Early Childhood Education Degrees & Schools

Early childhood development is a field that generally deals with the growth and development of children from birth to age eight. Individuals who want careers where they can shape and help develop young minds and bodies often choose careers in early childhood development.

Early childhood development or early childhood education may be offered as the major in a program or it may be offered as a concentration or area of specialization.

Depending on the level of study and areas of specialization you choose, you may find employment in child-and day-care centers; Federal programs like Head Start; hospitals; elementary schools; libraries; museums; private or public schools; schools with special education programs; or settings where young children must be tutored because they can’t attend public schools.

Learn more about the early childhood development degrees available and the career choices that may be possible with each degree or certificate.

★ Featured Online Early Childhood Education Programs

The following schools offer early childhood education programs online, among other teaching programs, and are accepting applicants. Simply contact them to get more information on their program to see if it’s right for you.

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Associate Degrees in Early Childhood Education

An associate degree in early childhood education can prepare students to work in daycare or early childcare centers. Combining theory with practical experiences, this two-year program has courses in safe, healthy learning environments; infant, toddler and child development; speech communication; and family dynamics & community development. Students also complete internships at approved sites at the beginning and end of the programs. A graduate of this program may find work as a preschool teacher in childcare centers.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education

The most common degree level for students looking for initial licensure and certification as early childhood teachers is the 4-year bachelor degree program. Boston University’s program focuses largely on field experiences as well as coursework. The student will do field work in an elementary school at the beginning of the program, spend a semester in a pre-school the junior year and complete an internship in a public school the final year. This type of curriculum is very common in bachelor degree teaching programs. Before graduates can obtain licensure they must complete student teaching segments. This is the case in most states.

Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education

Students completing a master degree program in early childhood education will be prepared to work with children from birth through age eight and obtain certification in early childhood education. In addition to completing major-related coursework, the student completes a portfolio that demonstrates his or her ability to determine, understand and apply knowledge to issues that may arise in in early childhood.

The student starts the portfolio in the beginning of the programs and works on it throughout the 30-37-credit program. In addition, the student spends eight weeks working with a licensed early childhood teacher to gain practical experience. Research projects are also a part of master degree programs. Course topics include block building, special education, the gifted child, and sensory learning. Master degree programs usually take about two years of study beyond the bachelor degree.

Doctorate Degrees in Early Childhood Education

Individuals who want to work in research or teach early childhood education to others often choose doctoral degree programs. Applicants, who must already have a master degree, can expect to complete about 60 credits. Unlike bachelor and master degree programs that focus largely on coursework and internships, doctoral degree programs divide the curriculum among coursework, research, specializations, and dissertation research and presentations. Doctoral degree programs may also offer fellowships and study abroad opportunities.

Online Early Childhood Education Programs

Early childhood development programs are also available online for students that can’t attend college full time or on campus. An example can be found in Ashford University’s bachelor degree online program, which also offers a concentration in infant and toddler care. This program includes various courses revolving around early childhood development and education and culminates with a capstone project where the student takes what they learned and implements it into an educational program for young children. The student must also pass a written examination.

Career as an Early Childhood Education Teacher

There are a variety of career options in the area of early childhood development just as there are various education training programs. Associate and bachelor degree programs are good for entry-level positions; master degree programs are good for supervisory, administrative or managerial positions, and doctoral degrees are for teaching in colleges or working in research. As you can see, the difference in the degree levels is not just in the time it takes to complete the program but also the types of careers possible.

In the same way that early childhood development programs vary, so do the wages of graduates of these programs. For instance, while childcare workers earned an average yearly salary of $19,730 as of May 2014, preschool teachers earned about $28,120, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers with bachelor and/or master degrees earned $53,090. Administrators of preschool and childcare centers earned $45,260 while post secondary teachers earned $59,720.

Early Childhood Education School Listings