Best Online Degrees in Early Childhood Education
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Online School for Early Childhood Education
An online bachelor's degree in childhood education gives students the knowledge and skills they need to educate young minds. Graduates who earned a bachelor of early childhood education online can pursue roles like preschool teacher and childcare center director. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for preschool teachers and preschool and childcare center directors to grow 1-2% between 2019 and 2029.
Students who pursue an early childhood education bachelor's degree online have the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional responsibilities.
What Degree Do You Need for Early Childhood Education?
An early childhood education degree online prepares graduates to teach children from infancy until they are about eight years old—typically through the third grade. Some programs have both a non-licensure and a licensure track, and some even prepare students for initial licensure tests for working with grades K-3. Other specializations include birth through kindergarten, age three to grade three, preschool, infants/toddlers, parent and family education, child learning and development, and administration.
A typical online program for early childhood education takes four years to complete and typically include field experience. Some programs confer bachelor's degrees, requiring prospective students to have an associate degree or equivalent experience to enroll.
An early childhood education program typically covers models of growth, assessment methods, classroom management techniques, learning through play, language development, literacy skills, interpersonal communications, and strategies for cultivating family and community relationships. Students learn to meet the developmental needs of children from diverse backgrounds and understand the roles adults play in their lives. Students also learn to create curricula and teach math, science, language arts, social studies, health, and the arts.
Best Early Childhood Education Programs
Choosing an Online Early Education Degree Program
Take your time when exploring your options for earning an online degree in early childhood education. The first school you find might not be the right choice for you. You have many online programs to choose from, so don't be scared to set the bar high and be selective. Note that in-state universities generally cost less than out-of-state universities. For example, you can save money by enrolling in a Texas-based school if you live in Texas.
- Program Cost: The first thing to look at when researching colleges is price. Private universities often cost more than public universities, but that doesn't mean the education is necessarily better. However, you should be wary of programs that are significantly cheaper than most, as they might not be accredited. Online school rankings can help you evaluate cost and quality.
- Transfer Policies: Always check a school's transfer policies. While you might feel set on a certain school or program, you might change your mind later, so its good to keep your options open. Most regionally accredited schools have transferable credits, but some credits only transfer as electives and not as degree credits.
- School Size and Type: Before enrolling in an early childhood education degree online, ask yourself whether you would prefer a public or private college. This helps to narrow down your choices. If you prefer more one-on-one attention from your professors, a private institution is the way to go. If you don't mind larger class sizes, you can save money by attending a state school.
- Program Length: If you want to focus most of your attention on completing your degree quickly, enroll in a full-time or accelerated program. If you have a busy schedule and prefer a slower pace, enroll in a part-time program. Typically, full-time students complete bachelor's degrees in four years, while part-time students take 6-8 years.
- On-Campus Requirements: If you want to study completely from the comfort of your home, or if you live in a different part of the country from your university, pay close attention to on-campus requirements. Some courses require supervised tests or in-person advisor meetings, so double-check your program's requirements.
The Best Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs
Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the below accredited online early childhood education programs based on quality, types of courses offered, faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the schools reputation for providing quality online degrees.
Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.
Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.
Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.
Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.
We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.
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Top Education Programs
The Advantages of Studying Early Childhood Education
While graduates with associate and bachelor's degrees can both work in early childhood education, earning a bachelor's degree has additional benefits. Graduates with a bachelor's degree can work as lead preschool teachers, preschool directors, and elementary teachers for K-3 students. Meanwhile, associate degree graduates can only work in lower-level education jobs, like assistant preschool teachers.
Earning a master's in early childhood education provides even more opportunities. With a master's degree, you can work in advanced fields like curriculum development or principalship, or you can become a college professor who teaches early childhood education.
For most early childhood education careers, a bachelor's degree will suffice. If you're undecided about whether to pursue a higher degree or not, consider the potential salaries of careers in early childhood education.
Average Salary by Degree Level in Early Childhood Education
Accreditation for Online Early Childhood Education Degrees
When it comes to choosing an online master's in early childhood education online degree, accreditation should be a top priority. Schools can earn regional accreditation, national accreditation, or programmatic accreditation. Regional accreditation means the school's accrediting agency is approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
National accreditation agencies, on the other hand, operate nationwide and usually focus on vocational schools. Programmatic accreditation focuses on subjects and usually serves as a secondary accreditation. Generally, regionally accredited school are more prestigious than nationally accredited ones. Also, their credits transfer more easily between institutions.
While the U.S. Department of Education and CHEA don't grant accreditation, they do oversee accreditation agencies to ensure integrity. To learn more, check out CHEAs list of accrediting bodies for private, state, and community colleges. For programs in early childhood education, you should also research programmatic accreditation, which is handled by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Early Childhood Education?
It typically takes full-time students 4-5 years and part-time students 6-8 years to complete an early childhood education bachelor's degree online. If you prefer to complete your degree faster, look for an accelerated program that allows students to double up on credits. Most students with full-time jobs prefer to enroll as part-time students, but it is possible to work part time while also going to school full time.
Since tuition costs keep rising, completing your degree in a timely manner can save money. Most accredited schools require about 120 credits for graduation. That means if you want to graduate in four years, you need to take at least 15 credits per semester.
Courses in an Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Program
- Principles of Development in Infancy: To understand toddlers, it is helpful to understand developmental stages. In this class, students learn the normal stages of development over the first few months of a child's life. This course also covers recognizing and intervening in developmental problems that begin during infancy.
- Health, Safety, and Nutrition: As an early childhood education professional, you must meet each child's physical needs. In this class, students learn health, safety, and nutrition basics, including what children should eat, how to prevent dangerous accidents, and how to foster a healthy learning environment. When adults meet children's physical needs, the children are able to focus on learning and developing.
- Child and Family Development: Children grow and change a lot from ages 3-6. In this course, students learn the stages of child development and how family units affect the process. Through this course, students learn normal characteristics for each early childhood stage, allowing them to identify children who are developmentally behind.
- Relationships in Today's Families: No two family units have exactly the same dynamics, and learning about the differences can help educators understand how to best communicate with and motivate young children. Unfortunately, some children come from broken homes, and teachers must be sensitive to a child's home life.
- Classroom Experience: Online early childhood education programs require practical classroom experience. In this class, students work in a classroom setting under a lead teachers supervision. Students apply their studies to practical situations and practice creating and implementing lesson plans.
Early Childhood Education Degree Career Information
Graduates with an online degree in early childhood education can work in the public or private education sectors. You should choose your career path based on your personality and interests. For example, if you're an extrovert, you might enjoy working as a co-teacher. If you love motivating others and organizing tasks, a preschool director is probably more your speed. Below are a few example professions for early childhood education degree holders.
Careers in Early Childhood Education
Preschool directors oversee the daily operations of preschool facilities. They hire employees, assess lesson plans, communicate with parents, and handle student enrollment. Directors must be flexible and calm under pressure, as no two days are ever the same.
Kindergarten teachers work with children ages 5-6 in an elementary school setting. These teachers help students ease into elementary school. They also create lesson plans for basic subjects like reading, writing, and rudimentary math.
Daycare directors are responsible for managing the daily operations of daycare centers. They typically oversee the care of children under the age of five and help develop early childhood education programs to prepare children for preschool and kindergarten. They also manage teaching staff, work with parents, and uphold the policies of the center.
Best Special Education Programs
Frequently Asked Questions About Forensic Science Bachelor's Degrees
Is a Degree in Early Childhood Education Worth It?
A degree in early childhood education is worth it if you wish to work with children and their families as a preschool director or Kindergarten teacher. The average salary of early childhood education degree graduates is $46,000.
Can You Be a Preschool Teacher Without a Degree?
Yes. Private daycare and preschool teachers do not need a college degree to work. However, individuals who hope to work in public preschools and wish to negotiate higher salaries should earn an associate or bachelor's degree.
Is There a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education?
Yes. A bachelor's degree in early childhood education prepares students to work as preschool and kindergarten teachers and daycare directors.
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