Physically, emotionally, and intellectually, the years between birth and age eight lay the groundwork for a child’s entire life.
Early childhood experts work towards ensuring that each child receives the nurturing and care they need during these critical years.
This might involve working directly with children and their families, or it may be in the form of policymaking, advocacy, and public outreach.
These are all incredibly important roles, and qualified specialists are needed to fill them. A master’s degree in early childhood education can prepare you for a richly rewarding career where you help young children reach their full potential.
What kind of master’s degree in early childhood education should you get?
In this ranking, we examine the best residential, on-campus programs leading to a degree in early childhood education. But you also have the option of earning a degree online.
In fact, many of the programs on our list offer partially or fully online tracks. If you think you would prefer the flexibility of a distance learning program, take a look at our Best Online Master's in Early Childhood Education ranking.
How much money do people with a master’s degree in early childhood education earn?
Salaries vary widely within the early childhood field. Preschool teachers, for example, make an average of $28,790 per year (although teachers with a master’s degree will typically earn more). Child care center directors earn an average salary of $45,790 per year, and special education teachers have an average annual salary of $57,910.
What can you do with a master's degree in early childhood education?
Many people associate a degree in early childhood education with a career as a preschool or elementary teacher. While many graduates with this type of degree will work as a classroom teacher, there are other possibilities.
A master’s degree in early childhood education can prepare you for a career as a:
- Child development researcher
- Educational consultant
- Child care center director
- Community college instructor
- Family specialist
- Nonprofit or governmental services coordinator
What are the requirements for a master’s degree in early childhood education?
Most graduate degree tracks are designed to be completed in one to two calendar years.
A master’s degree that leads to teaching licensure or certification will almost always require a clinical experience. Non-licensure tracks might require another type of culminating experience, such as a comprehensive exam or an action research project.
What are the best master’s degrees in early childhood education?
Our ranking is based on two main categories. The first category is institutional excellence, which takes into account factors such as graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and incoming student test scores. The second category is student return on investment. In this category, we examine tuition costs, financial aid availability, and average student indebtedness after graduating.
For both categories, we pull information from reliable sources such as PayScale, U.S. News & World Report, and the IPEDS database. Based on the data in these two categories, we assign each school a composite score. The results of this methodology are below.
1. University of Dayton
The University of Dayton was founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary. Today, the University retains a strong commitment to its Catholic Marianist roots. Named a “best value” by both Kiplinger's and Money Magazine, UD represents outstanding tuition value as well exceptional academic quality. UD’s Transdisciplinary Early Childhood Education track offers a rigorous program for students who plan to work with young children and their families.
The program at the University of Dayton culminates in a master’s degree as well as two Ohio licenses: early childhood and early childhood intervention specialist. Through this cohort-based program, students will take classes that blend general and special education curriculum. Coursework for this program may include:
- Early Childhood Seminar on Medical and Health Issues
- Integrated Curriculum and Instruction for Kindergarten-Primary Grades
- Interventions and Functional Curriculum for Learners with Autism and Related Disorders
- Collaborative Assessment Birth to Age Eight
Students may also pursue a non-degree track leading to a prekindergarten special needs endorsement or an early childhood intervention specialist certificate. The University of Dayton offers an extensive array of online programs in fields such as Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy, Technology-Enhanced Learning, Teacher as Leader, and more. The Transdisciplinary Early Childhood Education track is also available fully online.
2. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota is home to the renowned Institute of Child Development and the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School. Established in 1925, these institutions have been a driving force in the advancement of child psychology for over 90 years. As an active research center, the Institute offers exceptional academic opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students alike. The Institute’s highly acclaimed academic tracks include an online M.A. in Applied Child and Adolescent Development and an on-campus M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education.
UMN’s program leads to initial Minnesota state licensure in early childhood education. Students in this program will have abundant opportunities for fieldwork through the Shirley G. Moore Lab School and through UMN’s partner network of local urban and suburban schools. The program requires between 52 and 56 credit hours, which will be earned through courses such as:
- Social and Philosophical Foundations of Early Childhood Education
- Learning, Cognition, and Assessment
- Education of Preschool Children With Disabilities: Methods and Materials
- Facilitating Social and Emotional Learning in Early Childhood Education
Although Minnesota law prevents certified teachers from earning an endorsement through an initial licensure program, UMN does offer a track for practicing educators to earn an add-on early childhood education license. The Early Childhood Education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
3. University of South Florida
Located in Tampa, the University of South Florida is home to more than 50,000 students (including 10,000 graduate students) representing 145 countries. USF is one of just 49 public research universities nationwide to be classified by the Carnegie Foundation as both a Doctoral University with "Highest Research Activity" as well as a "Community Engaged" institution. The teacher education programs at USF are ranked 36th nationally by U.S. News & World Report.
The Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program at USF offers concentrations in Measurement and Evaluation, Instructional Technology, Early Childhood Education, and numerous other areas. The Early Childhood Education track is designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in an early childhood field. This track does not lead to teacher licensure. Required coursework may include:
- History and Foundations of Reading: Prevention and Intervention of Reading Difficulties
- Early Childhood: Diversity in Home and School
- Addressing Behavior Challenges in Young Children
- Advocacy and Leadership in Early Childhood Education
Within the Early Childhood Education track, a number of emphasis areas are available, including Reading, Teacher Leadership, Positive Behavior Support, and Interdisciplinary. Candidates for this degree will be required to complete a comprehensive exam as their culminating experience.
4. University of North Dakota
The academic home of nearly 15,000 students, the University of North Dakota offers programs in more than 200 fields of study. The campus of UND is in Grand Forks, near the border of North Dakota and Minnesota. Named to U.S. News & World Report’s list of the 25 Most Innovative Schools, UND has a particularly strong reputation for excellence in the health sciences, energy and the environment, and teacher education.
The Early Childhood Education program is available as a thesis track or a non-thesis track. The non-thesis track will require 32 credit hours of coursework, while the thesis track will require 30 credit hours. Students will work with either their advisor or their thesis committee to determine their course of study. Regardless of which track a student chooses, the following coursework is required:
- Play in Development and Early Childhood Education
- Early Intervention for Children with Special Needs
- Language Development and Cognition in Children
- Collaborative Relationships: Home, School, and Community
The coursework for the Early Childhood Education degree is available on campus, fully online, or through a combination of the two formats. A 60-hour practicum in an early childhood setting is required. Full-time students can earn this degree in 18 months, while part-time students taking two courses per semester will complete the program in 24 months.
5. The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Princeton Review consistently recognizes the University of Alabama at Birmingham as one of the most diverse universities nationwide. A leader in research and graduate education, UAB offers 54 master’s programs, 37 doctoral programs, and two education specialist programs. The School of Education at UAB enrolls over 1,800 students and offers degrees in fields such as Community Health and Human Services, Educational Studies in Diverse Populations, Instructional Design and Development, and Early Childhood and Elementary Education.
The program at UAB leads to a Master of Education degree and Class A Certification in Early Childhood Education. Candidates for this program must already hold a valid Alabama bachelor’s level professional educator certificate in Early Childhood. Available coursework for this degree includes:
- Collaborative Learning Spaces: Deliberation and Development
- Classroom Applications of Constructivist Theory
- Teaching New Languages Through Reading and Writing
- Assistive and Instructional Technology
Many of the Early Childhood and Elementary Education classes are offered through on-campus, online, and hybrid formats. The in-person classes are frequently available on weekend schedules and over the summer term to accommodate the schedules of in-service teachers. Out of the last eight educators to win Alabama Teacher of the Year, six have been alumni of the UAB School of Education.
6. University of La Verne
Founded in 1891, the University of La Verne prides itself on offering a values-based education that fosters service, scholarly accomplishment, and professionalism. La Verne has a student body of roughly 8,500, enrolled through the main campus in La Verne, California, and regional campuses in Irvine, Burbank, Bakersfield, and more. The LaFetra College of Education offers unique opportunities to blend theory and practice for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students.
The coursework for La Verne’s Master of Science in Child Development is available on campus and fully online. This program is unique in that the curriculum incorporates fieldwork in a community college classroom. By the time they graduate, students will be qualified to become part-time or adjunct professors at two- or four-year institutions, or to take on leadership positions in other early childhood settings. Candidates for this degree will complete 33 credit hours through courses such as:
- Language, Reading, and Concept Development
- Assessment in Early Childhood
- Cognition and Brain Development
- Studies in Attachment
The Child Development program is highly competitive. Students must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above in all Early Childhood courses to be considered for admission. La Verne also offers programs leading to a Master of Science in Special Education, in School Psychology with PPS credential, and in Child Life.
7. Missouri State University
More than 26,000 students attend Missouri State University, representing all 50 U.S. states and 88 countries worldwide. As Missouri's second largest university, Missouri State offers a comprehensive array of academic opportunities, including over 100 graduate programs. The highly regarded Early Childhood and Family Development program will provide graduates with a practical understanding of early childhood education, child development, and family development.
The flexible Early Childhood and Family Development track allows students to take only one course per semester, or to work through the entire program in just three semesters. The curriculum itself is flexible as well: Students can choose one-third of their classes to align with their professional goals. Coursework for this program may include:
- Advanced Human Development Studies
- Programming and Policy Issues for Early Childhood Settings
- Children and Families in a Diverse Society
- Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
During their course of study, students must take at least one seminar that requires an extensive research paper or major creative work. Candidates for this degree will complete a comprehensive examination as their culminating experience. The community of the Missouri State system includes 4,000 faculty and staff members. Among full-time ranked faculty members, 90 percent hold a terminal degree in their field.
8. University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado Denver is an integral part of the CU System (which also includes CU Boulder, CU Anschutz Medical Campus, and CU Colorado Springs). Located in the heart of a thriving metropolitan area, CU Denver offers a wide range of professional and cultural opportunities to its 15,000 students. CU Denver awards more than 1,500 graduate degrees every year, many of them through the esteemed School of Education and Human Development.
Three concentrations are available through the Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education: Administration and Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, and Teaching and Learning. Coursework for this degree is available through face-to-face instruction and fully online. Most students in this degree track take between one and three courses per semester. For the Teaching and Learning concentration, coursework may include:
- Working with Families and Communities
- Language and Literacy in Young Children
- Development and Education of Infants and Toddlers
- Screening and Assessment of Young Children
CU Denver’s program holds full accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Applicants to this program must have at least one year of experience working with young children (birth through age eight).
9. West Chester University
With over 17,000 degree-seeking students, West Chester University is the largest of the 14 member institutions of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. U.S. News & World Report ranks WCU 19th in its list of the Top Public Regional Universities in the North. West Chester offers 103 master’s degree programs and four doctoral programs, including a number of renowned programs housed in the College of Education and Social Work.
The M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from West Chester is available through an Accomplished Teachers track and a Program Administrators track. Within the Accomplished Teachers track, students can choose from four available concentrations: Special Education, Teaching and Learning, Literacy, and Educational Technology. The program requires 33 credit hours in total. For all students in the Accomplished Teachers track, core coursework will include:
- Play as a Learning Medium
- Families, Communities, and Education in a Multicultural Society
- Integrated Curriculum and Assessment: Birth to Age Eight
- Advocating for Young Children and Families
All candidates for this degree will take a three-credit hour capstone course called The Early Childhood Professional as Researcher. During a typical academic year, students of WCU's Department of Early and Middle Grades Education will contribute more than 10,000 hours of community service to local schools, agencies, and organizations.
10. Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University was a winner of the Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization. This award recognizes NAU’s commitment to cross-cultural education and global engagement. NAU has also been recognized as one of six highly influential universities in American Indian and Alaska Native education. NAU’s Early Childhood Education program prepares graduates to become highly qualified childcare administrators, preschool teachers, or curriculum specialists.
Students may enroll in the Master of Education in Early Childhood Education through NAU’s main campus in Flagstaff, through a satellite campus in Yuma, or through fully online coursework. This program features available emphasis tracks for Early Childhood Teacher, Early Childhood Leadership, and Early Childhood National Board Preparation. For the Early Childhood Teacher emphasis, students may take courses such as:
- Parental Involvement In Education
- Foundations of Reading Instruction
- History of American Education
- Creativity and Giftedness in the Classroom
The professional education programs at NAU are the first in the state to earn accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (formerly the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education). Alumni of NAU’s teacher preparation programs have a 98 percent pass rate on the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment exam.
11. Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University has a 180-year legacy of service learning and faith-based education. In a recent publication of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, Mercer was one of only four finalists nationally for the Presidential Award in Economic Opportunity. The University was also named to the Honor Roll with Distinction for General Community Service and Education. Mercer’s Tift College of Education offers initial certification pathways for all grade levels, including early childhood.
The courses for the M.A.T. in Early Childhood Education are based on a 16-week calendar. Classes are offered one night a week at both the Atlanta Campus and the Henry County Regional Academic Center. This track leads to initial teaching licensure for prekindergarten through grade 5. Candidates for this degree will take the following courses:
- Planning and Organizing Instruction in Early Childhood Education
- Teaching Exceptional Learners
- Creative Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education
- Social Studies in a Multicultural World for Early Childhood Education
The program incorporates extensive fieldwork requirements, which will need to be completed during the standard school day. Students may enroll in the program on a full-time or part-time basis. This degree track is designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field outside of education, for current educational paraprofessionals, and for teachers with a non-renewable teaching certificate.
12. Erikson Institute
Located in downtown Chicago, the Erikson Institute is a child-focused organization that offers graduate education, professional development, and community services. The Institute’s advocacy and outreach initiatives include the Early Childhood Project with Illinois DCFS and the Fussy Baby Network. Through academic programs and groundbreaking research, Erikson promotes the understanding of the biological, psychological, cultural, and social factors that affect young children.
The Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from Erikson is offered both on campus and online. The on-campus program leads to initial teaching licensure, while the online program does not. Core coursework for this program includes the following:
- Foundations of American Schooling and Bilingual Education
- Children with Special Needs and Diverse Abilities
- Preschool Curricular Approaches in Diverse and Inclusive Settings
- Social and Emotional Development: Infancy and Childhood
The Early Childhood licensure track allows students to pursue optional endorsements in Early Childhood Bilingual/ESL or in Early Childhood Special Education/LBS1. Erikson also offers a Master of Social Work and a Master of Science in Child Development. In a recent survey, 97 percent of alumni said that studying at Erikson improved their work with children, and 95 percent said it improved their work with parents.
13. Concordia University Chicago
Affiliated with the Lutheran church, Concordia University Chicago has offered outstanding academic opportunities since 1864. Concordia-Chicago enrolls more than 3,500 students in 39 graduate and doctoral degree programs. These degrees cover a broad range of fields, including human services, leadership, science and technology, business, and education.
Concordia-Chicago’s Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education has earned National Recognition from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), attesting to its status as one of the best programs of its kind in the country. This academic track requires 30 credit hours and can be completed in either 12 or 24 months. Candidates for this degree will take classes such as:
- Child Development and Ethics in Early Childhood Education
- Early Childhood Curriculum and Content, Ages Three to Five
- Developmentally Effective Instruction for Diverse Learners
- Professional Leadership and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education
Coursework for the M.A. in Early Childhood Education is offered both through the River Forest campus and fully online. The culminating experience for this program is the Practicum and Research in Early Childhood Education course. In this course, students will design a project that encompasses child development, family and community relationships, assessment, developmentally appropriate practices, leadership, and advocacy.
14. Stephen F. Austin State University
The main campus of Stephen F. Austin State University is in Nacogdoches, Texas, roughly three hours southeast of Dallas-Fort Worth. The first classes at SFA were held in 1923. Since then, the University has grown to include more than 120 areas of study, 17 Division I sports, and almost 13,000 students. The SFA Graduate School offers 44 master's degree programs and three doctoral degree programs, including a Master of Education in Early Childhood.
SFA’s M.Ed. in Early Childhood is offered both on campus in Nacogdoches and online. The program requires 36 credit hours and focuses on the unique challenges and opportunities of working with children from birth through age eight. The degree incorporates in-depth research and coursework in topics such as:
- Theoretical underpinnings of classroom practice
- Development of learning strategies
- Child growth and development
- Sociological and psychological factors influencing behavior in young children
Neither the online track nor the on-campus track of the Early Childhood program requires applicants to submit a GRE score. A thesis is optional for both tracks. The Graduate School at SFA also offers programs in Educational Leadership, Elementary Education, Reading Specialist, School Psychology, and numerous other areas of teacher education.
15. Southern New Hampshire University
In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Southern New Hampshire University the Most Innovative University in the North. The community of Southern New Hampshire University includes 3,000 on-campus students and over 80,000 online students. Graduate students can benefit from the close-knit atmosphere and personalized attention of SNHU’s small campus in conjunction with the resources and outlook of a globally engaged institution. SNHU’s Master of Education in Early Childhood and Special Education provides an intensive pathway to initial teaching certification.
The unique program at SNHU leads to New Hampshire state licensure in Early Childhood Education (prekindergarten through grade 3) and Early Childhood Special Education (birth through age eight). The curriculum for this degree features 36 credit hours and 44 weeks of clinical experiences. The program is designed to be completed in 15 months. Required coursework includes:
- Theoretical Foundations in Early Childhood Education
- Classroom and Behavior Management in Early Childhood Education
- Early Childhood Mathematics
- Intervention in Literacy
This graduate program does not require either GMAT or GRE scores as part of the application process. SNHU has won widespread recognition for its commitment to affordability. Qualifying students in the Early Childhood and Special Education program could receive up to $20,000 in grants and scholarships.
16. Biola University
Biola University is a theologically conservative Christian university offering biblically rooted education in a range of academic fields. The 95-acre campus of Biola is located in La Mirada, California, less than 25 miles from Los Angeles. Biola is one of just three schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities to be ranked as a top-tier national university by U.S. News & World Report. Biola’s diverse teacher preparation programs include degrees in Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education.
The program at Biola culminates in a Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in Early Childhood. The curriculum includes 14 credit hours in core coursework, 15 credit hours within the Early Childhood concentration, and one credit hour in an action research capstone experience. Coursework specific to the Early Childhood concentration includes:
- Childhood Development: Birth through Adolescence
- School, Family, and Community Partnerships in Early Childhood Urban Settings
- Classroom Management in Early Childhood Settings
- Observation and Assessment of Young Children
To qualify for this program, students must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Students with a GPA above 3.5 may not be required to submit GRE scores. After completing the program, students may apply for a Child Development Permit from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
17. University at Albany, State University of New York
Forbes ranks the University at Albany, SUNY among America’s Top Colleges. Serving more than 17,000 students, UAlbany is the premier public research university in New York’s Capital Region. The M.S. in Early Childhood Education from UAlbany features an emphasis in current research and policy regarding assessment, critical literacy, family partnerships, and the Common Core Standards.
Through the Early Childhood Education program, students can earn New York professional teacher certification in the area of Early Childhood Education (birth through grade 2). The program is designed for students who already hold an initial teaching certification. The curriculum for this program requires 30 credit hours, which students will earn through courses such as:
- Classroom Literacy Instruction
- Teaching Mathematics in Elementary Schools
- Strategic Intervention to Prevent Literacy Difficulties
- Data-Based Decision Making in Literacy Assessment, Policy, and Practice
UAlbany’s Master of Science in Early Childhood Education is available both on campus and fully online. On-campus students in the Early Childhood Education program may enroll on either a full-time or part-time basis. Online-only students, however, may only enroll part-time, with a maximum of two courses per semester. UAlbany also offers programs leading to an M.S. in Childhood Education, in Literacy, in Reading, and in numerous other areas.
18. California University of Pennsylvania
Offering more than 100 undergraduate majors and over 50 graduate programs, California University of Pennsylvania has been ranked among the top schools in the Northeast by the Princeton Review for 13 years running. Cal U was also named 16th (out of more than 200 public universities) for Student Success Outcomes by Eduventures. The Elementary Education program at Cal U allows graduate students to become master teachers of children in prekindergarten through grade 4.
The Master of Education in Elementary Education from Cal U is designed for practicing, certified educators and does not lead to licensure. The curriculum features an emphasis on the theory and application of constructivist teaching strategies and techniques. More than half of the coursework for the degree can be taken online. Candidates in this degree track may take courses such as:
- Leadership and Management in Early Childhood
- Special Education Foundations and Collaboration
- Evidence-Based Practices for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Inclusion
- Advanced Psychology of Learning
The curriculum for this program aligns with the standards set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). For students who prefer distance learning, Cal U offers a 100 percent online master’s degree program in Early Childhood Education. Numerous initial certification programs are also available online.
19. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
For over 130 years, Northwestern State University of Louisiana has offered exceptional teacher training programs. The esteemed Department of Teaching, Leadership, and Counseling at NSU is home to a wide range of academic tracks, with programs leading to Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education, Educational Specialist, and Doctor of Education degrees. The Master of Education program at NSU is available with specializations in Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, Educational Technology Leadership, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education.
NSU’s program is the only M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education in the state of Louisiana. This program is intended for licensed teachers and builds on undergraduate coursework in teacher education. The following coursework is required to earn the M.Ed.:
- Curriculum Development for School Improvement
- Appropriate Practices for Early Childhood Development and Diversity (Birth through Age Eight)
- Curriculum and Spaces for Infants and Toddlers
- Positive Relationships with Children, Families, and Communities
Students must hold a valid teaching certificate to qualify for admission to the M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education program. The capstone experience for this degree may include either an action research project or a written thesis. This program is nationally recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
20. The University of Toledo
One of 14 state universities in Ohio, the University of Toledo is a public metropolitan research university that enrolls more than 23,000 students. UT offers over 300 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs, with nationally ranked programs in business, law, occupational therapy, and more. Like all of UT’s programs, the Early Childhood Education program is headed by nationally recognized scholars and practicing professionals in their fields.
UT’s Master of Education in Early Childhood Education requires a total of 36 credit hours, including 12 credit hours in the College of Education graduate core, 18 credit hours within the Early Childhood Education concentration, and six credit hours in a culminating activity. This degree can be earned entirely online. Candidates may take courses such as:
- Developmental and Classroom Assessment
- Curriculum Design for Infants and Toddlers
- Meaning and Development of Play Behavior
- Teacher/Parent-Child Relations
Students applying to this program may hold a bachelor’s degree in a field outside of education, but they must have an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 2.7. The program is available on both a part-time and full-time basis. UT also offers an Education Specialist degree in Early Childhood Education, which requires 32 credit hours of coursework beyond the M.Ed.
21. Brenau University
Brenau University is a unique, multi-campus institution, with a Women’s College in Gainesville, Georgia and coeducational campuses in Gainesville, Augusta, Norcross, and Fairburn, Georgia. A new coeducational campus recently opened in Jacksonville, Florida. The extensive teacher preparation programs at Brenau include graduate degrees in Middle Grades Education, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education. The rigorous M.A.T. in Early Childhood Education provides a pathway to initial teaching licensure.
The coursework for this degree incorporates extensive fieldwork components. As their culminating experience, students will be required to complete either nine credit hours in student teaching or 12 credit hours in an internship. Depending on which culminating experience a student chooses, the program will require either 54 or 57 credit hours in total. Required coursework for the M.A.T. in Early Childhood Education includes:
- Literacy Knowledge and Foundations
- Assessment for Literacy Instruction
- Social Studies for Teachers
- Fine Arts Integration for Teachers
With the student teaching option, students will complete all nine credit hours in a single semester. Through the internship option, students may earn the required 12 credit hours over the course of several semesters. Brenau maintains an impressive student-faculty ratio of 11:1, ensuring a high level of personalized attention for every student.
22. Mercy College
Mercy College has earned recognition from both G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education’s Guide to Colleges and Universities as one of the top schools for military members, veterans, and their families. It is also a designated Hispanic Serving Institution and one of the top 100 colleges for granting degrees to minority students, according to Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. All of these distinctions exemplify Mercy’s commitment to high-quality, accessible education. Degrees are offered in fields such as business, social sciences, health sciences, and education.
The Master of Science in Early Childhood Education is available through four campus locations: Dobbs Ferry, Bronx, Manhattan, and Yorktown Heights. This program requires 39 credit hours and leads to New York State teaching certification for birth through grade 2. The following courses are required:
- Educational Foundations from Diverse Perspectives
- Foundations of Education for Students with Disabilities
- Working with Parents and Families in Early Childhood Education
- Teaching English as a Second Language
Through additional coursework beyond the required 39 credit hours, students can pursue a dual certification track (Early Childhood, birth through grade 2 and Childhood Education, grades 1 through 6) or a triple certification track (Early Childhood, birth to grade 2; Childhood Education, grades 1 through 6; and Students with Disabilities).
23. Pacific Oaks College
Pacific Oaks Children’s School was founded in 1945, and Pacific Oaks College was established shortly afterward to train educators for the school. Today, the College retains a strong commitment to its original Quaker philosophy, rooted in social justice, respect, diversity, and inclusion. The College offers a suite of acclaimed teacher preparation programs through campuses in Pasadena and San Jose, as well as numerous off-site locations in Northern and Southern California.
The M.A. in Early Childhood Education is available through the Pasadena campus and through online coursework. Full-time students can complete this 30-credit hour program in two years, while part-time students can earn the degree in four years. An optional specialization in Trauma Studies is available (this track requires 33 credit hours). Coursework for the Early Childhood Education program may include:
- The Impact of Privilege and Oppression in Early Childhood Educational Settings
- Family Violence and Child Abuse
- Public Policy and Its Impact on Children and Families
- Creating Responsive Communities for All Families
To qualify for standard admission to the program, applicants must have earned their bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development. Students with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline must successfully complete prerequisite undergraduate coursework before they are admitted to the program.
24. Albany State University
A member institution of the University System of Georgia, Albany State University emphasizes a commitment to expanding access to higher education while elevating historically underserved populations. The highly regarded College of Education at Albany State focuses on developing its students into reflective-transformative, culturally responsive, and technologically competent practitioners. This conceptual framework anchors all of the College’s academic tracks, including the Early Childhood Education program.
The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education program leads to T-5 certification for children in prekindergarten through grade 5. This degree track requires 36 credit hours in total. While earning this degree, students will have the opportunity to take classes such as:
- Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Education
- Creative Expression in Early Childhood Education
- Trends and Issues in Early Childhood Education
- Theories, Design, and Program Development
Applicants to the program must submit satisfactory scores on the GRE or Miller Analogies Test. Upon successfully completing the program, candidates will be master classroom teachers, and they will also be qualified to take on leadership roles in curriculum development, supervision and administration, and child development research. The M.Ed. from Albany State is also available with specializations in Middle Grades Education, Science Education, and Special Education.
25. University of South Alabama
The University of South Alabama enrolls over 15,500 students through more than 100 academic programs. The University, often known simply as South, is home to eight academic colleges, a Graduate School, and numerous acclaimed research centers, such as the Center for Public Policy, the Gulf Coast Behavioral Health and Resiliency Center, and the Literacy Center. The versatile Master of Education program at South offers concentrations in Educational Administration, Special Education, Early Childhood Education, and more.
South’s Early Childhood Education program is designed for teachers working with children in preschool through grade 3. Degree candidates who already hold a Class B Professional Early Childhood Certificate can qualify for a Class A Professional Early Childhood Education Certificate upon completing the program. The degree track requires a minimum of 30 credit hours through courses such as:
- Literacy and Language Development in Elementary Schools
- Organizational Patterns and Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
- Microcomputing Systems in Education
- Instructional Planning in Elementary Schools
The M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education features an optional thesis. Certified educators with two years of classroom teaching experience can pursue a Reading Specialist Certification along with their degree. South’s Department of Leadership and Teacher Education also offers programs leading to an Education Specialist degree and a Doctor of Education degree.
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