Earning an online master's degree in early childhood education can grant individuals the training and experience necessary to obtain an advanced teaching certification or endorsement to work with young children. These programs are also well suited for educators with other specialties who wish to transition into working with young children or for individuals who want to pursue a doctorate.

This guide highlights top early childhood education master's programs and explores what prospective students can expect to encounter during the admissions process.

What Are the Best Early Childhood Education Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Houston - Clear Lake Houston, TX
2 California State University - Fullerton Fullerton, CA
3 University of Colorado Denver Denver, CO
4 Clemson University Clemson, SC
5 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
6 Auburn University Auburn, AL
7 University of Missouri Columbia, MO
8 Biola University La Mirada, CA
9 Concordia University - Nebraska Seward, NE
10 University of Dayton Dayton, OH

Earning an online master's in early childhood education can lead to a career as a teacher in preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school settings; a preschool or childcare center director; an early childhood instructional specialist; an early childhood special education teacher; or an early childhood education professor.

Data indicate that the demand for early childhood educators and specialists is increasing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of preschool and childcare center directors is expected to grow by 7% from 2018-2028.

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 more about our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Houston - Clear Lake

Houston, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

UHCL offers an online master of science in early childhood education that features courses in child development, early childhood foundations, early childhood curriculum, and family studies focusing on children grades four and younger. Graduates of the program are qualified for careers as directors of early childhood programs, early childhood interventionists, managers for young children, and consultants for nonprofits or state agencies.

UHCL's online master's in early childhood education degree requires 36 credits and takes three semesters to complete. Students can choose from three tracks to meet their specific career goals, including the regular early childhood education track, the focus on young children with disabilities track, and the core subjects EC-6 certification track.

Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates who meet these requirements do not need to submit test scores. A prospective student with a GPA from 2.5-3.0 may still qualify for admission if they have satisfactory GRE or MAT test scores. UHCL is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Focus on young children with disabilities; core subjects EC-6
Tuition: $527/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years (3 semesters)

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: Minimum GRE scores of 294 on combined math and verbal sections and 3.5 on writing section; minimum MAT score of 390 (test scores only necessary if GPA is below 3.0)

Contact

Phone: (281) 283-2500
Email: admissions@uhcl.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

California State University - Fullerton

Fullerton, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

CSUF offers an online master of science in education with a concentration in elementary curriculum and instruction. This program also emphasizes early childhood education. Graduates are prepared to deliver quality education to children in their early years of schooling.

The school's MS in education with an emphasis in early childhood education requires 30 credits, including nine credits of core courses, nine credits of courses on early childhood education, six credits of curriculum focused coursework, three credits of electives, and three credits of a culminating experience course. Courses cover topics such as curriculum theory and development, teaching and learning in the early childhood classroom, and reading/language arts in early childhood curriculum.

Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree, a teaching certificate or equivalent teaching experience, and have earned a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. CSUF is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Education With a Concentration in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education Emphasis
School Status: Public
Tuition: $2,082/semester for 0-6.0 credits; $3,588/semester for 6.1 or more credits
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: Basic teaching credential or equivalent work experience

Contact

Phone: (657) 278-2011
Email: edelgradprograms@fullerton.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

University of Colorado Denver

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

CU Denver offers an online master of arts in early childhood education for individuals who have a passion for working with young children in their early stages of development. This program also provides students with the option to obtain an early childhood special education specialist license or endorsement.

CU Denver's online master's in early childhood education requires 30-42 credits and takes 2-3 years to complete. Enrollees can choose from three available concentrations: administration and leadership, diversity and inclusion, and teaching and learning. The curriculum combines coursework, field experiences, practica, and a capstone. Example courses include curriculum in early childhood education and language and literacy in young children.

CU Denver is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Administration and leadership; diversity and inclusion; teaching and learning
Tuition: $377/credit in-state; $452/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30-42 credits
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (303) 315-3000
Email: cuonline@ucdenver.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

Clemson University

Clemson, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

Clemson offers an online master of education in teaching and learning with a concentration in experiential learning for early childhood. This track focuses on inquiry-based approaches to support the learning of young children. It is well suited for educators transitioning into early childhood education or licensed early childhood educators seeking career advancement.

The experiential learning for early childhood track requires 30 credits and takes two years to complete. Core courses include cultural diversity in education, classroom-based research, curriculum theory, and contemporary issues in assessment. Specialization classes cover topics like advanced early childhood education curriculum and parent education in early childhood multicultural settings. This degree program does not accept transfer credits.

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


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Teaching and Learning
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Effective and reflective teaching; experiential learning for early childhood; instructional coaching; STEAM
Tuition: $499/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum to qualify for GRE/MAT waiver
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact

Phone: (864) 656-7656
Email: jgambre@clemson.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

UND offers an online master of science in early childhood education that prepares individuals to serve the educational needs of children under the age of eight. This non-licensing degree combines theory and research with practical experience.

The university's online master's in early childhood education requires 32 credits, which enrollees typically complete in 18-24 months. Courses include social-emotional learning and guidance, play in development and early childhood education, and language development and cognition in children. Each learner must take a practicum course comprising 60 hours in an early childhood setting. Students may choose between thesis and non-thesis options.

Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, child development, elementary education, or a related field with a minimum 2.75 GPA for all undergraduate coursework and a minimum 3.0 GPA for upper-division coursework. UND is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Tuition: $464/credit
Credit Requirements: 32 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum for all undergraduate coursework and 3.0 minimum for junior and senior years

Contact

Phone: (701) 777-6206
Email: allyssa.baumbach@und.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

Auburn University

Auburn, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

Auburn offers an online master of education in early childhood/elementary special education for educators looking to work with children from birth to grade six. Students can pursue an alternative class A master's degree with a clinical residency embedded into the curriculum, as well as a traditional master's. One-third of the program consists of teaching field courses to provide practical experience.

Auburn's M.Ed. in early childhood/elementary special education requires at least 33 credits. Core courses include advanced assessment in special education, advanced behavior management, curriculum and teaching, and rehabilitative assistive technologies. For the alternative master's degree, each enrollee must complete 21 credits of teaching field courses and pass the Praxis II-special education core knowledge and application exam.

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


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood/Elementary Special Education
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Alternative certification; traditional certification
Tuition: $630/credit
Credit Requirements: 33-57 credits
Program Length: At least 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: Praxis core

Contact

Phone: (334) 844-4446
Email: eduinfo@auburn.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 78%

Mizzou offers an online master of education in learning, teaching, and curriculum with an emphasis in early childhood education that prepares educators to provide educational services to children up to the age of eight.

This M.Ed. requires 30 credits and can be completed in two years. The curriculum consists of nine credits of core courses, 15 credits of early childhood education courses, and six credits of electives. Emphasis courses include advanced early childhood curriculum, language acquisition and development, and home-school partnerships.

Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree in education or a related degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA over their last 60 credits of coursework. They should also possess at least two years of teaching experience. Mizzou is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum With an Emphasis in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Tuition: $453/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 2 years teaching experience in a related field

Contact

Phone: (573) 882-2491
Email: mizzouonline@missouri.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Biola University

La Mirada, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Educators interested in working with young children can consider Biola's online master of arts in education with a concentration in early childhood. Graduates can apply for childhood development permits from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Biola's MA in education requires at least 38 credits, which enrollees typically complete in 2-3 years. Each student can choose to meet capstone requirements by completing a curriculum research project or a thesis during their final semester. Some courses maintain fieldwork requirements, and the program offers placement sites for California residents. However, out-of-state students must contact schools to find placements that meet fieldwork requirements.

Biola is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Education With a Concentration in Early Childhood
School Status: Private
Tuition: $654/credit
Credit Requirements: 38-65 credits
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE (waived if GPA is 3.5 or higher)

Contact

Phone: (800) 652-4652
Email: graduate.admissions@biola.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

Concordia University - Nebraska

Seward, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

Concordia offers an online master of education in early childhood education that prepares students to become teachers who can develop and manage educational and development programs for young children. Graduates are eligible to earn an early childhood endorsement.

Concordia's M.Ed. in early childhood education requires 36 credits, which learners typically complete in 24 months. However, students can choose an accelerated pace and graduate in 20 months. Core courses include early childhood program organization and management, infants and toddlers, contemporary thought in education, and language and literacy development. Each enrollee must complete 45 hours of a required practicum experience.

Concordia accepts transfer students and allows them to transfer up to 25% of their total program credits from other accredited institutions. Concordia is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $425/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 20-24 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (800) 535-5494
Email: admiss@cune.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

University of Dayton

Dayton, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

UD offers an online master of science in education in early childhood leadership and advocacy for professionals who want to advance into an administrative or advocacy role. Students can choose between leadership and advocacy tracks.

The online M.S.Ed. in early childhood leadership and advocacy program at UD requires 35-42 credits, which enrollees generally finish in two years. Courses in the childhood leadership track include early childhood program and personnel management; supporting quality curriculum and instruction; and regulations, licensing, and the law. Classes in the childhood advocacy track include transdisciplinary early childhood education, advocacy in early care, and collaborating with families and agencies. Each student can choose between completing a thesis or an action research in practice course.

UD is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Education in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Early childhood leadership; early childhood advocacy
Tuition: $665/credit
Credit Requirements: 35-42 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum to qualify for GRE/MAT waiver
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact

Phone: (937) 229-2158
Email: gradadmission@udayton.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook;Twitter

11

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

Liberty offers an online master of education in curriculum and instruction: early childhood education program that provides learners with a strong foundation for effective pedagogy and leadership in educational settings for young children.

This M.Ed. requires 36 credits and can be completed in 1.5 years. The curriculum encompasses 15 credits of core courses, 15 credits of early childhood education courses, and six credits of professional courses. Classes cover topics such as instructional methods for behavior and learning, technology practices for instructional improvement, advanced child development, and elementary curriculum and methods.

For their capstone project, each enrollee can choose between a course on current issues in education or a directed practicum. Students who complete the directed practicum may apply for endorsement in Virginia.

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


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Early Childhood Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $415/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (800) 424-9595
Email: luograd@liberty.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

Northwestern College

Orange City, IA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

NWC — based in Orange City, Iowa — offers an online master of education in early childhood that prepares individuals for careers as early childhood administrators, specialists, and consultants. Enrollees may apply for the TEACH grant, which can help cover tuition costs for those who wish to teach in high-need, low-income areas.

The M.Ed. in early childhood at NWC provides enrollees with the option of obtaining a birth through grade three inclusive setting endorsement added to their degree. The master's itself requires 33 credits, and students become eligible for endorsement with an extra semester of student teaching (a total of 40 credits).

Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a valid teaching license. NWC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood
School Status: Private
Tuition: $335/credit
Credit Requirements: 33-40 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (712) 707-7388
Email: online@nwciowa.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

Arizon State University - Skysong

Scottsdale, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

ASU offers an online master of education in curriculum and instruction (early childhood education) that provides knowledge and skills in early childhood pedagogy, administration, policy analysis, and advocacy. Students interested in working with children grades K-3 or those who already have their teaching certificate and wish to eventually pursue a doctorate should consider this program.

This online M.Ed. requires 30-45 credits and takes roughly 2-3 years. Students can choose to obtain a master's degree only or pursue their master's with certification. Coursework includes foundations of early childhood education, child guidance and management, emergent literacy, and assessment of young children.

Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education)
School Status: Public
Tuition: $682/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-45 credits
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (855) 278-5080
Email: asuonline@asu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

UNCG offers an online master of education in birth-kindergarten interdisciplinary studies in education and development that prepares graduates to serve children ages birth through five years in educational and childcare settings. Each enrollee can choose a concentration in early childhood leadership for advanced teaching licensure or a concentration in early childhood leadership for program administration.

This M.Ed. requires 37 credits and takes two years to complete. Coursework includes inclusive family-centered practices in early childhood, screening/assessment in inclusive early childhood services, and advanced curriculum in early childhood education. The curriculum also requires an internship and capstone research portfolio.

Each candidate must possess a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and an initial teaching license (for those applying to the advanced licensure track). UNCG is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Early childhood leadership and advanced teaching licensure; early childhood leadership and program administration
Tuition: $256/credit in-state; $928/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 37 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (336) 334-5000
Email: s_rakap@uncg.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

15

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

West Chester, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

WCU offers an online master of education in early childhood education for individuals pursuing careers in teaching or leadership for children from pre-kindergarten to grade eight. Students can choose from an accomplished teacher track or a program administrator track.

This M.Ed. requires 33 credits and takes two years to complete. Core courses include playing as a learning medium, families and education in a multicultural society, integrated curriculum and assessment, and advocating for young children.

For the program administrator track, each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and at least one year of professional experience in an early childhood setting. For the accomplished teacher track, each candidate must possess a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a Pennsylvania instructional I teaching certification (or the equivalent). WCU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Accomplished teacher track; program administrator track
Tuition: $516/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 1 year of experience working in an early childhood setting or Pennsylvania instructional I teaching certification

Contact

Phone: (610) 436-2944
Email: bleisenring@wcupa.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

16

Martin Luther College

New Ulm, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 75%

MLC offers an online master of science in educational administration for early childhood directors that prepares individuals to address issues related to child development, early childhood curricula, and other challenges involving the education of young children.

This MS in educational administration comprises 36 credits. Coursework includes school leadership, legal and ethical issues in early childhood, development of young children, and supervision of instruction. Each student can complete a thesis or an internship as a capstone option.

An applicant must possess a bachelor's degree in education and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with degrees in other fields may be accepted at the discretion of the program, and students who do not meet the GPA requirement may be accepted on probation. MLC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Educational Administration for Early Childhood Directors
School Status: Private
Tuition: $316/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (507) 354-8221
Email: fenskelk@mlc-wels.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

17

Arkansas State University

Jonesboro, AR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

A-State offers an online master of science in education in early childhood education for educators who wish to serve the educational needs of young children. This program does not lead to licensure.

A-State's online master's in early childhood education requires 30 credits and can be completed in one year. Courses include developmental perspectives, models of early childhood curriculum, and leadership in early childhood education. As a capstone experience, students must complete a practicum experience.

Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a valid teaching certificate. Candidates who have GPAs of at least 2.5 may qualify for conditional admission; these individuals must earn a "B" or higher in their first 12 credits to continue. A-State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Tuition: $317/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 12 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (866) 621-8096
Email: auburnette@astate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

18

Concordia University - Wisconsin

Mequon, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

CUW offers an online master of science in education in early childhood education for educators who are passionate about supporting the educational and developmental needs of young children. Students choose one of two concentrations: accomplished early childhood teacher in literacy or early childhood program administrator.

This online master's in early childhood education requires 30 credits. Core courses include effective relationships with families and community, developing appropriate assessments, curriculum design development in early childhood education, and educational research methods.

The early childhood teacher in literacy concentration requires additional specialized courses like language development and language arts in childhood education. The early childhood program administrator concentration requires courses such as market operations and finance market in early childhood education.

Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree and a minimum GPA of 3.0. CUW is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Education - Early Childhood Education
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Accomplished early childhood teacher in literacy; early childhood program administrator
Tuition: $614/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (262) 243-5700
Email: admissions@cuw.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

19

Mercy College

Dobbs Ferry, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Mercy offers an online master of science in early childhood education: birth-grade two that prepares educators and early childhood professionals for New York state certification. Graduates of the program can pursue multiple certifications, including early childhood birth-grade two, childhood education grades 1-6, and students with disabilities. Enrollees may also pursue any combination of these certifications, some of which may require additional coursework or student teaching experiences.

Mercy's online master's in early childhood education requires 39 credits and takes four years to complete. Courses include educational foundations from diverse perspectives, approaches to early literacy instruction in early childhood education, and working with parents and families of children.

Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree in a liberal arts and sciences field, along with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Mercy is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Early Childhood Education: Birth-Grade 2
School Status: Private
Tuition: $897/credit
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 4 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or PRAXIS core exams

Contact

Phone: (877) 637-2946
Email: admissions@mercy.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

20

Texas A&M University - Commerce

Commerce, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

TAMUC offers an online master of education or master of science in early childhood education for individuals looking to work specifically with young children from birth to age eight. Applicants who possess teaching certification can enroll in the master of education program, while those without certification can pursue an MS.

Core courses include literacy development, creative expression in the arts, child development, and inquiry-based learning. Students must pass a comprehensive exam during their final semester. This test is delivered completely online and consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and two essay questions.

Each applicant must have a minimum 2.75 GPA and hold a valid teaching license; acceptable GRE scores; or passing PPR, ExCet, or TExES scores. TAMUC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education; Master of Science in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Tuition: $433/credit in-state; $855/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, PPR, ExCet, or TExES

Contact

Phone: (903) 468-3142
Email: jennifer.faunce@tamuc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

21

DeSales University

Center Valley, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 40%

DeSales offers an online master of education in early childhood elementary education preK-4 with an option to obtain initial certification. This program prepares individuals to teach and serve young students in preK-4 classrooms.

DeSales's M.Ed. in early childhood education requires 46 or 67 credits, depending on whether an enrollee decides to pursue certification. Core courses include emergent language and literacy, teaching social studies standards, and data-driven assessment and instruction. The curriculum also requires a field practicum, student teaching, and a capstone course.

Each candidate must submit official transcripts, a personal statement, a letter of recommendation, and a resume. DeSales is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Elementary Education PreK-4
School Status: Private
Tuition: $550/credit
Credit Requirements: 46-67 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Contact

Phone: (610) 282-1100
Email: med@desales.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

22

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

UNI offers an online master of arts in education in early childhood education that prepares early childhood teachers for career advancement and addresses advanced concepts in the field. This program does not lead to licensure. However, with additional coursework, graduates can obtain the preK-3 teacher, regular education/special education endorsement.

This online master's in early childhood education requires 30 credits, which learners typically complete in two years. Core courses include analysis and design of curriculum for young children, foundations of instructional psychology, and research in early childhood education.

Each candidate must hold a bachelor's degree and a recognized teaching license. UNI considers applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA for full admission, while those with GPAs between 2.75 and 2.99 may receive provisional admission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Tuition: $509/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact

Phone: (319) 273-2504
Email: rita.gutman@uni.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

23

Concordia University - Chicago

River Forest, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

CUC offers an online master of arts in early childhood education that prepares educators to design and implement curricula in early childhood education programs. This program does not lead to licensure. However, after completing the program, graduates who hold Illinois educator's teaching licenses may choose to study further and obtain endorsements in special education or English as a second language.

The MA in early childhood education at CUC requires 30 credits, which enrollees complete in 1-2 years. Courses include child development and ethics in early childhood education, observation and assessment, and school-age curriculum.

Each candidate must hold a bachelor's degree, a valid teaching license, and a minimum 2.85 GPA. Applicants with lower GPAs may qualify for provisional or probationary admission. CUC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $415-$535/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.85 minimum
Work Experience: 2 years teaching young children

Contact

Phone: (708) 957-5994
Email: kwebster@graduateprogram.org
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

24

University at Albany

Albany, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

As part of the SUNY system, UAlbany offers an online master of science in early childhood education. Intended for students who already hold an initial New York state teacher certification in early childhood education or permanent teacher certification in another area, this program allows participants to pursue professional certification to teach young children from birth to grade two.

UAlbany's MS in early childhood education requires 30 credits. Core courses cover topics such as language acquisition, strategic intervention to prevent literacy difficulties, teaching social studies, and data-based decision-making. Enrollees must complete culminating capstone projects during their final semester.

Each candidate must submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, official GRE scores, and a copy of their initial childhood/elementary teaching certificate from any state. UAlbany is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Tuition: $7,366/semester
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (518) 442-5100
Email: rrieder@albany.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

25

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

UAB offers an online master of arts in education in early childhood education for individuals who already hold a class B teaching certification in early childhood education and wish to obtain a class A certification in the same content area.

This online master's in early childhood education requires 31-34 credits. Core courses include curriculum development in early childhood education, critical pedagogy, and language development. To obtain class A certification, a student must submit an application during their last term of enrollment in the master's program, maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA, pass a comprehensive exam, and meet requirements for Alabama's prospective teacher testing program.

Each applicant must hold a current class B teaching certification in early childhood education and submit acceptable GRE or MAT scores. UAB is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Education
School Status: Public
Tuition: $534/credit
Credit Requirements: 31-34 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: Minimum GRE score of 290 or minimum MAT score of 388

Contact

Phone: (205) 934-7530
Email: education@uab.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Program Overview

Master's in early childhood education programs prepare educators to serve the developmental and educational needs of children ranging from birth to age eight.

Courses typically cover topics such as language acquisition; childhood development; literacy instruction; family engagement; assessment methods; data-based decision-making; and designing early childhood curricula in math, science, and social studies. Many programs also include practicum, internship, and/or student teaching requirements that are consistent with state-level certification or licensure requirements.

While not all master's programs lead to licensure, many prepare graduates to take and pass state-level certification or endorsement exams. Some programs also offer students the option to pursue certifications in other content areas, such as special education or English as a second language (in addition to their main concentration in early childhood education). These certifications can lead to career advancement and new job opportunities with organizations and institutions serving young children.

As with any postsecondary program, students should find schools that align with their own career goals and interests.

Common Master's in Early Childhood Education Degree Courses

Curriculum in Early Childhood Education

This course provides an overview of principles in program development for young children. Participants learn about the theoretical basis of curriculum development in areas related to language, literacy, science, and social studies. They also link theory to practical planning.

Language and Literacy in Young Children

This course introduces students to current research and knowledge related to language and literacy development in children through age five. Participants learn about language components, the process of language and literacy acquisition, and language disorders demonstrated by children with learning disabilities.

Assessment in Early Childhood Education

This course addresses the use of formal and informal methods to measure intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development in young children. Participants also learn how to accommodate English language learners and children with disabilities. Program evaluation is also covered.

Behavior Management

This course presents students with the latest research and instructional approaches for managing behaviors effectively. Participants learn how to use behavior management techniques to address diverse needs in the classroom, evaluate interactions between students, and gauge the effectiveness of instructional approaches.

Leadership and Supervision in Education

This course introduces students to the methods, theories, and best practices in education leadership, including supervisory methods of staff, organization of instructional materials, and evaluation of educational programs. Participants also learn how to analyze the performance and efficacy of administrative programs and what types of strategies increase educational outcomes.

Related Master's in Early Childhood Education Degree Concentrations

Administration and Leadership

A concentration in administration and leadership prepares students to become directors, principals, coordinators, and administrators of early childhood education programs. Students can expect this concentration to feature courses on leadership, supervision, personnel management, and assessment and evaluation. Experiential learning or practicum components may require students to work closely with a program administrator in an early childhood education setting.

Special Education

A concentration in special education within an early childhood education program prepares graduates to work with young children with disabilities. This concentration may lead to state licensure or endorsement and certify individuals to work with young disabled students. Participants take coursework on learning disabilities, teaching students with disabilities, educational assessments for students with disabilities, and classroom management techniques.

Advanced Teaching or Teaching and Learning

Some programs provide an advanced teacher track that focuses on pedagogy, learning theory, and curriculum and instruction. This track may be offered in opposition to a program administrator track or other alternative that focuses on aspects of early childhood education aside from teaching. An advanced teaching concentration may prepare students for state licensure in early childhood education.

Diversity and Inclusion

A concentration in diversity and inclusion prepares individuals to address the learning and developmental needs of young children from all backgrounds. Coursework focuses on pedagogical strategies that incorporate cultural competence, preparing graduates to properly serve young students learning English as a second language and students with disabilities.

Teaching in Literacy

A concentration in teaching in literacy focuses on language and literacy acquisition among young children. Participants learn about developmental theories related to language processing capacity and inquiry-based or play-based learning. Certain states may offer certification specifically in this content area, and programs may be structured to meet those requirements.

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Admission Requirements

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

    Most master's programs in early childhood education require students to have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA to gain admission. Other programs allow provisional or probationary admission to students who do not meet this requirement. Students under provisional or probationary admission generally need to earn a 3.0 GPA or higher during their first semester of coursework.

  • Bachelor's Degree

    Master's in early childhood education programs require students to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Some programs require a bachelor's degree in education or early childhood education, although most programs do not specify a major or field.

  • Teaching Certificate

    Many master's in early childhood education programs require applicants to have a valid entry-level teaching certificate. This can be a general teaching certificate or a teaching certificate in early childhood education. Programs that have this requirement prepare students for more advanced/specialized certification.

  • Teaching Experience

    Some master's in early childhood education programs require applicants to have 2-5 years of teaching experience. This experience generally requires an official teaching license.

  • GRE or MAT

    Some master's in early childhood education programs require applicants to submit GRE or MAT scores. In other programs, GRE or MAT scores are only necessary for students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements but wish to apply for provisional admission.


Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Career Paths

Graduates from an online master's in early childhood education program are eligible for several positions in early childhood education, including child services providers, preschool and kindergarten teachers, daycare operators and directors, early childhood instruction specialists, and preschool and kindergarten administrators. Some of these roles are not entry-level positions and require a combination of previous experience, advanced schooling, and certification or licensure (such as state-level certification or endorsement in early childhood education).

For individuals aspiring to work as educators and administrators serving young children, a master's degree is sufficient. However, for those who wish to train future early childhood educators at the university level, a doctorate is usually required.


Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

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

A master's in early childhood education prepares individuals for careers as preschool/kindergarten teachers, preschool/childcare center directors, early childhood education instructional coordinators, early childhood interventionists, and consultants for government/nonprofit agencies concerned with early childhood education. A master's degree can also be a stepping stone to a doctoral program, leading to a career in academia as a professor of early childhood education.

How long does it take to get a master's in early childhood education?

Master's degrees in early childhood education generally require 30-40 credits of coursework and can be completed in 1-2 years. Program length and specific requirements vary depending on the school. Many programs also offer the option of pursuing additional certification, which is usually accomplished by completing extra coursework and/or student teaching; these options can affect a student's graduation timeline.

How much do early childhood educators make?

According to the BLS, kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn a median annual salary of $57,980. Additionally, preschool and childcare center directors earn $67,540 in state, local, and private school settings. A worker's speciality can also affect their salary. For instance, special education teachers earn a median annual salary of $59,780.

What are the courses in a master's in early childhood education program?

Common courses in a master's in early childhood education program include advanced child development, current issues in early childhood education, language and literacy in young children, behavior management, leadership and supervision in education, curriculum evaluation, elementary curriculum and methods, and educational research. Coursework often culminates in a capstone research project, experiential learning course, thesis, and/or comprehensive exam.

Can I be an early childhood educator without a master's degree?

Yes, it is possible to be an early childhood educator without a master's degree. Many states offer entry-level or initial certification with a bachelor's degree. However, a master's degree provides educators with the chance to gain specialized knowledge, skills, and advanced certification. Obtaining advanced certification can improve a worker's employment and salary outlook.

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