Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

Nalea J. KoTBS Rankings Team
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Updated October 23, 2023
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A master's in early childhood education can prepare you for careers like lead preschool teacher, preschool director, and childcare center director.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Teaching will always be a secure career choice. Nationwide, early childhood education positions will continue to be in demand for the next decade — in some states more than others.

Earning a master’s in early childhood education online offers flexible training to become a kindergarten teacher, an elementary school teacher, a preschool teacher, or a daycare director. Additional certification can open you up to even more career opportunities.

The best online early childhood education master’s programs combine strong academics with ample hands-on training.

Featured Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degrees

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10 Best Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Programs

#1 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

Pacific Oaks College

  • Location-markerPasadena, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$11,482
  • Out-of-state$11,482
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate13%
  • Students Enrolled1,175
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment75%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

Harding University

  • Location-markerSearcy, AR
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$21,690
  • Out-of-state$21,690
  • Retention Rate84%
  • Acceptance Rate45%
  • Students Enrolled4,793
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment30%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

Clemson University

  • Location-markerClemson, SC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,118
  • Out-of-state$37,110
  • Retention Rate94%
  • Acceptance Rate49%
  • Students Enrolled27,341
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment49%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

Liberty University

  • Location-markerLynchburg, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,409
  • Out-of-state$15,409
  • Retention Rate83%
  • Acceptance Rate99%
  • Students Enrolled15,784
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment92%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

University of Colorado Denver

  • Location-markerDenver, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$11,160
  • Out-of-state$32,490
  • Retention Rate69%
  • Acceptance Rate75%
  • Students Enrolled23,754
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment57%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

University of Mississippi

  • Location-markerUniversity, MS
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,072
  • Out-of-state$26,292
  • Retention Rate89%
  • Acceptance Rate97%
  • Students Enrolled22,081
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment55%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

Fordham University

  • Location-markerBronx, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$54,730
  • Out-of-state$54,730
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate54%
  • Students Enrolled16,460
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment26%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

University of North Georgia

  • Location-markerDahlonega, GA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,596
  • Out-of-state$19,754
  • Retention Rate72%
  • Acceptance Rate68%
  • Students Enrolled18,005
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment48%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

Arkansas State University

  • Location-markerJonesboro, AR
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,888
  • Out-of-state$12,744
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate70%
  • Students Enrolled13,223
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment69%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Early Childhood Master’s Programs

Northwestern College

  • Location-markerOrange City, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$33,350
  • Out-of-state$33,350
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate88%
  • Students Enrolled1,629
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationYes

Master’s in Early Childhood Education: Program Overview

  • A master’s in early childhood education usually lasts around two years.
  • Generally, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a 2.5-3.0 GPA to get admitted.
  • You can expect to pay anywhere from around $300 to $1,500 per credit for your master’s in early childhood education.
  • You’ll study elementary curriculum design, instructional methods, and early literacy.
  • Common master’s in early childhood education concentrations include special education and leadership and advocacy.

Choosing an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Program

When choosing between online master’s in early childhood education programs, evaluate each of your prospective program’s strengths, requirements, and specializations.

For example, some programs provide a set curriculum, whereas others let you customize the degree. Additionally, some programs may require a capstone, while others may allow you to choose between writing a thesis or gaining work experience.

Some online early childhood education degrees offer concentrations or specializations in areas like administrative training. These concentrations may appeal to educators who want director-level positions.

Other specializations include special education and inclusive education.

By researching online early childhood education degree programs, you can find one that fits your interests, career goals, and budget.

What to Expect From an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

With so many online degree options, you must consider the variations between early childhood education programs. Some may require a practicum or field experience, while others may not.

In some states, an online early childhood education master’s degree may meet the qualifications for a teaching license. Because each program is different, you should closely research your top choices.

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.

You can expect to take the following courses:

  • Assessment in Early Childhood Education: Assessment classes focus on developmentally appropriate assessment strategies for working with young children.
  • Documenting Children’s Learning: This course helps you document children’s individual and group learning experiences. You’ll also reflect on children’s group learning skills.
  • Play in Early Childhood Education: Play is important in early childhood learning. This course examines stages of play, theories behind play-based learning, and research on play.

Certifications and Licenses You Can Get With a Master’s in Early Childhood Education

By earning a master’s in early childhood education, you can meet the qualifications for many optional credentials below. Certifications generally require meeting certain educational requirements and passing an exam, though criteria differs by state.

Child Development Associate Credential

The Council for Professional Recognition provides this credential for candidates who meet all professional requirements, including experience working with children from birth to age 5.

You must have a minimum of a bachelor’s in early childhood education.

Certified Child Care Professional

The National Early Childhood Program Accreditation offers certification as a childcare professional for candidates with childcare experience at a licensed childcare provider.

While the credential does not require a master’s degree, graduates with a master’s in early childhood education can meet the qualifications. Several states use this certification for director-level positions.

Popular Careers for a Master’s in Early Childhood Education

With an early childhood education degree, you can pursue several career paths, working with children from birth to age 8.

You can stay in the classroom as a preschool teacher, childcare worker, or early childhood special education teacher. Or, you can move into administration.

In certain states, preschool directors must meet educational requirements, such as earning an advanced degree.

Here are three popular jobs you can pursue with a master’s in early childhood education. All salary and job growth data below comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers care for children before they enter kindergarten, teaching language, motor, and social skills. These professionals can work at both public and private schools.

Although entry-level positions only require an associate degree, a master’s degree can qualify you for leadership positions.

currency-dollarMedian Annual Salary
$37,130

briefcaseProjected Job Growth Rate
3% increase from 2022-2032

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

Preschool directors and childcare center directors supervise staff, design programs, and oversee daily activities. While a bachelor’s degree meets the entry-level requirements for this role, some states require additional education.

currency-dollarMedian Annual Salary
$54,290

briefcaseProjected Job Growth Rate
-3% decrease from 2022-2032

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have learning, mental, physical, and/or emotional disabilities. Some of these teachers focus on early childhood special education, working with children from birth to age 8.

currency-dollarMedian Annual Salary (May 2021)
65,910

briefcaseProjected Job Growth Rate
0% growth from 2022-2032

Frequently Asked Questions About Master’s in Early Childhood Education Programs


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