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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.
What Are the Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||Florida State College at Jacksonville||Jacksonville, FL|
|2||University of Washington-Seattle Campus||Seattle, WA|
|3||Brandman University||Irvine, CA|
|4||South Dakota State University||Brookings, SD|
|5||University of North Carolina at Greensboro||Greensboro, NC|
|6||The University of Montana-Western||Dillon, MT|
|7||National University||La Jolla, CA|
|8||Mayville State University||Mayville, ND|
|9||University of Toledo||Toledo, OH|
|10||Eastern Oregon University||La Grande, OR|
- How We Rank Schools
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2021 Most Affordable Accredited Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs
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Florida State College at Jacksonville
|Jacksonville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 38%||
FSCJ offers an online bachelor's in early childhood education degree completion program leading to Florida teacher certification in pre-K/primary with an ESOL endorsement. Graduates may also apply for a voluntary pre-K credential offered through the Department of Children and Families. All students must pass a series of three Florida teaching exams, develop a portfolio, and complete at least 150 contact hours in a preK-3 setting during a semester-long student teaching placement.
Admission requirements include an associate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants must also pass a background check and earn a passing score on the Florida Teacher Certification General Knowledge Exam.
FSCJ is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Washington-Seattle Campus
|Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
One of the oldest universities on the West Coast, Seattle-based UW offers an online bachelor of arts in early care and education. This degree completion program caters to students interested in professional family support, preschool teaching, or ancillary childhood education, such as working at a children's museum.
All students take the same sequence of courses, including classes in professional development for early childhood educators, positive behavior support, and applied child development and learning. All participants also complete a capstone project. Applicants need at least 45 transferable credits with a GPA of at least 2.0.
UW is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
|Irvine, CA||Graduation Rate: 0%||
Brandman — a private university system headquartered in Irvine, California — offers a hybrid or fully online bachelor of arts in early childhood education designed for students with at least 12 college credits. In addition to general education requirements, learners take core classes like dual language learners and their families, observation and assessment; and social and emotional competence in early childhood education. The program also requires two practicum experiences and a capstone course.
Applicants need to submit transcripts demonstrating a GPA of 2.0 or above. Brandman is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
South Dakota State University
|Brookings, SD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 56%||
The biggest and oldest university in South Dakota, Brookings-based SDSU partners with a consortium of universities to provide a nonlicensure bachelor of science in early education and care to online learners. Students prepare for careers in Head Start, after-school childcare, and preschool programs.
In addition to general liberal arts classes, students take major courses like health, safety, and nutrition of young children; professional development for early childhood education providers; and understanding and adapting to developmental differences. All students must complete two specialized practicum experiences and a final 15-week capstone.
Admission requirements include official high school transcripts and ACT scores. SDSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
|Greensboro, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Originally a women's college but now operating as a coed institution, UNCG offers an online bachelor's in early childhood education degree completion program. Students may choose from two interdisciplinary concentrations: a teaching licensure track focused on birth through kindergarten or a nonlicensure early care and education track. Both tracks blend general education and major-related coursework with a focus on the behavioral and social sciences.
Regardless of their chosen track, applicants must meet eligibility criteria for North Carolina's 2Plus program. Application requirements include an associate of applied science degree in early childhood education from a community college in North Carolina.
UNCG is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Montana-Western
|Dillon, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Located in Dillon and part of the Montana University System, UMW offers an online bachelor of science in early childhood education. In addition to general education requirements, students must complete such major courses like leadership and professionalism in early childhood education, ways of knowing and critical thinking, and fostering movement in young children.
Students must also take 12 credits in a selected area of interest, such as business, special education, or a particular content area like social studies. All students must complete a practicum placement.
Admission requirements include a GPA of at least 2.5, a class ranking in the top 50%, or minimum ACT or SAT scores (at least 22 or 1120, respectively). UMW is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
|La Jolla, CA||Graduation Rate: 36%||
NU — a private university in La Jolla, California — offers an online bachelor of arts in early childhood education that prepares students for teacher licensure in the state. Students from outside California should check with their licensing board to see if this degree meets state requirements.
The program blends theory, research, and practice with a thorough grounding in child development. In addition to general liberal arts requirements, courses include infant and toddler care, designing emergent curriculum, and partnering with families. The program requires multiple fieldwork experiences.
Admission requirements include official transcripts reflecting a GPA of 2.0 or above. NU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Mayville State University
|Mayville, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
MSU, located in Mayville and part of the North Dakota University System, offers an online bachelor of science in education in early childhood education that meets the requirements for North Dakota birth to third grade licensure. Out-of-state students should check with their licensing authorities to see if this degree meets requirements in their state.
All participants take the same major course series, which covers topics like movement education; observations, assessment, and interpretation techniques; and human relations and cultural diversity. All students also participate in a field experience and develop an electronic portfolio.
Applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.0. The university also requires those under the age of 24 to submit ACT or SAT scores. Mayville is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Toledo
|Toledo, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
The northernmost school in the University System of Ohio, UT offers an online bachelor's in early childhood education that operates as a degree completion pathway. The four-semester, nonlicensure program requires students to complete one field placement per term alongside a nine-credit course. The four required courses are creating effective learning environments; early literacy, language, and social studies; supporting ECE science and mathematics; and meeting the needs of young children with disabilities.
Applicants must hold an associate degree in early childhood education with a GPA of at least 2.7. They must also be employed at an early education program for preschoolers, toddlers, or infants. UT is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Eastern Oregon University
|La Grande, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
EOU — a member of the Oregon University System that is located in La Grande — offers an onlinebachelor of arts or bachelor of science in early childhood education. Both of these options are nonlicensure programs. The bachelor of science track requires students to take additional science courses, while the bachelor of arts pathway requires foreign language classes.
Students take core courses such as family collaboration in early childhood, literature for young children, and technology in early childhood for both tracks. Participants must also complete two practicum experiences.
First-year applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.75. Those transferring from another college typically need a minimum 2.25 GPA, although applicants who hold an Oregon transfer associate degree only need a GPA of 2.0 or above.
EOU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
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.
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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.