Online Early Childhood Education Degrees

Earning an online bachelor's degree in early childhood education can lead to a rewarding career. Here, we list the top programs available.

Updated September 7, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Early Childhood Education Degrees

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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. 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. 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.

Online Early Childhood Education Programs

#1

Liberty University

School Information
Location Lynchburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 47%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

With online and on-campus programs across fields, Liberty University is a private institution. In addition to educating learners at its Virginia campus, the school enrolls learners in 161 online programs. The flexible bachelor's in early childhood education prepares students for a variety of opportunities in early childhood education through accessible coursework.

To graduate with the bachelor's degree, learners complete general education coursework, along with core and upper-division major classes. Hands-on experiential learning opportunities allow degree-seekers to apply field-specific knowledge and skills. During their undergraduate studies and after graduation, individuals can access professional assistance from faculty advisors and career counselors.

Enrollees at the accredited institution can qualify for federal grants and loans. An admissions advisor can provide specific application details, including requirements and deadlines.

Liberty University Fast Facts:

Total Bachelor's Programs: 91

Online Bachelor's Programs: 30

Number of Online Students: 78,511

Undergraduate Admission Rate: 51%

Graduation Rate: 47%

Average Per-Credit Price: $750

Transfer Credits Counted: Yes

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#2

The University of Montana-Western

School Information
Location Dillon, Montana
Admission Rate 56%
Graduation Rate 49%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

With a main campus in Dillon, Montana, The University of Montana-Western delivers undergraduate and graduate programs in various fields. Undergraduates interested in early childhood education can enroll in the online bachelor's in early childhood education program.

The program features flexible enrollment options that make earning a degree easier. Distance learners can complete coursework from any location. Students view lectures and participate in discussions virtually. Degree-seekers enrolled full time typically need four years to graduate from the 120-credit bachelor's program.

The institution holds accreditation, which means students can submit the FAFSA and determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid. Learners can work with financial aid counselors to understand funding options and reduce out-of-pocket expenses. According to the school, 85% of enrollees receive some form of financial aid.

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#3

South Dakota State University

School Information
Location Brookings, South Dakota
Admission Rate 90%
Graduation Rate 56%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Distance learners can pursue an online bachelor's in early education and care at South Dakota State University. The online program features flexible scheduling options that benefit working professionals. After graduation, bachelor's degree holders can apply for entry-level careers in early childhood education.

The program features foundational and advanced courses in the major. Learners can customize the curriculum through elective options. General education requirements help students develop and strengthen important skills, such as critical thinking and communication. Faculty mentors help enrollees select courses that will support their career aspirations.

Located in Brookings, the public institution delivers 196 programs. Working professionals often pursue one of the school's nine online bachelor's programs. Students with financial need can apply for federal loans and grants, such as the Pell Grant.

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#4

Bemidji State University

School Information
Location Bemidji, Minnesota
Admission Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 48%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Minnesota-based Bemidji State University enrolls students in 83 programs. The public institution's learners can study online or on campus. Online students at the school can pursue a bachelor's in elementary education.

Enrollees benefit from flexible scheduling options. General education requirements help students develop critical thinking and analytical skills. The curriculum blends classroom learning and hands-on experiences to prepare degree-seekers to succeed in the field. Undergraduates work closely with faculty mentors and academic advisors to design an individualized degree plan.

Online degree-seekers pay affordable tuition rates, making undergraduate studies more accessible. Students can discuss funding options with financial aid counselors.

Bemidji State University Fast Facts:

Number of Online Students: 2,213

Student Acceptance Rate: 65%

Total Bachelor's Programs: 61

Online Bachelor's Programs: 11

Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No

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#5

Mayville State University

School Information
Location Mayville, North Dakota
Admission Rate 70%
Graduation Rate 34%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Graduates of Mayville State University's online bachelor of science in education in early childhood education program can pursue a variety of positions. The public institution enrolls students in 33 programs, including three online programs.

The virtual classroom environment helps learners gain important technology skills. In addition to core coursework, students complete advanced classes in the field. General education requirements help degree-seekers develop critical thinking and analytical skills. Internship opportunities help undergraduates prepare to impress employers after graduation.

The school delivers in-person and virtual student support services, such as tutoring and career counseling. Prospective applicants submit an application and the FAFSA to qualify for federal financial aid programs. Students can discuss funding options with financial aid counselors and consult academic advisors when registering for classes.

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#6

Northern Arizona University

School Information
Location Flagstaff, Arizona
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 57%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Northern Arizona University offers an online bachelor of applied science in early childhood for students who want to earn their degree while maintaining employment. The online program features scheduling flexibility that appeals to busy degree-seekers.

Northern Arizona University is a Flagstaff-based public institution. In addition to on-campus offerings, the school delivers 70 online programs. The school also enrolls degree-seekers in 18 online bachelor's programs.

Enrollees complete core courses, general education requirements, and upper-division classes. The program requires degree-seekers to earn at least 120 credits. The rigorous curriculum helps enrollees develop transferable skills and specialized knowledge.

The school offers support services, including tutoring and academic advising, for undergraduate and graduate learners. Undergraduates and alumni can receive online advising from faculty advisors and career counselors. Financial aid counselors help students understand funding options and reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

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#7

University of Nebraska at Kearney

School Information
Location Kearney, Nebraska
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 56%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

University of Nebraska at Kearney is a public institution that offers 25 online programs. The school provides distance learning options for students interested in various fields. One option includes the bachelor's in early childhood inclusive teaching.

Core and general education classes help degree-seekers develop transferable skills and prepare for advanced coursework. While completing upper-division requirements, learners gain critical thinking skills they can apply to careers and advanced studies. Undergraduate degree-seekers usually earn the bachelor's in four years of full-time study.

Degree candidates can access support services such as academic advising and career counseling. The institution holds accreditation, which means enrollees with financial need can qualify for federal grants and loans.

University of Nebraska at Kearney Fast Facts:

Acceptance Rate: 85%

Total Programs: 56

Total Bachelor's Programs: 38

Online Bachelor's Programs: 9

Transfer Credits Accepted: No

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#8

Western Carolina University

School Information
Location Cullowhee, North Carolina
Admission Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 62%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Western Carolina University offers an online bachelor's in birth-kindergarten for busy learners who want to earn their degree while maintaining employment. In addition to on-campus options in Cullowhee, North Carolina, students at the public institution can pursue 19 programs in an online format. The school offers eight online bachelor's programs that are ideal for busy degree-seekers.

Enrollees complete coursework in a virtual classroom environment. The curriculum comprises core coursework and advanced classes to prepare students for the workforce. Degree-seekers also complete general education courses, which strengthen skills such as critical thinking. In-person internships provide opportunities for undergraduates to gain practical experience.

Distance learners can access support services such as academic advising and career-planning resources. At the accredited institution, students who demonstrate financial need can qualify for federal aid. Financial aid counseling can help students reduce out-of-pocket expenses, and academic advisors assist with course selections.

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#9

University of Toledo

School Information
Location Toledo, Ohio
Admission Rate 96%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Students can attend classes at University of Toledo's campus in Toledo, Ohio. The institution's academic programs feature online and in-person learning formats. Learners can pursue 32 online programs, 10 of which confer bachelor's degrees. After completing the online bachelor's in early childhood education from the institution, graduates often enter rewarding careers.

The school requires at least 120 credits for the bachelor's degree. Students complete core courses, general education requirements, and upper-division classes. Specialized electives allow learners to customize the program based on their goals and interests. The program also offers faculty mentorship and internship opportunities.

The institution holds accreditation, which means enrollees can submit the FAFSA and determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid. Of the school's undergraduates, 95% fund their education through financial aid. Prospective applicants can contact the institution for details about application deadlines and requirements.

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#10

Florida International Training Institute

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 90%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training

Florida International Training Institute is a private institution educating students from its main campus in Miami. The school offers online and on-campus programs for learners. The online bachelor of science in early childhood education from the institution provides a foundation for numerous careers.

The school requires at least 120 credits for the bachelor's degree. Students take classes on general education topics, foundational subjects, and more advanced areas of the field. In addition to completing major courses, learners customize the curriculum by choosing electives. Degree candidates can pursue in-person internships, which many complete locally.

The institution holds accreditation, which means enrollees with financial need can qualify for federal grants and loans. In addition, 98% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. Prospective students can contact the institution for details about application deadlines and requirements.

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#11

Chaminade University of Honolulu

School Information
Location Honolulu, Hawaii
Admission Rate 95%
Graduation Rate 59%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A Hawaii-based private institution, Chaminade University of Honolulu offers both on-campus and online programs. Degree-seekers can choose from the school's 52 program options, with 21 programs available online. The institution's online offerings include a bachelor's in early childhood education.

To complete the degree, students earn at least 120 credits. Enrollees take general education and field-specific classes. Degree candidates can consult with faculty mentors to select classes aligning with their interests and career goals. In-person internships provide opportunities for online students to gain practical experience.

The institution holds accreditation, which means enrollees can submit the FAFSA and determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid. To fund their education, 99% of the school's undergraduates receive financial aid. An admissions advisor can provide specific application details, including requirements and deadlines.

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#12

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

School Information
Location Cincinnati, Ohio
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 71%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Based in Ohio, University of Cincinnati-Main Campus offers undergraduate and graduate programs. The public institution delivers 66 online programs, with 459 total programs available. Graduates of the school's bachelor's in early childhood education program often pursue rewarding careers in early childhood education.

Working professionals can benefit from the program's flexible enrollment options. Learners complete coursework in a virtual classroom environment. Full-time degree-seekers typically need four years to earn the 120-credit bachelor's degree. Incoming students with transfer credits can earn their degree sooner.

Students can qualify for federal grants and loans. Learners in the school's online programs pay an average of $732 per credit. The school's financial aid counselors support online enrollees as they search for funding options. At the school, 75% of undergraduates obtain financial aid to pay for their degree.

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#13

North Carolina Central University

School Information
Location Durham, North Carolina
Admission Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 49%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

With 65 programs, North Carolina Central University provides academic programs for North Carolina-based students and those throughout the country. The public institution delivers bachelor's programs in online and in-person learning formats. Among the school's online options is a respected bachelor of science in birth-kindergarten teacher education program.

Online enrollees benefit from scheduling flexibility. Students complete general education courses, which strengthen skills such as critical thinking. Specialized electives allow degree-seekers to customize the curriculum, and experiential learning components provide practical skills. Faculty advisors provide undergraduates with academic and professional guidance.

The institution charges online learners affordable tuition rates, making undergraduate studies more accessible. The school's dedicated financial aid counselors work with students as they locate and apply for educational funding.

North Carolina Central University Fast Facts:

Number of Online Students: 3,771

Student Admission Rate: 68%

Total Bachelor's Programs: 33

Online Bachelor's Programs: 9

Offers Transfer Credits: No

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#14

Fort Hays State University

School Information
Location Hays, Kansas
Admission Rate 91%
Graduation Rate 43%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fort Hays State University offers 79 programs from its main campus in Hays, Kansas. Learners can study in person or in a distance learning format. The school's online offerings include a bachelor of science in education (early childhood unified).

Enrollees pursuing the online degree benefit from scheduling flexibility. General education requirements help students develop transferable skills that apply to a variety of careers. Specialized electives allow degree-seekers to customize the curriculum, and experiential learning components provide practical skills. Faculty mentors and academic advisors help undergraduates select courses that will support their career aspirations.

Online learners at the institution pay affordable tuition rates, making undergraduate studies more accessible. Financial aid advisors connect degree-seekers with scholarship and grant opportunities.

Fort Hays State University Numbers:

Number of Online Students: 8,759

Rate of Undergraduate Admission: 91%

Total Bachelor's Programs: 52

Online Bachelor's Programs: 24

Grants Transfer Credits: No

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#15

National University

School Information
Location La Jolla, California
Admission Rate 89%
Graduation Rate 29%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Situated in La Jolla, California, National University offers undergraduate and graduate programs in virtual and in-person formats. The private institution enrolls students in 137 programs, including 98 online programs. Individuals who aspire to careers in early childhood education can pursue the school's bachelor of arts in early childhood education.

The program features flexible enrollment options, which are ideal for busy enrollees. Students complete coursework in a virtual classroom environment using the latest technology. Undergraduate degree-seekers typically earn the 120 credits required to graduate in four years.

At the accredited institution, learners with financial need can qualify for federal aid. The school's financial aid counselors help students secure funding through scholarship and grant programs. Of the school's undergraduates, 33% obtain financial aid to pay for their degree.

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#16

University of West Alabama

School Information
Location Livingston, Alabama
Admission Rate 35%
Graduation Rate 35%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 77% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The bachelor's in early childhood development at University of West Alabama is one of the top-ranked online programs in the field. From its campus in Livingston, the public institution enrolls undergraduates in on-campus and online programs. The flexible learning format helps degree-seekers balance college with work and other responsibilities.

Degree candidates take general education courses, electives, and advanced classes. Students work with faculty mentors and academic advisors to customize their program through electives and minors. The school's online services, including tutoring, financial aid advising, and career counseling, help distance learners complete the program.

Because of the school's accreditation, enrollees can qualify for federal student aid programs like the Pell Grant. Distance learners can also use scholarships, state grants, and student loans to cover costs.

University of West Alabama Numbers:

Total Bachelor's Programs: 25

Online Bachelor's Programs: 10

Number of Online Students: 4,339

Student Acceptance Rate: 35%

Percent of Students who Earn a Bachelor's Degree: 35%

Price Per Credit: $410

Offers Transfer Credits: No

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#17

Winston-Salem State University

School Information
Location Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Admission Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 51%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Winston-Salem State University delivers respected, accessible online undergraduate programs for distance degree-seekers. The public institution is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and offers online and on-campus programs. One option includes a bachelor of science in birth-kindergarten education.

Distance learners complete coursework in a virtual classroom environment, gaining experience with the latest technology. Online students participate in virtual discussions and communicate with faculty members online. Degree-seekers complete core classes and specialized courses in the field. Bachelor's degree-holders can apply for entry-level careers immediately after graduation.

Admissions advisors provide prospective applicants with details about application deadlines and requirements.

Winston-Salem State University Facts:

Total Bachelor's Programs: 39

Online Bachelor's Programs: 4

Price Per Credit: Unavailable

Percentage of Learners Awarded Financial Aid: 97%

Learners Receiving Student Loans: 72%

Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No

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#18

Wilmington University

School Information
Location New Castle, Delaware
Graduation Rate 21%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 75% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A private institution in New Castle, Delaware, Wilmington University offers in-person programs, along with online classes. The institution's online offerings include a flexible bachelor of science in early care and education for students planning to pursue early education careers.

Degree candidates take general education courses along with core and upper-division major classes. The program incorporates electives and experiential learning opportunities to prepare graduates for unique careers. The school's career counselors help undergraduates prepare to secure professional roles after graduation.

Enrollees with financial need can apply for federal loans and grants, such as the Pell Grant. Admissions advisors provide prospective students with program-specific application details.

Wilmington University At a Glance:

Total Bachelor's Programs: 43

Online Bachelor's Programs: 26

Number of Online Students: 10,989

Applicants Admitted: N/A

Graduation Rate: 21%

Average Per-Credit Cost: Not Known

Applies Transfer Credits: No

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#19

Union Institute & University

School Information
Location Cincinnati, Ohio
Graduation Rate 58%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The bachelor of science in early childhood education and adolescent development at Union Institute & University is one of the top-ranked online programs in the field. From its campus in Cincinnati, Ohio, the private institution offers 28 programs, including on-campus and online programs. The flexible learning format makes it easier for students to balance school with work or other responsibilities.

The online bachelor's program draws on a rigorous curriculum to build advanced knowledge and skills. Faculty mentors and academic advisors help degree-seekers build an individualized course of study based on their career goals. The school supports distance learners with academic services and career counseling.

As an accredited institution, distance learners can submit the FAFSA and use federal financial aid programs like the Pell Grant to pay for college. The school's financial aid office works with students to identify scholarships and grants to cover costs.

Union Institute & University Facts:

Total Bachelor's Programs: 14

Online Bachelor's Programs: 14

Number of Online Students: 853

Applicants Admitted: Not Known

Rate of Graduation: 58%

Average Price Per Credit: Not Known

Grants Transfer Credits: No

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#20

Western New Mexico University

School Information
Location Silver City, New Mexico
Graduation Rate 34%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Western New Mexico University's online bachelor of science in early childhood education benefits distance learners seeking career advancement in the field. With 36 online programs, the public institution educates students based in New Mexico and throughout the country. The school delivers 16 online bachelor's programs, which provide scheduling flexibility for busy degree-seekers.

The program features a virtual classroom environment, providing flexibility for online learners. Students take core classes and advanced coursework. The curriculum also features general education requirements, which help degree-seekers develop transferable soft skills. Many undergraduates pursue internship opportunities to gain professional experience while earning their degree.

Learners in the school's online programs can access support services such as tutoring and career counseling. Students with financial need can apply for federal grants and loans. Financial aid counselors help students understand funding options, such as scholarships and grants.

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