Online Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education

Earning a master's degree in early childhood education could lead to an exciting and rewarding career. Here, we highlight the best online programs.

Online Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education

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Online Master's in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood educators prepare preschoolers for kindergarten, teach in elementary schools, and run preschool programs. Students can earn a master's in early childhood education to qualify for advanced positions, such as preschool director.

Master's degree-seekers take courses in program leadership, classroom management, and early childhood education research. Learners prepare for classroom and administration roles.

The following list ranks the best online master's degrees in early childhood education. Prospective students can use the rankings to find a program that fits their budget, schedule, and career goals.

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Questions About Early Childhood Education

true Q. What kind of jobs can you get with an early childhood education degree?

Individuals with an early childhood education degree can work as preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers, and early childhood special education teachers. They can also become preschool and childcare center directors.

true Q. What degree do I need to be a kindergarten teacher?

Kindergarten teachers generally need a bachelor's degree in elementary education or early childhood education. Some early childhood education programs qualify graduates for licensure at the kindergarten level.

true How many years does it take to become an early childhood educator?

Many careers in early childhood education require an undergraduate degree. Leadership positions such as preschool director may require a master's degree.

Why Get a Degree in Early Childhood Education?

An early childhood education degree offers advanced training in child development, program planning, and ECE leadership. Educators can also specialize their skills through coursework in school administration, special education, or curriculum development.

Early childhood educators with a master's degree can pursue careers as teachers and school administrators. Graduates can teach in preschools and elementary schools. Degree-holders can also become preschool directors, childcare center directors, and early childhood special education teachers.

Online learning can benefit current educators pursuing a master's degree. Flexible scheduling options help working professionals advance their career through graduate studies.

How Much Does an Early Childhood Education Degree Cost?

Most students need 1-2 years to earn an early childhood education master's degree. Tuition rates vary widely by school. The average cost of online early childhood education programs ranges from around $230-$600 per credit at the bachelor's level. Master's programs typically cost more.

Learners can save money by pursuing their early childhood education degree online. Prospective students can research the most affordable online programs throughout the country. Online learners may also qualify for tuition discounts. Some schools charge all online learners in-state tuition rates, regardless of their residency status.

Additional Online Student Fees

In addition to tuition, master's students should budget for fees and expenses. These costs can add thousands of dollars each year.

Online students commonly pay technology costs, distance learning fees, and tech support fees. Learners in hybrid programs should factor in transportation costs for campus visits and practicum requirements. Graduate students also buy books and supplies. Some programs require a graduation fee.

Aspiring early childhood educators may also pay to obtain licenses and certifications.

How Much Do Early Childhood Education Majors Make?

Earning potential for professionals with a master's in early childhood education varies. However, master's degree-holders often qualify for higher salaries than professionals with a bachelor's degree.

Graduates can work as teachers and administrators. The degree often meets requirements for elementary school jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn a median salary of $60,660 per year.

An early childhood education master's degree also qualifies graduates for roles as preschool and childcare center directors. These professionals earn a median salary of $49,160 per year. The BLS projects employment for these directors to increase 11% from 2020-2030.

Courses in an Early Childhood Education Master's Program

Students earning a master's in early childhood education develop teaching, assessment, and leadership skills. Coursework explores topics such as program development, assessment strategies, classroom management, and curriculum development. Many programs offer focus areas in early childhood special education, child development, and school administration.

In addition to coursework, many master's programs require experiential learning components. Students may participate in simulations, classroom observations, or practicums. Master's programs may culminate with a thesis or capstone project.

Online master's degrees in early childhood education feature unique course requirements and descriptions. However, many offer the following classes.

Becoming an Early Childhood Education Professional

Individuals with an early childhood education master's degree can become educators and administrators. The degree may meet the requirement for kindergarten and elementary school teaching jobs. Aspiring public school teachers should ensure their master's program meets licensure requirements.

Master's programs train educators for leadership roles. Preschool and childcare center directors use their graduate training to develop curricula and train staff. Other graduates specialize in an area such as special education. A master's in early childhood education can also lead to opportunities as a school administrator and curriculum specialist.

Many roles in the field require only a bachelor's degree. However, an early childhood education master's degree can make candidates more competitive for advanced positions. A master's degree can also increase earning potential. Public school teachers with a master's degree often earn higher salaries than bachelor's degree-holders.

Licensure for Early Childhood Education

Depending on their state and job title, early childhood educators may need a license. For example, preschool and kindergarten teachers at public schools generally need a state-issued teaching license. Licensure candidates typically need a bachelor's degree and teacher training. Some states also require student teaching experience. Candidates for a teaching license must pass examinations and a background check.

Childcare providers in other settings may also need a license. Home daycares and childcare centers apply for a state license. Early childhood educators, including preschool directors, may need CPR and first aid credentials. Educators in most early childcare settings, however, do not need licensure.

Licensure costs and requirements vary by state and career path. Learners pursuing an early childhood education degree online should research the requirements in their state and field.

Online Master's Degrees in Early Childhood Education

  1. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $8051

    Liberty University is a private nonprofit institution serving over 110,000 students worldwide. At this school, you can earn a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Early Childhood Education entirely online. In this program, you will learn how to plan and implement a compelling curriculum for young students. Your training at this Christian university will be based on biblical educational principles and values, but you will not have to take any religion courses. Each student completes a capstone project for which you will have 2 dedicated courses to prepare. The advanced education core consists of foundational education training, including Learning Theory, Understanding Educational Research and Assessment, Foundations of Exceptionality and Elementary Curriculum and Methods. The concentration in early childhood education consists of 12 credit hours or 4 courses. You will explore current issues in the field and learn ways to develop the most effective learning materials and environments for your future students. Incoming students should already hold a state-approved teaching license in elementary education and must have a 3.0 GPA or above from any accredited colleges previously attended. Incoming students may transfer up to 15 credits toward their degree. You do not have to take the GRE or MAT for admission to Liberty. Military personnel, retired service members, veterans and their spouses may be eligible for a significant tuition discount and added course schedule flexibility. Depending on transfer credits, this 36-credit hour degree can be completed in as few as 2 years by taking 9 credits a semester, not including summers.

  2. University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    Tuition

    $6919

    Graduate students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham can earn a Master of Education in Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education or a combination of both Elementary and Early Childhood education. UAB also offers an alternative master's degree option for those students who have a bachelor's degree but no teaching certificate or experience. The alternative program requires 49-58 credit hours while the traditional master's degrees in any of the 3 concentrations require 31-34. In addition to being accepted by the Graduate School, traditional master's degree seekers must hold a valid Alabama bachelor-level professional educator certificate. Incoming students must have 2.75 GPA or higher. Students must also pass the Praxis Subject and Core skills exams of the Alabama Educator Certification Assessment Program. Online learners applying for the alternative master's degree do not need to complete the GRE or MAT for admission. Those seeking a traditional master's degree, however, must submit their standardized test scores with their applications. This master's degree can be completed entirely online or in a hybrid format. For distance learning, students use the Canvas system to access their synchronous courses. Graduate students at UAB have the chance to work with several education-based research centers housed in the School of Education, including the Center for Educational Accountability, Center for Urban Education, Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center, Community Counseling Clinic and the UAB Regional In-Service Center. Each center offers unique training and professional development seminars to meet the research needs of their diverse student body. Whatever your teaching specialty, UAB has a well-rounded curriculum and extra on-campus and online resources to help you prepare for or advance your teaching career.

  3. University of Mobile
    Location

    Mobile, AL

    Tuition

    $9180

    The University of Mobile is a 4-year private institution affiliated with the Baptist church. Distance learners at UM can earn an Alternative Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in early childhood education or elementary education. This is a hybrid program wherein students must take courses both online and on-campus. As an alternative master's degree program, it is designed for graduate students with bachelor's degrees but those without a background in education or a teaching certificate. As a Baptist school, course content is taught with a Biblical worldview. The 27-semester hour core curriculum consists of foundational education courses geared toward working with young learners, including Classroom Management, Advanced Education Psychology, Curriculum and Teaching in the Elementary School and Evaluation of Teaching and Learning. The concentrations each require 15 semester hours, and include courses that focus on diagnostic and prescriptive teaching, math and science for children and developmental reading. You will also need to complete hands-on practicum experiences in the classroom and a full semester of student teaching. Students may begin courses at the start of the fall, spring or summer semesters. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution with a 2.75 GPA or higher. You must submit 2 copies of all official transcripts and already have completed 12 semester hours of English, social sciences, mathematics and science coursework. For full admission to the School of Education's master's degree program, you must pass a fingerprint/background check, earn passing scores on all sections of the Praxis I and II and purchase the graduate teacher education handbook during your first semester. Hybrid students have access to a personal success coach to help them get the most out of their degree program and adequately prepare for their career.

  4. Missouri State University
    Location

    Springfield, MO

    Tuition

    $9120

    At Missouri State University, online learners can earn an online Master of Science in Education in Early Childhood Special Education with concentrations in early childhood education or special education. MSU students who graduate with this degree bolster their resume and may advance their position at their current place of employment. Students who entered the program directly after their undergraduate program enter the job market in search of positions as early intervention specialists and early childhood special education teachers in public school settings. Other students may be prepared for teaching work at public or private facilities including medical centers, private practices and one-on-one, in-home education. For this accelerated master's degree program, incoming undergraduate applicants must be in their junior year with a 3.0 GPA or higher and be granted admission to the Teacher Education program. Students pursuing the concentration early childhood education must have already completed CFD 260, the course known as Observing, Assessing, and Implementing Activities for Young Children. Those interested in the special education concentration should take SPE 345, Educational Evaluation of Exceptional Students, and SPE 346, Educational Evaluation of Exceptional Students Lab, prior to applying for this specialized program. Applications should include a letter of intent that outlines career goals and professional experiences, 2 letters of recommendation and proof of completion of any required prerequisite courses. No more than 6 credits may be transferred toward this 39-credit degree. Applicants must also submit official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Your GPA is considered alongside your standardized test scores but you must have at least a 2.50 GPA to be considered for admission. The education department offers distance learners a variety of support services including the Education Advisement Center, student organizations and a website with up-to-date teaching and research opportunities.

  5. Ball State University
    Location

    Muncie, IN

    Tuition

    $6030

    Ball State University is a public research institution that offers an online Master of Arts in Education in Elementary Education. This program is a good fit for those who already possess a teaching degree and are working in the field, as the master's degree helps current professionals advance their careers and take on leadership positions. Online students in this program choose from concentrations in early childhood education, elementary education or leading and literacy instruction. Students can choose a further specialized focus beyond the overarching concentration. Ball State students pursue these focus areas in topics such as autism, computer education for teachers gifted and talented education (high ability), human development and learning, middle school education, response and intervention or English as a new language. Both the wider concentrations and the specialty foci each require 15 credits of coursework for the total 30 credits required for graduation. When you complete the master's degree, you are eligible to apply for a certificate for the focus area you studied in the program. Prospective students should have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with at least a 2.75 GPA. The GRE is not required for admission. Students may begin courses at any of the 3 starting points per year. The graduate school must receive all required application materials at least a week before the start of your first academic term. At Ball State, online learners have access to nearly all of the university's support services including academic advising services, peer mentoring, academic support and career planning services and technology support.

  6. Troy University
    Location

    Troy, AL

    Tuition

    $7146

    Troy University offers an online Master of Science in Early Childhood Education that is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation or CAEP. This program is designed for students who would like to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to engage young children in learning experiences. By enrolling in the Master of Science in Early Childhood Education program at Troy University, students can learn how to create age-specific and dynamic learning environments. This program involves 36 credit hours and a variety of courses, including Educational Technology in the Curriculum, the Master Teacher and Psychological Foundations of Education. For admission consideration, prospective students are required to have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of at least 3.0 and submit GRE scores. In addition, they must hold a valid certification in early childhood education in preschool through 3rd grade. Graduate requirements include an overall minimum GPA of 3.0, the completion of a research requirement with a letter grade B or better, successful completion of the comprehensive exam and no more than 2 grades below a B. Master of Science in Early Childhood Education graduates can be found working with young children in public or private schools, Head Start centers, childcare centers, family services centers or even government agencies.

  7. Northern Arizona University
    Location

    Flagstaff, AZ

    Tuition

    $8912

    Northern Arizona University offers a 30-credit Master of Education in Early Childhood Education that can be completed online. It's nationally recognized by the National Association for Education for Young Children (NAEYC) and was created for working teachers who hope to enhance their skills to better serve preschool and primary-level children. To be eligible for the Master of Education in Early Childhood Education, students must hold a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 and submit their official transcripts. Students enrolled in this program may choose from 3 concentration areas: Early Childhood Continuing Professional, Early Childhood Leadership and Early Childhood National Board Certification Teacher (NBCT) Preparation. While the Early Childhood Continuing Professional track is intended to further teaching knowledge and skills with courses like Parental Involvement in Education, the Early Childhood Leadership concentration helps augment leadership traits through courses in special education, educational psychology and educational leadership. Students who opt for the NBCT concentration prepare for an advanced teaching credential known as the National Board Certification. Regardless of which concentration students select, they will be required to take core courses, such as Early Childhood Curriculum, Selected Topics in Early Childhood Education and Development of Children's Logical Concepts. In order to graduate with a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and complete all program requirements within 6 consecutive years. After graduation, many students have a deeper understanding of how to teach preschool and primary-level children as well as how they learn. Graduates go on to pursue careers as preschool teachers, curriculum specialists or childcare administrators.

  8. University of Nebraska at Kearney
    Location

    Kearney, NE

    Tuition

    $5436

    At the University of Nebraska at Kearney, students may earn an online Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Early Childhood Education degree. Admissions requirements include an undergraduate degree and either GRE test scores or a professional biography. This program was designed to prepare current teachers with the best practice knowledge they need to develop and evaluate a curriculum that maximizes student learning. The early childhood education concentration allows students to focus on strategies for teaching children in the 0 to 8 age range. This 36-credit program includes a variety of core courses, such as Education Research, Philosophy of Education, Overview of Assistive Technology and Technology Tools for Teachers. Principles of Early Childhood Education, Issues and Trends in Early Childhood Education and Early Communication, and Language and Literacy are several examples of the concentration courses students must take. There is also a required practicum where students participate in supervised teaching and are asked to develop an instructional project, which involves collecting and analyzing P-12 student learning data. Since the Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction doesn't lead to certification, it is a student's responsibility to consult their State Department of Education for certification requirements. Prior to graduating, students are required to successfully complete a comprehensive exam or project that consists of a program examination and project, a departmental examination and the College of Education Survey of Desired Outcomes. Most students graduate with their degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2.5 to 3 years.

  9. Western Illinois University
    Location

    Macomb, IL

    Tuition

    $4845

    Western Illinois University offers a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction for practicing teachers who teach from pre-kindergarten through the middle grades. This online degree program was designed to enhance the professional expertise of teachers while also preparing them to pursue leadership positions within their schools and districts. To become admitted into the Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction program, students are required to hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 and a valid teaching license. Those who enroll in this program may choose from 1 of 6 specializations, including literacy education, elementary curriculum, early childhood education, math education, science education and social studies educations. While all specializations discuss recent trends and research as well as assessment and differentiation, each specialization focuses on a different component of the early childhood, elementary and middle school curriculum. This degree requires 30 credit hours, which include core components, an area of specialization, 2 electives and a capstone experience. The capstone experience is a research writing course that requires students to select an appropriate research topic, investigate it and present it in a detailed paper. Since the Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction is intended for teachers who are already licensed, completion of this program doesn't lead to licensure, teacher certification or any endorsement. Students seeking licensure are required to complete an undergraduate degree in elementary education. Although students have 6 years to complete the Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction, it is recommended that they take one course in the fall semester, one course in the spring semester and two courses in the summer term.

  10. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
    Location

    Waxahachie, TX

    Tuition

    $10530

    Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers an online Master of Education in Early Childhood and Elementary Education , which covers topics in research literature and technology as well as applied curriculum for differentiated learning instruction. This degree was created to teach students how to learn and implement instruction and assessments that are developmentally appropriate in the early childhood and elementary education environment. Students who enroll in the master's program can develop the skills necessary to create and evaluate positive and productive classroom environments while also designing lesson plans to cater to students of diverse cultures. For admission into this degree program, students must hold a bachelor's degree and complete 3 prerequisites: Developmental Psychology, Theories and Principles of Learning and Foundations of Literacy Instruction. In this 36-credit program, there are professional, core and resource area components that involve courses such as Differentiated Learning Strategies, Principles and Practices of Early Childhood Education and Advanced Strategies in Reading. Students who enroll in the spring 2018 Master of Education in Early Childhood and Elementary Education qualify for a 15% grant, which awards $750 per semester and is renewable over the lifespan of their degree. After graduating with this degree, students will have the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully complete state educator certification requirements. Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers a certification officer who can guide students through the certification process. Many graduates of this degree can be found working as teachers in a preschool, kindergarten or elementary school setting or as counselors, administrators or principals in schools.

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