and official test scores are considered for merit-based scholarships. These scholarships can range from $6,000-14,000 annually. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,240
Out-of-state
$6,240
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,075
Out-of-state
$6,075
Retention Rate
33%
Acceptance Rate
100%
Students Enrolled
3,242
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#8 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

Purdue University Global-Indianapolis

  • West Lafayette, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $371
Out-of-State | $371

Credits to Graduate: 180 quarter credits

Purdue Global's bachelor's in early childhood administration program focuses on early childhood growth and development, education and curriculum, and leadership and advocacy. Students also take courses in business and management. Participants gain field experience in an early childhood setting, including daycares or home centers. They also have the option to complete an internship. 

Purdue Global awards undergraduate credit for previous work experience. Kentucky residents may not enroll in this program at this time. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,080
Out-of-state
$13,356
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,730
Out-of-state
$9,700
Retention Rate
75%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
43,458
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#9 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

University of Michigan-Flint

  • Flint, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $543
Out-of-State | $599

Credits to Graduate: 127

UM-Flint offers an online bachelor's degree in early childhood studies. The program does not lead to teacher certification or endorsement but prepares students to pursue positions at childcare facilities, educational organizations, and government agencies. The program focuses on child development and psychology, family and community, and curriculum assessment. 

Students have the option to complete three field experiences to meet elective requirements. Those working in a qualified preschool education program can apply for the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship offered through the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,868
Out-of-state
$23,604
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,740
Out-of-state
$19,080
Retention Rate
77%
Acceptance Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
5,958
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
87% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#10 Most Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2024

Wilmington University

  • New Castle, DE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $409
Out-of-State | $409

Credits to Graduate: 126

WilmU's online bachelor of science in early care and education (birth-grade 2) meets Delaware's teacher education requirements and prepares graduates to seek certification in the state's early learning centers. The program combines educational theory with practical experience. 

Students must complete field experiences, seminars, and 80 full-time school days in a student teaching internship. To graduate, participants must also earn passing scores on content and assessment exams to meet Delaware's teaching requirements. Program start dates are flexible with classes starting every eight weeks. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,700
Out-of-state
$11,700
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,000
Out-of-state
$9,000
Retention Rate
59%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
13,129
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
87% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

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Early Childhood Education Degree Overview

About the Degree: Early childhood education focuses on teaching children up to 8 years old. It combines theory, teaching methods, and field experience.

Length: Full-time students typically graduate in four years, while part-time students may finish in about six years.

Cost: Education degrees have more opportunities to cost less. There are generally a lot of scholarships, grants, or student loan forgiveness options for those pursuing education. Federal and state aid, as well as student loans, can make the degree even more affordable.

Career Paths: Graduates often work in childcare centers, preschools, elementary schools, and private programs as teachers, education specialists, consultants, and administrators.

"A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education provides one with knowledge and skills to be an excellent teacher for young children. Teaching young children is not an easy task — it requires intellectual work on the part of the early childhood teacher."

Sarah Jean Baker, BA in Early Childhood Education, Concordia University

Is an Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Affordable?

Earning your early childhood education degree online doesn't have to break the bank. While it's true that online tuition can sometimes come in lower than on-campus tuition, most universities charge online students the same tuition per credit.

What makes an early childhood education degree affordable is not the difference in sticker price from other programs, but in the readily available financial support. An early childhood education degree can cost less because of the applicable financial aid options and student loan forgiveness programs specific to educators.

"There are scholarships for persons interested in studying early childhood education. Some early childhood centers even provide tuition reimbursement to students seeking an early childhood degree. And lastly, loan forgiveness can be another option for students who teach in areas of high need (e.g. rural school district)."

Sarah Jean Baker, BA in Early Childhood Education, Concordia University

Average Annual Tuition and Fees in 2020

Online Bachelor's in Education

$9,594

Online Bachelor's (All Majors)

$11,698

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Paying for Your Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Degree

College can be costly, but early childhood education programs can be affordable. You have a few options to help pay for your degree, including federal student aid and student loans.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be your first step when looking for financial aid. This application can lead to loans, grants, work-study programs, and scholarships.

Loans

You also have access to several loan types, including federal and private loans. You may qualify for subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Plus, early childhood educators may be eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

Grants

There are various grants available to those with financial need. This list includes Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. Prospective teachers may also qualify for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants.

Work-Study Programs

Federal work-study programs provide paid work experiences for students who demonstrate financial need. These federal work-study jobs offer funding, 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

You 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 online students can access scholarships through various national education organizations, such as the National Education Association.

Education scholarships available to you:

How Should I Choose the Right Online Early Childhood Education Degree Program for Me?

You should consider multiple variables when choosing an early childhood education degree online. The following section highlights some important considerations including price, location, and accreditation.

Cost

Program tuition can be expensive and an investment in yourself. Tuition rates can vary greatly depending upon the institution, location, and whether the school is public or private. You should compare the costs of different programs and consider the impact of financial aid.

Program Format

Early childhood education online programs can have different formats, including part-time or full-time and synchronous or asynchronous classes. Online programs may also require student teaching or other in-person fieldwork in a local educational setting. It's important to choose a program that fits your schedule and outside commitments.

Location & Licensing Requirements

Depending on your career goals, you may need to obtain a teaching license. Luckily, many online bachelor's programs lead to licensure by satisfying coursework and student-teaching prerequisites.

However, specific licensing requirements vary by state. So if you are considering an out-of-state program, you should ensure that its curriculum aligns with your state's licensing requirements.

Accreditation

Before enrolling in any program, you should always check that the school is accredited. Accreditation indicates that an institution meets a certain standard of learning. It is required for federal financial aid eligibility and can be checked by licensing boards, future employers, and prospective higher learning institutions.

Early childhood education programs can receive separate accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Association for Advancing Quality in Education Preparation (AAQEP), or Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Programmatic accreditation is not typically required, though some employers may view it favorably.

Student Support

Schools may offer student support in the form of career planning, mock interviews, and opportunities to meet local businesses. Available school services may be listed online. You should consider the level of student support an institution offers when applying to programs.

Career Paths in Early Childhood Education

Graduates from early childhood education programs often work with young children as teachers. Teaching career paths include preschool, kindergarten, or special education teaching roles. Other fields can also utilize the skills learned in early childhood education programs, including consultancy or the public sector.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many teaching careers are expected to slightly grow or shrink between 2022 and 2032.

Careers for Graduates of Early Childhood Education Programs
Job Median Salary (May 2023)
Preschool or Daycare Director $54,290
Preschool Teacher $37,130
Kindergarten Teacher $62,690
Elementary School Teacher $63,680
Special Education Teacher, Preschool $65,270
Special Education Teacher, K-6 $67,190
Source: BLS

"A career in early childhood education means you have a daily opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of children and have a more lasting impact on future generations."

Michele Lucia, BS in Childhood Development, Walden University

Admission Requirements for Early Childhood Education Bachelor's Programs

While every online bachelor's program in early childhood education has its own unique admission requirements, you'll typically need a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some schools will require you to meet a minimum GPA for entry, too. And you may also need to meet certain technological requirements.

Application

The standard college application usually includes the following items, as per our undergraduate application guide. You can submit your application directly to your schools of interest or to multiple schools at once through a service like Common App.

Test Scores

Some applications require you to include the results from your 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, you may still need competitive scores to be accepted to your 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 from current or former teachers or employers address the candidate's strengths and potential. Start asking for letters of recommendation early and provide your references with clear deadlines.

Essays

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

Official Transcripts

You'll need to submit official transcripts along with your applications. Transcripts provide schools with information on your grades and prerequisite training. If you're transferring from community college to university, transcripts can help schools issue transfer credits.

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

Undergraduate coursework in early childhood education will give you an understanding of child development, how to adapt to students' learning styles, and how to be a positive influence through theories and practices.

Young children go through rapid growth and development in the years after birth. You'll learn about social, emotional, physical, speech, and communication development.

Children need help learning to use language to communicate their thoughts and feelings and develop the ability to read and write. This course teaches you strategies to develop these skills, including singing, storytelling, and drawing.

Early childhood educators create and design curricula for their students. You'll learn how to plan activities, select materials, and use effective teaching strategies throughout the school year.

Teachers assess and evaluate children to keep parents informed and support them as they grow. This class focuses on observing children and how they learn, react, and interact with new situations. You'll then reflect on the students' successes and areas that need growth.

Young children take a while to grasp socialization skills and understand their emotions. You'll learn how to help them work on self-awareness, self-control, and everyday challenges and interactions.


Frequently Asked Questions About Early Childhood Education Degrees Online

What is the cheapest online college for a teaching degree?

Florida International University (FIU) offers one of the cheapest online teaching degrees. For its bachelor's program in early childhood education, FIU charges $235.57 per credit for in-state students and $648.87 per credit for out-of-state students. To earn the degree, students must complete 120 credits, making the entire program cost around $29,000 (in-state) or $78,000 (out-of-state).

Accelerated bachelor's programs in teaching are the shortest teaching degree programs. These accelerated programs may offer licensure tracks and asynchronous classes. If you are interested in a master's degree, an accelerated bachelor's and master's program can be completed within five years.

According to Payscale, professionals with a bachelor's in early childhood education earn around $51,000 per year. But pay varies depending on your job title, industry, and location. For example, preschool teachers in elementary and secondary schools earn a median salary of $56,060, while those in child daycares earn $37,250, according to the BLS. For preschool and childcare center directors, pay can range from just more than $35,000 to more than $94,000.

The best early childhood education degree depends upon your personal learning goals and ideal career paths. You can choose your preferred degree level, format, location, and major. Potential major choices include early childhood development, early childhood studies, and elementary education.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed November 24, 2023.

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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