Education

Best Online Early Childhood Education Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Early Childhood Education 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 early childhood education, and how to choose the best methods for each individual child.

How to Choose the Right Early Childhood Education Program

When it comes to choosing the right early childhood education program, there are a few key factors that prospective students need to keep in mind. The first is accreditation. Any program that students are considering should be accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This accreditation is important because it ensures that the program meets certain standards and will prepare students for a career in early childhood education.

Another important factor to consider is the cost of the program. Tuition rates can vary significantly from one school to another, so it is important to research the cost of each program that you are considering. In addition to tuition, students also need to factor in the cost of books, supplies, and other associated expenses.

Finally, students need to consider the location of the program. Some students may prefer to attend a program that is close to home, while others may be more interested in attending a program in a different city or state. Each student’s situation is different, so it is important to choose a program that is located in an area that is convenient for you.

Best Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Programs

The best online programs for Early Childhood Education 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
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Early Childhood from University of Virginia is a concentration program designed to provide new educational and employment opportunities for adult learners seeking to complete their undergraduate degree with a liberal arts education and a professional focus in early childhood. The early childhood concentration will prepare students for in-demand roles in childcare, pre-school, education administration, and child, family, and school services.

Rank 3
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 4
Iowa State University
Ames, IA

The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childcare Education and Programming from Iowa State University is a fully online program that prepares students to work in a variety of early childhood education programs. The program is offered in conjunction with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA). The curriculum includes courses in early childhood development, child health and safety, and child nutrition. Practicum experience is also an important part of the program and students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in their Child Development Laboratory School.

Rank 5
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 6
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK

The Bachelor of Science in Early Child Care and Development from Oklahoma State University prepares students to work with young children in a variety of settings such as childcare centers, homes, and military child development/care centers. The 120-hour program can be completed mostly online, with some in-person practicum experiences required. The program includes coursework in child development, professional development, curriculum development, and child guidance, among other topics.

Rank 7
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.

Rank 8
St Catherine University
Saint Paul, MN

The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from St Catherine University is a program designed for working adults. The majority of courses are held online, with concentrated face-to-face sessions scheduled during the summer semesters.

The program provides students with multiple opportunities to develop leadership knowledge and skills grounded in ethical and social justice principles informed by a global perspective through integrated learning experiences. The program infuses all major course content with the components of ABAR pedagogy, and a strong focus on equity and justice.

Rank 9
North Greenville University
Tigerville, SC

The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from North Greenville University is a 100% online program that is designed to prepare students for a career in teaching young children. The program includes general education courses, core courses, and a final year that includes student teaching. The program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Rank 10
Eastern Oregon University
La Grande, OR

The online Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Oregon University is a four-year program that gives students the knowledge and skills necessary to support, educate, and advocate for young children. Coursework covers the stages of development and introduces processes and procedures for teaching specific subjects. The teaching practicum gives students supervised experience in a real classroom.

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

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

Most early childhood education programs are designed for students who want to work with children from birth to age eight. However, some programs may allow students to specialize in a particular age group, such as infants and toddlers or elementary school-aged children.

In addition to taking classes, students in a bachelor’s in early childhood education program may also be required to complete an internship. This can provide them with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with children in a real-world setting.

Overall, a bachelor’s in early childhood education can prepare students for a career working with young children. It can also provide them with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a master’s degree in early childhood education or a related field.

Common Early Childhood Education Courses

Many schools offer a combination of online and in-person classes. The following is a list of five classes that are commonly taken by students pursuing a degree in early childhood education.

Creative Arts in Early Childhood

This course covers the use of the arts as a means of expression, communication, and learning in early childhood settings. Emphasis is placed on the role of the arts in child development, the impact of the arts on cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development, and the implementation of arts experiences with young children. Upon completion, students should be able to integrate the arts into early childhood settings to promote positive child outcomes.

Guiding Children’s Behavior

This course covers the development of positive guidance techniques to support the social, emotional, and behavioral development of young children. Emphasis is placed on providing a positive, safe, and healthy learning environment that is responsive to the individual needs of children. Upon completion, students should be able to apply positive guidance techniques to support the social, emotional, and behavioral development of young children.

Child Development and Learning

This course covers child development theories with an emphasis on Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bronfenbrenner. Child development topics include physical, cognitive, language, and social/emotional development. Theories of learning covered include behaviorism, social learning, and constructivism. Child development and learning are considered in the context of family, culture, and society. Upon completion, students should be able to apply child development theories to explain children’s behavior and to design developmentally appropriate learning experiences.

Assessment of Young Children

This course covers the use of assessment tools and strategies in early childhood programs. Emphasis is placed on the types of assessments, planning for and administering assessments, using assessment data to inform instruction, and communicating assessment results to families and other professionals. Upon completion, students should be able to select and administer appropriate assessments, interpret assessment data, and use assessment data to inform instructional planning.

Exceptionalities in Early Childhood

This course covers the characteristics, identification, and educational programming for children with exceptionalities in early childhood settings. Emphasis is placed on legal mandates, individualized education programs, collaboration, and current practices and trends. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of major exceptionalities and their effects on learning and development, identify children with exceptionalities, and develop positive relationships and effective individualized programming to support the needs of all children.

Career Options for Early Childhood Education Graduates

Graduates of early childhood education programs work in a variety of fields and industries, including education, childcare, and social work. They may also work in fields such as child development and family services.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers work with children ages 3 to 5 in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, childcare centers, Head Start programs, and religious institutions. They’re responsible for planning and executing lesson plans that focus on everything from social and emotional development to language and literacy skills. In some cases, preschool teachers may also be responsible for teaching basic academic skills like math and science.

Head Start Teacher

Head Start teachers work with preschool-aged children from low-income families in order to help them develop the skills they need to be successful in school. Head Start teachers typically work in Head Start centers, which are located in schools, community centers, and other public places. They may also work in Early Head Start centers, which serve infants and toddlers, or in home-based Head Start programs. In addition to working with individual children, Head Start teachers also develop lesson plans, assess student progress, and meet with parents to discuss their child’s development.

Early Childhood Education Specialist

Early childhood education specialists work with very young children, usually up to age five. They may work in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, daycare centers, and Head Start programs. Early childhood education specialists typically have a teaching or education-related role, such as working as a lead teacher in a classroom, developing curriculum, or providing professional development for other educators. Some specialists may also have administrative responsibilities, such as overseeing a program or department.

Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers typically work with students in grades K-5. In some schools, teachers may have the opportunity to teach a single subject, such as music or art, to all elementary school students. In other schools, elementary school teachers may be responsible for teaching multiple subjects, such as reading, math, science, and social studies, to a single class of students. No matter what the specific arrangement is, the goal of an elementary school teacher is to help students develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in school and in life.

Child Care Provider

Child care providers care for children when parents and other family members are unavailable. They work in a variety of settings, including private homes, child care centers, schools, and camps. Providers can work with children of all ages, but most typically work with kids up to age 5. Duties can include everything from feeding and diapering infants to helping school-age children with homework. Providers must be able to create a safe, nurturing environment for children and be able to handle the physical and emotional demands of the job.

Insights From an Early Childhood Education Graduate

Bryant Villarreal is a Lead Teacher at The Children’s Aid Society. He has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the City University of New York – Hunter College. Bryant has over 10 years of experience working with children in various capacities.

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

Bryant Villarreal: The biggest takeaway I got from my Early Childhood Education program was the importance of play in a child’s development. Through my coursework, I learned about the different stages of play and how important it is for children to explore and experiment in order to learn.

I also learned about the different types of play, such as pretend play, which can help children develop important social and emotional skills. I would not have gotten this knowledge from any other type of program.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in an Early Childhood Education career?

Bryant Villarreal: I believe that a person who is patient, has a lot of energy, is able to think on their feet, and is able to be flexible is successful and thrives in an Early Childhood Education career.

ClimbtheLadder: Was there anything about your Early Childhood Education program that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

Bryant Villarreal: I think the biggest thing I didn’t expect was how much I would learn about myself. I came into the program thinking that I would learn a lot about child development and teaching strategies, and while I did learn those things, I also learned a lot about myself. The program forced me to reflect on my own childhood and my own experiences in education, and that was really eye-opening for me.

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