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

Earning an online associate in early childhood education can prepare students for entry-level childcare jobs, including preschool teacher, teaching aide, and nanny. An associate degree introduces students to early childhood education concepts like holistic child development and age-appropriate curriculum for young children.

Many graduates with an associate in early childhood education go on to pursue a bachelor's degree, which meets the minimum education requirement in all states for teaching licensure. Graduates with an associate in early childhood education may become childcare workers to gain experience toward a teaching career. Many early childhood education programs offer a variety of convenient and affordable online completion options.

What Are the Best Online Associate in Early Childhood Education Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:

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

Rank School Location
1 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Fennimore, WI
2 Stanly Community College Albemarle, NC
3 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
4 Northeast Community College Norfolk, NE
5 Vance-Granville Community College Henderson, NC
6 Community Care College Tulsa, OK
7 South Texas College McAllen, TX
8 Saint Francis University Loretto, PA
9 Kennebec Valley Community College Fairfield, ME
10 Randolph Community College Asheboro, NC
How We Rank Schools

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

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Best Accredited Online Associate in Early Childhood Education Programs

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

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Fennimore, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, located in Fennimore, serves approximately 2,000 students each year. In addition to traditional day classes, Southwest Tech provides flexible evening, weekend, and online learning options that are suitable for working professionals. The school's online associate degree in early childhood education takes two years to complete.

Courses in this 60-credit program include introduction to diversity studies; guiding child behavior; and subject-specific curriculum development in STEM, social studies, art, and music. While a majority of course components allow for online completion, all students must complete four on-site practicum experiences in an early childhood setting.

Admission requires official transcripts, ACT or ACCUPLACER scores, and an application fee. Students may need to meet additional requirements to participate in required labs. Classes begin each August.

2

Stanly Community College

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

Stanly Community College — located in Albemarle, North Carolina — awards certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees. Approximately 2,500 students enroll each year — more than half of whom study exclusively online.

Students pursuing an online associate degree in early childhood education at SCC can select from three different tracks: a transferable birth-kindergarten licensure track, a transferable non-licensure track, and a career-ready track. Requiring 71-73 credits, each track has courses in child development, general psychology, and quantitative literacy. Two on-site practica are required.

All applicants must submit an official copy of their high school transcripts. Placement testing may be required. Testing waivers are available for recent high school graduates and applicants with completed college-level English or math courses.

3

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Boasting one of the largest student enrollments in the nation, Liberty University is an evangelical Christian institution offering over 400 online programs. On average, students complete Liberty's associate in early childhood education in 18 months.

The 60-credit curriculum includes asynchronous, eight-week courses that cover topics like child psychology, educational philosophy, and classroom management. The entire program can be completed online without in-person requirements. All online students qualify for the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of residency, with additional discounts available for active-duty military and veterans.

First-time college students applying to Liberty need only confirm completion of a high school education through a self-certification form. A minimum GPA is not required for associate programs.

4

Northeast Community College

Norfolk, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

Forty-one percent of Northeast Community College's roughly 5,000 students take at least one online course. The public institution operates four campuses in Nebraska and provides distance learners with access to 13 associate degrees entirely online, including an associate of arts with a concentration in elementary education.

Northeast's 60-credit curriculum covers topics like child and adolescent psychology, psychology of learning, and children's literature. An on-site professional practicum is required. Graduates are prepared to transfer into teacher education bachelor's programs.

Prospective first-year applicants must provide official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT test scores. Applicants without test scores can schedule an ASSET/COMPASS test through Northeast's testing center.

5

Vance-Granville Community College

Henderson, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 43%

Vance-Granville Community College serves four counties in North Carolina, educating about 3,000 students each year. VGCC offers more than 40 programs, including 10 that take place entirely online. The school's online associate degree in early childhood education requires 69 credits.

Available program tracks include general, college transfer, administration, and special education options. Through courses in child development, curriculum planning, and family and community relationships, graduates are prepared to immediately enter the workforce or transfer into a university program. A practicum in an early childhood setting is also required.

Prospective students must complete an on-campus orientation, submit official high school transcripts, and schedule placement testing (unless they qualify for a waiver).

6

Community Care College

Tulsa, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

Community Care College is a private institution focused on helping aspiring professionals gain the skills required to launch a successful career. More than 50% of CCC students attend class online, pursuing programs in 11 disciplines, including early childhood education.

The school's associate in early childhood education features required courses in language and literacy, classroom management, and child growth and development. Distance learners in the program can graduate within 10 months. Graduates are prepared for employment in public daycares and preschools. CCC offers student support through tutoring, career services, and library services.

Prospective students can complete a free application online. CCC representatives guide all applicants through the remainder of the enrollment and financial aid process.

7

South Texas College

McAllen, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 22%

With annual enrollment numbers reaching 32,000 students, South Texas College is the state's largest higher education institution south of San Antonio. This public college offers more than 120 certificate and degree options. Thirty-six programs can be completed online, including an associate of arts in teaching with an EC-6 generalist track.

The curriculum of this AAT degree features 60-62 credits of coursework, including introduction to the teaching profession, introduction to special populations, and U.S. history. Two of the required classes in this program are field experience courses. Students who earn this associate degree can transfer to four-year programs to pursue initial Texas teacher certification.

Admission requires a completed high school education. Applicants must provide official documentation in the form of a high school transcript or GED certificate. Once accepted, students may need to complete placement testing.

8

Saint Francis University

Loretto, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Saint Francis University is a Catholic institution that offers more than 50 degrees across art, science, business, and health. Approximately 2,300 students enroll each year. Saint Francis also provides an extensive selection of asynchronous online programs, including an associate in early childhood education.

Available as a part-time or full-time option, the early childhood education program requires 63 credits. Coursework covers foundational concepts of education, early childhood pedagogy, and an introduction to special education. Graduates are prepared to pursue employment or pursue seamless transfer into one of the university's bachelor's programs.

Saint Francis accepts applications on a rolling basis. To apply, prospective students must provide a completed application and official high school and/or college transcripts.

9

Kennebec Valley Community College

Fairfield, ME Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 45%

Kennebec Valley Community College is a public institution headquartered on a 70-acre campus in Fairfield, Maine. Approximately 2,500 part-time and full-time students enroll in for-credit programs each year. KVCC offers flexible distance learning options, including hybrid and asynchronous online programs.

To earn an online associate degree in early childhood education, students must complete 63 credits of classes covering topics like health safety and nutrition, developmental psychology, and classroom management. Three in-person practica, totalling 270 field experience hours, are also required. Graduates can pursue employment as education technicians, classroom aides, and childcare workers.

Prospective students can fill out a free online application. Official high school transcripts are required for admission. Applicants can submit standardized exam scores (ACT, SAT, or PSAT) or complete placement testing.

10

Randolph Community College

Asheboro, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 42%

Randolph Community College is a public, two-year college in Asheboro, North Carolina. Approximately 2,800 students enroll each year, pursuing study in fields like graphic design, cosmetology, criminal justice, and nursing. Students can complete an associate in early childhood education through day, evening, online, or hybrid courses.

The 70-credit curriculum covers areas like creative activities, child development, and children with exceptionalities. No formal practicum is required, but students engage in field experiences during one of their courses.

RCC uses an open-door admission policy. Prospective students must complete an application, speak with someone from the admissions office, and provide official high school transcripts. Once accepted, learners may need to complete placement testing.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Early Childhood Education Program?

Online associate in early childhood education programs routinely offer set or in-state tuition rates and flexible scheduling options for working adults.

An associate in early childhood education qualifies graduates for entry-level childcare jobs. While minimum education requirements for childcare providers vary by state, employers prefer candidates with a postsecondary education. Earning an online associate in early childhood education can also help aspiring preschool teachers launch their careers.

An associate in early childhood education best suits patient, creative, and compassionate students with excellent communication skills. Associate programs emphasize holistic child development and literacy for toddlers and preschoolers. A typical associate degree requires 60 credits over two years.

Schools typically require early childhood education students to complete a field experience in the final semester of the associate degree. Online associate in early childhood education programs routinely offer set or in-state tuition rates and flexible scheduling options for working adults.

Some schools offer specializations in areas like special needs childcare and child development. Many online associate degrees also prepare students for optional child development associate certification.

While an associate in early childhood development does not lead to teaching licensure, most schools design their associate-level curricula to satisfy many of the prerequisites of a bachelor of early childhood education online.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Early Childhood Education Program?

An online associate in early childhood education includes broad foundational coursework. The curriculum introduces students to the full spectrum of academic, social, and emotional needs of young children from birth to age five.

Beyond holistic child development, courses also explore behavior management, professional responsibilities, and instructional strategies for childcare and preschool settings. The following section highlights common courses found in an associate in early childhood education program.

Introduction to Early Childhood Education

This course introduces the history of early childhood education. Students learn about contemporary public policy and advocacy issues in early childhood education. Coursework also explores potential careers for early childhood education professionals.

Early Childhood Behavior Management

Behavior management skills are critical for educators of all age groups, including for those who teach toddlers and preschoolers. This course explores age-appropriate expectations and strategies for classroom management. Students learn to develop and apply positive behavior management and modeling techniques specific to early childhood education.

Curriculum and Instruction for the Early Childhood Classroom

In this course, students learn to create age-appropriate lesson plans for preschoolers that incorporate cultural inclusivity and encourage self-expression. This course typically culminates in a comprehensive sample curriculum plan.

Child Development

This course trains aspiring educators to recognize and identify the major developmental milestones of young students so that they can foster a healthy learning environment.

Professional Responsibilities for Early Childhood Settings

This course prepares students to apply best practices in an early childhood education setting. Covered topics include teacher-parent communication, professional standards and ethics, and privacy regulations for minor children.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Early Childhood Education Degree?

An online associate in early childhood education can lead to versatile career options. Graduates qualify for entry-level employment as childcare providers. They may also be eligible for lead teaching positions in Head Start programs or private preschools in some states.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 2% job growth for preschool teachers and childcare workers between 2019 and 2029. This increase in the demand for qualified childcare providers is commensurate with the growing number of working parents nationwide.

See what you can do with an online associate in early childhood education. Explore early childhood education careers.

Childcare Worker

Childcare workers include daycare providers, family child care providers, and nannies. Childcare workers prepare children for preschool by assisting in learning and social activities. These professionals commonly work in childcare centers, private homes, recreation centers, and religious organizations. Childcare workers often enjoy flexible schedules. Most earn an hourly wage.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers lead classrooms of children under age five, preparing them to enter kindergarten. While public preschool teachers typically need a bachelor's degree and early childhood education licensure, teachers in private schools or childcare facilities generally only need an associate degree, although some hold child development associate certification.

Teaching Assistant

Students who earn an online associate in early childhood education may become a teaching assistant. Many teaching assistants earn classroom experience while in pursuit of a bachelor's degree in education or until they qualify for a teaching license. They may provide assistance in an area related to their degree specialization, such as special education.

Recreation Worker

Graduates of an associate in early childhood education qualify for childcare positions in recreation and community centers. These workers may lead activities specifically for children, such as arts, crafts, and sports, or oversee specialized learning programs. Recreation workers with experience in early childhood education may also become recreation center managers or day camp counselors.

Nanny

Nannies provide individualized childcare to families, typically in the family's private home. Nannies may live with the family they work for or keep flexible hours according to the family's childcare needs. Their daily responsibilities often include dropping children off and picking them up from school, taking them to appointments, and managing their extracurricular activities.

Early Childhood Education Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Early Childhood Education Programs

Is an associate in early childhood education worth it?

An associate in early childhood education can lead to a variety of entry-level jobs in childcare and prepare students to pursue a bachelor's degree. Students can complete an associate degree online through a flexible and affordable program that may be cheaper than a bachelor's program.

What can I do with an associate in early childhood education?

An associate in early childhood education provides an introductory education in this specialization. An associate program does not qualify graduates for a teaching license; however, students with an associate degree may pursue childcare positions that do not require licensure at daycares, preschools, and recreation facilities. Graduates may also become teaching assistants or nannies.

Are early childhood education majors in demand?

Widely regarded as the foundation for healthy human development, early childhood education programs are an essential part of the education sector. As working parents continue to rely on childcare facilities, job growth remains positive for qualified childcare workers, preschool teachers, and teaching aides.

How much money can I make with an associate in early childhood education?

Graduates of an associate program in early childhood education can earn an hourly wage of $11-$20 depending on their work setting, schedule, and individual responsibilities. Some childcare professionals work part time. Others prefer a full-time schedule at a childcare facility that offers extended drop-off and pick-up options for working parents.

What are the highest paying jobs with an associate in early childhood education?

According to the BLS, childcare workers made a median annual salary of $25,230 in 2019. Teacher assistants earned a slightly higher median salary of $27,920 in 2019, and preschool teachers received the highest pay of these three positions, earning a median salary of $30,520 that same year.