As colleges and universities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we're continuing our efforts to provide you with useful student resources and the latest online program information. Check our coronavirus resources page to learn more.

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.

What Are the Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

Rank School Location
1 University of Washington Seattle, WA
2 Florida International University Miami, FL
3 University of Nebraska Lincoln Lincoln, NE
4 National University La Jolla, CA
5 University of Nebraska Kearney Kearney, NE
6 Wichita State University Wichita, KS
7 The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
8 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
9 University of Wisconsin River Falls River Falls, WI
10 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
How We Rank Schools

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

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.

2020 Most Affordable Accredited Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Washington

Seattle, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 84%

UW offers an online bachelor of arts in early care and education that prepares students for careers in education, social and mental health services, and childcare. Learners take classes completely online with asynchronous delivery.

To graduate with a bachelor's in early care and education, students must earn a total of 180 quarter credits. However, students must hold at least 70 credits before entering the program. Major core courses include equity in early care and education, engaging interactions and environments, early childhood curriculum, and child observation and assessment. The curriculum also includes service learning courses, where students can work alongside early childhood education professionals.

Applicants can gain more information about the admissions process by attending a virtual information session. UW is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

2

Florida International University

Miami, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

FIU offers an online bachelor's in childhood education that prepares students for careers in child development, childcare, and education for children from birth to age eight. Learners can pursue the degree entirely online.

This BS in early childhood education degree requires 120 credits, including 30 credits in major-specific courses. It takes full-time participants four years to complete. Courses include issues in early childhood education, early social and emotional development, family literacy and the young child, and language and literacy development.

Each applicant must hold a high school diploma, possess a minimum 2.5 GPA, and submit competitive SAT or ACT scores. FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

3

University of Nebraska Lincoln

Lincoln, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

UNL offers an online bachelor's in early childhood education in a mobile society that prepares students to work in childhood education settings with families who are highly mobile — particularly military families, immigrant families, families that travel for a living, and families living in poverty. This program is part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, which utilizes coursework provided by seven universities.

This BS in early childhood education degree requires 120 credits, which degree-seekers can complete in four years. Courses are delivered entirely online in an asynchronous format. Core courses include child development, child guidance and classroom environments, development of curriculum for children, and understanding and adapting for developmental differences.

Applicants must have a high school diploma and a minimum 2.5 GPA. All distance learners pay the same tuition, regardless of residency. UNL is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

4

National University

La Jolla, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

NU offers an online bachelor of arts in early childhood education that provides students with a foundation in child development and learning, including topics such as brain development, parent empowerment, early cognition, emerging literacy, and child advocacy. The program is available online or on campus.

This BA in early childhood education requires 180 quarter credits — with 45 major-specific credits — and takes four years to complete. Core major courses include early cognition, early language and literacy, designing emergent curriculum, and play as pedagogy. The curriculum also includes field experience courses that meet requirements for teacher licensure in California.

Each applicant must possess a high school diploma and a minimum GPA of 2.0. Students without prior college-level English or math credits must take the ACCUPLACER exam. NU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

5

University of Nebraska Kearney

Kearney, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

UNK offers an online early childhood inclusive bachelor of arts program designed for those who want to teach children from birth through age eight in educational settings, as well as children from birth through age five in special education settings.

This BA requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Courses are delivered online with in-person supervised student teaching and school-based experiences in a participant's community. Enrollees can specialize in birth through kindergarten or age three to grade three. Courses include phonics and word study, literacy assessment, primary grade literacy, and serving young children with special needs.

Each applicant must hold a high school diploma, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and an SAT score of 1040 or higher or an ACT score of 20 or higher. UNK is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

6

Wichita State University

Wichita, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

WSU offers an online bachelor's in early childhood education/elementary education for students who want to work with young children in educational settings. The program leads to licensure in Kansas but does not guarantee licensure outside the state. Licensure options include early childhood unified (birth through third grade), elementary education (K-6), and early childhood unified and elementary education.

This online bachelor's degree in early childhood education degree requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Courses include creating a production-centered classroom, social and emotional learning in the school community, and universal design for learning. Each enrollee must serve as a paraeducator during the program and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.

WSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

7

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

UNCG offers an online bachelor's degree completion program in early childhood education as part of the UNCG 2 Plus program for students who earned associate degrees from participating North Carolina community colleges. Participants choose to follow one of two degree pathways: birth through kindergarten online teacher licensure or early care and education online.

To graduate, students must earn 60-66 credits beyond their associate degree. Core courses include school-age development, infant and child development, and assessment and planning for inclusive birth through kindergarten programs.

Applicants to the 2 Plus program must have completed an associate degree. UNCG accepts up to 64 transfer credits from other institutions. The university is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

8

West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 60%

WVU offers an online bachelor of science in child development and family studies for students looking to work with preschool children in childcare and educational settings. This program meets the West Virginia Department of Education's requirements for pre-K certification.

This BS in child development and family studies requires 120 credits, which learners can complete in four years. Core courses include families across the lifespan, introduction to marriage and family, infant development, and research methods and data analysis. WVU also offers a certificate in early childhood education.

Each applicant must possess a high school diploma and a minimum 2.5 GPA. WVU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

9

University of Wisconsin River Falls

River Falls, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

UWRF offers an online bachelor of science in early childhood with a teaching certificate option for students who want to pursue employment as administrators or teachers in childcare centers and preschools. Teaching in early childhood classrooms at public schools requires licensure, and the certificate option allows students to meet state licensure requirements.

Students can enroll primarily online but must occasionally visit campus for in-person Saturday sessions. The curriculum of this online BS in early childhood allows students to complete field experience and student teaching requirements in their local areas.

Each applicant must possess a high school diploma (or the equivalent), a minimum 2.75 GPA, and satisfactory scores on a basic skills test. UWRF is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

10

University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

UA offers an online bachelor of science in human environmental sciences, early childhood education for students who want to work with children from birth through age eight in childcare settings or as non-licensed teachers. Students can choose a concentration in early childhood development or early childhood practitioner. This program is not a teacher certification program.

This early childhood education degree requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Core courses include human lifespan development, infancy and toddlerhood, preschool development, and child development. Degree-seekers can transfer up to 60 credits.

Each applicant must possess a high school diploma (or the equivalent), acceptable ACT or SAT scores, and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students who have been out of high school for more than four years are not required to submit standardized test scores. UA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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

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.

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

Still looking for the right fit? Discover similar degree programs

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 mentally, 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 has such a strong impact on mental, physical, and social 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

In this course, students examine tools and methods for evaluating children in various educational settings. 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 livening up program design and community involvement.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

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

Graduates with a bachelor's in early childhood education can access many careers across educational settings. Teaching careers provide the highest-paying positions in the field and the largest workforce. However, licensure requirements vary by state, and these positions often require additional training.

Additional careers include childcare center director and educational administrator, which also feature strong salaries but much smaller workforces. Job growth projections for educational administrators in childcare settings are nearly double the average rate for all occupations.

Learn more about child development careers on this page.

Childcare Director

Childcare directors manage childcare centers and programs, ensuring that staff and educators follow procedures and protocols and meet the standards of the organization. They also handle budgeting, develop policies, and design programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 65% of these professionals work in childcare centers, 12% work in religious organizations, and 6% work in schools.

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. Most childcare administrators work directly in childcare services, but some work in the elementary school system or family services.

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.

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. Preschool teachers typically find work in childcare centers, religious organizations, and public and private schools.

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. Most childcare workers are employed in childcare centers, although many are self-employed or work in private residences.

Early childhood education not for you? Check out these related careers.

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

What skills do you need for early childhood education?

Early childhood educators who work in classrooms typically need problem-solving and communication skills, along with patience, resourcefulness, and creativity. Administrators and directors need leadership and organizational skills. All professionals should be able to design programs and evaluate students.

Is an early childhood education degree worth it?

Yes. Early childhood education graduates can access careers that pay higher than average salaries and feature large workforces. The field also allows professionals to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of children, their families, and the community as a whole.

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

Depending on state licensure requirements, graduates can teach in childcare centers, preschools, and kindergarten classrooms. They can also manage childcare centers, work in education administration, and seek out policy-related positions in the government and nonprofit organizations.

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

According to the BLS, the top 10% of childcare center directors and education administrators make more than $82,000 annually. Childcare directors earn a median annual salary of $48,210, while education administrators earn an average annual salary of $53,690.

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

According to the BLS, kindergarten teachers earn a median annual salary of $59,420. Early childhood education graduates can often find work as kindergarten teachers if they also earn a state teaching license.