Early Childhood Education Degrees


Consider an online teaching program currently accepting applicants for 2024.

School Level Program Admissions

Arizona State University

Master Online Master of Education in Elementary Education
Develop the skills needed to become a quality educator who works with children in grades K–8 with this elementary education master’s degree.

Campbellsville University

Bachelor Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education
Take the next step in your career and support young learners in the classroom with our online bachelor’s in early childhood education.

Campbellsville University

Master M.A. Teaching, Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education
Develop the skills necessary to help young children build a solid foundation and love of learning with our online MAT in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education.

Concordia University - Saint Paul

Associates AA in Early Childhood Education
2 year program.

View online teaching programs currently accepting applicants for 2024.

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 for a Bachelors or Masters degree. Associates degree programs are available.

Depending on whether you have a Associates, Bachelors, or Masters in Early Childhood Education, as well as the area or 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.

Finding a degree in early childhood education

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.

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

Read more about Online Early Childhood Education Degrees >>


Consider an online teaching program currently accepting applicants for 2024.

School Level Program Admissions

The University of Texas Permian Basin

Master MA in Special Education
CAEP-accredited, Complete in as little as 12 months, six start dates a year, cost-effective tuition.

Purdue University

Master Online MS in Education
Specialized degrees in Special Education, Curriculum Instruction, Learning Design and Technology.

University of West Florida

Master Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction
CAEP Accredited, 3 specializations.

Arizona State University

Bachelor Online Bachelor of Education Programs Website

View more 100% online teaching programs currently accepting applicants.

Ways to earn an early childhood education degree

If you want to work with children during their most formative years, and make a contribute to a healthy, functioning school system, it's time to learn more about early childhood education programs. There are several degree programs available across the US, with both online and campus based accredited options for students.

For students who are just starting their education, you can earn a alternative teacher certification or associate's degree in early childhood education. There are also bachelor's and master's programs available in this area that can help you qualify for a variety of positions in early childhood systems. If you are at the bachelor's level, you can often choose concentrations in early childhood education through a broader teacher education program.

Other types of programs for early childhood educators focus on particular subjects, types of students, or teaching styles. For instance, there are programs geared towards visual arts, special needs students, teaching through the integrated arts, and countless others. That's why it is important to compare several schools before making your final decision. This area of study is growing more complex with our increasingly diverse student population. The options for degree programs will continue to grow. Especially with the increase in accredited online programs.

Available Early Childhood Education Degrees

Associate’s in Early Childhood Education

Most states require a minimum of 120 hours of early childhood education plus the passing of the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential to qualify for employment in childhood education. Starting your focus at the associate’s level will help set you up for the greatest chances of success at the bachelor’s level and beyond.

What’s more, there are many 100% online programs that will help you build a foundation in core areas, such as: group and one-on-one work, curriculum development, and working with the emotional and developmental needs of children at this age.

Licensing Note
Although most states require more hours for working with children at the pre-K and elementary level, choosing this path at the associate’s level can be your best chance for long-term success in the field.

Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education

Bachelors programs are where you can complete your credentials and become licensed to work in most states. Many reputable schools offer Bachelor of Science programs completely online. Many of these programs offer a built-in minor that equips students with the skills to work with special needs children.

Areas of Study
At the bachelor’s level, you will learn the complexities of working with children, their parents, and teachers in your school system. You can also learn effective assessment strategies for helping students thrive in a variety of learning environments.

Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Master’s programs and Education Specialist programs in early childhood education will help you get to the next level in your career.

Who is a Master’s Degree For?
These programs are geared towards professionals who want to reach administrative and executive level roles in their district. These programs can also help graduates branch out and work for a variety of companies and government agencies that need to understand childhood development and effective learning strategies. These could be companies that create educational materials or agencies that oversee educational standards at the local and national level.

Online Early Childhood Education Degrees

Although many graduate programs require field experiences to complete your early childhood education, there are several 100% online programs at all levels of the field. Online programs offer students the convenience of learning in ways that are flexible to their schedules. In these programs, you will most likely utilize an online dashboard where you can view coursework and communicate with your instructors and peers. View all Online Degrees in Early Childhood Education.

What to Look For in an Online Environment

You may be required to take quizzes and tests at particular times, or chime in to scheduled discussions, depending on your course structure. Many programs use a tool called Blackboard, which is a cutting edge communication tool for students, professors and administrators.

Whether organizing daily assignments, video conferencing with your teacher about your performance, or downloading important reading materials, Blackboard covers it. With capabilities across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, this online tool helps everyone involved in the educational process always have handy access to everything they need to learn.

Another advantage of many online programs is your ability to create a more flexible timeline for completing your degree. Numerous universities have online options for students that they can complete full- or part-time in their variety of online early childhood and adolescent development programs.

What is a Early Childhood Degree?

To put it simply, an early childhood degree program will help you learn the proficiency required of teachers at the pre-K and elementary levels. These programs include courses that help students assess behavior, performance, and create strategies for student and school performance. You can learn to work with students, their teachers and parents to create better learning outcomes for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds and needs.

The higher you go in your early childhood education, the more opportunities you will have to make a greater impact in your school. These programs vary between broad curriculum and coursework that is tailored for specific kinds of students, such as English as a second language learners and other distinct types of learners.

What can you do with an Early Childhood Education degree?

Earning your degree in childhood education can open the doors to careers in several types of school environments. When you graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher and receive licensure from your state, you can pursue positions such as preschool teacher at a public school.

You can also work as a elementary teacher, consultant for families who have children with unique challenges, manage a child care center. Some graduates at the master’s or doctorate level go on to perform important research or work for private companies who create education products, such as mobile apps, for children at this age.

Career as a Preschool Teacher

Those who want to work as preschool teachers can expect to earn a median wage of $28,570 per year. But that total jumps to $54,550 per year for kindergarten and elementary school teachers. Both professional tracks are growing as fast as the national average.

To increase your opportunities, we highly recommend earning as many certifications as you can, and considering graduate level degree programs.

You can expect the opportunities to increase and vary as more parents look for alternative ways to teach their pre-K children, and the growth of private and charter schools across the country.

This may result in an increase of in-home employment opportunities and consulting work for families who have unique needs. The best way to get in tune with the upcoming prospects in the field are to discuss the job landscape with several schools in your area, and those who offer accredited online programs to students across the US.

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 preschool 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. Some online programs have concentrations in infant and toddler care, which can include various courses revolving around early childhood development and education and culminates typically with a capstone project where the student takes what they learned and implements it into an educational program for young children.

Career as an Early Childhood Education Teacher

All teachers have important jobs when molding young minds, but the kindergarten teacher is the very first teacher a young child will face when entering school.

Therefore it takes an extra special person to become a teacher to teach the youngest of minds, getting them ready for 1st grade and beyond. You will need a college education – a Bachelors Degree in Education at a minimum and in many cases a Masters in Education Degree – along with a wealth of patience and creativity.

What Do Kindergarten Teachers Do?
Kindergarten teachers help teach students individually and in group settings, teach basic skills that are integral to living (color / shape / number / letter recognition, personal hygiene, social, behavior skills), and start laying the groundwork for following rules, policies, and procedures. Below are some of the top skills found among kindergarten teachers.

Steps to Becoming a Kindergarten Teacher

1. Determine your passion for working with young children

It is a good idea to “test the waters” to figure out if you are truly passionate about teaching young children. It takes a special person to teach kindergarten. Many people volunteer as a substitute, or as part-time help with a kindergarten class or preschool. It is also helpful to know what makes a great kindergarten teacher.

2. Earn your Bachelors Degree in Education

Nearly every lead kindergarten teacher has a Bachelors Degree in Education at a minimum, and many have their master’s in education with a specialty in early childhood education. You can search for bachelor’s programs here, or find master’s in education degrees on this page. View the featured programs below or scroll down to find early childhood education programs.

3. Get real-life teaching experience

After your undergraduate studies, it is a good idea to get into the field. Some bachelor’s programs require an internship of some sort.

4. Take the Praxis and earn your teaching certification

The Praxis I, or Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), consists of three exams in reading, writing, and mathematics, and for most graduate level programs you need to have passed it in order to earn your teacher certification. The Praxis II tests are for more specific subcategories of teaching (counseling, or special needs education).

5. Find a job – OR – Earn a M.Ed

a.) Find a job as a kindergarten teacher.
Use your college’s career center to help find open teaching positions. You can also check with your local schools and utilize networks such as LinkedIn to build a network and find a job.

b.) Pursue a graduate-level teaching degree.
Rather than attempting to jump in to the field of teaching, most people decide to get their Master’s in Early Childhood Education. This provides another level of education and is another great checkpoint to add to your resume. Click here to view accredited early childhood education programs that you can get in contact with right now.

FAQ on Becoming a Kindergarten Teacher

What type of degree do I need to become a kindergarten teacher?

To teach kindergarten children, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and you’ll need to get certified after graduation. To become a certified teacher, you’ll need to pass a series of tests. Some states require that teachers of kindergartners hold a master’s degree. Your college degree should focus on Elementary Education or Early Childhood Education as a major. And, generally, a student teaching internship is required before entering the field. You’ll want to gain plenty of experience working with children as well.

What special skills should I have when teaching kindergarten children?

Required key skills of kindergarten teachers include an abundance of patience, excellent communication skills, and plenty of creativity. If you have a passion and desire to work with young minds, you more than likely already have these skills.

What Can You Do With an Early Childhood Education Degree?

If you love children and have always wanted to become a teacher, it’s time to consider the right education and career path to accomplish your goal. There are many types of careers for graduates of all levels of degree programs, from associates, bachelors, masters, specialist, and doctorate level tracks. Not only that, but before you even begin your education or complete your degree, you can start working in the field at private daycare run facilities. As you complete more and more of your education, you can make an even greater impact in your school system, daycare facility or other educational institution.

No matter which type of career you choose, you should have a passion and love for teaching and working with your children. During these formative years, they will look to you as a role model that will help shape their learning, social behavior, and self-esteem for the rest of their lives. You must be able to practice an almost zen-like level of patience, and have the communication skills to express yourself simply and clearly. In every role, you will mostly likely have to develop the skills to help kids’ parents understand their children better and play their own role in helping their kids become successful students.

The following information can help you determine which path is right for you. However, there are many additional paths in the field you can take. Additional positions include child and family social worker, personal care aid, special education teacher, and guidance counselor for young children. That’s why you should contact several schools in your area, and those who offer online options to find out more about the career paths you can follow with a degree or interest in early childhood education.

Career and Salary Outlook for Early Childhood Educators

The salary outlook for childcare worker is $20,320 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These entry-level positions can be a great choice for those who haven’t earned their degree yet and want to work with the youngest children. The job outlook for childcare workers is anticipated to grow as fast as the national average.

If you want to work at the kindergarten or elementary level, the average pay increases, but so do your requirements to be considered a job applicant.

Those who reach the level of childcare director at a pre-K facility are responsible for managing the structure, curriculum and overall organization of their facility.

Of course, your anticipated salary will depend largely on your location, type of role, and environment in which you choose to work. That’s why it is essential that you speak to schools in your area about the current employment landscape, even if you plan on taking one of the several accredited online programs available for early childhood career preparation.

Working as a Preschool Teacher

Pre-K professionals have their hands full of excited young minds who are usually eager to learn, ask questions, and look up to their teachers for guidance during these formative years. If you want to be a preschool teacher, you can help students get their first experiences with organized activities, reading, math, art and music, and other areas that form into more structured subjects at the elementary school level. Preschool teachers typically work in private settings, including those run by religious organizations or independently run schools that apply particular learning methods or philosophies to their practice.

When deciding which kind of preschool you want to work in, it can be a good idea to visit several different types in your area and talk to the people who work there and run them. You may decide that you want to work at a place that is more skewed towards education and learning than free-time and unstructured play.

Classroom learning at this level is usually centered around an introduction to literacy and basic math skills for children who are 4-5 years old. It is important to remember with this age group that you are there to inspire and spark curiosity as much as you are there to teach them and assess their behavior. Even though some activities may seem like they are geared to pass the time and inspire fun, you will learn that you can glean a great deal of information from music, art, and games to help students improve their communication and learning functions, as well as peer interaction.

You should be ready to display a high level of patience and ability to communicated with all types of children. To work in a publicly funded facility you will most likely need to have a bachelor’s degree and pass your state’s requirements for licensure. However, earning your degree and upping your qualifications can increase your salary range in this field. It can also open up more doors for opportunity in your career trajectory.

Working as a Kindergarten Teacher

If you purse an education that qualifies you to become a kindergarten teacher, you can start working in a role that helps students adjust to this exciting and challenging time in their education. This is the first big step in education for children, as they are now attending school with children older and more developed than them, and the expectations for learning and achievement are higher than at the pre-K level. This is not to say that it is easier to work at the preschool level. But kindergartners quickly realize their day is more structured, assignments are more complicated, and there are more subjects for them to learn as they get introduced to the curriculum.

As their teacher, it will be imperative that you understand how to communicate with children effectively as they learn how to read, use computers, improve their math skills, and learn basic scientific concepts. You will be their gateway into what’s to come as they progress in their education, and it’s important that you are passionate about teaching, so your students will remain engaged and inspired to learn.

Choosing the right degree program is critical for success as a kindergarten teacher. When earning your degree, you will probably take courses in diversity and learn how to engage children from all socioeconomic backgrounds. This is also important because children show up to their first day of kindergarten with a wide variety of pre-K backgrounds. Some will have never set foot in a classroom, while others are already doing math and displaying reading skills. Having the ability and patience to work with children across the spectrum will make you more effective in your role. This is where your courses in assessment and development will come in handy.

Working as a Preschool Childcare Director

As a childcare director at the preschool level, you will oversee the curriculum structure and teaching styles that are implemented at your school. This can be a big responsbility, and one that requires constant assessment, evaluation and modification to ensure you are serving your students and teachers well. Many professionals who work their way up to this role spend their initial years working as daycare staff while completing their bachelor’s level degree in early childhood education.

You will spend your time assessing teacher performance as much as you assess student performance and behavior. Having the ability to understand teaching styles and philosophies, which you can learn while earning your degree, will pay off as you explain to your staff the why behind your guidance. You may spend a significant amount of your time helping teachers and parents learn how to play a more effective role helping students be more successful.

In some cases, your role as childcare director can stem into administrative areas, such as budgets, legal and ethical issues, and human resources. This is where a well-rounded education can pay off. Having an understanding of accounting, administrative tasks, basic computer technology, and management skills can help you in this role. If you are seeking the right degree program to become a childcare director, make sure you speak with advisers about the scope of courses offered so you can be sure you pick a program that is a good fit for this career path.

Working as Daycare Staff

Working as daycare staff can be a role that wears many hats. When you are taking care of children whose ages can range anywhere from newborn to 5 years old, there can be quite a range of responsibilities that you should be ready for. You may be changing diapers one minute and reading to a group the next. Although you may not need a college degree to work in private preschools, you will need to have a real love of children and ability to constantly focus on and assess their behavior. Children at this age are learning about the world around them at a rapid pace, and you are a role model for a large portion of their day.

Having strong communication skills is also essential in this role. You will be working with children, their parents, and other daycare staff to ensure the kids are set up for success. This is not always easy, but it can be very rewarding, especially when positive outcomes are achieved.

In this role you should also have an understanding of health and safety issues that are common for children this age. It can be a good idea to take a CPR or other type of emergency preparedness course. With so many lives literally in your hands every day, you will want to be as prepared as possible to ensure a safe environment for children to thrive and parents to feel comfortable leaving their children for significant portions of their day.

Working as a Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants typically require some level of college education; at least an associate’s level degree, and can earn a median wage of $24,900 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In elementary settings, teacher assistants help supervise children, manage activities and grade assignments to help teachers perform their jobs more effectively. In many ways, your job functions as a teacher assistant will mimic what the teacher is required to do, including communicating with parents and administrators the progress of children and the effectiveness of activities.

Teacher assistants should have an understanding of basic child development so they can understand the purpose of tasks and convey information and join discussions that will enhance the learning environments.

Becoming a teacher assistant can be the best way to transition from your education into a career. Not only will this role prepare you for what to expect managing your own classroom, but you can gain insight from teachers who have years of experience in the field. Networking with like-minded professionals will also help you in your search for available positions once you meet the requirements to become full-time faculty.

Organizations to know for early childhood professionals

In addition to your network of classmates and professionals that you meet along your path, it is essential to join organizations that help early childhood educators obtain the resources they need to remain successful in this field.

Another place you can find information is the National Institute for Early Education Research. This organization offers a plethora of research findings that can inform you of new developments and best practices for teaching young children. They also help shape national conversations and policy for the field.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children provides another helpful way for educators to gain insight, access to resources, and their own magazine publication that is helpful to teachers and educators of all types involved in early childhood education. With over 70,000 members, this organization is one you should keep at the top of your list to learn more about as you choose the right path for your education.