Best Online Early Childhood Education Programs of 2021

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August 27, 2021

Edited by Jordan Stewart-Rozema
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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 usually are 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 Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle, WA
#2 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
#3 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD
#4 Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu, HI
#5 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#6 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
#7 Northwestern College Orange City, IA
#8 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
#9 The University of Montana-Western Dillon, MT
#10 Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies Fayette, MO
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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs

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University of Washington-Seattle Campus View School Profile Seattle, WA

A public university located in Seattle, UW's online bachelor of arts in early care and education (ECE) puts theory into practice, offering knowledge and skills that students can apply at work in the classroom and beyond. The asynchronous program features a relevant, practice-based curriculum taught by field experts.

Designed for transfer students interested in completing their bachelor's degree, applicants must have at least 30 college credits. ECE courses include family and community engagement, being a resilient educator, positive behavior support, exceptional children, and a senior project. Most full-time students finish this degree completion program in 2-3 years.

UW is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro View School Profile Greensboro, NC

UNCG offers online degree completion programs leading to a bachelor of science in either birth through kindergarten teacher licensure or early care and education. Offered through the school's Department of Human Development and Family Studies, these programs allow community college graduates to transfer to UNCG to pursue specific majors with their associate of applied science degrees.

Curricular requirements for both tracks include infant and child development, social-emotional competence and cognitive development, and preschool curriculum. The birth through kindergarten emphasis readies students for careers in the North Carolina public school system. Alternatively, early care and education coursework prepares students for careers in childcare centers and agencies, private kindergartens, and hospitals.

UNCG is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

South Dakota State University View School Profile Brookings, SD

Located in Brookings, SDSU's online bachelor of science in early education and care program prepares educators to work in childcare centers, before- and after-school programs, and Head Start and infant/toddler preschool programs.

The program is offered through SDSU's partnership with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Alliance. In addition to general education classes the curriculum covers topics like human services, the science of learning, technology and young children, and working with families. Coursework also includes a practicum and capstone.

SDSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. This early education and care program also holds specialized accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Chaminade University of Honolulu View School Profile Honolulu, HI

Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, Chaminade offers an online bachelor's in early childhood education. The program teaches participants to optimize environments for early childhood students who are 2.5-8 years old. Enrollees also learn to use formative and summative assessments while applying the Marianist tradition of providing quality education within diverse learning communities.

Required classes go over topics like educational technology, children's literature, curriculum foundations, and leadership and guidance. The curriculum also includes seminars and fieldwork. Students may also pursue the degree with Montessori credentials.

Chaminade is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. This early childhood education program holds specialized accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA

Liberty's online bachelor of science in early childhood education teaches participants the educational theory and leadership skills necessary to engage young learners.

Taught by seasoned faculty, the program includes courses in early childhood education fundamentals, developmental psychology, and wellness in the early childhood setting. Participants also gain an understanding of various learning theories and styles, reading approaches, and classroom management methods. An optional field experience capstone course gives students the chance to apply their skills in real-world situations and pursue the Association of Christian Schools International certification.

Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This early child education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

California Baptist University View School Profile Riverside, CA

Located in Riverside, California, CBU offers an online bachelor of arts in early childhood studies that focuses on young children's growth and development, including their cognitive, social, emotional, and perceptual-motor development. Program participants also become familiar with assessments and developmentally appropriate learning environments for young children.

The curriculum features prerequisites, upper-division requirements, and electives. Core classes include cognitive development in infancy and early childhood, collaboration in early childhood intervention, assessment of young children, and administration of early childhood programs. Additional requirements include classes that cover foundations of Christian thought and behavioral science.

CBU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Northwestern College View School Profile Orange City, IA

NWC's online bachelor's in early childhood education program operates as a degree completion pathway. Participants delve into child development, assessment, and behavior. Students learn to create meaningful learning experiences for young children.

Specific classes include positive behavioral support for young children, supporting dual language learning, learning with digital media, and health and well-being. The program also requires participants to put together an early childhood professional portfolio.

Graduates can qualify for work in various settings, such as childcare centers, Head Start programs, child development homes, and infant/toddler and preschool programs. Incoming students must have an associate degree or an equivalent number of college credits.

NWC — based in Orange City, Iowa — is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Regent University View School Profile Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach-based Regent offers an online bachelor of science in early childhood education. The program provides a comprehensive study of education and business operations, preparing participants to provide excellent care for young children. Students learn to create effective lesson plans, strengthen assessment techniques, and understand best practices for establishing high-quality, innovative education centers.

Core requirement courses, which are delivered by experienced faculty, include guiding young children, students with disabilities, and teaching content. In their business classes, students learn about marketing principles and business law. The 120-credit curriculum includes a practicum, as well as classes dedicated to teaching Christian principles and values.

Regent is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The University of Montana-Western View School Profile Dillon, MT

Dillon-based UMW offers an online bachelor's in early childhood education that prepares participants to assume leadership roles as early childhood teachers and administrators. General education and major-related courses provide students with a background in liberal studies and extensive early childhood coursework and experiences.

Core courses focus on topics like child and adolescent growth and development, integrated curriculum and environments, and positive child guidance and management. Early childhood specialty classes include cultural diversity, early childhood literacy, and mentoring and coaching. Participants also complete an early childhood advanced practicum.

UMW is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies View School Profile Fayette, MO

Operating as the only United Methodist-affiliated university in Missouri, CMU gives online learners the chance to earn a bachelor of science in education - early childhood education degree. Online classes may run for eight or 16 weeks, depending on the course.

Learners in this 120-credit program complete general education courses, professional education courses, major-related coursework, and electives. Early childhood education courses delve into topics like reading and writing with young children, infant/toddler curriculum methods and materials, and classroom organization and curricular design. In addition to learning to be an effective teacher, participants also boost their leadership skills.

CMU — based in Fayette, Missouri — is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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. Students with patience and problem-solving skills who wish to be directly involved in the development process may become educators, whereas those with detail-oriented minds and analytical skills may pursue administration.

An online bachelor's in early childhood education takes approximately four years to complete.

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

Depending on their interests, students can choose from an array of 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.

Still looking for the right fit? Discover similar degree programs.

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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 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 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 delve into various 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 existing childcare programs touch on key developmental milestones.

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

Early childhood education graduates enjoy access to a rich field, including teaching and administrative positions at various levels and settings. The BLS projects 4% job growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers between 2019 and 2029.

Learn more about child development careers on this page and discover where a bachelor's in early childhood education can take you.

true Kindergarten Teacher

These professionals work in kindergarten classrooms, guiding and supporting students in various ways. They create lesson plans and inclusive environments that encourage and stimulate young children. They also help learners manage and overcome challenges. These teachers can work in public and private schools.

Childcare Administrator

Childcare administrators oversee the planning and coordination of various activities at childcare centers. They may help create programs, handle finances and documentation, and communicate with families and the community.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers support students who have disabilities, creating and implementing lesson plans that address their learners' unique needs. These teachers need to assess each student, create individualized education programs, and determine effective evaluation methods for them.

Childcare Director

Childcare directors oversee the business and activities of childcare centers, including staff management, program design, and policy implementation. These professionals issue funds for new programs and develop standards for the center and staff.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers work in classroom settings with children up to the age of five, supporting development through lessons, communication, and engagement strategies. They design activities, evaluate progress, and look out for developmental problems to discuss with parents.

Early Childhood Education not for you? Check out these related careers.

Special Education Careers Child Development Careers Child and Adolescent Psychology Careers

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

Is early childhood education a good major?

A bachelor's in early childhood education can lead to careers as a teacher, administrator, or care director. For degree-seekers who want to have an impact on child development, this major provides access to some of the most direct and influential pathways available.

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

With a bachelor's in early childhood education online, graduates often pursue teaching licensure, although requirements vary by state. They may also qualify for managerial roles in childcare centers. Graduates can pursue a more advanced degree, which can lead to principal positions in schools and policymaking roles in governments.

How many early childhood education majors get jobs?

According to the American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, early childhood education majors boast some of the lowest unemployment numbers of any field. The 1.76% unemployment rate for the field is nearly twice as low as the national pre-Covid-19 unemployment rate of approximately 4%.

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

Salaries in the field vary considerably. However, according to the BLS, kindergarten teachers earned a median annual salary of $60,660 in 2020. The BLS reports that childcare administrators earned a median annual salary of $49,160 in 2020.

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

Among early childhood professionals, kindergarten teachers earn the highest median annual salary. However, the top 10% of childcare directors earned more than $86,000 in 2020, according to the BLS.

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