An online bachelor's degree in early childhood education offers a manageable educational path for those juggling family or work responsibilities. An online degree prepares you to teach and support young children, and it offers the flexibility to complete coursework when most convenient.
As the number of preschool-aged children increases, the market for quality early childhood education and better trained teachers is growing. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of pre-school teachers to grow by 10% through 2026 — a rate faster than the average for all occupations. In addition to preschool positions, graduates of an online early childhood program will find rewarding careers as kindergarten and elementary school teachers, administrators, tutors, and childcare workers. For students interested in teaching, many online early childhood programs also prepare you to obtain a state teaching license for kindergarten through third grade.
For those looking to work with young children in a variety of settings, read on to learn more about the field of early childhood, career and salary prospects, and the best online programs.
The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs
Affordable Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected online early childhood education programs based on both the quality of the program and the types of online classes for early childhood education offered. We also consider the faculty, rankings, awards, and the school's reputation for effectively providing quality online degree programs.
1. University of Washington
Part of the state's largest public university system, UW serves more than 54,000 graduate and undergraduate students every year. Home to 18 colleges and schools, the university maintains campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell, along with a thriving distance education division. U.S. News & World Report's 2019 ranking included UW's College of Education among the 15 best education schools in the nation.
UW's online bachelor of arts in early care and education completion program is open to candidates with an associate degree or at least 70 transferable quarter credits from an accredited institution. Consisting of 180 quarter credits, the program can be completed in two years of full-time study. Part-time students typically graduate in three years. Building upon an intentional teaching framework, the curriculum emphasizes applied skills, experiential study, and service learning opportunities.
Candidates may choose from two career-focused academic paths. The core pathway provides a broad overview of childhood learning and development, preparing students for careers in social services, child care, and related fields. The teaching and learning pathway is intended for prospective preschool teachers, and features courses such as child observation and assessment, positive behavior support in early childhood, and literacy development in preschool. Both pathways culminate in a senior capstone course and research project.
Applicants should submit official transcripts demonstrating a 2.5 GPA or higher in all previous coursework, a current resume, and a personal statement.
The University of Washington is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
2. West Virginia University at Parkersburg
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Established in 1961, WVU Parkersburg serves around 2,500 students. A West Virginia University (WVU) partner institution, WVU Parkersburg is a community and technical college that maintains independent accreditation. This partnership allows students to study for two years at WVU Parkersburg before completing a bachelor's degree at WVU.
While the university's online bachelor of applied science in child development does not prepare students for teaching licensure or certification, the 120-credit program is ideal for learners who wish to work in childcare settings. Exploring children's physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth, the curriculum includes courses on guiding young children, children's literature, and teaching math to young children. Some courses include a field or clinical component, requiring distance learners to spend 10-20 contact hours working in local preschools or childcare settings. Students also complete a practicum and an experience-based capstone course before graduating.
Prospective WVU Parkersburg students should submit their official high school transcripts or GED scores. Applicants with completed college-level coursework should also provide their college transcripts. While the university does not require a minimum GPA for admission, applicants to the childhood development program must hold a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Online learners enjoy in-state tuition rates and access to a variety of academic and technical resources.
West Virginia University - Parkersburg is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
Located in Morgantown, WVU began as a public, land-grant university in 1867. Today, about 30,000 students take classes at the school's three campuses. WVU also offers 30 online degrees, including five web-based undergraduate options such as the online bachelor's in child development and family studies.
The 120-credit program features a general child development track and a preschool education (birth-4 years) track, which prepares students for pre-K certification. Child development majors complete 41-43 general education credits, 51 credit hours of required major coursework, and 20-22 elective credits. Major coursework explores families across the lifespan, infant development, and the socio-emotional growth of young children. Prior to graduation, students must earn an additional nine credits by completing an internship or supervised field experience at a nearby childcare organization or preschool. Candidates must also obtain CPR and first aid certification from their local Red Cross agency.
Graduates find jobs at preschools, elementary schools, and in special education, serving as childcare workers and family social workers.
Applicants must provide high school transcripts demonstrating a 2.5 GPA or higher. Students interested in the preschool education track should also achieve a 26 ACT score, 1170 SAT score, or pass the Praxis core exam before completing two semesters at WVU.
West Virginia University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). West Virginia University's Professional Education Preparation Unit is fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
4. Florida International University
Founded on an abandoned airfield in 1972, FIU's first class included 5,600 students — the largest opening class in U.S. higher education's history. Boasting a current student body of 54,000 individuals, the Miami-based institution remains one of the nation's five largest public colleges or universities. Launched in 1998, FIU's distance education division now features 100 online degree options.
FIU's online bachelor's degree in early childhood education explores childhood cognitive, linguistic, and socioemotional development. The 120-credit curriculum includes 30 credits of professional education coursework. Along with foundational courses like educational psychology, candidates take classes in teaching methods and foundational early childhood education concepts. Diverse elective course options address topics such as integrated math and science in early childhood and play and development of social competence.
Distance learners enjoy access to a variety of services and resources, including 24/7 virtual tutoring, technical support, and career assistance. Success coaches are available to provide students with one-on-one academic planning and scheduling assistance.
Freshman applicants should submit their official high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer applicants must provide their official college transcripts, and individuals who possess fewer than 60 completed credits should also include their high school transcripts. FlU does not maintain a minimum GPA requirement.
Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The College of Education is also fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
5. Fort Hays State University
Initially known as the Western Branch of the Kansas Normal School, FHSU was established in 1902 on a deserted Kansas army post. Founded as a teacher training college with only 60 students, the institution expanded in size and scope throughout the 20th century. Today, FHSU enrolls over 15,000 learners on campus and online.
FHSU continues to train teachers, including early childhood educators. Known as the "early childhood unified" degree, the university's bachelor's degree in early childhood education prepares candidates to teach special and general education from birth to the third grade. Emphasizing licensure preparation and applied skills, the 126-credit curriculum includes an internship and student teaching experience.
Coursework explores child development and classroom teaching methods, covering topics such as emergent literacy and behavior strategies. Learners complete the 40-hour internship over a 13-week period. Candidates observe their mentor teacher, participate in group activities, and teach one lesson at the end of their internship. Distance learners also complete a student teaching experience in their final year, spending eight weeks in a local pre-k, kindergarten, or first-third grade classroom.
Prospective FHSU students should submit high school transcripts and standardized test scores. The teacher education program expects applicants to hold a minimum ACT score of 22.
Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Education degrees are also fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
6. Florida State College at Jacksonville
Florida Junior College offered a small selection of two-year programs when it opened its doors in 1965. The school received accreditation and began offering bachelor's degrees in 2007 before changing its name to FSCJ two years later. Today, FSCJ serves nearly 50,000 students through five northeast Florida campuses and a variety of web-based programs.
Candidates pursuing FSCJ's bachelor of early childhood education online gain the foundational knowledge needed to teach pre-k to third grade students. The program requires learners to pass three Florida teacher certification exams: the general knowledge test, the professional education test, and the prekindergarten/primary PK-3 test.
Consisting of 120 total credits, the curriculum includes 60 credit hours of general education coursework, 24 professional core educational credits, and 36 credit hours within the major concentration. Undergraduates are also required to complete eight semester hours of foreign language coursework. Class materials focus on cognitive experiences, literacy learning, classroom and childcare management, and teaching math and science to young children.
While all coursework is presented online, the program includes two on-site requirements. Along with 150 hours of fieldwork, learners complete a semester-long student teaching internship at a local school. Students must pass a background check before beginning their internship. All students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.
First-year applicants should submit their official high school transcripts. Transfer students and associate degree-holders must provide college transcripts demonstrating a GPA of 2.5 or higher.
Florida State College - Jacksonville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
7. Lewis – Clark State College
This Lewiston, Idaho institution was founded as a teacher training school in 1893 and now offers over 130 degrees and certificate programs. About 75% of LCSC's 3,500-strong student body identify as first generation college students.
LCSC's nine web-based programs include an online early childhood development degree. Designed to reflect the National Association for the Education of Young Children's quality standards, the curriculum emphasizes developmentally effective approaches to early childhood instruction and family and community relationships.
The 120-credit program requires students to earn an associate degree before moving on to bachelor's-level coursework. Major classes examine infant and toddler development, the exceptional child, and observation and assessment. For three semesters, students also spend 8-10 hours a week at an approved practicum site, where they observe classes, assess students and teaching methods, and develop curriculum plans.
Graduates find jobs as early childhood and daycare teachers, early childhood intervention specialists, parent educators, and special education teaching aides.
Applicants should submit their ACT or SAT scores and their high school transcripts or GED scores. Transfer students should also include official transcripts from past college coursework. In addition, early childhood development majors must obtain a criminal background check, pediatric CPR and first aid certification, TB clearance, a health check, and immunization letters before their second semester. Prospective students do not need to hold a minimum GPA or provide test scores.
Lewis-Clark is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
8. University of Nebraska at Kearney
In 1905, the Nebraska State Legislature created a normal school in Kearny to train teachers in the state's western region. Now a member of the University of Nebraska system, UNK serves about 7,000 students through undergraduate, pre-professional, and graduate programs in a variety of fields.
UNK's 120-credit online early childhood and family advocacy degree includes 45 general education credit hours, 59 major credits, and 16 elective credits. While the program is ideal for students who wish to work in preschools and similar learning environments, the curriculum also trains candidates to work with children and families in non-teaching positions. For example, some graduates go on to serve as family advocates with public agencies.
Major coursework emphasizes family crisis counseling skills, addressing cross-cultural family patterns, families and social policy, and child and family home visitation. The curriculum includes a three-credit internship, which allows learners to gain supervised work experience in childcare and family advocacy settings. Candidates also complete two half-credit field experiences, spending 30 clock hours observing and teaching children from birth to age five. At least six of these hours must be spent working with children with disabilities or special needs.
First-year applicants should hold a high school diploma and take the ACT or SAT. They must either rank in the top half of their graduating class, or earn a minimum score of 20 on the ACT or a 1040 on the SAT. Transfer students must possess at least 24 hours of transferable college coursework with a 2.0 GPA or higher.
The University of Nebraska is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
9. Mayville State University
Mayville, North Dakota
Known for providing affordable, personalized distance education, this North Dakota institution serves around 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students online and on campus. MSU's flexible bachelor of science in early childhood education was developed specifically for professionals currently employed in the education field. Upon graduation, candidates may apply for North Dakota teacher licensure.
Throughout the 132-credit program, candidates learn to create safe, supportive learning systems for children in preschool to third grade. Emphasizing instructional practice, the curriculum explores student assessment strategies and lesson plan development. Core courses present age-appropriate instructional methods for elementary math, science, social studies, and reading classes. Candidates also examine the ways in which play, music, and art impact childrens' intellectual development.
Prior to graduation, learners complete a required three-credit field experience in an early childhood classroom. While distance students may fulfill the field experience requirement at an approved facility near their homes, they must also complete a 10-credit, 15-week student teaching period in a North Dakota school.
Freshman and transfer applicants must possess a high school GPA of 2.0 or higher and submit their ACT or SAT scores. Once admitted to MSU, candidates must separately apply to the teacher education program. Qualifying program applicants should pass the Praxis core academic skills test and demonstrate a high school GPA of at least 2.75.
Mayville State University is accredited the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). MSU's education programs are also fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
10. University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Founded in 1869, UNL's history demonstrates a strong commitment to innovation. Notable for establishing the nation's first undergraduate psychology laboratory, UNL was also one of the first institutions west of the Mississippi River to grant doctoral degrees. Many of UNL's 26,000 students choose to pursue a degree through the school's cutting-edge distance learning programs.
UNL students majoring in child, youth, and family studies, with an emphasis in early childhood in a mobile society, explore mobility's influence on family life. Focusing on immigrant and military families, the program imparts the skills needed to work with children living in transitional settings. Many graduates go on to work at childcare centers, children's homes, preschools, and Head Start programs.
The 120-credit curriculum consists of 33 general education credits, 45 required major credits, and 42 elective credits. Distance learners take courses like diversity in the lives of young children and families; health, safety, and nutrition; and assessing young children and their environments to enhance development. Candidates also complete three practicums, during which they participate in guided learning experiences at professional agencies.
Prospective UNL students must submit their official high school transcripts and, if applicable, college transcripts. Applicants must also declare their intention to study early childhood in a mobile society. Students are officially accepted to the program after completing 30 credits with a 2.5 GPA or higher. Once admitted, majors must undergo a criminal background check.
University of Nebraska - Lincoln is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
11. Fresno Pacific University
FPU is a nonprofit, private Christian institution based in California. About half of the university's 4,000 students identify as Hispanic. While FPU maintains a seminary, the school also offers several secular programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Students pursuing FPU's early childhood development bachelor's degree online build applied practical teaching skills as they explore major pedagogical and child development theories. Graduates are qualified to apply for California state teaching credentials or work as family services professionals.
The 39-unit degree completion program is intended for candidates who already possess an associate degree or 60 transferable college credits. Most full-time students complete the program in around 18 months. The curriculum meets standards set by the California State Department of Education and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Along with core major courses like children's play and learning theory, advanced child growth and development, and curriculum development for early childhood education, all students must take classes such as biblical perspectives for educators. While all courses are presented online, distance learners must complete an on-site child observation practicum during their first semester. Online courses are presented in a cohort learning format, with each cohort meeting one night a week.
Prospective students must have achieved a 2.4 GPA in previous college coursework. Candidates may transfer up to 70 units toward their degree at FPU.
Fresno Pacific University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WASC WSCUC).
12. Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Founded as a teacher's college in 1892, CMU is a public university offering roughly 300 undergraduate and graduate programs. While approximately 18,000 students attend classes at the university's Mount Pleasant campus, the school serves more than 9,000 learners through distance education programs.
Developed according to National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) guidelines, CMU's online bachelor of science in early childhood development and learning consists of 124 credits. The four-part curriculum is composed of general education, core, specialization, and elective coursework. Core classes explore developmental psychology, education of children, and lifespan development, while diverse elective options include constructivism as a tool for learning and early childhood special education. An infant/toddler practicum experience allows students to observe children during their earliest developmental stages.
While the program does not prepare students for elementary-level teaching licensure, graduates qualify to work at facilities such as childcare centers and to pursue graduate study.
Applicants should submit high school transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.0 GPA. CMU accepts GED scores in lieu of high school transcripts. Prospective students should also check to see if they qualify for the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood program. Sponsored by the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children, the T.E.A.C.H. program provides scholarships for candidates with professional childcare experience.
Central Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Professional Education Unit is also fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
13. University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg-based Southern Miss' focus on research, service, and hands-on learning led the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to designate the university as an R1: doctoral university highly engaged in research activity. Drawn by the school's reputation for innovation, more than 15,000 students choose to pursue a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree at Southern Miss.
The university's online child and family science degree features two career-focused academic paths, allowing students to become certified elementary school teachers or teach family and consumer sciences at the high school level. The child development concentration is an ideal option for prospective elementary-level instructors.
All distance learners complete 124 credit hours, including general, major, and concentration coursework. Major required courses survey concepts such as child development, behavior and guidance of the young child, family theories, and infant development. Elective offerings cover topics in counseling, forensic psychology, and case management. Prior to graduation, students complete a three-hour practicum such as an internship or student teaching placement at an approved site.
Freshman applicants should submit their official high school transcripts and ACT and SAT scores. They must also meet minimum test score and GPA combinations. Depending on their age, transfer students may apply through the freshman application process or as professional learners. The School of Child and Family Sciences sponsors 13 institutional scholarships for incoming candidates.
The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This degree is accredited by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).
14. Northern Arizona University
Located in Flagstaff, NAU was established in 1899 with only two faculty members, two Webster's dictionaries, and 23 students. The school became a full public university in 1966, and today boasts a student body of more than 31,000 individuals.
Intended for associate degree-holders, NAU's online bachelor of applied science in early childhood is ideal for candidates who want to enhance their skill set and marketability. Emphasizing communication and management skills, the curriculum imparts integral concepts learners need to work as preschool teachers or childcare specialists.
While the full program consists of 120 credits, distance learners must transfer in at least 64 credits from an associate degree before completing 42 major credits and 16 elective credits at NAU. Required major courses include play education, integrated literacy, and foundations of special education for early childhood. The program culminates in an independent study capstone course, which allows students to explore a specialized topic of interest in depth.
The early childhood degree follows NAU's traditional online format at NAU. Students do not work at their own pace, but instead enroll in semester-long courses and meet consistent deadlines. Distance learners enjoy access to a variety of student services, including online tutoring, round-the-clock technical assistance, and full digital library access.
Applicants must provide transcripts from their former associate degree. Individuals who earned their AAS at an Arizona community college may transfer up to 75 credits towards their degree at NAU.
15. Eastern Kentucky University
The Kentucky state legislature established Eastern Kentucky State Normal School in 1906, and it awarded its first degrees in 1925. The school expanded to award degrees other than education in the 1960s, and it added graduate programs as well. About 16,000 students now attend Hattiesburg-based EKU.
The online bachelor's in child and family development with an emphasis in child development at EKU consists of 120-125 credits. This specialization prepares students to work with infants, toddlers, and young children at educational facilities and in human services settings.
The child development concentration offers courses like early childhood literacy and creative activities for young children. This curriculum teaches students how to help kids develop and learn with both research-based and playful strategies. These courses may count toward the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Students must also participate in two supervised practicum experiences at institutions or services for young kids. Learners complete 160 hours of field experience for each practicum.
EKU's online programs follow accelerated eight-week terms. Distance learners get access to free online tutoring and career services assistance as well.
The application process involves submitting transcripts from high school and any previous college courses. Transfer students may bring in up to 90 credits, allowing them to graduate within a year. Applicants should also send in their ACT or SAT scores unless they already possess 24 hours of college credit. In addition, active-duty military members qualify for reduced tuition.
Eastern Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
16. The University of Alabama
The oldest university in the state, the Tuscaloosa-based University of Alabama began educating students in 1831 — only 12 years after Alabama earned statehood. The public university now prioritizes research and academic achievement, educating nearly 40,000 students.
The school offers a bachelor of science in human services science in early childhood development. The curriculum trains students to help children grow through developmental stages from birth to eight years old. Learners interested in working for a Head Start agency should consider the child practitioner development concentration.
Major courses in the curriculum include conceptual creative experiences for young children, parent and family development, and education statistics. A class called program evaluation requires students to review early childhood development research design.
Students enroll in this program through a web-based delivery format, so they complete almost the entire program through online coursework. However, they must complete one semester-long internship at an organization that provides child services. Distance learners can also find value in visiting the university's Child Development Research Center, where they can observe professionals working with infants and children up to five years old.
Applicants with fewer than 24 college credits apply as freshmen, and they must submit their high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Prospective students with 24 or more credits need at least a 2.0 GPA in previous college coursework to apply.
The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The early childhood development program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
17. Wilmington University
New Castle, Delaware
Based in New Castle, Delaware, Wilmington University is a private higher education institution and enrolls over 20,000 students. The university offers associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs that focus on preparing graduates for careers.
Nearly half of Wilmington's students enroll in online programs, including the bachelor of early childhood education online. This program requires 122 credits.The online branch of the university offers courses in both 7- and 15-week blocks, which means students can create as flexible a schedule as they like.
The program prepares graduates to work with children from birth to about second grade. Distance learners study how to create learning environments for young children and how to promote development in kids' early stages. They may also take courses focusing on the learning differences of exceptional children or health, safety, and nutrition for kids.
Wilmington requires students to complete a supervised field experience or internship. The school places education majors in preschool educational settings, where they work with professional teachers for at least 45 full days. After graduating, learners continue on to work in preschools or other childcare settings. However, this degree does not equip students for state teaching licensure in public schools.
Freshmen applicants need to submit high school transcripts and or GED scores, and they should also complete a math and English skills assessment. Transfer students may carry over up to 90 credits.
Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
18. Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, Mississippi
Mississippi State University educates students close to Starkville in the eastern part of the state. It began as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi in 1878. As the name suggests, the institution originally focused on agriculture, horticulture, the mechanical arts, and home economics. Today, the university operates several schools and colleges and enrolls about 22,000 students.
Mississippi State offers an online bachelor's in elementary education for students who wish to teach kids from pre-K to the sixth grade. The curriculum involves courses such as creativity and play in young children, exploring diversity through writing, and individualizing instruction for exceptional children.
The online learning format at Mississippi State allows students to work at their regular jobs for their first two years. During their junior year, students need to participate in field experiences for 2-6 hours each week. Learners continue to work in classrooms until they participate in student teaching full time during their senior year.
To apply to the university, prospective students should submit their high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. But they must apply to become teaching majors, as well. Students do this before starting their last two years of university. They need at least a 2.5 GPA and 40 hours of work experience with children. They must also send in two recommendation forms from educators.
Mississippi State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The education programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
19. Granite State College
Concord, New Hampshire
Based in Concord, New Hampshire, Granite State University started in 1972 with the mission to provide higher education programs to working nontraditional students. In fact, 95% of Granite State's students are over 24 years old. Several of the public university's approximately 3,100 students take part in the flexibility offered by online programs.
Granite State's online bachelor's degree in early childhood education prepares students for teacher certification in New Hampshire from nursery school to the third grade. Individuals who hope to work with kids with special needs can also opt for certification in early childhood special education. Granite State also allows students to pursue a dual certification program, so learners can become certified in early childhood education and special education.
Distance learners need to earn 120 credits to graduate. In addition to taking courses like special education law and the dynamic role of the special educator, students complete a student teaching experience and seminar. In order to qualify for teacher certification, students need to earn at least a 3.0 GPA in their Granite State degree. They also need to pass the Praxis and Pearson Foundations of Reading exams.
To apply, prospective students need to send in their high school transcripts or GED or high school equivalency scores. Transfer students should also submit previous college transcripts.
Granite State College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The education programs meet accreditation standards set by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).
20. Chaminade University of Honolulu
Chaminade University of Honolulu operates as the only Catholic University in Hawaii. Although it began as a two-year university in1955, Chaminade expanded to offer four-year degrees only a couple of years later. Run by the Marianists — or the Catholic Society of Mary — the school now offers about 25 undergraduate and graduate programs to its approximately 2,200 students.
Distance learners can either earn an online associate or bachelor's degree in early childhood education at Chaminade. The bachelor's degree consists of 120 credits, and it prepares students for state teaching licensure. Learners need to take two seminars and two fieldwork experience classes, which count for Hawaii's education observation and student teaching requirements.
In addition, students can also opt to pursue an online early childhood education degree with a Montessori credential. Montessori schools provide a unique curriculum to young children at 4,000 schools across the country — including a Montessori laboratory school at Chaminade. Students who choose the Montessori path complete their student teaching requirements at this lab school.
First year students can apply if they hold a minimum high school GPA of 2.5. They must also submit SAT scores of at least 1000 or ACT scores of at least 19. Transfer students can also apply as long as they earned a minimum 2.0 GPA in previous coursework. Transfer students with fewer than 24 credits also need to send in ACT or SAT scores.
Chaminade University of Honolulu is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WASC WSCUC). The education programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
21. University of Toledo
Ohio-based University of Toledo enrolls over 20,000 students in graduate and undergraduate programs. The public institution began in 1872, but it did not become a part of the state university system until nearly a century later, in 1967. Today, the school runs over 300 academic programs at 13 different schools.
UToledo designed its online bachelor's degree in early childhood education for people who already possess an associate degree. The non-licensure track allows students to accelerate their degrees. The degree prepares them to either pursue a master's degree in early childhood education or to work in administrative roles at schools or early childhood centers.
Students complete the program in two years, taking 16 credits of coursework in the spring and the fall. Further broken down, this means distance learners take nine credits of online coursework and seven credits of field work. Each semester follows a theme: creating effective learning environments; supporting science and math for young children; early literacy, language, and social studies; and meeting the needs of young children with disabilities.
In order to apply, interested individuals must already hold an associate degree in early childhood education with a minimum 2.7 GPA. The admission requirements also dictate that applicants must work at a program or center that serves infants, toddlers, or preschoolers for at least 20 hours each week.
The University of Toledo is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Judith Herb College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
22. University of West Alabama
The University of West Alabama now operates as a secular, public institution, but its roots come from a completely different place. The school began in 1835 as the church-supported Livingston Female Academy. The academy became a normal school for training teachers in the 1880s. Over the years, the institution started granting bachelor's and graduate degrees and admitting male students. Now over 2,200 students attend courses on campus, while 2,800 enroll online.
The online bachelor's degree in early childhood development consists of 123 credits, and students usually complete the program in 3-4 years. This program does not qualify students to apply for state teaching certification, but graduates find employment in other roles, like child care center directors or preschool teachers. For individuals who want to earn teacher certification, UWA also offers an online bachelor's in elementary education.
Distance learners in the early childhood development program complete 56 credits of general education courses and 63 credits from their majors. Students can also choose from 2-4 credits of electives. Courses, which last eight weeks, might include early childhood games, educational psychology, and technology and education.
Freshmen applicants need to submit high school transcripts or GED scores. Transfer students can also bring in up to 60 credits from a two-year college or 90 credits from a four-year college. The university does not outline a minimum GPA.
The University of West Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). UWA's education programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
23. Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Mount Vernon, Ohio
Established in 1968, MVNU is a private liberal arts institution with a Christian affiliation. Based in Mount Vernon, Ohio, the university enrolls over 2,000 students online and on campus.
MVNU's online bachelor's degree elementary education equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to teach preschool through fifth grade. While learners need 120 credits to graduate, the major itself consists of 54 credits. In addition to online courses, distance learners complete 600 hours of supervised work experience or on-site observation through student teaching and an integrated field experience.
Candidates who want to focus on teaching younger learners can select courses like curriculum in early childhood education and participate in a preschool field experience. Transfer students may also apply for the online bachelor's degree in early childhood education, although first-year students are not permitted to enroll in the program. While MVNU's online academic programs were developed for working professionals, the student teaching semester requires a large time commitment.
Qualifying applicants to MVNU's teacher education programs must hold a high school degree and demonstrate a minimum ACT score of 27 or passing scores on state assessments. Transfer students need at least a 2.5 GPA in all previous college coursework. All applicants must participate in an admissions interview before gaining admission.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The university's education programs are accredited by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the National Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
24. National University
La Jolla, California
A retired U.S. Navy captain founded NU in 1971, and the private, nonprofit university continues to provide flexible, affordable higher education for military personnel, veterans, and civilians alike. Based in La Jolla, California, NU began offering online courses in the 1990s, and it now provides more than 90 web-based degree options.
NU students pursuing a bachelor of early childhood education online explore child development in light of family and sociocultural influences. In addition to required courses like early cognition and play as pedagogy, students choose four elective classes from options such as crisis trauma and abuse and music, movement, drama, and dance. The 180-credit degree culminates in a field experience, which distance learners may arrange at a nearby facility. Students must undergo a background check and provide proof of vaccination before beginning the field experience.
All courses are four weeks long, and students only take one course at a time. Classes start every month year round, allowing distance learners to graduate in less than four years. While students may transfer in credits, they must complete at least 45 quarter credits at NU.
First-time college students must complete the ACCUPLACER math and English evaluation. Transfer students should possess at least a 2.0 GPA in all previous college coursework. Active-duty military members receive a tuition discount.
National University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WASC WSCUC). The Sanford College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
25. University of Cincinnati
UC got its start as a medical university in 1819 and became an Ohio State University system member institution roughly 150 years later. The public university serves nearly 46,000 learners through 400 majors and certificate programs, many of which are available online.
UC's 120-credit online bachelor's degree in early childhood education offers practical strategies for facilitating infant, toddler, and child development and growth in classroom settings. Candidates learn to nurture and empower children with disabilities and special needs as they explore childhood developmental concerns and learning strategies for young children. Students can pursue one of three focus areas: pre-kindergarten, administration, or infant-toddler education. Distance learners may also participate in either a preschool internship or early intervention field experience.
Faculty members may recommend graduates for an Ohio pre-K teaching license. Individuals who do not pursue licensure often find employment at learning facilities serving infants and children under the age of five.
UC does not maintain minimum GPA or test score requirements for first-year applicants. However, high school graduates should submit their transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and a recommendation letter. Transfer students must provide college transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.5 GPA. Prospective transfer students with fewer than 30 college credits should also submit their high school transcripts.
The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). This program is also accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
The Advantages of an Early Childhood Education Education
Before choosing a degree program in early childhood education, prospective students should determine what credentials they need to achieve their career goals. While an associate degree can lead to employment in several early childhood positions, a bachelor's degree opens more career choices and qualifies graduates for higher salaries.
An associate degree usually prepares learners for an entry-level job such as a teacher aide, preschool assistant, or daycare provider. However, a bachelor's degree is required for most preschool teaching positions, as well as for employment as a kindergarten or elementary teacher through the third grade. All public schools — and a growing number of privately operated schools — require a bachelor's degree in order to qualify for state-issued licensure.
The following sections describe the career and salary prospects for bachelor degree-holders. Keep in mind that earning an online bachelor's degree in early childhood education will also provide the necessary academic foundation for graduate studies. A master's can open up even more opportunities for advancement in fields like administration, curriculum development, and consulting.
Average Salary by Degree Level
|Degree Level||Average Salary|
|Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education||$34,000|
|Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education||$44,000|
Early Childhood Education Degree Salary Information
- Special Education Teacher
- This position generally requires a bachelor's in special education or early childhood education with certification in special education. Special education teachers work with children with a number of exceptionalities, including physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. These teachers design lesson plans, communicate with parents, and coordinate with other professionals — such as social workers and speech therapists — to provide an integrative development plan for students.
- Kindergarten Teacher
- These educators teach children between the ages of four and six in their first year of their formal education. Kindergarten teachers provide students with a foundation for learning through instruction in basic reading, writing, and mathematical skills. Public schools and many private schools require a state-issued teaching license and a bachelor's degree in early childhood education.
- Preschool Director
- Preschool directors administer daycare and early learning facilities that provide services to children age five and under. They hire and supervise staff, design programs, and manage daily activities. Depending on state regulations, most directors have at least a bachelor's degree and several years of experience in early childhood development and education.
- Early Intervention Specialist
- Early intervention specialists work in public and private educational settings assessing the needs of young children with physical, speech, or behavioral developmental delays. They evaluate the special needs of these children, determine what kinds of services will benefit their development, and create Individualized Education Programs (IEP). Credentialed early intervention specialists must hold a bachelor's degree.
- Preschool Teacher
- Preschool teachers teach basic language, motor, and social skills to children under the age of five before they enter kindergarten. While some daycare centers and private schools accept an associate degree as the minimum educational credential, many public schools with preschool programs increasingly require a bachelor's degree in early childhood education.
Salary by Experience Level for Early Childhood Education Careers
|Special Education Teacher||$40,061||$42,092||$47,236||$52,412|
|Early Intervention Specialist||$34,825||$35,712||$41,426||$43,320|
Choosing an Online Early Childhood Education Degree Program
With so many online programs to choose from, prospective students should take their time to find the one that works best for them. Make sure to consider several schools, and compare factors such as tuition costs, program length, and degree requirements.
For example, if you have concerns about financing your education, look carefully at tuition, fees, and other costs associated with attending a particular school. Attending an in-state school generally costs less, although some schools charge a flat tuition rate for distance learning classes regardless of your state of residency.
Each online bachelor's degree in early childhood education offers a distinctive curriculum, so prospective students should carefully look over course offerings, the availability of concentrations, and course delivery formats to determine the right fit.
- Program Cost: For many students, price is the determining factor when choosing a school. Private schools almost always charge heftier tuition rates than public schools, although a higher price tag may not necessarily translate into a better quality education. Additionally, schools that charge significantly less than others may not be accredited, or they may make up for their affordable tuition by assessing significant technology fees for online learners.
- Transfer Policies: If applicable, find out if your intended school participates in any transfer agreements. Most regionally accredited colleges and universities accept transfer credits from each other, but all programs place a cap on the number of credits you can transfer. Some degree programs limit transfer credits to electives rather than counting them in place of required major courses.
- School Size and Type: Before enrolling in an early childhood education degree online, figure out how well the school fits your learning style and personal needs. A large university may provide more course offerings and concentrations than a small college. Attending a large state school may also save you money, but it may not offer the same level of direct assistance and mentoring offered by some private schools and small colleges.
- Program Length: Full-time students can usually complete a bachelor's degree in four years. If you need to finish as quickly as possible, consider schools that offer accelerated degree formats. A part-time program may work better for students who need a slower pace as they re-enter school after working for many years, or who need to manage the demands of coursework with their family responsibilities.
- On-campus Requirements: Students can usually complete online programs without ever setting foot on the school's campus. However, some programs may require an on-campus residency component that lasts anywhere from a few days to a week or more. Several programs also use hybrid courses that include face-to-face meetings with advisors or proctored testing.
Accreditation for Online Early Childhood Education Degrees
Accreditation validates that a postsecondary institution meets objective educational and financial standards. Technical, vocational, and for-profit schools usually apply for national accreditation. Degree-granting, nonprofit colleges and universities receive a more prestigious regional accreditation designation.
Regionally accredited institutions generally meet higher standards of academic excellence, qualify for federal financial aid, and make it easier to transfer credits. Because regionally accredited schools adhere to more rigorous admissions and graduation requirements, prospective employers and graduate schools view their degree recipients more favorably.
Several independent agencies recognized by the Department of Education (ED) — and under the jurisdiction of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) — conduct the accreditation reviews, and determine whether schools have fulfilled the qualifications. The ED establishes national educational policy and administers federal financial aid programs, while the CHEA coordinates postsecondary accreditation according to its established standards of academic quality, improvement, and accountability. Students can check on a school's accreditation status on the ED website or CHEA website.
In addition to regional accreditation, some schools receive programmatic accreditation that recognizes the high quality of specific fields of study. Students seeking a state teaching license should look for teacher preparation programs that hold programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP works with the National Association for the Education of Young Children to grant programmatic accreditation specifically in the field of early childhood education.
Early Childhood Education Concentrations
Some early childhood education bachelor's degrees offer students the chance to explore a specific set of related courses that correspond to their career plans. These concentrations may reflect the projected needs in the profession, or they may mirror the research specializations of the faculty. This table gives you an idea of the kinds of concentrations available for early childhood majors.
Child and Family Development:
Preschool and daycare educators and support staff must understand the stages of child development and how family structure and culture impact the developmental process. Students learn best practices for monitoring and assessing how children meet physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral milestones. Coursework also addresses the challenges of working with diverse family populations in a variety of settings.
- Careers this concentration prepares for:
Language Acquisition in Early Childhood Development:
Language acquisition is a central theme in the study of early childhood development. Courses in this concentration explore the stages of language acquisition from infancy through preschool years. They also examine how these stages connect to reading and writing acquisition, as well as the ability to acquire more advanced literacy skills. Students learn to identify language acquisition milestones and about the techniques to intervene when students are slow to meet these markers.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Preschool teachers, special education teachers, early intervention specialists, speech therapists, reading and writing tutors
Early Childhood Education Curriculum and Methods:
The increasing awareness of the importance of early childhood education has created a demand for specialists to design and implement curriculum. It has also led to the development of teaching practices that engage and support students from diverse backgrounds and at each of the developmental stages. This concentration helps students design integrated curricular materials that meet early childhood learning objectives, as well as develop and apply appropriate teaching methods for these objectives.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Preschool and kindergarten teachers, preschool directors, elementary school division chair and principals, curriculum consultants
Early Childhood Education Administration:
This concentration explores the models and approaches to early childhood education programs, from public and private school-based programs to corporate daycare and preschool training centers. Coursework addresses all areas of educational administration, including curriculum development and effective assessment. Major themes include budgeting, hiring, compliance with state regulations, and managerial responsibilities.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Preschool directors, daycare managers, elementary school principals, administrators
This concentration is an important focus in early childhood education. It relates directly to the development of cognitive skills necessary for lifelong learning and for success in school and in the workforce. Courses examine the criteria of age-appropriate children's literature, literature as an expression of cultural identity and diversity, and the role of literature in developing cognitive and emotional intelligence, empathy and social skills, and creativity.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Preschool teachers, kindergarten and elementary school teachers, reading specialists, school librarians, curriculum designers
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Early Childhood Education?
An online bachelor's degree in early childhood education requires approximately 120 credits and can usually be completed in four years of full-time study. However, several program features and personal considerations can impact the length of time needed to earn a diploma.
Working professionals can sometimes receive academic credit applied to their degree for prior work or life experiences, shortening the time needed to finish and saving tuition costs. Accelerated programs offer courses in condensed five- or eight-week terms throughout the calendar year, which can allow students to complete all requirements in two years or less.
On the other hand, students whose situation restricts them to part-time enrollment or who need to take a semester off will need much longer than the usual eight semesters to finish their degree. As such, they may end up paying more in tuition and fees. Programs that include a thesis or on-campus residencies may also take longer to finish. Finally, early childhood teacher preparation programs that lead to state licensure usually require a semester of supervised student teaching that may increase the time needed to complete a degree, and it may add to the overall cost of an education.
Courses in an Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Program
Foundations of Early Childhood Education
This course introduces the fundamental principles of early childhood education. Students analyze developmental stages from infancy to the age of eight, as well as inclusive early childhood models and practices for the classroom. The course emphasizes the application of early childhood theories and concepts, as well as contemporary challenges dealing with diverse early childhood populations.
Infant/Toddler Development and Programming
Students explore the influences on infant and toddler development derived from current research on brain development during the first three years of life. Students learn to design effective programs for infants and toddlers and their families, developing appropriate assessment and communication skills that encourage positive family and child relationships.
Assessment in Early Childhood Education
This course trains students to use early childhood measurement and assessment techniques. Students examine psychometric theory and applications, the role of standardized tests and factors that impact their validity, and the use of alternative assessment techniques for early childhood learning. The course also introduces students to the identification and application of intervention strategies for children with special needs.
Language Development and Literacy
Early childhood educators must understand speech and language development from infants through primary-aged children — and its relationship to the process of acquiring literacy skills. Students examine language development stages, theories of language acquisition, assessment of language development, and applications that promote language development. The course emphasizes linguistically diverse populations and children who develop differently.
Teaching Young Children with Exceptionalities
Early childhood teachers and administrators enter the profession with an awareness and understanding of all types of exceptionality recognized in special education. This course explores the causes, symptoms, consequences and behaviors of children with physical, mental, intellectual, behavioral and emotional exceptionalities. Students learn special education instructional strategies, technologies, and practices to assist children with these characteristics in diverse and inclusive classroom environments.
Paying for Your Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Degree Program
Earning an early childhood education bachelor's degree online comes with costs like tuition and textbooks. These expenses vary, but typically require thousands of dollars each semester. To manage, many students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal loans, grants, and work-study opportunities. Candidates can also consult employers about tuition reimbursement, ask schools about work-study programs, and apply for field-specific scholarships.
Individuals pursuing online bachelor's degrees in early childhood education may qualify for the following funding opportunities.
Scholarships for Accounting Students
Who Can Apply: West Virginia residents in undergraduate or graduate teaching programs may qualify for this program. To avoid repayment, recipients must teach in West Virginia after certification for at least two teaching years per scholarship year. However, teaching in underserved locations can cut this time commitment in half.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Who Can Apply: Kentucky residents in associate or online bachelor's degree in early childhood education programs may qualify. Funding also extends to candidates who pursue the Child Development Associate Credential and the Kentucky Early Childhood Development Director's Certificate. However, applicants must work in the field and take a maximum of nine credits each semester.
Amount: Up to $1,800
Who Can Apply: Students pursuing teacher training, including bachelor of early childhood education online programs, may apply for this scholarship by submitting transcripts and essays. Eligibility excludes employees of the National Institute for Labor Relations Research or those employed by members of the Selection Review Committee or the National Right to Work Committee.
Who Can Apply: Recipients must choose programs that are affiliated with the American Montessori Society to apply. Applicants submit recommendation letters, a personal statement, and evidence of financial hardship. Twenty-four learners earned this scholarship in 2018, when funding surpassed $70,000.
Who Can Apply: Current teachers and candidates entering the field may qualify for this program by pursuing teaching-related credentials, including bachelor of early childhood education online degrees. Candidates must hold at least a 3.5 GPA and submit applications that include open-response questions addressing classroom motivational strategies.