Online Early Childhood Education Degrees

Search for online colleges by subject.

Best Online Early Childhood Education Programs Badge

Early childhood education majors learn how to care for children and encourage creativity, emotional development, and basic academic skills. A bachelor’s degree in education helps professionals increase their earning potential and gain specialized training. After earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (ECE), graduates can pursue careers as preschool teachers, preschool directors, and kindergarten teachers.

Our list ranks the top online bachelor’s in early childhood education programs for 2021. Prospective applicants can use the rankings to find the best fit for their budget, interests, and career goals. This article also introduces common ECE courses, salary data for graduates, and scholarships for ECE majors.

Early Childhood Education Questions

  • How long does it take to earn a degree in early childhood education?

    A bachelor’s in early childhood education typically takes four years for full-time students to complete. Transfer students and those who choose an accelerated program may earn the degree sooner.

  • What else can you do with an early childhood education degree?

    In addition to childcare worker, preschool teacher, and pre-K teacher roles, an early childhood education degree prepares graduates for roles like preschool director and kindergarten teacher.

  • Is early childhood education a good career?

    Careers in early childhood education appeal to people who love working with children. Early childhood educators care for infants and children up to age eight.

  • How much money can you make with a degree in early childhood education?

    Early childhood education salaries vary depending on the role, employer, and location. According to the BLS, preschool teachers earn a median annual salary of around $30,000 per year, while preschool directors make around $48,000.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Why Get a Degree in Early Childhood Education?

With a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, childcare workers can increase their earning potential and advance to administrative positions. Early childhood education majors study topics like child development, literacy education, social and emotional learning, and ECE leadership. Specializations, such as ECE administration or special education, can prepare graduates for focused roles.

Online ECE programs give students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Additionally, many schools offer tuition discounts to online students.

Online Guide to Accredited Colleges and Universities

How Much Does an Early Childhood Education Degree Cost?

The cost of an early childhood education bachelor’s degree varies by factors like school and enrollment status. For example, public colleges typically charge lower tuition rates than private schools. The University of Washington charges $231 per credit for its online bachelor’s in early care and education program, while California Baptist University costs $613 per credit for its online bachelor’s in early childhood studies.

Public institutions usually offer tuition discounts for in-state students. For instance, at the University of Cincinnati, in-state, part-time students pay $505 per credit for the online bachelor’s in early childhood education program, while out-of-state students pay $520 per credit.

However, some schools allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of residency. Online learners may also save on transportation costs and living expenses compared to on-campus students.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree

The ACO affordability calculator helps students determine how much they can afford to pay for a bachelor’s in early childhood education degree. Prospective students can enter information like their monthly income, expenses, and expected financial aid to determine their budget for a college degree.

College Affordability Calculator

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Early Childhood Education Majors Make?

Careers in early childhood education typically pay between $30,000-$60,000 per year. Preschool teachers earn a median pay of around $30,500 per year, according to BLS data, while preschool and childcare center directors make a median annual salary of over $48,000.

In addition to preschool and pre-K jobs, an ECE degree can lead to jobs like kindergarten or primary grade teacher. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn a median salary of $59,420 per year.

Early childhood educators can increase their earning potential by pursuing certification, licensure, and/or a higher degree. Specializations, such as special education, may also lead to higher-paying jobs.

Courses in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education courses strengthen teaching, evaluation, and assessment skills. During an ECE degree, undergraduates take courses on topics like child development, curriculum development, and play-based learning. Some programs offer specializations in areas like early childhood administration for preschool directors and early childhood special education.

In addition to coursework, majors complete field observations and student-teaching requirements to gain hands-on experience.

Courses vary by program, but this section introduces classes commonly found in bachelor’s in early childhood education programs.

This course examines theoretical and practical approaches to early childhood education. Topics may include teaching strategies that encourage social and emotional development, healthy teacher-child interactions, and professional standards. This introductory course prepares majors for advanced coursework.

In child development courses, students examine developmental milestones from birth through age eight. In addition to physical milestones, learners explore cognitive, language, and social milestones. By studying typical and atypical development, students learn to identify potential developmental issues.

This course explores topics like age-appropriate curriculum, play-based learning, and activity planning. Majors also learn how to implement and evaluate a curriculum to determine its effectiveness. The class prepares graduates for lead teacher and preschool director roles.

Certifications and Licensure for Early Childhood Education

Early childhood educators can demonstrate their expertise through professional certifications and licenses. For example, an early childhood education bachelor’s degree may meet the requirements for a state-issued teaching license. The following list outlines several licenses and certifications for early childhood education professionals.

Early Childhood Educator License

Some early childhood education programs prepare graduates for state licensure, a process that also requires passing an examination and a background check. The license meets requirements for preschool, pre-K, and primary grade teaching jobs.

Explore Here

Certified Childcare Professional

The CCP credential sets professional standards for childcare professionals. Candidates need at least 720 hours of childcare experience in a licensed program and 180 hours of education or training, which a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education meets. The credential also requires a portfolio, a performance-based assessment, an examination, and parent evaluations.

Explore Here

Child Development Associate

The CDA credential recognizes experienced early care professionals. Candidates need at least 120 hours of early childhood education training. A bachelor’s in early childhood education meets this requirement. Candidates must also submit a professional portfolio, meet with a professional development specialist, and complete 480 hours of work experience.

Explore Here

Scholarships and Grants for Early Childhood Education

Professional associations, private foundations, and state government agencies support early childhood education students through scholarships and grants. Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines several scholarship and grant opportunities for early childhood education students.

  • Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Undergraduates majoring in education qualify for this award. Applicants must submit an essay and unofficial transcripts with their application.

    Amount: $1,000

    Explore Here

  • Legacy Lasting Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: NAEYC offers scholarships for early learning center administrators, primary grade classroom teachers, and students. For example, the Diane Trister Dodge Award supports early childhood education majors.

    Amount: Varies

    Explore Here

  • TEACH Grants

    Who Can Apply: The federal student aid program offers TEACH Grants for educators in high-need fields, including early childhood special education. Recipients must agree to work in a high-need area or low-income school after earning their degree.

    Amount: Up to $4,000

    Explore Here

Online Early Childhood Education Programs

  1. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    Liberty University's Bachelor of Science in early childhood education is offered in a 100% online format. Students have the option, however, of including a field experience capstone course. If they choose to do so, they'll gain hands-on experience and will be able to pursue certification through the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Graduates interested in pursuing careers as teachers can continue on to earn a Master of Arts degree in teaching; this degree is required to obtain teaching licensure. Liberty University is a private, Christian-affiliated institution with its main campus in Lynchburg, Virginia.

  2. The University of Montana-Western

    Dillon , MT



    The Bachelor of Science in early childhood education offered by the University of Montana Western is a hybrid program combining online coursework with in-person field experience. Successful completion of 120 credit hours is required to earn this degree, including 70 credits related specifically to the major subject. Students can pursue an area of emphasis and have a dozen options from which to choose. Degree requirements also include completion of a practicum consisting of supervised field experience in the student's area of emphasis. Example career options for graduates of this program include early childhood teacher, early childhood program administrator, parent educator and early childhood trainer.

  3. South Dakota State University

    Brookings, SD



    South Dakota State University's Bachelor of Science in Early Education and Care is a hybrid program that combines online courses and in-class observation and evaluation experiences. The program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, or Great Plains IDEA, a partnership of 20 public universities that gives students access to online courses from a wide range of partner institutions. The degree can qualify graduates to work in a variety of early childhood education settings, such as child care homes and centers, Head Start programs, infant/toddler and pre-school programs and before- and after-school programs for children ages 8 and younger.

  4. Bemidji State University

    Bemidji, MN



    For students interested in earning their degrees online and working in the field of early childhood education, Bemidji offers a Bachelor of Science in elementary education. The degree program is available in a hybrid format, combining online courses with 3 face-to-face meetings in the Minneapolis metro area. An associate degree or completed MN transfer curriculum with a cumulative 3.0 GPA is required for admission. Bemidji's elementary education bachelor's degree prepares graduates for careers in a range of early-childhood-education-related positions, including preschool and kindergarten or elementary school.

  5. Mayville State University

    Mayville, ND



    Mayville State University offers two early childhood education-focused bachelor's degrees that can be earned partially through online study. Mayville's Bachelor of Science Education in early childhood education degree is a composite of both early childhood education and elementary education and qualifies graduates to apply for birth-through-3rd-grade teacher licensure. Mayville's Bachelor of Arts in early childhood degree is designed to prepare students to work in a number of early childhood education-related leadership occupations, including preschool teachers, administrators, curriculum specialists and more. Both degrees feature a combination of online coursework and in-person activities (field experiences, internships, student teaching).

  6. Northern Arizona University

    Flagstaff, AZ



    The online Bachelor of Applied Science in early childhood education offered by Northern Arizona University is a blended online/in-person degree-completion program designed for individuals who have previously earned associate degrees from community colleges and wish to expand their knowledge and skills in early childhood education. Students must complete 120 total credit units, which include 64 units in an associate degree transfer block (75 units accepted from Arizona community colleges), and 21 units in specialized early childhood education coursework. This degree does not lead to teacher certification, but graduates should be able to pursue career opportunities with preschools, state agencies, nonprofit organizations and other similar venues where specialized skills in early childhood education are utilized.

  7. University of Nebraska at Kearney

    Kearney, NE



    The University of Nebraska Kearney's online Bachelor of Arts in early childhood inclusive program was created to allow assistants in preschools, in-house teachers, Head Start staff members and other students unable to attend regular classes on college campuses to earn their degrees and become eligible for their teaching certificates. The degree is offered in a hybrid format that combines online coursework with school-based experiences and student teaching. The degree takes 120 credit hours to complete and prepares students to work with children from birth to age 5 in special education or from birth to age 8 in regular education classrooms.

  8. Western Carolina University

    Cullowhee, NC



    Western Carolina University's birth to kindergarten (BK) program offers two distinct online bachelor's degree concentrations. The first option is a professional education concentration is designed for those interested in teaching in public school pre-K, North Carolina pre-K and/or kindergarten settings. Coursework is completed online and students are required to complete in-person internships. Internship placement is limited to North Carolina pre-K, Head Start and kindergarten classrooms. The second option is the early childhood concentration, which is geared to those students interested in working with young children and their families in settings other than public schools, as students are not certified to teach in these settings. Coursework is completed online for this concentration, but there is no internship requirement. Students must, however, complete 18 credit hours of action research, in which they must participate in person in an early childhood setting. An alternative licensure option is also available. This option allows students who have previously earned 4-year degrees to participate in internships and other experiences in order to qualify for teaching licensure.

  9. University of Toledo

    Toledo, OH



    The University of Toledo's bachelor's degree in early childhood education is a non-licensure, degree-completion program that combines online coursework with field experiences. Students must have an associate degree in early childhood education or child development with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.7 to be admitted into this program. An applicant must also be employed at an early care or education program for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Graduates with this degree typically pursue early childhood education-related employment in support and administrative positions in schools, public and private agencies and similar organizations, or go on to pursue master's degrees in the field, leading to professional licensure and positions as preschool and kindergarten teachers.

  10. Judson College

    Marion, AL



    Judson College is a private, Baptist-affiliated, all women's college located in Marion, Georgia. Women interested in working with young children, including those at the preschool level and younger, may want to consider Judson College's online Bachelor of Science in elementary education. This hybrid degree-completion program combines online coursework with in-person field work experiences. Courses follow a cohort model, which requires students to start and complete classes on the same schedule as their on-campus counterparts. This degree prepares graduates for employment as teachers at the K-6 grade levels, but may also be applicable to early childhood education settings. Judson College certifies Alabama degree candidates only, and field experience and clinical practice observation placements for this degree program are made exclusively with Alabama schools.

See Our Rankings Methodology

Latest Posts

See All Posts
How I Paid Off My Student Loans: Megan in St. Paul, Minnesota

How I Paid Off My Student Loans: Megan in St. Paul, Minnesota

July 28, 2021   |   Staff Writers

Welcome to our new series about personal student loan repayment. We'll be sharing how people got out of debt, whether it was through loan forgiveness, steady payments, or outside help....

What are the Differences Between the FAFSA and the CSS Profile?

What are the Differences Between the FAFSA and the CSS Profile?

July 26, 2021   |   Thomas Broderick

Prospective and current college students can use the FAFSA application to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid. Another popular financial aid form includes the CSS Profile, which 400 colleges and universities use to award need-based institutional aid. The following sections break down the differences between the two applications, instructions for filling them out, and […]

Search for Online Colleges by Subject

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.