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An online master's degree in early childhood education prepares learners for careers in child development and teaching. Graduates can teach in preschools, direct childcare facilities, oversee community programs, or open new daycares. They also develop the skills to encourage family interaction, build self-esteem in children, and determine when children have special needs.

An early childhood education master's can also help those with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines enter the education field. For instance, some programs may prepare students for teaching licensure or certification for elementary classrooms. Candidates can also work as postsecondary educators who teach early childhood education courses or, after gaining teaching experience, become instructional coordinators for early childhood environments.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of preschool teachers and instructional coordinators to increase by 10% and 11%, respectively, through 2026. Additionally, an advanced degree in education can increase average lifetime earnings. According to the World Education Services, master's-holders in education average $2.26 million over their lifetime, while bachelor's-holders only average $1.798.

This page examines outlines some possible careers in the field, common program traits for education master's programs, relevant accreditation, and professional organizations.

The Most Affordable Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Affordable Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
The online early childhood education programs listed below were selected based on the quality of the program, types of online classes for early childhood education, faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing quality online degree programs.

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%

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

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The Most Affordable Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

#1 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

The University of Texas at El Paso

  • El Paso, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Texas at El Paso offers a flexible online master's in early childhood education. The master of education in early childhood education program uses a rigorous curriculum to prepare graduates for advanced roles in the field. With a master's degree, candidates advance their current career or move into new career paths.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to early childhood education. Learners choose electives or a specialization to stand out in a competitive job market. The master's program recommends a background in early childhood education before applying to the program.

Online enrollees can often complete professional internships at approved locations in their own community. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

The University of Texas at El Paso at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 100%

Total Online Master's Programs: 14

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,497

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $14,766

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,193
Out-of-state
$22,556
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
100%
Students Enrolled
25,177
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

  • Greensboro, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students seeking an online early childhood education degree can enroll in the master's program at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, located in Greensboro. The master of education in birth-kindergarten interdisciplinary studies in education and development program helps graduates increase their salary potential and take on more professional responsibilities. After completing a master's degree, candidates pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to early childhood education. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with a background in early childhood education typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees gain hands-on experience during professional internships in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional network through internships and online events.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 82%

Total Online Master's Programs: 16

Program Name: Master of Education in Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,219

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $18,937

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,422
Out-of-state
$19,581
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
20,196
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

New Mexico State University-Main Campus

  • Las Cruces, NM
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Las Cruces, New Mexico State University enrolls master's students in its top-ranked online early childhood education program. The master of arts in education plus early childhood education licensure draws on a rigorous curriculum that prepares graduates for leadership responsibilities. After completing a master's degree, candidates pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on early childhood education. Learners choose electives or a specialization to stand out in a competitive job market. The admission requirements include a background in early childhood education or a related field.

Online enrollees work with the program to find internship opportunities in their local area. Graduate students also build professional connections by attending networking events.

New Mexico State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 55%

Total Online Master's Programs: 16

Program Name: Master of Arts in Education Plus Early Childhood Education Licensure

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,844

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,834

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,875
Out-of-state
$21,864
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
55%
Students Enrolled
14,296
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Arizona State University

  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Scottsdale, Arizona State University offers an online master's in early childhood education. The master of education in early childhood education program uses a rigorous curriculum to prepare graduates for advanced roles in the field. With a master's degree, candidates advance their current career or move into new career paths.

The master's curriculum emphasizes theory and practice in early childhood education. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. Applicants without an early childhood education background may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees gain hands-on experience during professional internships in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

Arizona State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 64%

Total Online Master's Programs: 48

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $6,384

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $6,384

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,867
Out-of-state
$19,282
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
45,073
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
98% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Stephen F. Austin State University

  • Nacogdoches, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Nacogdoches, Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University offers an online master's in early childhood education. The master of education in early childhood education program helps graduates increase their salary potential and take on more professional responsibilities. With a master's degree, candidates also pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the field. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. The master's program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in early childhood education.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Graduate students also build professional connections through virtual networking events and other activities.

Stephen F. Austin State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 68%

Total Online Master's Programs: 16

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,112

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $12,708

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,096
Out-of-state
$16,224
Retention Rate
70%
Admission Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
12,969
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

The University of Colorado Denver

  • Denver, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in early childhood education, offered by the University of Colorado Denver, ranks as a top program. The master of arts in early childhood education encourages career training throughout its curriculum, preparing graduates for leadership positions. After completing a master's degree, candidates pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The master's curriculum explores advanced methodologies and research in early childhood education. Learners often choose a specialized concentration, which can help them stand out in a competitive job market. The program encourages applicants to gain experience in early childhood education before applying to the program.

Online enrollees complement the classroom experience with internship opportunities in their local area. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

The University of Colorado Denver at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 67%

Total Online Master's Programs: 16

Program Name: Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $6,786

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $22,590

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,920
Out-of-state
$24,408
Retention Rate
70%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
24,910
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Texas A&M University-Commerce

  • Commerce, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Texas A&M University-Commerce offers an online master's in early childhood education. The master of science or master of education in early childhood education program helps graduates move into leadership roles and increase their earning potential. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new career path or advance in their current field.

The master's curriculum blends theory and practice to provide an advanced understanding of early childhood education. Learners choose electives or a specialization to stand out in a competitive job market. The master's program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in early childhood education.

Online enrollees work with the program to arrange professional internships at approved locations in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

Texas A&M University-Commerce at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 43%

Total Online Master's Programs: 26

Program Name: Master of Science or Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $3,630

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $11,232

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,790
Out-of-state
$17,460
Retention Rate
63%
Admission Rate
43%
Students Enrolled
12,109
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Murray State University

  • Murray, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in early childhood education degree at Murray State University, located in Murray, Kentucky, uses a flexible distance learning format. The master of arts or master of arts in education in interdisciplinary early childhood education program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the field and related industries. A master's degree can also lead candidates to new career paths.

The master's curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in early childhood education. Learners choose electives and concentrations to prepare for focused career paths. The master's program recommends a background in early childhood education or a related field when applying.

Online enrollees complete internships in their local community to gain real-world experience. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

Murray State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 82%

Total Online Master's Programs: 17

Program Name: Master of Arts or Master of Arts in Education in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,214

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,500

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,974
Out-of-state
$23,592
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
9,556
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

  • Natchitoches, LA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's degree in early childhood education at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, located in Natchitoches, offers high academic quality. Graduates prepare for advanced roles in the field during the rigorous master of education in early childhood education program. A master's degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in early childhood education. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants with prior experience in early childhood education or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internships in their local community to gain real-world experience. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

Northwestern State University of Louisiana at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 82%

Total Online Master's Programs: 17

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,738

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,526

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,180
Out-of-state
$15,968
Retention Rate
70%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
10,900
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
82% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Portland State University

  • Portland, OR
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in early childhood education program at Portland State University, located in Portland, Oregon, offers a flexible online format. The master's in early childhood: inclusive education program strengthens industry-specific skills, preparing graduates for leadership responsibilities. A master's degree also helps candidates pursue new career paths.

The master's curriculum explores advanced methodologies and research in early childhood education. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. The admission requirements include a background in early childhood education or a related field.

Online enrollees add to their resume by pursuing internship opportunities at approved locations in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through internships and networking events.

Portland State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 96%

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master's in Early Childhood: Inclusive Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $11,718

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $17,847

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,462
Out-of-state
$21,528
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
96%
Students Enrolled
25,321
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#11 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Western Kentucky University

  • Bowling Green, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Based in Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University hosts a top-rated online master's in early childhood education. The master of arts in education in interdisciplinary early childhood education for teacher leaders program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the early childhood education field and related industries. A master's degree allows candidates to move up the career ladder or pursue a new career path.

The master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. Applicants without a degree in early childhood education or a related field may need to meet prerequisite requirements to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees complete internship programs in their local area to gain hands-on experience. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

Western Kentucky University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 97%

Total Online Master's Programs: 27

Program Name: Master of Arts in Education in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education for Teacher Leaders

Graduate Tuition In State: $12,140

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $18,340

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,802
Out-of-state
$26,496
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
18,171
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#12 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

University of North Dakota

  • Grand Forks, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of North Dakota, located in Grand Forks, enrolls master's students in its online early childhood education program. The master of science in early childhood education emphasizes specialized skills, preparing graduates for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. Earning a master's degree can also help candidates pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to early childhood education. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. The master's program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in early childhood education.

Online enrollees work with the program to arrange professional internships at approved locations in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through internships and networking events.

University of North Dakota at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 81%

Total Online Master's Programs: 28

Program Name: Master of Science in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,534

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $18,434

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,212
Out-of-state
$14,371
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
13,581
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#13 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Jacksonville State University

  • Jacksonville, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Jacksonville State University, located in Jacksonville, Alabama, enrolls master's students in its online early childhood education program. The master of science in education in early childhood education P-3 helps graduates increase their salary potential and take on more professional responsibilities. After earning a master's degree, candidates also pursue careers in new industries.

The master's curriculum explores early childhood education research and methodologies. Learners prepare for the job market by choosing a specialty through electives. Applicants with a background in early childhood education typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

Jacksonville State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 55%

Total Online Master's Programs: 14

Program Name: Master of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education P-3

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,600

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $19,200

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,720
Out-of-state
$19,440
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
55%
Students Enrolled
9,021
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#14 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

The University of South Alabama

  • Mobile, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students seeking an online early childhood education degree can enroll in the master's program at the University of South Alabama, located in Mobile. Graduates train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree from the master of education in early childhood education program. A master's degree allows candidates to move up the career ladder or pursue a new career path.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on early childhood education. Learners individualize the program to prepare for focused careers. The master's program recommends a background in early childhood education before applying to the program.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

The University of South Alabama at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 79%

Total Online Master's Programs: 9

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,956

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $15,912

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,896
Out-of-state
$15,792
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
14,397
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#15 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Ball State University

  • Muncie, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University hosts a top-ranked master's in early childhood education. The master of arts in education in elementary education program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the field and related industries. Earning a master's degree can help candidates advance in their current career or pursue a new career path entirely.

The master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners specialize their course of study to prepare for the job market. The master's program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in early childhood education.

Online enrollees gain hands-on experience during professional internships in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

Ball State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 77%

Total Online Master's Programs: 30

Program Name: Master of Arts in Education in Elementary Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,850

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $21,954

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,358
Out-of-state
$26,138
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
22,443
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#16 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

The University of Northern Iowa

  • Cedar Falls, IA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in early childhood education degree at the University of Northern Iowa, located in Cedar Falls, uses a flexible distance learning format. The master of arts in education in early childhood education program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the field and related industries. A master's degree also helps candidates pursue new career paths.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on early childhood education. Learners individualize the program to prepare for focused careers. The master's program recommends that applicants bring a background in early childhood education or a related field.

Online enrollees gain real-world experience through internships offered in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

The University of Northern Iowa at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 79%

Total Online Master's Programs: 14

Program Name: Master of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,159

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $21,375

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,665
Out-of-state
$19,949
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
10,477
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#17 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

The University of Mississippi

  • University, MS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Mississippi's city of University, the University of Mississippi offers an online master's in early childhood education. The master of education in early childhood education program helps graduates move into leadership roles and increase their earning potential. A master's degree allows candidates to move up the career ladder or pursue a new career path.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to early childhood education. Learners individualize the program to prepare for focused careers. Applicants without an early childhood education background may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees work with the program to find internship opportunities in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through internships and networking events.

The University of Mississippi at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 88%

Total Online Master's Programs: 9

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,718

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $24,989

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,718
Out-of-state
$24,990
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
21,617
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#18 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

The University of Northern Colorado

  • Greeley, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Greeley, the University of Northern Colorado offers an online master's in early childhood education. The master of arts in special education: early childhood special education program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the field and related industries. With a master's degree, candidates also pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum emphasizes both practical and theoretical approaches to early childhood education. Learners often choose a specialized concentration, which can help them stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with a background in early childhood education typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. Internships and other networking events help graduate students expand their professional network.

The University of Northern Colorado at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 91%

Total Online Master's Programs: 15

Program Name: Master of Arts in Special Education: Early Childhood Special Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,867

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $19,620

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,596
Out-of-state
$19,854
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
91%
Students Enrolled
12,930
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#19 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Albany State University

  • Albany, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students interested in a master's in early childhood education can earn their degree from Albany State University, located in Albany, Georgia. The master of education in elementary education builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new career path or advance in their current field.

The master's curriculum explores advanced methodologies and research in early childhood education. Learners specialize the program by choosing from a variety of electives. The program recommends that applicants bring a background in early childhood education or a related field.

Online enrollees complement the classroom experience with internship opportunities in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

Albany State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 66%

Total Online Master's Programs: 6

Program Name: Master of Education in Elementary Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $3,438

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,716

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,064
Out-of-state
$14,786
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
6,122
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#20 The Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Northern Arizona University

  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Northern Arizona University, located in Flagstaff, offers a flexible online master's in early childhood education. The master of education in early childhood education program draws on a rigorous curriculum that prepares graduates for leadership responsibilities. After completing a master's degree, candidates advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on early childhood education. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. The program encourages applicants to gain experience in early childhood education before applying to the program.

Online enrollees participate in internship programs at approved locations in their local area. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

Northern Arizona University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 85%

Total Online Master's Programs: 25

Program Name: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,305

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $19,522

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,018
Out-of-state
$16,613
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
30,733
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
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The Advantages of an Early Childhood Education Education

The type of career you can pursue in early childhood education depends — in part — on the kind of degree you hold. For instance, candidates with an associate degree can qualify as preschool teachers, while bachelor's-holders may obtain positions as preschool directors or social and community service managers. The BLS projects positive growth through 2026 for preschool teachers, preschool directors, and social and community service managers.

Individuals who earn an early childhood education master's degree online receive in-depth field knowledge that helps them stand out among competition. These degrees can increase the odds of employment for bachelor's-level positions, particularly with managerial or leadership opportunities. A master's degree may also qualify graduates to teach early childhood education courses at certain colleges or universities; however, most schools require a doctorate for these positions.

Candidates interested in early childhood education careers can review the following sections for information on career tasks and long-term salary expectations.


Average Salary by Degree Level
Degree Level Average Salary
Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education $35,000
Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education $44,000
Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education $47,000

Source: PayScale


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Early Childhood Education Degree Salary Information

Online master's degrees in early childhood education explore child development and help learners build teaching, research, and communication skills for real-world practice. These traits prepare candidates to work in preschools, childcares, and other organizations that cater to children. However, careers in these settings may vary. For example, graduates can open their own childcare centers or work as directors and teachers at established organizations. Advanced knowledge in early childhood education can also lead to advising and teaching positions where graduates guide others on related concepts.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors
These directors ensure preschools and childcare centers follow state standards. Candidates determine organizational policies, choose employees, offer training for current workers, manage budgets, and communicate with parents about student needs. These positions typically require a bachelor's degree; however, a master's verifies advanced field knowledge for managerial positions.
Preschool Teachers
Preschool teachers prepare children for kindergarten by teaching early concepts like counting and color recognition. These educators must plan activities that encourage safety and social development, as well as observe children for indications of learning disabilities. While schools may only require an associate degree for these positions, candidates with a master's boast a more in-depth understanding of early education for higher employment chances.
Educational Specialists
Educational specialists make suggestions on curricula and instructional techniques to improve learning in school systems. Candidates may also train school faculty on innovative learning strategies. These specialists often need a teaching credential and experience. An early childhood education master's indicates expertise for advising schools on early grade levels.
Postsecondary Teachers
These educators teach courses in their discipline at colleges and universities. Responsibilities include building syllabi, delivering lectures, and providing feedback on assignments. Teachers may also write scholarly articles for publication and help learners choose future classes. For these positions, candidates may need at least a master's degree in the teaching field.
Social and Community Service Managers
Social and community service managers identify and build programs for public needs, evaluate existing programs, and suggest strategies to increase impact. They may also promote programs to community members. Companies may require a master's for these positions, and earning a master of early childhood education online prepares learners to build programs that assist young children.

Salary by Experience Level for Early Childhood Education Careers
Careers Entry Level
(0-12 Months)
Early Career
(1-4 Years)
Midcareer
(5-9 Years)
Experienced
(10-19 Years)
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $38,226 $39,253 $40,671 $43,938
Preschool Teachers $30,078 $31,924 $32,309 $32,213
Educational Specialists $41,109 $44,366 $50,400 $55,610
Postsecondary Teachers $60,080 $60,228 $70,349 $86,627
Social and Community Services Managers $39,833 $43,452 $49,527 $57,351

Source: PayScale


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Choosing an Online Early Childhood Education Degree Program

Students interested in earning an early childhood education master's degree online should consider which program elements are most important to them. For instance, candidates who need cheaper tuition should focus on local schools, as out-of-state tuition typically exceeds in-state tuition. In-state options also let learners complete on-campus requirements more easily, with fewer travel expenses. However, it's important to note that some out-of-state schools, especially private colleges, offer in-state or discounted tuition to all online learners, regardless of residency. Reviewing the exact details of each program is key.

Degree seekers should also note prospective colleges' program lengths, student-to-faculty ratios, transfer policies, and concentrations. Since distance education opens so many educational possibilities, students can afford to be selective about their prospective schools and ensure that they match most or all of their criteria.

  • Program Cost: Candidates should review each program's tuition, fees, and other costs to determine which option best complements their budgets. In general, public schools charge lower tuition than private schools, and in-state students often pay lower tuition than out-of-state learners. However, these details vary by institution.
  • Transfer Policies: Transfer agreements between colleges and universities can reduce the time to graduation by allowing learners to apply previously completed coursework to their degree. Institutions may insist that learners complete a high percentage of coursework at the degree-awarding school, which can lower transfer credit use. Students with extensive transfer work should consider determine which schools will accept most of their previous credits.
  • School Size and Type: Smaller schools may offer a more interactive learning environment since classes include fewer students. The type of school can also influence learning, since private schools may incorporate unique philosophies into curricula. Universities may also offer different schools of learning that impact program options.
  • Program Length: Time frames for master's programs vary, with some schools providing accelerated paths for faster graduation. Other programs require higher credit numbers, which can postpone graduation. Students should compare these factors to their schedules. For instance, a candidate can choose a faster-paced program to qualify for an upcoming promotion, while learners without time restraints can study at a slower pace.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Programs may include on-campus elements such as labs, seminars, and courses. These elements occur with different frequency, depending on the school. For instance, learners may attend one on-campus orientation or complete half of program courses on campus. Students should only consider these programs if the distance and frequency fits their schedules and budgets.

Accreditation for Online Early Childhood Education Degrees

When considering options for an online master's degrees in early childhood education, students should pay special attention to a school's accreditation. A school's accreditation signals that it offers quality programs that meet rigorous criteria. Additionally, government aid may only extend to applicants at accredited schools, which means candidates may need to pay out-of-pocket to attend unaccredited schools. Unaccredited degrees may also hold little professional or academic value, which could prevent learners from earning careers or pursuing higher degrees.

While they do not offer accreditation themselves, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee the accreditation process. Each of these organizations review and recognize accrediting agencies, which then hold the authority to review and approve schools.

National accreditation is often granted to trade or vocational programs. Conversely, regional accreditation is usually considered more prestigious and is reserved for public and private four-year institutions. Students who attend regionally accredited schools can typically transfer credits more efficiently, and can be assured of receiving a quality education. Regional accreditation is overseen by six different regional agencies.

Programmatic accreditation indicates approval for a specific program or department in a particular field. Students pursuing a master of early childhood education online should look for programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Schools may also list the Teacher Education Accreditation Council or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, both of which have become part of CAEP in recent years.

To determine if a program holds accreditation, candidates can search databases provided by CHEA or the ED.

Early Childhood Education Concentrations

Concentrations can provide experiences, knowledge, and skills for specific professions in the field. For example, a management-related focus can prepare learners for administrative positions, while a special education specialization can lead to a career in special education. Candidates should consider all possible concentrations — as well as their professional goals — before selecting an online master's degree in early childhood education.

  • Dual Language:
    These concentrations address second language development and literacy in early childhood. Candidates explore teaching strategies for encouraging language use and cultural diversity among children.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Graduates can work in dual language preschools or elementary schools, but may need teaching certification. Candidates can also assist with dual language programs or camps.
  • Administration Management:
    Students build management and leadership skills related to financing, hiring, and designing curricula for child-centered establishments. Degree seekers learn to foster learning environments that promote social and mental growth in children.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Concentrations prepare for administrator, director, or owner positions in childcares, preschools, and other early childhood organizations.
  • Special Education:
    These specializations address assessment and teaching strategies for special needs children. Programs may also explore policy building for special education classrooms. These programs typically require a practicum and emphasize field research.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: These courses allow certified candidates to teach in special education. Graduates can also pursue careers in advocacy and policy-making.
  • Early Childhood Policy:
    This focus relates to policy-making and research. Candidates may explore current pedagogy and international policy. Coursework may also examine modern issues in education and train learners to identify areas for improvement. These programs build problem-solving skills and prioritize educational theory.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Candidates may obtain administrative positions in education or work as advocates for improved education.
  • STEAM:
    These programs explore early childhood teaching strategies for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics courses. Candidates use creative concepts such as design and presentation in order to explore these subjects. Technical explorations may include robotics and mathematical problem-solving.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Graduates with certifications can teach STEAM-related courses. Candidates may also work as instructional coordinators or program designers focusing on these disciplines.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Early Childhood Education?

Early childhood education master's programs typically require 30-48 credits, which full-time students can complete in under two years of study. However, there are several factors that can influence the time it takes to complete your degree. For example, the program's structure, the number of required credits, and the student's personal or professional responsibilities can all impact the timeline for completion.

Additionally, shorter learning terms can quicken graduation by allowing more classes in a year. Specifically, some online degrees may include six-week classes instead of standard fall, spring, and summer terms. Colleges may also offer accelerated pathways that allow learners to pursue a combined bachelor's and master's. This format can allow learners to complete the graduate degree with only one additional year of study.

Candidates can also graduate faster by enrolling in more classes per term. However, this decision can increase semesterly expenses if schools charge per-credit tuition. Alternately, students can study part-time for a slower learning pace. With yearly tuition increases and semester fees, though, this decision can increase overall program costs. Degree seekers who need to choose their learning pace should avoid cohort programs where learners complete courses in groups.

Courses in an Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Program

  • Foundations of Education
    These classes explore educational practices and theories throughout history. Candidates examine current issues that relate to globalization, technology, ethics, and legal concerns. Learners also hone their research skills. Students learn to encourage positive social, mental, and emotional growth in young children. Courses may review early childhood education or specialize on child development.
  • iterature for Early Childhood Education
    Students examine early literacy concepts such as phonics and vocabulary. These courses may address second language acquisition and popular books or themes for early childhood classes. Students may review modern research, trends, and teaching techniques for different learning needs. These courses can prepare learners for teaching and reading specialist careers.
  • Student Teaching
    To earn a master of early childhood education online, learners may need to demonstrate teaching proficiency in classrooms. In particular, degree seekers plan and deliver lesson plans and assess classroom performances. These experiences require supervision and may occur in specific settings, such as K-3 or special education classrooms.
  • Child Growth and Development
    This course examines children's physical and social development, with a focus on milestones in early childhood. Learners may also explore variations of typical development for special needs environments. These classes involve theory, research, and observation and address ways to encourage positive development in culturally diverse settings.
  • Play as a Learning Tool
    Students learn the positive impacts of play in early childhood education, based on current research and theory. Specifically, courses may cover physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of incorporating play into curricula. This exploration addresses the educator's responsibility in guiding educational play.
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Paying for Your Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Degree Program

Paying for an online master's degree in early childhood education is an important consideration when choosing the right college. Fortunately, students can explore many options to help cover the cost of graduate school. First, students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to apply for financial aid from the federal government. The government offers student loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. Many teachers qualify for student loan forgiveness after making timely payments and working at certain schools for a number of years.

Scholarships for Accounting Students


Bright Futures Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Bright Horizons offers this program to future teachers throughout the United States. Applicants must be enrolled full time in an accredited program that focuses on the education of children ages six or younger. Applicants must submit writing samples and evidence of early education field-based experiences.
Amount: $250-$1,000


Teacher.org's "Inspire Our Future" Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Teacher.org offers this scholarship to current and future teachers pursuing an accredited undergraduate or graduate-level education degree. Students need a minimum 3.5 GPA and must submit a 500- to 700-word essay. Awardees can use the scholarship to pay for education and related expenses.
Amount: $500


PDK Educational Foundation Prospective Educator Scholarship

Who Can Apply: These scholarships are available to high school seniors and undergraduate students pursuing a career in education. Applicants must be members of Educators Rising, Phi Delta Kappa, or Pi Lambda Theta. Applicants must submit a personal statement and a recommendation letter.
Amount: $500-$5,000


Montessori Teacher Education Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The American Montessori Society (AMS) awards these scholarships to aspiring Montessori teachers who are accepted or in the process of being accepted to an AMS-affiliated teacher education program. The selection process is based on financial need, an essay, and three recommendation letters.
Amount: Varies


Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Offered through the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, this scholarship is available to both undergraduate and graduate students studying education and who plan to pursue a teaching license. This merit-based scholarship requires applicants to write a 500-word essay demonstrating an understanding of compulsory and voluntary unionism.
Amount: $1,000

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