Best Online Degrees in Early Childhood Education

by TBS Staff
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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.

Featured 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.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs

University of Washington-Seattle Campus true View School Profile $ Seattle, WA 84% 26% 9% University of Washington is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

UW, founded in 1861 and one of the oldest West Coast universities, enrolls more than 47,000 campus-based and online students each year.

UW offers an online bachelor of arts in early care and education degree-completion program. It blends theory, research, and hands-on application to prepare students for careers in child care, parent support, education, or social services. All students take the same courses, including equity in early dare and education, family and community engagement, and exceptional children. Students must also complete a senior project.

Applicants must transfer at least 45 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro true View School Profile $$ Greensboro, NC 53% 60% 46% The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded as a women's college in 1891, the now-coed UNCG welcomes nearly 20,000 students.

The university's online bachelor of science in early childhood education degree-completion program offers two concentrations: birth through kindergarten teacher licensure or early care and education (non-licensure).

Applicants must hold an associate of applied science degree in early childhood education from a North Carolina community college under the 2Plus program. UNCG offers rolling admission with fall and spring semesters.

The University of Montana-Western true View School Profile $$ Dillon, MT 45% 47% 32% The University of Montana Western is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Established as Montana State Normal School in 1893 and now part of the public Montana State University System, UMW serves more than 1,300 students per year.

With UMW's bachelor of science in early childhood education, students must choose a concentration, such as special education, business, or a subject area like math. Course requirements include positive child guidance, infant/toddler development and group care, and creative curriculum and development. All students complete a supervised practicum experience.

Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA or a class ranking in the top 50%, plus proof of writing and math proficiency through standardized test scores or course grades.

Mayville State University true View School Profile $$ Mayville, ND 28% 48% 65% Mayville State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A small, rural university founded in 1889 and a North Dakota University System member, MSU enrolls 1,200 learners annually.

MSU's online bachelor of science in education in early childhood education prepares students for North Dakota licensure in birth to third grade. Students in other states should check their state licensure requirements for details. All enrollees take strategies in the elementary school, reading assessment and intervention, and teaching English language learners. The program also requires a student teaching assignment and an electronic capstone portfolio.

Applicants must submit official transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 2.0. Those under age 24 must also submit ACT or SAT scores.

South Dakota State University true View School Profile $$$ Brookings, SD 56% 54% 38% South Dakota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The oldest and largest university in South Dakota, SDSU serves more than 3,200 students per year.

SDSU offers a bachelor of science in early education and care as part of a consortium of universities. The non-licensure program prepares students for careers in childcare centers, before or after school care, and Head Start. All students must complete a series of practicum experiences that add hands-on learning to classroom theory.

Applicants must submit official transcripts and ACT scores.

Regent University View School Profile Virginia Beach, VA 59% 80% 91% Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Regent, a private Christian university founded by Pat Robertson, enrolls 10,000 students annually.

Regent offers a non-licensure online bachelor of science in early childhood education from a Christian perspective. Alongside traditional general education requirements, all students must take three Christianity courses. Major requirements include guiding young children, child and adolescent growth and development, and three electives such as marketing principles or business law. All students must complete a three-credit practicum.

The test-optional university requires applicants to submit transcripts and a personal statement.

Chaminade University of Honolulu View School Profile Honolulu, HI 59% 39% 52% Chaminade University of Honolulu is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

A private university established by the Society of Mary in 1955, Chaminade welcomes 1,700 students every year.

Chaminade's online bachelor of science in early childhood education also offers an optional Montessori credential track. Both tracks require music, art and creative movement in early childhood education, and educational technology. Students in both tracks must also complete two fieldwork/student teaching placements.

Applicants must submit official transcripts.

Eastern Oregon University View School Profile $$$ La Grande, OR 33% 50% 67% Eastern Oregon University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Established as Eastern Oregon Normal School in 1929 and now part of the public Oregon University System, EOU serves 3,000 students per year.

EOU offers a non-licensure online bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in early childhood education. The bachelor of arts requires foreign language credits, while the bachelor of science requires additional science credits. Both tracks focus on child development, health, and technology in the first core. Core 2 looks at the processes and procedures of teaching.

Freshman applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA. Transfer students need a college GPA of 2.25, while those holding an Oregon transfer associate degree need a college GPA of 2.0.

University of Toledo View School Profile $$$ Toledo, OH 47% 48% 40% The University of Toledo is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in 1872 as a private arts and trade school, the northern-outpost UT enrolls nearly 20,000 students each year.

UT offers an online fast-track bachelors in early childhood education for students with an associate degree in the same major. The non-licensure program, which takes just four semesters to complete, requires a field placement every term.

In addition to the associate degree, applicants need a GPA of 2.7 or above. They must also be currently employed at least 20 hours per week in an early care and education program for preschoolers, infants, or toddlers.

Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies View School Profile Fayette, MO 26% 55% Central Methodist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A private United Methodist university opened in 1857, CMU serves roughly 1,150 students annually.

CMU offers an online bachelor of science in early childhood education that prepares students for Missouri teacher certification. Students from other states should check their state requirements for details. In addition to general liberal arts courses, all students take professional education classes such as foundations of education and certifications in reading and writing with young children. Students must complete a series of field experiences throughout their program.

Admission requires transcripts reflecting a GPA of 2.5 or above and a minimum ACT of 21 or SAT of 1050.

Brandman University View School Profile Irvine, CA 47% 92% Brandman University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Brandman, a private university system established in 1958, admits only students with 12 or more transferable credits to its bachelor's programs.

Brandman offers a fully online bachelor of arts in early childhood education. Besides traditional liberal arts courses, the program requires such core courses as principles and practices of teaching young children, dual language learners and their families, and the intentional, reflective teacher. All students must complete two practicum placements and a final capstone course.

Admission requirements include official transcripts and a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Florida State College at Jacksonville View School Profile Jacksonville, FL 38% 21% 49% Florida State College at Jacksonville is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Established in 1966 and part of the Florida College System, FSCJ enrolls more than 23,000 students annually.

FSCJ offers an online degree-completion bachelor of science in early childhood education. The program prepares students for a professional educator certificate in PreK/Primary with an ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) endorsement and a VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten) credential through the Department of Children and Families.

All enrollees must complete a 150-contact-hour field experience in VPK and a full-semester Monday-through-Friday internship. Students also need to create a professional portfolio and pass three state teacher certification exams.

Minimum requirements include an associate degree with a GPA of 2.5 or above, a successful background check, and a passing grade in the general knowledge exam for Florida teacher certification.

Northwestern College View School Profile Orange City, IA 69% 61% 39% Northwestern College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A private Christian college founded as an academy in 1882, Northwestern welcomes 1,400 online students annually.

The college offers an online bachelor of arts in early childhood education degree-completion program. Reflecting Northwestern's Christian worldview, the program requires that all students take one religion course. Required major courses include resiliency and wellness for educators, supporting language and literacy development in preschool, and learning with digital media. Students must also complete a professional portfolio.

Applicants need an associate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Wayland Baptist University View School Profile Plainview, TX 24% 47% 56% Wayland Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

WBU, a private Baptist university established in 1908, now enrolls roughly 5,000 campus-based and online students per year.

WBU's online bachelor of applied science in early childhood education follows an inverted degree model. Students apply occupational or technical training and experience to an applied associate degree and then apply the associate degree to the bachelor's degree. All students must complete 36 credits of early childhood education courses and 12 credits of practicum or internship placements.

For admission, WBU asks for official transcripts and SAT or ACT scores.

Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA 50% 60% 90% Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Liberty, a private, evangelical Christian school founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971, approaches education from a strong Christian perspective. The university serves over 100,000 students, primarily online, each year.

Liberty offers a non-licensure online bachelor of science in early childhood education. All students take three Christianity courses alongside general liberal arts requirements. Major topics cover principles of education, educational philosophy for teachers, and developmental psychology. All students must complete a field experience and an interdisciplinary education capstone.

Admission requirements include official transcripts and a minimum 2.0 GPA

National Louis University View School Profile Chicago, IL 22% 44% 57% National Louis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded as a teaching college in 1886, today NLU welcomes 7,000 learners annually.

The university's bachelor of arts in early childhood education prepares students for state licensure in early childhood and self-contained general education, with an optional endorsement in special education or English language learners (ELL). All participants take cores like applied educational psychology, language and early literacy development, and methods of teaching math. Students must also complete three practicum placements and a student teaching experience.

The program uses a two-part admissions model. Applicants to the university must submit official transcripts showing a minimum 2.0 GPA. Enrollees must then maintain a GPA of at least 2.5 in all core courses for full admission to the major.

California Baptist University View School Profile Riverside, CA 55% 70% 54% California Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

CBU, a private Southern Baptist school established in 1950, welcomes over 11,000 students per year.

The university's online bachelor of arts in early childhood studies prepares graduates for working with children ages eight and below in formal and informal learning environments. In addition to general education requirements, all students must take two Christian theology courses. Major coursework includes cognitive development in Infancy and early childhood, spiritual development in young children, and adult supervision.

Applicants must submit official transcripts reflecting a minimum GPA of 2.0.

Bluefield College View School Profile Bluefield, VA 29% 72% 73% Bluefield College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A private Baptist college founded in 1922, Bluefield enrolls more than 1,100 students annually.

The college's non-licensure online bachelor of science in early childhood education prepares students for careers as teacher's assistant, church preschool teacher, or child advocate. Participants must take two Christian studies courses. Major courses cover guiding young children, Introduction to the exceptional child, and literature for young children. The program culminates with a two-semester practicum experience.

The college matches prospective students with a personal admissions counselor to conduct the admissions process.

Colorado Christian University View School Profile Lakewood, CO 52% 51% 58% Colorado Christian University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established as the Denver Bible Institute in 1919, CCU educates more than 7,500 students.

CCU offers an online bachelor of arts in early childhood education with or without licensure. The licensure program meets Colorado state requirements. Those in other states should check local requirements or select the non-licensure track. The licensure program requires student teaching, while the non-licensure program requires site-based field experiences.

Applicants must submit a photo ID and proof of high school graduation.

National University View School Profile La Jolla, CA 36% 36% 61% National University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

NU, a private university institution formed in 1971, serves just under 17,000 enrollees annually.

The university's online bachelor of arts in early childhood education meets licensure requirements for California. Out of state students should check their local state guidelines for more information. All students must participate in various field experiences, which typically require a background check and a TB test. Depending on the site, students may also need to show proof of recent vaccinations.

Applicants must submit official transcripts showing a GPA of 2.0 or above.

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.

Our Methodology

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.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

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.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

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

$35,380
Associate Degree

$50,000
Bachelor's Degree

$50,590
Master's Degree

Source: Payscale

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

true Preschool Director $43,040

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.

true Kindergarten Teacher $40,130

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.

true Daycare Director $38,350

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.

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.

true 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.

true 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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