Early childhood education (ECE) programs cover education theory and instructional methods for children through age eight. Generally, ECE programs provide instruction on how to teach children from preschool through second grade. You may also study infant-toddler education, which is normally facilitated by parents for children from birth to age two.

ECE professionals include teachers, paraeducators, child care center personnel, special education teachers, psychologists, and social workers. Earning a master's in early childhood education will prepare aspiring teachers to lead young children as they develop cognitive and social skills.

HOW TO GET A MASTER'S DEGREE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Most master's degree in early childhood education programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree and either prior work experience in education or teaching certification. Some programs also require minimum undergraduate GPAs or standardized test scores.

DOES MY EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION MASTER'S INCLUDE ESOL?

Some early childhood education master's programs include coursework or a specialization in English as a second language. However, not all programs include studies in ESOL. Read more here..

IS A MASTER'S IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION WORTH IT?

Graduates with a master's in early childhood education command higher salaries than their counterparts with an associate or bachelor's degree in early childhood education or elementary education. Read more here..

WHERE CAN I GET A MASTER'S IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION?

Several schools offer online master's in early childhood education programs. Read more here..

CAN YOU GET AN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION DEGREE ONLINE?

Today, many students are pursuing their master's in early childhood education degree online. The flexible schedule and convenient platform are ideal for students who must balance their coursework with other commitments, such as childcare or a full-time job. Read more here..

Today, many students are pursuing their master's in early childhood education degree online. The flexible schedule and convenient platform are ideal for students who must balance their coursework with other commitments, such as childcare or a full-time job. Most online ECE master's programs are delivered in a hybrid (or 'blended') format, where students complete most assignments and exams online and receive supervised, hands-on training from established professionals in an internship or practicum course. These programs often culminate in a final capstone or research project, which allows students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they developed in school.

Workers with a master's degree in early childhood education earn higher salaries and enjoy lower unemployment than workers with only a bachelor's.

Read on to learn more about what you can do with a master's degree in early childhood education, and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to upon graduation.

Choosing a Program

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Online ECE master's students will explore the latest theories, educational models, and instructional strategies in the field. They will learn how to integrate games, activities, and sensory stimuli into lessons in order to engage with young learners. Learning how to monitor physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development is another program focal point. Other study topics include educational law and ethics, student-teacher relationships, and working with disabled children.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online ECE master's programs are designed to work around your schedule. Most curricula follow an asynchronous timetable, allowing students to complete course requirements on their own time from the comfort of their home computer. You can also study away from your desk using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other device with Wi-Fi accessibility. For additional convenience, online students are usually able to coordinate internships or practicum courses at a facility close to their residence.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER'S IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION?

Students who graduate with a master's in ECE will be well-prepared to work as teachers. Those who earn a degree specialization in areas like special education, curriculum development, or infant-toddler education will also bolster their career standing in niche dimensions of the field. The best online master's in early childhood education programs prepare students for the licensure requirements in the state where they plan to work. Remember, public school teachers must be licensed in all 50 states, and most states also carry certification requirements for childcare center directors.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is a personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master's in early childhood education programs in the United States. If you are considering obtaining a master's degree in early childhood education, and you value the flexibility inherent in online education, be sure to take a look at these top schools.

Accredited Online M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education Programs

Rank School Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

California State University, Fullerton

Fullerton, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 66%

Although the California Legislature authorized the establishment of Orange County State College in 1957, classes did not start until the fall of 1959. After two name changes, the school took its current name in 1972. The school hosts more than 40,000 students, the highest enrollment number among the 23 schools in the California State University System.

Cal State Fullerton offers 58 undergraduate and 54 graduate programs. The university holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). U.S. News & World Report ranks Cal State Fullerton as one of the best online graduate education programs in the country (#38 out of 311 schools).

The College of Education at Cal State Fullerton offers an online master of science degree in education with seven concentrations. One of the elementary curriculum and instruction concentrations offers an emphasis in early childhood education. Students pursuing this emphasis take the following courses: reading/language arts in the early childhood curriculum; teaching and learning in the early childhood classroom; and social studies, science, and math in early childhood education.

Core coursework, electives, and curriculum-focused classes make up the remainder of the course requirements for the degree. Students can complete a research project, thesis, or capstone project as the culminating experience of the program.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Education With a Concentration in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction
Tuition: $240/credit in-state; $635/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: Teaching credential or equivalent experience

Contact
Phone: (657) 278-4794
Email: edelgradprograms@fullerton.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

Brandman University

Irvine, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

In 1958, Chapman University (founded in 1861) established Chapman University College, a private institution designed to address the educational needs of individuals serving at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. The school was renamed Brandman University after a generous benefactor. The school maintains its strong military connections while focusing on non-traditional adult learners. Brandman holds accreditation from WSCUC.

The university offers an online master's in early childhood education with a focus on leadership. Graduates earn a master of arts in education degree. The program comprises 30 credits, 18 of which must come from core coursework requirements. The remaining 12 credits consist of the following courses: foundations of leadership in early childhood settings, public policy and fiscal planning for early childhood leaders, leadership and human resources in early childhood settings, and early childhood program evaluation. The program evaluation course satisfies the capstone requirement of the degree.

The curriculum follows the standards for early childhood education programs put forth by the National Association for Education of Young Children. Applicants need a California child development associate teacher permit, child development associate credential, or single subject credential home economics. The program only considers applications from California residents.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Education, Leadership in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $650/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT (if GPA lower than 3.0)

Contact
Phone: (800) 746-0082
Email: apply@brandman.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

3

Clemson University

Clemson, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

Founded in 1889, Clemson University currently hosts more than 23,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The school offers over 80 undergraduate programs and more than 110 graduate programs. U.S. News & World Report ranked Clemson University as #66 in its 2019 ranking of national universities. The university holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The College of Education at Clemson University offers a master of education degree in teaching and learning that students can pursue without any campus visits. U.S. News & World Report rates the university's online graduate education programs as the best in the country (#1 among 311 schools). M.Ed. students can choose from three specializations: experiential learning for early childhood, STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics), and instructional coaching.

The program follows a cohort education model and features 30 credits: 18 credits of core pedagogical coursework and 12 credits of specialization courses. Students pursuing the experiential learning for early childhood specialization enroll in the following classes: advanced early child education foundations and methods; advanced early child education curriculum; math, science, and technology inquiry in early childhood; and parent education in early childhood multicultural settings. Students must complete a capstone project prior to graduation.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Teaching and Learning
Available Concentrations: Science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics; experiential learning for early childhood; instructional coaching
Tuition: $494/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 18 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT (if GPA lower than 3.0)

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

4

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

Established in 1839, the University of Missouri became the first public institution west of the Mississippi River. The school currently hosts almost 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. The university's 19 colleges and schools offer more than 300 certificate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and earned the #38 spot (out of 311 schools) in the Best Online Graduate Education Programs ranking compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

Mizzou's College of Education offers a master's in early childhood education online through the Department of Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum. Students can pursue the degree without any campus visits. The program features 30 credit hours, including nine credits of foundation education courses, 15 early childhood education credits, and six elective credits. Graduates earn a master of education degree in learning, teaching, and curriculum with an emphasis on early childhood education.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA during the final 60 hours of undergraduate education and at least two years of teaching experience.

The program requires students pursuing the early childhood education emphasis to enroll in the following classes: advanced early childhood curriculum, developmental aspects of human learning, language and early literacy development, advanced assessment in early childhood, and home-school partnerships -- working with families. Students must complete a capstone project to earn the M.Ed. degree.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum With an Emphasis in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $434/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 2 years of teaching experience

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

5

Martin Luther College

New Ulm, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod operates Martin Luther College. The college serves as the organization's ministerial arm, with a primary mission to train pastors, teachers, and staff for public ministry. MLC holds accreditation from the HLC.

The college offers an online master of science in educational administration program with two emphasis areas: principal and early childhood director. The degree consists of 36 credit hours. In addition to taking concentration courses, students complete prescribed courses in four administrative areas: leadership, instructional supervision, administration, and application. The early childhood director emphasis includes classes in school business administration, leadership for change, issues in school administration, school law, and leading the school community.

Students can complete a capstone project or an internship as their culminating experience. An internship counts as six credits towards the program's degree requirements, while a capstone project can count as three or six credits, depending on the scope and scholarship of the project. The program requires all students to pass a five-hour written comprehensive exam to graduate. The program does not lead to state licensure.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Educational Administration With an Emphasis in Early Childhood Direction
Tuition: $315/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 12-18 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

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

6

West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

Just over a year after its founding in 1867, the Agricultural College of West Virginia changed its name to West Virginia University, signifying the growth of its academic offerings. WVU hosts almost 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students on its Morgantown campus and offers more than 360 majors in diverse fields. The university holds accreditation from the HLC. In the Best Online Graduate Education Programs report compiled by U.S. News & World Report, West Virginia University ranked #77 out of 311 schools.

The university's College of Education and Human Services offers an online master's program in special education with three specializations, including one in early childhood education. Graduates earn a master of arts degree. The program offers certification and non-certification tracks. Courses follow a synchronous delivery format. The program holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The program consists of 36 credit hours and includes classes in early intervention, characteristics of developmental disabilities, family and professional collaboration, typical and atypical development, and early learning curriculum. Students must complete a capstone project prior to graduation. Online students can complete the required clinical experience locally after obtaining college approval.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Special Education With a Specialization in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $594/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact
Phone: (304) 293-3450
Email: sped@mail.wvu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

7

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Lincoln, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

The Nebraska state legislature chartered the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1869, two years after the state became part of the U.S. The school is now the flagship institution of the University of Nebraska System, hosting almost 26,000 students from 50 states and 136 countries.

The university comprises nine colleges and offers more than 150 undergraduate majors, over 100 graduate programs, and several pre-professional degrees. The university holds HLC accreditation. U.S. News & World Report rates the university's online graduate education programs as one of the best in the country, ranking it #9 out of 311 schools.

The College of Education and Human Sciences offers two online master's programs in special education with a specialization in early childhood education: a master of arts and a master of education. The master of arts degree is comprised of 30-36 credits and offers thesis and non-thesis options. The thesis option requires 30 credits; the non-thesis option requires 36 credits.

Students who pursue the master of education degree must take nine credits in at least one minor. Interested students can pursue two minors under this program. The program does not include a thesis requirement. Both programs require applicants to submit GRE results from within the past five years.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education or MA in Special Education With a Specialization in Early Childhood Special Education
Tuition: $356/credit in-state; $629/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30-36 credits
Program Length: 12-18 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (402) 472-2875
Email: graduate@unl.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

8

Ball State University

Muncie, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

In 1918, the Indiana State Normal School Eastern Division opened at the site of a defunct private teacher training school. The Indiana General Assembly renamed the school Ball Teachers College in 1922, in recognition of the school's benefactors. The school took its current name in 1965 when it achieved university status.

The university hosts more than 22,000 students from 50 states and 68 countries. The HLC has accredited BSU since 1925. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's online graduate education programs as #38 out of 311 schools.

Ball State's Teachers College offers an online master's in education program with a focus on early childhood education. Graduates earn a master of arts in education degree and a graduate certificate in early childhood program administration. Many of the online courses follow an asynchronous delivery format. The Teachers College holds accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

The program consists of 30 credits and includes coursework in early literacy development; education in a diverse society; school, family, and community partnerships; early childhood program leadership; and educational programs for young children. Students can complete the fieldwork requirement locally.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Education With a Focus in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $410/credit in-state; $616/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact
Phone: (800) 872-0369
Email: online@bsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

9

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 47%

Established as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971, the school achieved university status in 1985 when it took its current name. Liberty University hosts more than 12,600 students from 50 states and 80 countries. The university began offering distance education in 1985. The university's 16 colleges and schools offer more than 550 academic areas of study on site and/or online. Liberty holds accreditation from SACSCOC.

The School of Education offers an online master's degree in curriculum and instruction with 11 specializations, including an early childhood education specialization. The program features 36 credit hours, and students can transfer up to 50% of the M.Ed. degree requirements from another accredited program or school. Most students graduate in 1.5 years. Courses follow an eight-week delivery schedule and all courses are available online. The program features eight start dates throughout the school year. Liberty's School of Education holds accreditation from NCATE.

The early childhood education specialization leads to an add-on or advanced licensure for students with initial teaching licensure. Four courses make up the early childhood education core: curriculum and methods for early childhood, behavior management, leadership and supervision in education, and current issues in early childhood education. Classes follow an asynchronous delivery format.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction With a Specialization in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $615/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

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

10

Auburn University

Auburn, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 77%

Established in 1856 as the East Alabama Male College, Auburn University took its current name when it achieved university status in 1960. Auburn currently enrolls nearly 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offers more than 140 academic majors. The university's online graduate education programs rank among the best in the country (#22 out of 311 schools), according to U.S. News & World Report. Auburn holds accreditation from SACSCOC.

The College of Education at Auburn offers two early childhood education master's degrees online: a master of education and a master of science. Both programs feature 30 credit hours. Students can pursue an Alabama professional educator certification by completing the M.Ed. program, but the MS does not lead to certification.

M.Ed. students must complete a practicum in early childhood education and write a research-based thesis to graduate. The culminating experience for MS students consists of a capstone project. Students in the M.Ed. program must earn at least a 3.25 GPA on all courses that count toward the degree. The MS program requires a 3.5 GPA for all coursework applied towards the degree. Auburn's College of Education holds accreditation from NCATE.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education; MS in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $630/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (334) 844-6768
Email: eduinfo@auburn.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

11

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

The University of Northern Iowa began as Iowa State Normal School, a teacher training institution founded in 1876. The school changed its name two more times until becoming the University of Northern Iowa in 1967. The university currently offers more than 90 areas of study to almost 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students. UNI holds HLC accreditation. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school as one of the top regional universities in the Midwest (#25 out of 172 schools).

The UNI College of Education offers a master's in early childhood education online designed for teachers with an early childhood teaching license. Graduates earn a master of arts in education. The program follows a cohort model and uses a variety of distance delivery methods, including synchronous and asynchronous online classes and interactive video conferencing. Synchronous portions of the program meet online once a week. Online classes follow the regular school calendar, with courses taught in eight-week modules.

The program is comprised of 30 credits and includes courses in diversity in early childhood education (theory and practice), issues and trends in early childhood curriculum, methods and materials in literacy education, foundations of instructional psychology, and assessment in early childhood education. The program requires students to complete a research paper as part of the culminating experience for the degree.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Education in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $509/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

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

12

University of Dayton

Dayton, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

The University of Dayton began in 1850 as St. Mary's School for Boys. By 1920, the school became known as the University of Dayton. Today, more than 10,000 students enroll at the university, choosing from more than 80 undergraduate and 50 graduate programs. The university holds HLC accreditation and U.S. News & World Report includes it in its ranking of the best online graduate education programs in the country (#46 out of 311 schools).

The School of Education and Health Sciences offers a transdisciplinary program in early childhood education that follows a blended delivery format. Graduates earn a master of science in education degree. The program offers a thesis option (31 credits) and a non-thesis option (30 credits). Students who choose the non-thesis option complete a capstone research project conducted in an educational setting. The program follows a cohort model.

The degree in transdisciplinary early childhood education qualifies graduates to apply for two licenses in Ohio: early childhood education and early childhood intervention specialist. The program also meets the course requirements for pre-kindergarten special needs endorsement. The School of Education and Health Sciences holds accreditation from CAEP.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Education in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy
Tuition: $645/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-36 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (937) 229-2158
Email: dpoppaw1@udayton.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

13

Mercer University

Macon, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

In 1833, Georgia Baptists founded Mercer Institute, a preparatory school for boys that consisted of a farm and two log cabins. The institute enrolled 39 students during its first year. Five years after its founding, the institute's first Board of Trustees changed the name of the school to Mercer University. Today, more than 8,700 undergraduate and graduate students from 42 states and 56 countries pursue degrees at the university at the bachelor's, master's, and doctorate levels. Mercer University holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Mercer University offers a master's in early childhood education online through the Tift College of Education. Students who complete the program earn a master's of education (M.Ed.) degree. Applicants must hold or be eligible for a level four certificate in early childhood education or a related field and a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. After earning the M.Ed. degree, students with a level four certificate can upgrade their certificate to level five. Degree coursework also enables students to earn additional endorsements in fields like ESOL and STEM.

Students can complete the 30-credit online M.Ed. degree in one year. Courses follow an eight-week delivery schedule. Students must enroll in 12 semester hours of professional studies coursework, which consists of the following classes: contemporary curriculum practices in early childhood learning; school philosophy and teacher leadership; introduction to educational research; and issues of diversity: language, cognition, and culture.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $596/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 12-16 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (678) 547-6084
Email: mercereducation@mercer.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

14

Arizon State University - SkySong

Scottsdale, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 14%

Arizona State University began as a four-classroom building in 1886. Then known as the Territorial Normal School, it enrolled 33 students when it opened. The school took its current name in 1958 and today includes several campuses across Arizona. The university holds Higher Learning Commission accreditation. U.S. News & World Report includes ASU among the best online graduate education programs in the country, ranking the university as number 13 out of 311 schools.

ASU offers an online master's in early childhood education that prepares students to work with children from birth through eight years old. Students can pursue a certification track of 45 credits or a non-certification track of 30 credits. Core early education coursework covers topics such as child guidance and management; child, family, community, and culture; emergent literacy; and foundations of diversity, human development, and the young child.

Each online course lasts 7.5 weeks. Students who complete the program earn a master of education in curriculum and instruction in early childhood education. ASU offers all courses for the M.Ed. degree online except for the practicum. Online students can complete the practicum requirement locally. Out-of-state online students pay the same tuition as in-state students.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education In Curriculum and Instruction With an Emphasis in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $370/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (866) 277-6589
Email: asuonline@asu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

15

University of Colorado Denver / Anschutz Medical Campus

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 45%

The University of Colorado Denver began in 1912 as an extension of the University of Colorado, which was founded in 1876. In 2011, university regents changed the name of the school to University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus, although the school is still legally referred to as CU Denver. The university enrolls more than 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students and its eight schools and colleges offer more than 100 academic programs. CU Denver holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

The School of Education and Human Development at CU Denver offers a mostly online master's in early childhood education degree that follows a cohort model. New cohorts begin every January. Students seeking initial licensure or endorsement as Early Childhood Special Education Specialists must complete 42 credits. Students who are not seeking licensure or endorsement must only complete 30 credits. The program leads to a master of arts in early childhood education.

The MA program offers concentrations in administration and leadership, diversity and inclusion, and teaching and learning. Online students can apply for several scholarships that are available to on-campus students, including an Early Childhood Education Scholarship Fund worth up to $10,000 a year. Students can complete the degree in 2-3 years. The program requires students to complete a practicum experience and/or a capstone project for graduation.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Early Childhood Education
Available Concentrations: Administration and leadership; diversity and inclusion; teaching and learning
Tuition: $373/credit in-state; $448/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30-42 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (303) 315-3700
Email: admissions@ucdenver.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

16

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Founded in 1883, the University of North Dakota's first graduating class comprised eight students, six of whom were women. Today, the university enrolls close to 14,000 students and offers more than 225 undergraduate and graduate programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school number 61 out of 311 schools in its Best Online Graduate Education Programs ranking. The University of North Dakota holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

The university offers a master's in early childhood education online through the College of Education and Human Development. Graduates earn a master of science degree. Students can complete the program in 18 months of full-time enrollment or two years of part-time enrollment. Online courses at the university follow an asynchronous delivery method. Classes are recorded so that students can access them offline. Online students pay the same tuition regardless of residency.

Students can pursue a thesis of 30 credits or non-thesis of 32 credits option. The non-thesis option requires students to complete a 60-hour practicum in an early childhood setting. With the college's approval, working students can use their own classrooms for the practicum. Non-thesis students must also complete a written independent study or a capstone project prior to graduation. The thesis option includes a successful oral defense of the thesis.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $418/credit
Credit Requirements: 32 credits
Program Length: 18-24 months

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

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

17

University at Albany

Albany, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

The University at Albany started in 1844 as the Normal School, which was established to train New York teachers. In 1914, the school's name was changed to the New York State College for Teachers. In 1962, the College for Teachers joined the State University of New York System as the University at Albany. Today, the university hosts over 18,000 students and offers more than 150 undergraduate areas of study and over 125 master's, doctorate, and certificate programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school as one of the best online graduate education programs in the nation, number 8 out of 311 schools. The University at Albany holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The university's Teacher Education Program offers an early childhood education master's degree online that consists of 30 credits. The program only considers applications from individuals with initial teaching certification in early childhood education. Graduates earn a master of science degree. The MS degree satisfies the educational requirement for New York professional teacher certification in Early Childhood Education B-2.

The Teacher Education Program at the University at Albany holds accreditation from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Online students can only pursue the program on a part-time basis with a maximum of two courses per term. MS students can transfer a maximum of nine credits or three courses from another accredited school or program towards the MS degree requirements.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $462/credit in-state; $555/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

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

18

New Mexico State University

Las Cruces, NM Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

New Mexico State University traces its roots to Las Cruces College, a school that opened in 1888. Two years later, Las Cruces College merged with a new land-grant college called the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. The new school opened in 1890 with an initial enrollment of 35 students. In 1960, the school became officially known as New Mexico State University. Today, the university enrolls close to 17,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries. The university holds Higher Learning Commission accreditation.

NMSU offers a master's in early childhood education online through the School of Teacher Preparation, Administration, and Leadership. The 33-credit program leads to a master of arts in education degree (MAE). Students enroll in 15 core credits, 15 early childhood education credits, and an approved three-credit elective. Early childhood education classes cover subjects like curriculum in early childhood, working with parents of young children, literacy development in early childhood, the bilingual preschool child, and issues in early childhood education. Students must complete an action research project prior to graduation.

Students can choose a licensure or non-licensure track. Most MAE students graduate from the program within two years. The university requires students to complete at least 50% of degree requirements as an NMSU student.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Education With a Concentration in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $377/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (575) 646-4016
Email: msp@nmsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

19

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Established as the State Normal and Industrial School, the University of North Carolina Greensboro opened its doors to women in 1891. The school started admitting men in 1963, the same year it adopted its current name. The university hosts just under 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students. UNCG offers 82 bachelor's degrees in over 100 fields of study, 74 master's programs, and 32 doctoral degrees. It holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. U.S. News & World Report ranks UNCG's online graduate education programs among the best in the country as number 61 out of 311 schools.

The School of Education at UNCG offers an online master's in early childhood education with two concentrations: advanced teaching licensure and program administration. Graduates of the 37-credit program earn a master of education degree. Most students graduate after two years of part-time enrollment. Courses follow a synchronous delivery format, with classes meeting online in the evening. The School of Education holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

The program requires all students to enroll in 15 credits of core theory and practice coursework and six credits of research and capstone coursework. Students round out the degree with 10 credits of concentration courses. The culminating experience for the M.Ed. degree consists of a portfolio of reflective essays that demonstrates the student's mastery of key competencies. The program requires an oral defense of the portfolio prior to graduation.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development
Available Concentrations: Early childhood leadership and program administration; early childhood leadership and advanced teaching licensure
Tuition: $256/credit in-state; $512/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 37 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

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

20

Concordia University - Nebraska

Seward, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 66%

In 1894, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod founded the Evangelical Lutheran School Teachers Seminary, the forerunner of Concordia University Nebraska. The school opened with one teacher and 13 male students and offered a three-year high school curriculum. Today, the university enrolls more than 2,500 students and offers over 75 undergraduate and 30 graduate degrees. Concordia University holds Higher Learning Commission accreditation. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university as one of the top schools in the Midwest, number 35 out of 172 schools, and also ranks it among the best online graduate education programs, number 89 out of 311 schools.

Concordia University offers an early childhood education master's degree online that comprises 36 credits or 12 courses. Courses follow an eight-week delivery schedule. Students who take one course at a time can graduate in two years; however, students can double the number of courses they take at two specific times during the program to earn the degree in 20 months. Graduates earn a master of education degree. Coursework covers topics such as language and literacy development in the young child; development, methods, curriculum, and assessment of pre-primary education; early childhood program organization and management; and family and culture.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accredits all of the university's education programs. In addition, the early childhood education program follows the guidelines put forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.


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

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

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

21

University of Mary

Bismarck, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

In 1959, the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation founded Mary College and began offering a four-year bachelor's degree in education and one in nursing. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools first accredited the school in 1969. A year later, the college started admitting men. In 1986, the school achieved university status and took its current name. More than 4,400 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at the University of Mary today, which offers over 60 bachelor's programs, 13 master's degrees, and four doctorate programs. The university holds Higher Learning Commission accreditation.

The Liffrig Family School of Education and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Mary offers a master's program in curriculum, instruction, and assessment with early childhood education licensure. Graduates earn a master of education degree. The program is designed for licensed teachers seeking additional credentials in early childhood education. Courses feature online and on-campus components. Students can transfer up to one-third of the degree requirements from another accredited college or university.

M.Ed. students can complete a thesis of 29 credits or a portfolio of 28 credits as the culminating experience for the program. Regardless of which option students select, all students enroll in the following five core courses: ethics in education and human performance; critique and design of research; statistics; diversity in culture and human relations; and foundations in education


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment With an Emphasis in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $655/credit
Credit Requirements: 36-27 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact
Phone: (701) 355-8030
Email: enroll@umary.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

22

California Baptist University

Riverside, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

California Baptist College, founded by the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association, opened in 1950 with an enrollment of 42 students. After just four years, the college moved to a bigger campus in Riverside to accommodate a growing student population. Close to 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students are currently attending the university, which offers 76 bachelor's degrees, 31 master's programs, and three doctoral degrees.

The university holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. U.S. News & World Report rates the school as one of the best regional universities in the west, number 32 out of 140 schools, and one of the best online graduate education programs, number 77 out of 311 schools.

CBU offers a 33-credit master's in early childhood education online. Graduates earn a master of science in education degree. Most students earn the degree after one year of continuous enrollment. Students enroll in 15 credits of core coursework in curriculum theory and development; theories of learning and teaching; and contemporary issues in educational leadership. The remaining 18 credits come from early childhood education courses that include topics such as leadership and supervision in early childhood settings; advanced studies in early childhood development; school, family, and community partnerships; and early childhood program development and evaluation. The program does not require a thesis.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Education With a Specialization in Early Childhood Studies
Tuition: $634/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact
Phone: (877) 236-1617
Email: cbuonline@calbaptist.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

23

Biola University

La Mirada, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

Biola University began in 1908 as the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, offering two-year Christian-based programs. In the 1930s, the school began offering four-year programs in sacred music, theology, and Christian education. By the time the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredited the institute in 1959, it expanded its degree offerings to include programs in the arts, sciences, and several professional fields. The school achieved university status in 1981 and changed its name to Biola University. The school currently hosts over 6,000 students and offers more than 150 bachelor's, master's, and doctorate programs.

The School of Education at Biola University offers two online master's programs with a concentration in early childhood education. The master of arts in education (MA.Ed.) comprises 38 credits and prepares graduates for leadership positions in a variety of academic settings and for further studies in the field. Students can write a thesis or complete a curriculum research project as their capstone experience.

The master of arts in teaching (MAT) provides students with the skills and knowledge they need for classroom instruction. The degree consists of 30 credits and requires students to complete an action research capstone project prior to graduation. Both the MA.Ed. and the MAT require students to fulfill fieldwork placements in approved early education settings.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Education or Teaching With a Concentration in Early Childhood
Tuition: $633/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-38 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE
Work Experience: Teaching credential (MA in Education)

Contact
Phone: (562) 903-4752
Email: graduate.admissions@biola.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

24

Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 70%

Kansas State University began in 1863 when the Bluemont Central College was converted to the Kansas State Agricultural College. The university currently enrolls close to 24,000 students and offers more than 250 undergraduate and 159 graduate programs.

The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. U.S. News & World Report considers the online graduate education programs offered by the university among the best in the country, ranking Kansas State University as number 46 of 311 schools.

Kansas State University offers an early childhood education master's degree online through the School of Family Studies and Human Services. Graduates earn a master of science degree. The program comprises 30 credits, at least 20 of which must come from core curriculum coursework.

The MS degree includes courses in child development, infant behavior and development, family studies, advanced program development, and contemporary family theories. Some courses include practicum requirements that students can complete locally. Students can write a thesis or pass a comprehensive exam as the culminating experience of the program. The thesis option may require students to enroll in additional research courses.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $568/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (785) 532-5575
Email: global@k-state.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

25

Concordia University - Portland

Portland, OR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

Founded in 1905, Concordia University Portland began as a training academy for Lutheran pastors and teachers. In 1995, the school achieved university status, becoming known as Concordia University Portland and joining the Concordia University System and the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod. The university currently enrolls more than 2,100 students and offers 26 undergraduate degrees and four graduate programs. The university holds accreditation from Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

The College of Education at Concordia University Portland offers an online master's in curriculum and instruction with 17 concentrations, including one in early childhood education. Graduates earn a master of education degree. Students who enroll in one course each period can earn the degree in one year.

The program comprises 30 credits, including 12 core credits, 12 concentration credits, a three-credit research course, and a three-credit capstone course. Students can complete an action research or a practitioner inquiry project as their culminating experience. The program does not feature a field experience requirement. The College of Education offers up to $3,000 in scholarships for M.Ed. students.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction With a Concentration in Early Childhood Education
Tuition: $697/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.8 minimum

Contact
Phone: (503) 280-8501
Email: admission@cu-portland.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter; Facebook

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

Online master's of early childhood education programs prepare students to become greater educators. Although all programs share the same goal, most differ in style. Some programs are designed for part-time, working teachers, and others are taught full-time in a cohort-style. Students should think about cost, credit load, specializations offered, completion time, internship opportunities, and residency requirements.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Concentration Description Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Early Childhood Education Generalist This online master's of early childhood education concentration exposes students to a wide range of educational techniques and topics. Students focus on finding fun and effective techniques to teach subjects to a group of students. Early childhood classroom teacher, multi-subject general educator
Early Childhood Administration An administration concentration adds a business and organizational component to the job. Students will learn about effective leadership techniques and develop administrative skills. Director of child care, elementary school administration, early childhood teacher
Early Childhood Special Needs Students learn about the history of disabilities legislation and work to find new approaches that support children's needs. Learners also discover a variety of innovative and traditional teaching and learning techniques. Early childhood education special needs aide, teacher, or specialist

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Every early childhood education master's degree online offers different classes. Most programs cover the same core curriculum though. These are some of the common program courses.

  • Curriculum Development: From pre-K through high school, curriculum development is one of the staples of teaching. Students in online master's degrees in early childhood education will learn how to shape curricula and lesson plans in fun and engaging ways.
  • Math and Science for Young Children: Courses devoted to early childhood education on math and science, as well as literacy, are foundational to children's lives. Students learn effective techniques for how to instill these core ideas at an early age.
  • Children, Families and Teachers: The dynamic between children, parents, and teachers can be difficult. Many schools offer a course on the best practices for this dynamic. Often this course is coupled with school legal and ethical issues classes.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION?

The average online early childhood education master's degree requires 30-36 credits and can be completed in about two years. One of the biggest impacts on completion time is the role of internships and fieldwork. Many programs require some local internship work. Some courses have longer, part-time tracks for individually paced working professionals, and some programs feature residency requirements which can last several days.

CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER'S IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PREPARES FOR

  • State-specific Certification: Each state has specific criteria for any form of teaching. Students should ensure that a program fits their resident state's criteria before applying.
  • Early Childhood Teacher Certification: The National Association for the Education of Young Children offers this certification for teachers who meet their set of standards, which is frequently revised. The organization also helps educators earn the child development associate credential.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Degrees

For a school to be accredited, it means that that school or program has met certain standards set by industry groups, peer institutions, and government agencies. Accreditation is also important for transferring credits and finding employment.

There are multiple forms of accreditation. Regional accreditation is given to U.S. colleges and universities by one of six region agencies that are recognized by the Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Traditional brick and mortar universities and their online programs are typically regionally accredited. Any school can gain national accreditation. National accreditation is given by CHEA-approved organizations and is traditionally used for distance education and vocational learning. Credits earned at nationally accredited schools are not always easily transferred to regionally accredited schools.

The DOE and CHEA act as oversight bodies, recognizing legitimate accreditation agencies. These groups also help set the academic and operational standards a school must meet to become accredited.

Individual programs can also be accredited by industry groups. For early childhood development, The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation are the two most important accrediting bodies. You can find a list of accredited school on the DOE's website.

EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK FOR MASTER'S IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION GRADUATES

Master vs Bachelor of Early Childhood Education

Students who earn a master's degree enjoy more favorable job placement rates than their counterparts with less education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), master's recipients across all industries face a 2.4% unemployment rate. Comparatively, the unemployment rates for bachelor's and associate degree-holders are 2.8% and 3.8%, respectively. In education, the unemployment rate differences are even more pronounced. In a recent publication, Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce explored career outcomes for employees with different educational attainment levels. Using data from this survey, we examined how educational attainment correlates with unemployment in ECE:

Educational Attainment Unemployment Rate
Recent Bachelor's Graduate with Limited Work Experience 5.7%
Recent Bachelor's Graduate with Limited Work Experience 5.7%
Experienced Bachelor's Graduate 3.7%
Recent Graduate Degree Recipient with Limited Work Experience 2.4%
Experienced Graduate Degree Recipient 2.2%

Source: Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce

As the table indicates, even graduate degree-holders with minimal experience in the field face a much lower unemployment rate than experienced bachelor's-holding graduates.

Earning a Living

In addition to better job placement rates, students who earn a master's in ECE stand to earn higher salaries than their peers with a bachelor's degree or less. The 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report tallied salary expectations at the entry-level and mid-career stages for employees with different academic majors and educational attainment levels. Using this data, the next table examines salary projections for associate, bachelor's, and master's degree-holding professionals.

Degree Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ years) Salary Premium for Master's Degree- Holders
Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education $23,100 $29,400 59.7% at Entry Level; 63.6% at Mid-Career
Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education $30,300 $38,000 21.7% at Entry-Level; 26.5% at Mid-Career
Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education $32,900 $42,300 12.1% at Entry-Level; 13.7% at Mid-Career
Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education $36,900 $48,100  

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table indicates, master's-holders earn more than bachelor's and associate earners by a considerable margin at both career benchmarks. However, it's also important to note that your expected career earnings will vary depending on your job title. The next table looks at salary expectations for five ECE occupations at four different career stages.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Early Childhood Educator (ECE) $26,000 $30,000 $34,000 $39,000
Kindergarten Teacher $34,735 $40,046 $43,191 $47,505
Preschool Teacher $26,670 $29,076 $29,417 $30,215
Special Education Teacher (Preschool, Kindergarten or Elementary) $39,973 $43,926 $49,929 $54,788
Preschool Director $35,512 $36,663 $39,410 $40,844

Source: PayScale

Of the five careers listed, ECE educators enjoyed the highest career salary growth ― a 50% increase in annual earnings between the entry-level and late-career marks. Special education teachers and kindergarten teachers also saw significant salary growth. Finally, special education teachers earned the highest salaries at all four career stages.

Career Opportunities

Students who graduate with an online master's in ECE will qualify for a variety of jobs. Below, we've covered four of the most common career pathways for graduates with a master's in ECE.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: Teachers in kindergarten and elementary school classrooms help students build core skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and other basic skills. All kindergarten or elementary teachers who work at public schools must earn a teaching license or certification in all 50 states, and most states also require candidates to pass a background check. Private school teachers do not need to be licensed.

Special Education Teachers: Special education teachers specialize in instructing and helping students with physical or cognitive disabilities, as well as those with behavioral disorders and mental health problems. Most special education teachers maintain a private classroom at their school where special needs students can come study or develop other key skills. A teaching license is required in all 50 states for special education teachers who work at public schools.

Preschool Teachers: Preschool teachers are responsible for educating children five and under who have not yet entered kindergarten. They make lesson plans that cover core subjects like reading, science, and basic math.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors: These directors oversee the teachers, support staff, and other personnel at pre-K childcare centers. Many preschools and childcare centers are located in public buildings, although some are operated in private homes. Many states require public and private childcare centers to earn certification before they can accommodate young children; some states also require preschool directors and their staff to become certified in CPR and first aid.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2014-24)
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $54,550 6% (+87,800 jobs)
Preschool Teachers $28,570 7% (+29,600 jobs)
Special Education Teachers $56,800 6% (+28,100 jobs)
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $45,670 7% (+4,200 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different educational approaches is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for early childhood education professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children: In addition to accrediting college programs, the NAEYC offers a range of supportive services for professionals who teach and assist children from birth to age eight. Member benefits include discounted books and other resources, complimentary magazine and newsletter subscriptions, and access to 'Members Only' areas of the organization's website.
  • National Child Care Association: The NCCA is an advocacy-driven organization that fights for classroom equality, safe learning environments, and educational funding. The website features a resource library, discussion forums, and links to webinars and continuing education opportunities.
  • Association for Early Learning Leaders: Founded in 1984, the AELL is a nonprofit organization dedicated to childcare center directors and administrators across the globe. The website offers a job board, online training and webinar programs, continuing education courses, and other professional development opportunities.

Financing Your OnlineMaster's in Early Childhood Education

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about your financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Programs of 2018
Ranking School Location
1 California State University-Fullerton Fullerton, CA
2 Clemson University Clemson, SC
3 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
4 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
5 Erikson Institute Chicago, IL
6 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO
7 Brandman University Irvine, CA
8 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
9 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO
10 Mercer University Macon, GA
11 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
12 Auburn University Auburn, AL
13 Pacific Oaks College Pasadena, CA
14 Ball State University Muncie, IN
15 Biola University La Mirada, CA
16 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
17 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ
18 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
19 SUNY at Albany Albany, NY
20 Concordia University-Nebraska Seward, NE
21 Concordia University-Chicago River Forest, IL
22 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
23 New Mexico State University Las Cruces, NM
24 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE
25 University of West Alabama Livingston, AL
26 Martin Luther College New Ulm, MN
27 California State University-East Bay Hayward, CA
28 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
29 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, AL
30 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
31 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
32 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
33 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
34 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO
35 Texas A & M University-Commerce Commerce, TX
36 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
37 West Chester University of Pennsylvania West Chester, PA
38 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
39 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY
40 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
41 Brenau University Gainesville, GA
42 Grand Valley State University Allendale, MI
43 Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA
44 Fitchburg State University Fitchburg, MA
45 Concordia University-Wisconsin Mequon, WI
46 Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX
47 Concordia University-Portland Portland, OR
48 Nazareth College Rochester, NY
49 University of Missouri-St Louis Saint Louis, MO
50 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
Best Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Programs of 2017
Rank School Location
1 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
2 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO
3 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
4 Erikson Institute Chicago, IL
5 West Chester University of Pennsylvania West Chester, PA
6 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
7 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
8 Concordia University-Chicago River Forest, IL
9 Texas A & M University-Commerce Commerce, TX
10 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
11 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
12 University of West Alabama Livingston, AL
13 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY
14 Pacific Oaks College Pasadena, CA
15 Stephen F Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX
16 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
17 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
18 Northwestern College Orange City, IA
19 Albany State University Albany, GA
20 Biola University La Mirada, CA
21 Champlain College Burlington, VT
22 University of South Alabama Mobile, AL
23 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro, PA
24 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, AL
25 University of the Southwest Hobbs, NM
Best Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 University of Colorado - Denver Denver, CO
2 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
3 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
4 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
5 Erikson Institute Chicago, IL
6 Concordia University - Chicago River Forest, IL
7 Concordia University - Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
8 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY
9 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
10 Albany State University Albany, GA
11 Champlain College Burlington, VT
12 Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX
13 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro, PA
14 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Nacogdoches, TX
15 University of South Carolina - Upstate Spartanburg, SC
16 Shorter University Rome, GA
17 Texas A&M University - Kingsville Kingsville, TX
18 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, AL
19 University of West Alabama Livingston, AL
20 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH