Education

Best Online Early Childhood Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Early Childhood programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Early childhood education is the study and practice of teaching young children, typically from birth to age eight. Early childhood educators work in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, child care centers, Head Start programs, and private homes.

The field of early childhood education is growing rapidly, as research increasingly demonstrates the importance of the early years in a child’s development. Early childhood educators play a vital role in preparing young children for success in school and in life.

Early childhood education degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in early childhood education, including teaching, administration, and research. Students in early childhood education degree programs learn about the different theories of child development, and how to apply those theories to the practice of teaching. They also learn about the different methods of teaching, and how to assess and evaluate the progress of young children.

How to Choose the Right Early Childhood Program

When it comes to choosing the right early childhood degree program, there are a few key factors that prospective students need to keep in mind. The first is the cost of the program. Early childhood programs can be expensive, so students need to make sure they can afford the tuition and fees. The second is the length of the program. Early childhood programs typically take four years to complete, so students need to make sure they have the time to commit to the program. The third is the curriculum. Early childhood programs typically include a mix of classroom instruction and field experience, so students need to make sure they are comfortable with the curriculum. The fourth is the location. Early childhood programs are typically located in urban areas, so students need to make sure they are comfortable with the location. The fifth is the accreditation. Early childhood programs are typically accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, so students need to make sure the program they choose is accredited.

Best Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Programs

The best online programs for Early Childhood ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Northwestern College
Orange City, IA

The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Northwestern College is 100% online and courses are 8 weeks long. The program includes courses in child development, assessment, behavior, and current policy. Practicum experience and clinical practice are tailored to each student’s schedule and may be partially completed in their own early childhood workplace. A total of 124 credits are required to graduate, with a minimum of 30 credits from Northwestern.

Rank 2
Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion
Marion, IN

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree from Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion is designed to prepare students for careers in early childhood education. The program includes coursework in child development, educational psychology, and early childhood curriculum and instruction. Students also complete field experiences in various early childhood settings. The program can be completed in two years of full-time study.

Rank 3
Winona State University
Winona, MN

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Winona State University is designed for students who have already earned an associate’s degree and are interested in teaching young children. The program is four semesters long and focuses on courses related to literacy and numeracy development in children aged birth to third grade. The program includes student teaching in both primary and early childhood classrooms.

Rank 4
Saint Leo University
Saint Leo, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Development from Saint Leo University provides a solid foundation in the principles of early childhood development and education, with a focus on developing the skills and knowledge needed to make a positive impact on learning environments and outcomes for both children and adult learners. Coursework covers a range of topics, including child development, assessment, curriculum planning and implementation, and classroom management. The program also includes fieldwork experiences in early childhood settings, giving students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in real-world settings.

Rank 5
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Studies from Arizona State University is designed for those interested in careers focused on the care and education of young children. The program provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work with children from birth to age five in a variety of settings. Students in the program will learn about child development, support, care, and education.

Rank 6
Chaminade University of Honolulu
Honolulu, HI

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Chaminade University of Honolulu offers robust student supports and stresses hands-on learning. Students in the program will take courses in child development, educational technology, children’s literature, and more. Upon completion of the program, students will be able to apply their knowledge of child development and the learning environment to optimize learning for early childhood students.

Rank 7
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from The University of Alabama covers topics such as human development, infancy and toddlerhood, preschool development, and curriculum planning. The program also includes an internship component, giving students the opportunity to gain real-world experience. Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to apply for teacher certification in Alabama.

Rank 8
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH

The Bachelor of Science in Early Child Care and Development from University of Cincinnati is designed to help working professionals enhance their skills in working with children aged birth to five years old. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. The program offers flexible scheduling and three start dates per year, and provides start-to-graduation support with dedicated academic advisors and student success coordinators.

Rank 9
Florida International University
Miami, FL

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Florida International University is a fully online program that focuses on the learning and development of young children. The program addresses the development of the whole child, with courses covering topics such as cognitive and social/emotional development, early childhood education theory and practices, and special needs of children and their families.

Rank 10
Lynn University
Boca Raton, FL

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree from Lynn University is designed to prepare students to teach students from birth to age eight. The program combines online courses with an onsite practicum that gives students valuable experience in an early learning environment. The curriculum covers topics such as childhood development, early literacy techniques and innovative real-world learning strategies.

What to Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Program

Students in a bachelor’s in early childhood program can expect to take classes on child development, early childhood education, and teaching methods. The degree typically takes four years to complete and may require an internship.

Most early childhood programs are designed for students who want to work with children from birth to age eight. The coursework emphasizes child development and teaching methods. Students also learn about working with families and the community to support children’s development.

Many programs offer specializations, such as early childhood special education or early childhood administration. Specializations allow students to tailor the degree to their career goals.

Prospective students should have strong communication and interpersonal skills. They should also be patient and able to work with diverse groups of people.

Common Early Childhood Courses

Early childhood education degree programs typically offer a mix of general education requirements, major coursework, and professional development opportunities. The following is a list of five common courses found in early childhood education programs.

Child Growth and Development

This course covers the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of children from birth to age eight. Emphasis is placed on major theorists, research findings, and applications to teaching. Upon completion, students should be able to apply knowledge of child development to support the positive growth and development of all children.

Child Health, Safety, and Nutrition

This course covers the promotion of health, safety, and nutrition for young children. Emphasis is placed on the impact of family, culture, community, and environment on the health status of children birth to eight years of age. Topics include the assessment of health status, the prevention and control of communicable and chronic diseases, safety and injury prevention, and nutrition. Upon completion, students should be able to apply knowledge of child health, safety, and nutrition to create safe, healthy, and nutritionally sound learning environments for young children.

Teaching in Diverse Classrooms

This course focuses on the development of teaching practices that are effective with diverse groups of young children. Emphasis is placed on planning and implementing developmentally appropriate instruction that is culturally relevant and responsive to the needs of all children. Upon completion, students should be able to design and implement culturally relevant and responsive lesson plans that meet the needs of all children in the classroom.

Designing Classroom Environments

This course covers the design of developmentally appropriate learning environments for young children. Emphasis is placed on the use of materials, equipment, and furnishings to support the development of fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills, and social and emotional competence. Upon completion, students should be able to design and implement developmentally appropriate learning experiences and environments for young children.

Guiding Children’s Behavior

This course covers the theories, research, and practices related to guiding children’s behavior. Emphasis is placed on the development of positive guidance strategies, classroom environment, and professional conduct. Upon completion, students should be able to apply positive guidance strategies in diverse settings with children birth through age 8.

Career Options for Early Childhood Graduates

Graduates of early childhood programs work in a variety of fields and industries, including education, childcare, and social work. They may also work in fields such as psychology, human resources, and marketing.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers work with children aged 3–5 years old in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, child care centers, and Head Start programs. They develop and implement lesson plans that introduce basic academic, social, and motor skills to young children. In addition to teaching, preschool teachers often spend time observing students, meeting with parents, and collaborating with other teachers.

Nanny

A nanny is a professional caregiver who provides care for children in the family home. Nannies are typically responsible for all aspects of child care, including feeding, bathing, dressing, playing, and transporting to and from activities. In addition to physical care, nannies also provide emotional support and guidance to children as they grow and develop. Nannies may work full- or part-time, and they may live in or out of the family home.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of disabilities, from mild to severe. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to meet each student’s individual needs. They also develop individualized education programs (IEPs) for each student and track their progress. Special education teachers typically work in public schools, but they may also work in private schools, childcare centers, or homes.

Childcare Program Director

Childcare program directors oversee the daily operations of a childcare center. This can include hiring and training staff, developing and implementing curriculum, managing finances and budgets, communicating with parents, and ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations. Childcare program directors typically have a background in early childhood education and experience working in a childcare setting.

Kindergarten Teacher

Kindergarten teachers work with students aged five or six, teaching them the basics of reading, writing, math, and social studies. In some cases, they may also teach science and/or art. Kindergarten teachers typically work in public or private schools, and they may work full time or part time. They typically work during the school year, although some teachers may work year-round in programs that offer extended care for working parents.

Insights From an Early Childhood Graduate

Andrew English is a Lead Teacher at The Children’s Workshop. He has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood from Rhode Island College. Andrew has over 10 years of experience working with children in various settings.

ClimbtheLadder: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your Early Childhood program that you may not have gotten otherwise?

Andrew English: The biggest takeaways from my Early Childhood program were the importance of play, the importance of relationships, and the importance of routines. I learned that play is how children learn best. They learn through exploration and discovery. I also learned that relationships are key. Children need to feel safe and loved in order to thrive. Lastly, I learned that routines are important for children. They need to know what to expect and feel secure in their environment.

ClimbtheLadder: What should students interested in Early Childhood be good at?

Andrew English: Students interested in early childhood should be passionate about working with children. They should also be patient, have a lot of energy, and be able to think on their feet. They should be able to adapt to different situations and be able to work well with a team.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Andrew English: The most challenging course I took was Child Development. It was a lot of information to take in and really put into perspective how children grow and develop. My advice to students who are about to start this course is to be prepared to take good notes, read the textbook, and participate in class.

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