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Online Master’s Programs in Early Childhood Education

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Updated on: 09/20/2018

Getting an online master’s degree in early childhood education can open the door to a more satisfying job in education, and one that pays a higher salary than a bachelor’s degree. Teachers with this degree typically specialize in instructing children from infancy to third grade, but a master’s degree can also allow you to become the director of a preschool or childcare program, a special needs teacher and more. Find out the best programs for an online master’s in early childhood education, what you’ll learn and how much you’ll make with an advanced degree.

Best Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education 2018-2019

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The most worthwhile online master’s degrees in early childhood education prepare teachers, social workers and psychologists for understanding, assessing and implementing childhood education through infancy to age eight. All the data in the following rankings were garnered from the Department of Education, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, as well as the university’s own published materials. All schools included in this list are fully accredited.

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Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Liberty University Lynchburg, Virginia$8,05188%24%55%1Yes Yes Yes

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.

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2 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, Alabama$6,91977%58%59%2Yes Yes Yes

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.

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3 University of Mobile Mobile, Alabama$9,18099%62%43%2No Yes Yes

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.

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4 Missouri State University Springfield, Missouri$9,12054%84%57%2No Yes Yes

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.

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5 Ball State University Muncie, Indiana$6,03040%62%62%1Yes Yes Yes

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.

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6 Troy University Troy, Alabama$7,14657%91%39%2Yes Yes Yes

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.

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7 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, Arizona$8,91282%78%54%2No Yes Yes

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.

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8 University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, Nebraska$5,43670%85%60%1No Yes Yes

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.

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9 Western Illinois University Macomb, Illinois$4,84562%59%56%1Yes Yes Yes

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.

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10 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, Texas$10,53070%23%42%2Yes Yes Yes

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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11 Stephen F Austin State University Nacogdoches, Texas$4,51264%62%46%1Yes Yes Yes

At Stephen F. Austin State University, students may earn a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education entirely online. This degree is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which is a large nonprofit organization with a focus on early childhood education teachers, center directors, trainers, college educators, families of young children and policymakers. The goal of this program is to prepare early childhood professionals to become specialists in their field. All professors hold a doctorate in early childhood education and are prepared to teach students the knowledge and skills necessary to serve the nation's young children and their families. The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education involves 36 credit hours and courses, which are offered in half-term formats in the fall and spring semesters. It's important to note that since this program is entirely online, students are required to find their own field experiences. To apply for this program, prospective students must hold an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75. During their first semester, students will complete a degree plan, which serves as an outline and contract with the university and includes the courses necessary to complete the program. In addition, students will work with an adviser throughout their studies to ensure they are taking the necessary classes in the correct order. To graduate, students will simply need to fulfill all of their course requirements. Neither a comprehensive exam nor the completion a thesis is necessary. Graduates of this degree program are often seen working as preschool teachers, teacher assistants, special education teachers, nannies and childcare center directors

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12 Minnesota State University-Mankato Mankato, Minnesota$6,84921%62%53%1No Yes Yes

Located approximately an hour outside Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota State University's Mankato campus first opened in 1868 and currently has more than 120,000 living alumni. With an average annual student enrollment of 15,000, the institution caters to learners' needs through traditional brick-and-mortar degrees and distance learning offerings. The College of Education offers the master of science in early childhood special education for licensed teachers who want to continue building skills and learning how to better serve this population of students. A separate path also allows individuals just starting in the teaching world to gain licensure and certification. Core courses taken by both types of students include special education law, intro to psychology and education of exceptional children and youth and formal/informal clinical procedures. Those who must complete licensure requirements take classes in areas of collaborating with families and children, methods of working with infants and children with developmental needs, and how to educate those with special needs. They must also participate in graduate student teaching. To wrap up their time at MSUM, degree seekers complete a series of classes on educational research before preparing a capstone project in the final semester. In addition to helping learners find suitable locations to complete student teaching, the department also provides a range of support mechanisms to ensure they succeed both during school and after. Degree seekers can receive career advice, academic advising and teacher mentoring as current and former students. Once enrolled, online students pay $432 per credit. The school offers a number of institutional and departmental scholarships on the basis of merit, need and subject area.

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13 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, Arkansas$4,62670%70%41%1No Yes Yes

As the flagship institution of the Arkansas State University System, the Jonesboro campus alone serves nearly 22,000 undergraduate and postgraduate learners, including a significant portion of distance students. The fully online Master of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education requires 30 credits and can be completed in as few as 12 months by students prepared to move through coursework rapidly. To receive admission to this program, applicants must already have a valid teaching license. Each course lasts just 7 weeks to help students finish the degree more quickly. Some of the classes covered include Documenting Young Children's Learning and Development, Sources and Models of Early Childhood Curriculum, Developmental Perspectives and Leadership in Early Childhood Education. Before walking across the stage to take their diploma, each student must submit a written proposal and complete an approved practicum. Learners pay $306.25 per credit, a figure that includes all administrative fees. Individuals looking to learn more about what it's like to be an online education student at Arkansas State can check out the numerous student blogs housed on the College of Education & Behavioral Science's website. Students can also use the A-State Self-Service Portal to find help with academic support, technology, disability services, library materials, textbook purchases and career advancement. Admissions take place on a rolling basis, and to receive serious consideration, applicants must hold a GPA of 2.75 or higher. Scores from the GRE/MAT are not required.

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14 West Chester University of Pennsylvania West Chester, Pennsylvania$11,59212%64%69%1Yes Yes Yes

As the largest institution comprising the 14-member Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, West Chester University serves nearly 18,000 learners annually. Located just outside Philadelphia, the school welcomes learners to its suburban campus as well as provides online learning options. The school's master's in early childhood education degree with an accomplished teachers track is housed in the College of Education and Social Work and requires learners to complete 33 credits typically over the span of 2 years. Core topics include Advanced Child Development in Pre-Birth Through 8 Years, Play as a Learning Medium, Trends and Issues in Early Childhood Education and Advocating for Young Children and Families. Once students begin coursework in the specialty track, they select 2 courses from areas related to special education, teaching and learning, literacy or educational technology. To complete their time at the school, students take part in the early childhood professional as researcher capstone course. This course of study doesn't lead to Level I certification. Individuals hoping to be accepted to West Chester's program must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, show proof of an instructional teaching certificate from Pennsylvania or its equivalent from another state and hold at least a 2.8 GPA from their baccalaureate studies. They also need to provide GRE scores. Admission takes place on a rolling basis. Once accepted, learners can expect to pay $670 per credit regardless of where they reside.

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15 East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina$4,65642%70%61%2No Yes Yes

As the third largest public research institution in the state, East Carolina University serves nearly 29,000 learners based in North Carolina and beyond. Despite the large student body, the school maintains an average student-to-faculty ratio of 18-to-1 in both campus-based and online classes. The College of Education provides an online master's degree in birth through kindergarten education. Graduates go on to positions as program coordinators, teachers, supervisors and consultants in a variety of school settings. This program doesn't qualify graduates for licensure. In addition to 12 credits of core topics and 18 credits devoted to professional area classes, learners also complete an additional 9 hours in a specialty area, bringing the total credits to 39. Concentration areas include assistive technology, autism and autism spectrum disorder, community college instruction, deaf-blindness, ESL or an individualized concentration whereby learners choose 3 courses approved by their adviser. Some of the core and professional classes offered include Trends and Issues in B-K Teacher Education, Advanced Methods and Materials in B-K Teacher Education, Theories of Child Development and Addressing Differences in Human Learning in School. After completing all required coursework, learners decide to either take part in an innovative action research program or research and write a thesis. Students pay $250 per credit as North Carolinians or $894 per credit when living outside the state. The College of Education provides more than $200,000 in scholarships annually to help lower these costs. The department is also home to numerous clubs and organizations, an internship placement program and career specialists. To apply, interested students don't need to meet any specific GPA requirement, but they do need to submit either GRE or MAT scores.

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16 Marshall University Huntington, West Virginia$6,29865%89%48%1Yes Yes Yes

Founded in 1837 and named after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, continues to provide innovative degrees to more than 14,000 learners each academic year. Students interested in educating pre-K and kindergarten children often elect to pursue the Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in early childhood education. Individuals picking this degree can choose from 2 options: the first requires 39 hours and exists for licensed pre-K and kindergarten teachers who want a graduate degree, and the second requires 39 hours and exists for licensed elementary teachers who want to add a pre-K and kindergarten endorsement to their credentials. Coursework shared between both options includes Current Influences on Early Childhood Education, Adult Involvement in Early Education, Human Growth and Development: Birth-8 and Educational Evaluation. All learners must also complete a 3-credit capstone project, highlighting the skills and knowledge gained throughout the program. Students typically spend 2 years completing all degree requirements. When considering whether this program meets their needs, students should know that the objectives were created to align with practices set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. To apply, degree seekers need an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher, documentation of existing preschool or elementary teacher licensure and official transcripts. Marshall doesn't require GRE scores. Students pay $365.75 per credit, but the College of Education and Professional Development offers nearly 4 dozen departmental scholarships, awarded on the basis of need and/or merit, to help defray costs.

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17 Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, Kentucky$10,00861%91%40%1Yes Yes Yes

Although Northern Kentucky University maintains a zip code in the Bluegrass State, the institution is just 7 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio. This public school educates nearly 15,000 students annually with degrees taught at the brick-and-mortar campus and online. The Master of Arts in Education-Teacher as Leader program exists for individuals who want to obtain a Rank 2 teaching certificate in Kentucky. In addition to 15 hours devoted to core topics, learners can also choose to complete a 12-credit concentration in interdisciplinary early childhood education, learning and behavior disorders, moderate and severe disabilities, gifted education, reading, environmental education, instructional computer technology, ESL or special education. Core curricular topics include Leadership in a Diverse Society, Applied Action Research, and Instructional Design and Curriculum. To graduate, learners must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program and successfully complete an action research project. Internships and practicums are not required, but the department maintains a director of educational placements and internships to help students who want to complete them. When applying, degree seekers with GPAs of 3.0 or higher from their undergraduate degree can bypass the GRE requirement; those with lower GPAs must provide scores. Applicants must also provide official transcripts, a statement of professional goals, 3 letters of recommendation and a copy of their teaching certificate. Once enrolled, distance learners pay $518 per credit. The College of Education and Human Services at NKU maintains accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, and the school received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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18 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, Iowa$8,59264%83%66%1No Yes Yes

Even though Iowa isn't a heavily populated state, more than 12,000 students annually enroll at the University of Northern Iowa thanks to its expansive selection of online degree offerings. One such option is the MAE in Early Childhood Education. Designed for individuals in Iowa who already possess a birth through 3rd-grade classroom licensure and an early childhood endorsement, the program offers students 2 courses per semester in order to fit them into already busy schedules. In all, distance learners take 6 semesters worth of classes, including 2 summer sessions. A sampling of coursework includes Analysis and Design of Curriculum for Young Children, Technology in Early Childhood Education, Foundations of Instructional Psychology and Diversity in Early Childhood Education. Unlike other programs, UNI offers the degree in a cohort style, meaning a group of students start the program at the same time and move through the course sequence together to create a collegial community. The Office of Continuing and Distance Education provides a comprehensive set of resources to ensure online students receive the support needed to succeed. Some of these include advising, career services, access to digital and print materials from the Rod Library and online workshops. Students with GPAs of 3.0 or higher receive full admission consideration while those with GPAs of 2.75-2.99 receive provisional admission. Individuals with GPAs lower than 2.75 may be denied admission. Once accepted, students can expect to pay $509 per credit and can speak with the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships about specific funding opportunities.

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19 Jackson State University Jackson, Mississippi$7,14139%63%48%2No Yes Yes

Jackson State University in Mississippi, a historically black college, operates as a public school serving nearly 8,000 students enrolled on-campus and online. Among this college's many degree options, Jackson State's College of Education and Human Development offers an online Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, which is accredited by CAEP. Students pursuing this degree have 3 different options to complete this program: those who do not want to write a significant paper complete 36 credits, those who write a scholarly paper or complete a project take 33 credit hours and students who want to write a thesis need only take 30 credits for graduation. Regardless of the path chosen, all students must participate in a 3-credit practicum during their final semester. Some of the courses degree seekers can expect to encounter include Literacy Development in the Young Child, Methods and Materials in Early Childhood Education, Children's Literature and Methods of Educational Research. Jackson State uses Canvas to deliver coursework and offers both synchronous and asynchronous classes. Faculty members possess advanced educations and classroom experience to ensure learners get a well-rounded education. In addition to providing career services to distance learners, degree seekers can also find technology support, academic advising and access to digital libraries. When applying, applicants should possess a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Aside from GRE scores, official transcripts and 3 letters of recommendation must be included. Applications are accepted in March and October. Regardless of where a student resides, all online students pay the same rate of $462 per credit.

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20 Auburn University Auburn, Alabama$9,07260%81%74%1No Yes Yes

Established in 1856, Auburn University maintains the distinction of being one of the oldest and largest higher education institutions in Alabama. Today, the public research school caters to the needs of approximately 30,000 learners annually, including those seeking quality early education degrees. The school's College of Education provides an online early childhood education program as a Master of Education or Master of Science to serve individual learning needs. Students who successfully meet all the graduation requirements of the Master of Education program are recommended for Class A Alabama professional educator certification; the MS program does not lead to certification. Some of the courses common to both options include Research Studies in Early Childhood Education, the Integration of Technology into Curriculum, Early Childhood Education Perspectives and Theory-Based Problems in Early Childhood Education. Degree seekers also have the opportunity to complete either a practicum in their area of specialization or research and write a thesis. Individuals pursuing a teaching career typically select the former, while those considering doctoral studies select the thesis option. Both programs require 30 credits for graduation. Tuition for all online students costs $630 per credit; while online learners can't take advantage of the competitive student assistantships offered, a number of departmental scholarships exist for which they can apply. The department maintains no GPA requirements for admittance, but learners must provide GRE scores alongside a completed application. These are accepted 3 times annually: March 15, June 15 and October 15. Upon leaving Auburn, graduates are prepared to work with children in PreK-3 classrooms.

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21 Albany State University Albany, Georgia$3,40214%50%44%1Yes Yes Yes

Albany State University has operated as a historically black university since 1903. The institution's Department of Teacher Education offers an online early childhood education master's program that leads to T-5 certification and prepares graduates for positions in PreK-5 classrooms. This program, which is comprised of 36 credits hours, echoes the department's overarching goal of creating teachers who are transformative, culturally responsive and technologically proficient. Degree seekers hoping to attend Albany State must meet a number of admissions requirements, including holding a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. In addition to demonstrating the completion of several prerequisites before enrolling, they must take and pass the GACE Program Admissions Test and request official transcripts from any school previously attended that show a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Applications can be sent in 3 times annually for admission to the fall, spring or summer semesters. Regardless of whether students live in Georgia or outside the state, all online students pay $300 per credit taken. Albany State provides a number of services to online students who can't visit campus. Some of these resources include access to the James Pendergrast Memorial Library and the Centers for Academic Excellence. Distance learners can also take part in student engagement services, such as clubs and organizations, webinars and the office of career services. Albany State maintains regional accreditation while the Department of Teacher Education receives accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

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22 University of West Alabama Livingston, Alabama$6,39057%53%36%2Yes Yes Yes

Originally established as an all-female academy in 1835, today the University of West Alabama serves more than 5,000 students annually as a coeducational public institution. The university provides a fully online Master of Education in Early Childhood Development degree for learners who aren't seeking certification. This degree takes approximately 1 year of full-time study and requires 34 credits. Rather than following a traditional semester-based schedule, the College of Education organizes courses into 8-week blocks to help learners get through materials more quickly. Classes are divided into 2 areas: professional courses and teaching field. Example courses from the former include Foundations of Education, Educational Technology and Teaching Reading; those from the latter include Planning Programs for Early Education and up to 12 credit hours of electives that are focused on early childhood. To graduate, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all classes taken at UWA. To receive admissions consideration, applicants must hold at least a 2.75 GPA from their undergraduate degree and/or previous graduate coursework. They must also take the GRE. Applications are received on a rolling basis. All students, regardless of location, pay the same flat rate of $429 per credit for online education, and approximately 80% of all UWA online students receive some type of financial assistance. In addition, the department offers the Julia S. Tutwiler Scholarship to help offset the cost of this degree. Other services and resources available to distance learners include access to qualified and experienced faculty, an active career services department and an ever-growing online library.

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23 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, Utah$6,5001%-19%1No No Yes

As one of the few fully online universities in the US, Western Governors University serves more than 90,000 learners each year with options ranging from associate to doctoral programs. Students seeking a quality graduate degree related to early childhood education can pursue the Master of Arts in English Language Learning (PreK-12) degree, a program accredited through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Developed for learners who already possess teaching licensure, this program helps students develop the content knowledge and skills needed to become valuable assets in their schools. The program requires 11 courses, with most students finishing anywhere between 6-25 months depending on previous education and how much time they can devote to the program. Courses for this degree include the Professional Role of the ELL Teacher, Theories of Second Language Acquisition and Grammar, and Research Questions and Literature Review. Students also complete a field experience to hone their skills in a real-world setting. Once enrolled, degree seekers receive a program mentor to walk alongside them throughout the coursework; they also work with an adviser to create a personalized learning plan. Students can take advantage of professional development, career resources and networking opportunities-both while enrolled and as alumni. Recognizing that many individuals work while pursuing this degree, all courses are taught asynchronously. In addition, rather than charging a per-credit tuition rate, WGU charges a flat rate of $3,190 per term to incentivize learners to take as many classes as they want without paying additional fees. Prospective students will need to show proof of their teaching license and supply official college transcripts from their previously earned bachelor's degree.

School website
24 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro, Pennsylvania$8,69474%95%52%2Yes No Yes

Students can earn their Master of Education in Early Childhood Education in a hybrid online program at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. The program is accredited by both the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Current and aspiring teachers will learn to work with children who are infants through grade 3, with an additional concentration available in early childhood certification. This certification may not be recognized in states outside of Pennsylvania. Students in the program must attend a weeklong summer residency on campus, but they can take the rest of the course in an online format. They must complete an independent research project as part of their degree requirements. Students who complete the program are prepared to take the PRAXIS/PECT and can be certified to teach in Pennsylvania. Out-of-state students may need to complete additional certification requirements in their states. Edinboro allows students to use employer tuition reimbursement benefits to pay for their part-time education plans if their employers offer those benefits. Veterans can also apply Veterans' Education Benefits and tuition assistance through the Montgomery GI Bill. The college provides grants and scholarships for veterans, active members of the military and dependents of people in the military. Online students at Edinboro can apply for scholarships after filling out their FAFSA. The school accepts government, state and private loans while also offering financial aid through the college itself. Edinboro has career development resources available for all students, including a program where students can record themselves answering interview questions and send that recording to experts for feedback.

School website
25 Southeastern Oklahoma State University Durant, Oklahoma$4,46462%77%32%1No Yes Yes

Southeastern Oklahoma State University has 2 online program options available for students interested in earning their master's degree in education and either beginning careers or advancing in the field of early childhood education. This college's Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction online program focuses on curriculum development for K-12 students and prepares graduates to progress their careers in education. Graduates from this program are prepared to teach in classroom settings, or can pursue careers as curriculum specialists and instructional coordinators. The Master of Education in Special Education program at SOSU has a specialization in challenging behaviors and addresses educational program development that is inclusive of children with special needs. This entirely online degree program prepares students to advance in the field of special education classroom instruction or to work as intervention specialists for learning disabilities. All of SOSU's education programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Students enrolled in this college can apply for financial aid to help pay for their degree after filling out the FAFSA. Veterans can use their military benefits to help pay for a master's degree at SOSU, and can access helpful resources through the Office of Veterans Services. SOSU provides online students with academic support services through the Educational Opportunities Center, including distance tutoring. Online students can access SOSU's library services, from databases and e-books to print materials. There are career resources available through the Career Management Center, which can help students with career counseling, resume critiques and mock interviews. It also connects SOSU students with employers.

School website
26 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, Louisiana$5,73849%62%40%2Yes Yes Yes School website
27 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, Kentucky$11,40041%94%54%2No Yes Yes School website
28 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, Alabama$8,90461%53%34%1Yes Yes Yes School website
29 University of South Alabama Mobile, Alabama$7,32657%81%42%2No Yes Yes School website
30 University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina$4,25228%62%58%2No Yes Yes School website
31 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, North Dakota$7,18554%84%57%2No Yes Yes School website
32 Armstrong State University Savannah, Georgia$3,7988%80%35%1Yes Yes Yes School website
33 University of North Alabama Florence, Alabama$5,59866%56%44%1No Yes Yes School website
34 University of Missouri-St Louis Saint Louis, Missouri$10,66885%71%46%1No Yes Yes School website
35 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, Kentucky$9,45051%86%45%2No Yes Yes School website
36 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, New York$15,15683%78%32%2Yes Yes Yes School website
37 Eastern Oregon University La Grande, Oregon$10,76283%97%37%1Yes Yes Yes School website
38 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina$5,11761%74%58%1No Yes Yes School website
39 University of Toledo Toledo, Ohio$13,16692%94%47%1Yes Yes Yes School website
40 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, Louisiana$6,49062%76%41%2No Yes Yes School website
41 University of West Georgia Carrollton, Georgia$3,99610%59%44%1No Yes Yes School website
42 Norfolk State University Norfolk, Virginia$7,14840%85%37%1Yes Yes Yes School website
43 Alabama State University Montgomery, Alabama$6,17432%46%29%2Yes Yes Yes School website
44 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, Georgia$6,63613%65%54%2Yes No Yes School website
45 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, Colorado$6,71445%61%45%1No Yes Yes School website
46 Auburn University at Montgomery Montgomery, Alabama$6,73233%77%28%1No Yes Yes School website
47 Thomas University Thomasville, Georgia$11,79078%47%17%1Yes No Yes School website
48 University of South Carolina-Upstate Spartanburg, South Carolina$12,79819%55%40%1No Yes Yes School website
49 Pacific Oaks College Pasadena, California$28,515---2Yes No Yes School website

What Can I Learn in an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Program?

The time it takes to complete an online master’s in early childhood development will depend on the program taken and the number of credit hours required. Most programs range from 30-36 credit hours, but some programs or specializations may require additional credits. Typically, this type of program can be completed in two years if attended full-time.

Students can expect to acquire the following skills from an online master’s degree in early childhood education:

  • An insight into the history and theory of childhood education
  • A deeper understanding of child development
  • A greater general knowledge of early childhood learning
  • The ability to create curricula for young learners
  • The ability to assess and improve student outcomes

Students will also be able to gain hands-on experience through a directed practicum in a real-life early childhood learning environment.

What common courses are offered in a master’s in Early Childhood Education program?

Although courses will vary depending on the online program, many colleges follow similar curriculum. Common courses include:

Early Childhood Development

This course introduces students to the cognitive, social and emotional development of children from infancy to age six. During this course, students often spend time with kindergarten children, observing their social interactions.

Infant and Toddler Assessment and Intervention Course

This course focuses on curriculum and assessment models for educators of early learners and young students. Students will explore strategies for effective teaching as they review the developmental learning stages and determine if children are experiencing learning or developmental difficulties.

Language Development

Students examine methods for teaching young children how to spell and pronounce as well as introducing vocabulary. By observing classroom behavior, students learn how young children acquire language and compare it to the linguistic abilities of older children. Students also learn how to develop lesson plans to teach young children how to read and write.

Role of the Parents

Participants in this class learn the importance of communicating with the parents or guardians of their future students. Students learn ways in which parents can help make learning fun through familial interactions. They will also learn how to encourage parents to get involved in the classroom.

Preschool and Kindergarten Student Teaching Course

Student teachers get an opportunity to practice their newly acquired skills in a real-life classroom. Under the direction of an experienced teacher, students practice teaching and assessing children of different ability levels.

Play in Early Childhood Education

This course introduces the complex relationship between play and learning for young children from infancy to age eight. The theory underlying this course is that children learn while they are actively engaged with the world around them. Students learn strategies for facilitating play opportunities in preschool and primary curricula.

Issues and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education

This course presents an overview of past, present and future issues related to children’s advocacy. The subject is addressed in terms of philosophical approaches and the application of theory. Students will become familiar with advocacy for children and families at the state and national levels.

What exams or projects should I expect?

The culmination of the online master’s degree in early childhood learning will depend on where the course is taken and how many credit hours are required to graduate. Students may be required to complete one or more of the following exams or projects:

Capstone Project

Students will be advised on this type of culminating project by their faculty advisor. The aim of the capstone project is to demonstrate knowledge acquired through coursework as well as professional experiences in the classroom.

Exam

Students may be required to take an online comprehensive exam. If this is the case, the exam will be taken in one sitting. Typically, the exam will cover six to ten topic areas from the master’s degree in early childhood learning. Students will be expected to answer ten questions from each topic.

Practicum

An early childhood education practicum is a form of work experience that is part of the foundation of training in education. It involves supervision by an experienced teacher. Online master’s in early childhood education programs typically have one or more requirements for a practicum. These can range from short-term assignments to longer-term internships.

What specializations are available in a master’s in Early Childhood Education program?

Many online colleges offer specialized courses as part of a master’s degree in early childhood education. Here are some of the available options:

Administration Management and Leadership

This specialization gives students the skills to start or manage an early childcare center or a development program. It provides the skills needed to develop child-centered programs that inspire positive learning experiences for young children.

Teaching Diversity in Early Childhood Education

This specialization aims to deepen students’ understanding of how diversity can impact early childhood development and learning. In addition to studying specific special needs, students examine the impact of violence, trauma and stress. They also learn practical strategies to help improve young children’s developmental and learning outcomes.

Early Childhood Public Policy and Advocacy

This specialization focuses on the complex infrastructure of early childhood policy from the perspectives of local, state, national and international levels. Students learn how policies are formed, how they relate to current politics and how funds are allocated.

Teaching Adults in the Early Childhood Field

Students explore the main theories of adult motivation and learning in preparation for a career as a higher education teacher, a parent educator, community trainer or child development trainer.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Ear

What Can I do with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree?

Obtaining a master’s degree in early childhood education can open the doors to a number of promising careers. Some potential careers include:

Childcare or Preschool Director

A master’s degree in early childhood education with a specialization in administration management and leadership allows graduates to take on the role of an administrator or director of a childcare facility or a preschool. Childcare or preschool directors have the responsibility of managing the facility, maintaining budgets, enforcing policies and completing reports. They are also responsible for hiring, training and evaluating staff.

Elementary Teacher

Many elementary teachers improve their marketability and their teaching by completing a master’s in early childhood education. This degree enables them to broaden their range of instructional strategies and assessment and evaluation techniques.

Postsecondary Teacher

Master’s degrees in early childhood learning that are focused on research enable graduates to participate in educational research and teach education and child development courses at the postsecondary level. Postsecondary teachers plan and deliver lessons, evaluate student performance and help students along their career path.

Early Childhood Special Education Teacher

As well as a master’s degree in early childhood education and general experience teaching, this position also requires specialized training and experience including music and art instruction designed for special education students.

Students pursuing a master’s degree in early childhood education may find it beneficial to join one or more of the following professional organizations:

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

This non-profit organization represents more than 150,000 teachers and other education professionals internationally. Member benefits include a subscription to Educational Leadership magazine and numerous educational opportunities.

Association of American Educators

This is a national non-union organization that provides advocacy and professional development opportunities for teachers.

National Education Association

This association has over 3.2 million members. It provides legal support and insurance for educators at all levels.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Early Childhood Education?

Career Lowest 10% Earned Annually Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Earned Annually Job Growth 2016-2026
Preschool and Childcare Directors Less than $29,980 $46,890 More than $85,240 +11%
Elementary Teacher Less than $37,340 $57,160 More than $92,770 +7%
Postsecondary Teacher Less than $39,040 $76,000 More than $170,160 +15%
Early Childhood Special Education Teacher Less than $38,660 58,600 More than $95,320 +8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

As can be seen in the table above, while careers in elementary school teaching and early childhood education are growing at an average pace, other careers which require a master’s degree in early childhood education, such as child, family and school social worker and postsecondary school teacher are expanding much faster than average.

It’s also important to note that those with a master’s degree in early childhood education will likely make more per year than those with just a bachelor’s. According to data provided by the Center on Education and the Workforce, those with a bachelor’s degree earn a median salary of $39,000 while those with a graduate degree earn $53,000.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Programs

Colleges offering an M.A. in early childhood education may be accredited by one of a number of bodies including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, International Dyslexia Association, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Students who have attained their master’s degree in early childhood education will need to review their state’s requirement for acquiring their official teaching credential. The Council for Professional Recognition offers the Childhood Development Associate (CDA), which is a credential ensuring that teachers meet all the requirements for early childhood learning education. The Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation offers national certification.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree

It is possible for students to get funding for this type of online degree from government, private or non-profit organizations throughout the United States, such as:

  • Federal Financial Aid

    Applying for financial aid for an online course is generally the same as applying for funding for an on-campus course. Students may fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and the college will determine eligibility for the award.

  • State-Sponsored Scholarships

    Many states also offer scholarships to encourage residents to enroll in early childhood development programs. For example, Massachusetts offers the Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships of up to $9,000 to Massachusetts residents who are currently employed in the field of early childhood education and enroll in a degree program in early childhood education.

  • Educator Discounts

    Some colleges and universities will offer discounts to students enrolled in their programs who are also currently educators. For example, George Mason University offers a 15 percent tuition discount for educators working in preK-12 schools in Virginia enrolled in any of their College of Education and Human Development graduate programs.