The Best Online Master's in Early Childhood Education 2020

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Graduates with an online master’s in early childhood education dedicate their careers to working with children from birth to age eight.

Early childhood education is a growing field; the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that preschool director positions will increase 11% by 2026. Earning a master’s degree prepares graduates for advanced roles in the field. For example, teachers who complete a master’s in early childhood education qualify for director positions as well as lead teacher roles.

With specializations including early childhood administration and early childhood special education, prospective students can customize the degree around their interests. An online early childhood education degree benefits working educators who need a flexible, accessible degree option.

Best Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Programs

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4

Martin Luther College 

New Ulm, MN

About this school

With just under 1,000 enrolled students, Martin Luther College has offered a tight-knit, Lutheran, and liberal arts education experience since 1995. Among its bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, Martin Luther College offers an online master of science in educational administration with an early childhood director emphasis.

Designed to meet the needs of busy students seeking professional advancement on their own terms, this online master’s in early childhood education blends aspects of educational administration with niche topics that focus on the needs of young children. Students engage with concepts, such as:

  • Budgeting
  • Child Development
  • Communication and Management
  • Early Childhood Curriculum
  • Legal and Ethical Aspects of the Field
  • Management
  • Schools Safety

The 36 hour curriculum prepares students for advancement in early childhood education leadership settings.

In addition to core coursework, students gain practical experience through an internship and in-depth knowledge through a thesis project. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in education from an accredited college or university; this degree must have been earned with a 3.0 GPA or better.

5

Brandman University 

Irvine, CA

About this school

Brandman University offers multiple online classes with year-round enrollment, including programs through the School of Education. For educators interested in moving into administration, director positions, or becoming a college instructor, Brandman offers an online master of arts in education, leadership in ECE degree.

Brandman’s early childhood education degree online focuses on leadership skills, with coursework in fiscal planning, marketing, and human resources. Students also build skills in curriculum development and program evaluation as part of the core requirements. Graduate students complete 30 credits of coursework, including a capstone in early childhood program evaluation.

Only California residents qualify for the program, which they complete fully online or through hybrid classes at one of 18 campus locations. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all regionally accredited institutions where they earned college credits, show a certification in California Child Development, and submit two letters of recommendation. Successful candidates either meet a minimum 3.0 GPA in the most recent 30 credits, or they submit additional graduate admissions test scores. Applicants with a master’s degree or who pass a portfolio review also meet the admissions requirements.

6

Ball State University 

Muncie, IN

About this school

Ball State is a public research university with multiple on-campus and online degree options. The university’s Teacher’s College offers several online master’s degrees, including a master of arts in education with a focus in early childhood education.

Ball State’s 30-credit online early childhood education master’s degree allows students to specialize in multiple areas and design the degree around their work obligations. Coursework focuses on early literacy development, early childhood program leadership, play and creativity in early childhood, and infant and toddler education. The program exceeds the national accreditation requirement that ECE program administrators complete at least nine credits of coursework in administration and management.

In order to enroll in Ball State’s ECE program, applicants must fill out a graduate school application. Candidates submit proof of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university showing a minimum 2.75 GPA or a minimum 3.0 GPA during the last 60 credits of coursework. The application process does not require GRE scores. The university provides a tuition discount for Indiana residents.

7

University at Albany 

Albany, NY

About this school

SUNY at Albany offers more than 150 undergraduate programs and over 125 graduate programs. A member of the State University of New York system, UAlbany provides several online degree options through the School of Education, including a master of science in early childhood education.

UAlbany’s early childhood education master’s degree online requires 30 credits of coursework, and the program prepares graduates for an early childhood education professional teacher certification. The fully online program offers a part-time only option, where graduate students take two classes each semester. The coursework focuses on literacy and content area instruction, language acquisition, and assessment strategies.

To enroll at UAlbany, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The application requires three letters of recommendation and GRE scores. At least one of the recommendation letters should speak to the candidate’s teaching abilities. Applicants may submit edTPA, GMAT, Miller’s Analogies, or Praxis Core scores in lieu of the GRE. Incoming students must hold a current teaching certificate in early childhood education.

8

University of Missouri 

Columbia, MO

About this school

More commonly known as Mizzou, the University of Missouri-Columbia is the flagship campus in the state’s university system. The school offers more than 300 degrees, including over 90 online options. Mizzou’s College of Education offers an online master of education degree in learning, teaching, and curriculum with an emphasis in early childhood education.

The fully online degree requires 30 credits of coursework. Graduate students complete classes in advanced early childhood curriculum, assessment in early childhood, and developmental aspects of human learning. Students also choose six credits of electives. The program emphasizes designing, implementing, and evaluating educational programs for children from birth through age eight.

To enroll in Mizzou’s ECE program, applicants submit proof of a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field from a regionally accredited institution. Candidates need a 3.0 GPA in their last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. As part of the application process, prospective students also provide GRE scores, a resume or CV, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Mizzou enrolls new students in fall, spring, or summer and offers the same online tuition rate for Missouri residents and non-residents.

9

West Chester University of Pennsylvania 

West Chester, PA

About this school

West Chester University of Pennsylvania is a public institution that focuses on education through its Professional Education Unit. The unit provides several online master’s programs in education, including a master of education in early childhood education.

The online master’s in early childhood education prepares graduates for leadership and administrative positions. The 33-credit program requires core classes in child development, play as a learning medium, education in a multicultural society, and advocating for young children and families. Graduates also complete a capstone course focused on early childhood professionals as researchers. In order to graduate, students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

To enroll in WCU’s early childhood education master’s, applicants submit proof of an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with a master’s degree must meet the GPA requirement for their graduate work. Incoming students should hold a Pennsylvania instructional I teaching certification or its equivalent. The program allows up to six credits of transfer courses, and students may take on-campus courses to fulfill the elective requirements. Prospective students can also pursue the program administrator track for added administration experience.

10

University of North Carolina at Greensboro 

Greensboro, NC

About this school

UNCG is the largest state university in the Piedmont Triad. In addition to on-campus degrees, the university also offers online courses and programs through UNCG Online, including a fully online M.Ed. in birth to kindergarten interdisciplinary studies degree.

UNCG’s online ECE program prepares graduates for leadership roles in education and community-based programs for young children and their families. The degree requires 37 credits of coursework delivered in a synchronous format. Students complete classes focused on inclusive family-centered practices, advanced curriculum in ECE, and assessment in inclusive early childhood services. Graduates create a final portfolio as the program’s capstone experience, which includes reflective essays and an oral defense.

To enroll in the program, applicants need a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Those with a GPA lower than 3.0 may enroll as a visiting student and gain eligibility by earning a B or higher for a graduate course. Most students complete the program while working full time. UNCG offers a tuition discount to North Carolina residents and students enrolled online who live outside of the state.

11

Auburn University 

Auburn, AL

About this school

Alabama’s Auburn University offers several online graduate degrees. Childhood educators can earn their Alabama Class A professional educator certification by completing one of Auburn’s master’s programs in early childhood education.

Auburn’s online early childhood education master’s degree offers two options: a master’s in education or a master of science degree. Only the M.Ed. meets the state’s licensing requirements for a professional educator certification. Both options require 30 credit hours of coursework, with M.Ed. students completing classes in curriculum and teaching, play and early childhood education, and origins of thought. MS students complete nine credits of early childhood courses and 15 credits of advisor-approved electives.

For admissions to Auburn, applicants must submit a completed graduate application, provide three letters of recommendation, and submit GRE scores. Prospective students must also submit official transcripts from all previously attended institutions, a resume or curriculum vitae, and a statement of intent. M.Ed. applicants must hold a valid teaching certificate. Auburn charges the same graduate course fees for online students irrespective of residency status.

12

George Mason University 

Fairfax, VA

About this school

George Mason University, Virginia’s largest public research institution, takes its name from the founding father who wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights. The school offers multiple degree options, including a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in early childhood education.

The online master’s in early childhood education is a hybrid program, with 50% of the coursework online and the remainder in person. Students complete 30 credits of coursework, including classes in developmental pathways of diverse learners, inclusive curriculum for young learners, frameworks for early childhood education, and policy perspectives in ECE. Students customize the degree through 15 credits of elective coursework.

Applicants must submit an application with proof of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution showing a minimum 3.0 GPA. ECE applicants must also provide a goals statement, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. The program does not require GRE or Praxis scores. Candidates should hold an early childhood educator teacher license or plan to work in an early childhood education context outside the classroom.

13

Georgia Southern University 

Statesboro, GA

About this school

Georgia Southern University offers over 140 degree options at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The university’s online department administers multiple master’s degrees, including an online master of education in early childhood education.

The online early childhood education degree covers preschool through grade five teaching. Students choose between a four-semester or six-semester option, which both start in summer—allowing graduate students to earn a degree in one year. The 30-credit program studies language and literacy development, communication across cultures, and learning theories and assessments. Students also complete electives toward an endorsement. Graduates work in preschool or elementary education.

To enroll at Georgia Southern, prospective students must provide proof of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants must also submit a statement of purpose. Applicants need a Georgia certificate or the equivalent in early childhood education for entrance.

14

University of Dayton 

Dayton, OH

About this school

The University of Dayton dates back to 1850 and counts itself among the largest private universities in Ohio. The school offers several online learning options, including a master’s degree in trans-disciplinary early childhood education that appeals to early childhood professionals.

UD’s online early childhood education masters uses a cohort model to prepare graduates to work with young children and their families. The 34- to 35-credit program includes coursework in integrated curriculum for young children, collaborative assessment from birth to age eight, and a field-based forum summer play institute. Graduate students choose between a four-credit thesis option and a three-credit research option. The program leads to an early childhood teaching license in Ohio or to the pre-kindergarten special needs endorsement.

Applicants to UD’s early childhood education program submit official transcripts from all previously attended undergraduate schools showing a minimum 2.75 GPA. Candidates with an undergraduate GPA lower than 2.75 may receive admission with GRE or MAT scores. All applicants provide three letters of recommendation and a personal statement or resume.

Accreditation

15

University of Missouri – St. Louis 

Saint Louis, MO

About this school

Established in 1963, the University of Missouri-St. Louis is the newest member of the University of Missouri system. The university’s online, night, and weekend program, UMSL NOW, offers over 50 undergraduate and graduate majors, including a master of education in elementary education with an emphasis in early childhood education.

UMSL’s online ECE degree emphasizes community learning, technology integration, and a global context for education. The 33-credit M.Ed. program requires five core curricular courses plus six courses in early childhood education. The specialized coursework includes the educational role of play, the psychology of early childhood development, and the organization and development of early childhood programs. Students balance professional responsibilities with their online coursework, and graduates meet the qualifications for a Missouri teaching license.

Applicants to UMSL must provide official transcripts for all colleges and universities attended. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree in education with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students with a 2.75 GPA may receive admission if their major field, education coursework, and overall GPA exceeds 2.75. Those with below a 2.75 GPA may qualify for restricted admission. The program does not require entrance examinations.

16

Kansas State University 

Manhattan, KS

About this school

Kansas State University’s Global Campus operates over 70 online programs, including multiple options in teaching and education. Early childhood educators pursuing jobs in administration and leadership can earn a fully online early childhood education master’s degree.

K-State’s online early childhood education degree prepares graduates for advanced careers in child education. The master’s program requires 30 credits of coursework in child development, infant behavior and development, and research methods in family studies. Students choose from among a list of recommended courses, including assessment of young children, early childhood program administration, play facilitation, and parent-child interaction. Master’s candidates gain experience working with children and complete either a comprehensive examination or a thesis. K-State reports that program graduates hold a 99% pass rate on the licensure exams.

To enroll at K-State, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the final two years and an early childhood education license. Students without a license must complete the prerequisite courses concurrently with the ECE degree requirements. Applicants also provide a statement of their academic objectives and the contact information for three letter of recommendation writers. K-State’s ECE master’s program is part of the College of Human Ecology, which charges the same online tuition rate for Kansas residents and non-residents.

17

Liberty University Online 

Lynchburg, VA

About this school

Founded in 1971 by Reverend Jerry Falwell, Liberty University is a private, Christian institution located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty offers over 550 programs of study, including nearly 300 online programs through Liberty University Online. Early childhood educators can pursue Liberty’s master of education in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in early childhood education.

Students enrolled in Liberty’s online early childhood education program typically take on leadership roles. The program offers core foundational courses and specialized coursework, with 36 credits total required for the master’s degree. Specialists in early childhood education take classes in curriculum and methods, behavior management, and leadership and supervision in education. The fully online degree incorporates practicum and field experience, and students complete the program in two years.

Prospective students apply by submitting college transcripts showing a regionally or nationally accredited bachelor’s degree. Applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA receive unconditional admission, while those with less than a 3.0 GPA may receive provisional admission. Candidates with a master’s degree or 12 graduate credits can apply based on their graduate work. Liberty enrolls students eight times a year for eight-week courses. The university provides a tuition discount for service members, veterans, military spouses, and Department of Defense employees.

18

University of North Dakota 

Grand Forks, ND

About this school

Located in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota offers programs in more than 200 fields of study. UND Online provides both semester-based and enroll-anytime courses, including through online degrees such as the master’s degree in early childhood education.

UND’s online ECE degree requires 30- to-32 credits of coursework, depending on whether the student chooses the thesis option or the non-thesis option. Non-thesis option students complete a two-credit teaching practicum with 60 hours of teaching experience in the student’s local community. The required coursework includes play and development, curricular foundations, language development and cognition, and foundations of reading instruction. Students complete the degree in 18 months of full-time study.

Applicants to UND need an undergraduate degree in early childhood education or a related field with a minimum 2.75 GPA or a minimum 3.0 GPA for the last 60 credits. Candidates submit transcripts, recommendations for admissions, and a personal statement focused on professional achievements and goals. All UND online students benefit from in-state tuition, regardless of their residency status.

19

Kennesaw State University 

Kennesaw, GA

About this school

Kennesaw State University, located in metro Atlanta, is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country and provides more than 150 degree options, including online degrees through KSU Online. KSU’s Bagwell College of Education offers several graduate programs, including a master of education in early childhood education.

Certified early childhood education teachers benefit from KSU’s online ECE degree, which enables candidates certified in elementary education to earn a master’s in 13 months. Students complete three courses per semester for four semesters, beginning in the summer. Coursework includes curriculum and pedagogy, educational equity in the classroom, integrated models of instruction, and electives for endorsement or certification purposes. Graduates complete a capstone experience and portfolio in their final semester. KSU uses the cohort model, and students work with faculty mentors.

Applicants must meet the requirements for a teaching certificate or hold a valid certificate. The application process requires official transcripts from each college attended showing a minimum 2.75 GPA. Candidates must also submit proof of a teaching certificate, two administrator recommendation forms, and a personal statement. KSU enrolls new students in summer, and the application deadline is April 1.

20

University of Mississippi 

University, MS

About this school

In addition to on-campus programs, the University of Mississippi also offers online master’s degrees through the School of Education, including a master of education in early childhood education.

Ole Miss’s early childhood education degree online prepares students with exposure to the best practices and latest research on the development of young children. After completing the program, graduate students with a Mississippi teaching license can earn the pre-K license endorsement. The fully online program requires 30 credits of coursework, and students typically complete the degree in less than two years. Program graduates work as school administrators, professional development coordinators, curriculum coordinators, and child development specialists.

To enroll in Ole Miss, applicants must complete an application through the graduate school and possess a minimum 3.0 GPA for undergraduate courses. Candidates should also provide two letters of recommendation and show passing Praxis II content scores. The program does not require GRE scores. Ole Miss provides a significant tuition discount to Mississippi residents, and working professionals in districts which host School of Education student teachers may qualify for bank hours to pay for tuition.

21

University of West Georgia 

Carrollton, GA

About this school

The University of West Georgia, located in Carrollton, offers degrees from the bachelor’s to the doctoral level. UWG Online provides flexibility and accessibility with multiple degree options, including a fully online master of education with a major in early childhood education.

To earn a master’s in early childhood education online, UWG students complete 36 credits of coursework. The required classes include curriculum development, teaching for diverse classrooms, and a seminar for preschool through fifth grade teachers. These include teaching creative arts, classroom management for early grades, and school and classroom assessment. Students can also earn credits toward a mathematics, reading, or English for speakers of other languages endorsement.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree in early childhood or elementary education and must meet the eligibility requirements for a teaching certificate in one of these areas. Candidates need to submit official transcripts from post-secondary institutions that show a minimum 2.7 GPA—and complete an online graduate school application. UWG accepts transfer graduate credits; once enrolled, students complete the program in 12 to 24 months. UWG offers the same online tuition rate for residents and non-residents of Georgia.

22

University of Colorado Denver 

Denver, CO

About this school

The University of Colorado Denver offers multiple online degree options, including an online master of arts in early childhood education.

Designed for working professionals, the online early childhood education degree provides flexibility for students who work full-time. Students complete 36 credits of coursework, with classes in curriculum development, language and literacy, and research in schools. Learners also complete a practicum and a field experience. While students can complete the program fully online—with a required 3-day seminar in Denver each summer — they can also choose to take on-campus courses.

To enroll in the program, applicants must complete the admission process through CU Online. Prospective students submit a resume, a written statement, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts from all previous colleges and universities attended. Applicants need experience working with young children. The university offers a discount for Colorado residents and out-of-state students taking only online courses.

23

Northern Arizona University 

Flagstaff, AZ

About this school

Located in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona University enrolls some 30,000 students in over 150 programs, including several online degree options. NAU offers an online master of education in early childhood education designed for educators working with young children.

NAU’s master’s in early childhood education online requires 30 credits of coursework. Graduate students take classes in curriculum development, international education, and development of children’s logical concepts. Master’s candidates also choose an emphasis area, such as early childhood teacher, early childhood leadership, or early childhood national board preparation. The early childhood education program meets NAEYC standards.

To enroll at NAU, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA, undergo a fingerprint check, and provide a teaching certificate. Applicants must also submit an online NAU Graduate application. The ECE program accepts graduate transfer credits, but students must complete a minimum of 12 credits of graduate work at NAU. The university offers the same online tuition rate for Arizona residents and out-of-state students.

24

University of Alabama at Birmingham 

Birmingham, AL

About this school

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is the largest research institution in the state. In addition to on-campus degrees, UAB Online provides multiple degree options, including a master of education in early childhood education.

Students enrolled in the early childhood education master’s degree online choose between a fully online or blended-delivery option. The program prepares graduates to work in preschool or elementary education by building advanced skills in child development, teaching pedagogy, and classroom management. Students complete between 31 and 34 credits of coursework, choosing from electives in infant and toddler development, early reading, collaborative processes, and learning theories. Graduates also complete a practicum.

Prospective students must hold a valid class B Alabama bachelor’s level professional educator certificate in early childhood education. Applicants submit official transcripts from each institution attended with a minimum 2.0 GPA. They must also complete a UAB application and submit either MAT or GRE test scores. The application includes a personal essay, a resume or CV, and contact information for three recommendation letter writers. The degree leads to a class A certification on an Alabama teacher license. UAB offers a tuition discount for Alabama residents.

25

University of Kentucky 

Lexington, KY

About this school

The University of Kentucky offers online degrees through KU Online, including options through the College of Education such as the master of science in interdisciplinary early childhood education.

Incoming students in KU’s online early childhood education program choose between the thesis option, which requires 30 credits, and the 36-credit non-thesis option. With both options, graduate students complete 15 credits of core classes in instructional methods in early childhood education, advanced child development, and issues in interdisciplinary early childhood education. Thesis students focus on research courses, while non-thesis students complete additional hours of practicum and field experience. Graduates apply their degree skills as leaders in their chosen professions.

In order to enroll at KU, applicants must provide transcripts from all higher education institutions attended, a curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, and a philosophy of education and goals statement. The graduate program meets the requirements for Rank II IECE certification in Kentucky, but it does not lead to initial IECE certification. KU admits students for the ECE program in fall, spring, and summer.

26

University of South Alabama 

Mobile, AL

About this school

Located in the city of Mobile, the University of South Alabama offers multiple online degree options and over 250 online courses each semester. The university administers online graduate degrees in education through the College of Education and Professional Studies, including a master of education in early childhood education.

The fully online early childhood education master’s at USA requires 30 credits of coursework. USA requires classes in elementary school curriculum, instructional planning, and organizational patterns and curriculum. Graduates qualify for the Class A Professional Early Childhood Education certificate, which covers pre-K to third grade.

Applicants must submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, earn passing scores on the Praxis II early childhood content knowledge exam, MAT, or GRE, and provide three letters of recommendation and an admissions essay. Prospective students must hold a valid Alabama Class B Professional Early Childhood certificate.

27

Portland State University 

Portland, OR

About this school

Located in Oregon, Portland State University is an urban research institution dating back to 1946. Portland State’s Graduate School of Education is the largest and most comprehensive school of education in Oregon. The school offers both an MA and an MS in early childhood education with a focus on inclusive education and curriculum and instruction. The fully online program requires two-to-three years of coursework.

Students in the online ECE degree choose a concentration in constructivism in early childhood, infant and toddler mental health, or early childhood special education. The program uses the quarter system and requires 45 credits to earn the master’s degree—or the equivalent of 30 semester credits. Students complete coursework in child development, inclusive education, and a six-credit independent research project.

To enroll in the program, applicants must submit transcripts from all post-secondary institutions and a completed graduate application. Candidates may also need to submit letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Oregon residents receive a discount for online tuition, and incoming students can start the program any term.

28

Western Kentucky University 

Bowling Green, KY

About this school

Western Kentucky University, part of Kentucky’s public university system, dates back to its founding as a teaching school in 1906. Today, WKU prepares teachers with multiple degree options, including an online master of arts in education in early childhood education for teacher leaders.

WKU’s early childhood education degree online requires some in-person courses, with approximate 80% of the program offered online. Master’s students complete 36 credits of coursework in advanced level pedagogy, leadership, Kentucky Teacher Standards, and specialized coursework in early childhood education. The program utilizes online, face-to-face, and IVS courses. Graduates create and plan instruction for children from birth through kindergarten.

Graduates of WKU apply for the ECE master’s by demonstrating that they meet the eligibility requirements for a teaching certificate. Bachelor’s degree holders from other institutions, including out-of-state graduates, must submit transcripts that show a minimum 2.75 GPA for all undergraduate and graduate coursework. Candidates must provide proof that they meet the eligibility requirements for a teaching certificate in early childhood education. WKU offers a special Kentucky P-12 professional educator discount rate on tuition.

29

University of Toledo 

Toledo, OH

About this school

One of the oldest state universities in Ohio, the University of Toledo dates back to its founding in 1872. In addition to on-campus degrees, students earn online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels through UT Online. The Judith Herb College of Education offers several online education degrees, such as the master of arts in early childhood education program.

Online master’s in early childhood education students build core skills in teaching preschool and childcare administration. The non-licensure program requires 36 credits of coursework in core courses like research, social development, and curriculum, as well as 18 credits in specialty early childhood education courses. Graduates complete a six-credit thesis or project.

Prospective students apply by submitting official copies of all undergraduate and graduate transcripts that show a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.7 GPA. Applicants without a 3.0 GPA or higher must submit GRE scores. All applicants submit three letters of recommendation and a personal statement about their educational and career goals. UT offers support to online students through a success coach and advisors, eTutoring services, and access to the eLibrary.

30

University of Maine 

Orono, ME

About this school

The University of Maine, located in Orono on the Stillwater River, is the flagship campus for the University of Maine system. In addition to its over 200 undergraduate and graduate academic programs, UMaine offers multiple online degree options, including a master of education in special education with a concentration in early intervention.

Blending coursework in special education and early childhood education, UMaine’s ECE degree online prepares students in early intervention, creating inclusive environments, and caring for high needs children from birth to age five. The fully online program requires 36 credits of coursework in educational research, diversity of development, assessment and program planning, and serving infants and toddlers in natural environments. Graduates also complete a three credit capstone project in early intervention.

In order to enroll in the program, applicants submit a graduate application, provide proof of a bachelor’s degree with official transcripts, and submit passing scores on the Praxis Core Academic Skills test and the GRE or MAT. Candidates with a minimum 3.0 GPA or higher do not have to submit GRE or MAT scores. Students can transfer up to six credits of graduate coursework toward the degree. UMaine accepts rolling admissions and provides a tuition discount for Maine residents.

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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Programs Ranking Guidelines

Best Online Programs - Master's in Early Childhood Education

We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Choosing an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Program

Early childhood educators can benefit from the advanced coursework in an early childhood education master’s degree online program. An ECE degree online prepares graduates for careers as lead preschool teachers, preschool directors, and childcare center directors. When choosing between online master’s in early childhood education programs, prospective students must evaluate the program’s strengths, requirements, and specializations.

Most master’s programs in early childhood education provide core courses in assessing young children’s learning, play-based learning, and leadership in early childhood education. However, the requirements and specializations vary widely. Some programs require a capstone experience, while others allow students to choose between writing a thesis or completing additional coursework.

Most master’s programs in early childhood education provide core courses in assessing young children’s learning, play-based learning, and leadership in early childhood education.

Some online ECE degrees also offer concentration options. Some master’s in early childhood education online programs focus on administrative training, which appeals to educators considering director-level positions. Other programs offer specializations in special education and inclusive education. While some programs provide a set curriculum, others let students customize the degree with electives.

By researching early childhood education degree online programs, educators can find one that fits their interests and career goals. Graduates apply the knowledge gained in a master’s program throughout their careers in early childhood education.

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

With so many options for students who wish to earn their early childhood education degree online, prospective students must consider the variations between programs. Some may require a practicum or field experience, while others may not. In some states, an online early childhood education degree may meet the qualifications for a teacher’s license. Because each program is different, prospective students should closely research their top choices.

The Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Assessment in early childhood education

Assessment classes focus on developmentally appropriate assessment strategies for working with young children. Classes on assessment help educators working in daycare, childcare, or preschool settings hone tools for evaluating the growth and development of learners.

Documenting children’s learning

Classes on documenting children’s learning help educators document individual and group learning experiences. These courses emphasize collaborating on learning as well as reflecting on children’s group learning and may incorporate field observation. Early childhood educators at all levels regularly use these skills.

Play in early childhood education

Play holds an important place in early childhood learning. Courses on play examine stages of play, theories behind play-based learning, and research on play as a pedagogical tool. The class may incorporate cultural differences in play as well as the educator’s role in facilitating play. This course benefits both classroom educators and program designers.

Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Early Childhood Education Prepares For

Child development associate credential

The Council for Professional Recognition provides this credential for candidates who meet the professional requirements, including experience working with children from birth to age five. The credential requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, and an online early childhood education degree meets the qualifications.

Certified child care professional

The National Early Childhood Education Accreditation agency offers a certification as a child care professional for candidates with childcare experience at a licensed childcare provider. While the credential does not require a master’s, graduates with an online master’s in early childhood education meet the qualifications. Several states use the certification for director-level positions.

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Careers

Graduates who have earned an early childhood education degree online can pursue several career paths, working with children from birth to age eight. Some prefer to stay in the classroom as preschool teachers, childcare workers or early childhood special education teachers, while others move into administration. In certain states, preschool directors must meet educational requirements, such as earning an advanced degree.

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers care for children before they enter kindergarten, teaching language, motor, and social skills. They work in both public and private schools, including in Head Start programs. Although entry-level positions only require an associate degree, an online early childhood education master’s degree often qualifies candidates for lead positions.

Median Annual Salary

$28,990

Projected Growth Rate

10%

Preschool Director

Preschool directors and childcare center directors supervise staff, design programs, and oversee daily activities. While a bachelor’s degree meets the entry-level requirements, some states require additional education. Students can fulfill these requirements by earning a master’s in early childhood education online.

Median Annual Salary

$46,890

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students with learning, mental, physical, and emotional disabilities. Some focus on early childhood special education, working with children from birth to age eight. Earning an early childhood education degree online with a focus in special education prepares graduates for careers in special education.

Median Annual Salary

$58,980

Projected Growth Rate

8%

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degrees

Accreditation provides critical information about an educator preparation program and an institution of higher learning. As a voluntary process, accreditation stands for both academic excellence and a commitment to improve. Regional accreditation is the most popular institutional form, and unlike national accreditation, regional accreditation meets the qualifications for federal financial aid and transfer credits. In addition to institutional accreditation, many educator preparation programs, including master’s in early childhood education online programs, hold specialized accreditation.

Regional accreditation is the most popular institutional form, and unlike national accreditation, regional accreditation meets the qualifications for federal financial aid and transfer credits.

Recent changes in educator accreditation can confuse prospective students. In 2013, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) merged to create the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Today, CAEP is the gold standard in educator accreditation, but because of the accreditation cycle, many programs still technically hold NCATE or TEAC accreditation. These institutions will receive CAEP accreditation after undergoing their next successful accreditation process.

Professional Organizations for Early Childhood Education

Graduates who have earned an early childhood education degree online can benefit from professional organizations, which connect early childhood educators across the country. Many organizations provide networking opportunities, continuing education programs, and annual conferences. Most also offer career services and a job board. By using professional organizations, early childhood educators build their career and advance their professional opportunities. Students earning an online early childhood education degree can enroll while in school to start building their professional network.

National Association for the Education of Young Children

NAEYC accredits early learning programs and provides training, webinars, and conferences for early childhood educators.

Association for Childhood Education International

ACEI supports the education of all children, with a focus on birth to early adolescence. Members receive resources on educational practice as well as awards and scholarships.

National Head Start Association

A nonprofit organization committed to Head Start, NHSA advocates for over 200,000 early childhood educators working in Head Start programs. The association provides professional resources for its members.

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