Teaching young children can be a very rewarding experience. Passionate teachers derive immense job satisfaction and contribute to society by shaping young minds and preparing them for a challenging world. A Master’s in Early Childhood Education online program can open incredible career opportunities in teaching, mentoring, or training and qualify graduates to work with young children. Individuals working in other sectors of education can use a Master’s in ECE (Early Childhood Education) to shift or transition into working at play homes, preschools, elementary schools, or even childcare centers. The field of education is far and wide in its scope and reach and has several concentrations to take up and specialize in. To name a few, a Master’s in Education, in general, has branches such as Curriculum and InstructionEducation LeadershipEducation AdministrationEducation TechnologySpecial Education, etc. The specific degree covered in this article has to do with one other such branch – Early Childhood Education.

Early Childhood Education

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Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Masters in Early Childhood Education Online Programs

An Early Childhood education ranking is typically awarded to colleges or programs that exhibit above par quality of the course and faculty. Other key factors such as accreditation of the program, experience of teaching staff, reputation of the institution, admission requirements, infrastructure, credibility in the job market, and cost are carefully considered while ranking a program. The list below highlights some of the best colleges for Early Childhood Education:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/masters-in-early-childhood-education-online/">Early Childhood Education Online</a>

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Clemson University
201 Sikes Hall, Clemson, South Carolina 29634
Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama 36849
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
University Avenue and High Street, West Chester, Pennsylvania 19383
University of Dayton
300 College Park, Dayton, Ohio 45469
University of Houston, Clear Lake
2700 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, Texas 77058
Biola University
13800 Biola Ave, La Mirada, California 90639
University of Missouri
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
George Mason University
4400 University Dr, Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Martin Luther College
1995 Luther Ct, New Ulm, Minnesota 56073
California State University, Fullerton
800 N State College Blvd, Fullerton, California 92831
University of Mississippi
Oxford, Mississippi, University, Mississippi 38677
Ball State University
2000 University Ave, Muncie, Indiana 47306
Concordia University, Nebraska
800 N Columbia Ave, Seward, Nebraska 68434
Kansas State University
919 Mid-Campus Drive, Anderson Hall, Manhattan, Kansas 66506
University at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12222
University of North Dakota
264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202
University of Colorado, Denver
1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400, Denver, Colorado 80217
Georgia Southern University
1332 Southern Drive, Statesboro, Georgia 30460
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
Kennesaw State University
1000 Chastain Rd, Kennesaw, Georgia 30144

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Most Affordable Masters in Early Childhood Education Online

The cost of a Master’s Program can often be a deterrent for many individuals considering higher or advanced education. Although a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education may not necessarily be more or as expensive as most other Master’s Degrees, the cost of the program is nevertheless a vital determinant for many prospective students. The table below lists out some affordable online Masters in Early Childhood Education programs:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/masters-in-early-childhood-education-online/">Early Childhood Education Online</a>

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Texas A & M University
2600 South Neal Street, Commerce, Texas 75428-3011
Valdosta State University
1500 N Patterson St, Valdosta, Georgia 31698
Georgia Southern University
1332 Southern Drive, Statesboro, Georgia 30460
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
1400 Spring Garden St, Greensboro, North Carolina 27402
Stephen F. Austin State University
2008 Alumni Drive, Rusk 206, Nacogdoches, Texas 75961
Kennesaw State University
1000 Chastain Rd, Kennesaw, Georgia 30144
University of West Alabama
Station One, Livingston, Alabama 35470
University of Colorado, Denver
1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400, Denver, Colorado 80217
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
2100 Main St, Stevens Point, Wisconsin 54481
University of Alabama
Administration Bldg Suite 1070, Birmingham, Alabama 35294
East Tennessee State University
1276 Gilbreath Drive, Johnson City, Tennessee 37614
Northern Arizona University
1900 S Knoles Dr, Babbitt Administrative Center, Room 200, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011
University of North Dakota
264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202
University at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12222
National Louis University
122 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60603
University of Toledo
2801 W Bancroft, Toledo, Ohio 43606
Portland State University
724 SW Harrison, Portland, Oregon 97201
Capella University
225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402
Mercer University
1501 Mercer University Drive, Macon, Georgia 31207

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Masters in Early Childhood Education Programs

Early childhood careers can be very demanding and quite a challenge. Delving deeper into developmentally relevant teaching techniques, methodology, and skills can be rewarding and enriching. A Master’s in Early Childhood Education emphasizes theoretical, practical, and research aspects of child development and trains students to professionally educate children from birth to age 8 (Grade 2 or 3). It is also common for students of the program to learn how toddlers and young children acquire language skills and how they develop emotionally, cognitively, and socially. Most programs will include study, training, and sometimes a practicum or capstone project as well.

To put it in a nutshell, a Master’s in Early Childhood Education will give students a deeper understanding of child development and learning and the experience and practical skills they will need to succeed in positions both within and outside the classroom.

Masters in Early Childhood Education Degree Types

A Master’s in Early Childhood Education has three known types of Degrees – an M.Ed. or Master of Education in Early Childhood Education, an MA or Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education, and an MS or Master of Science in Early Childhood Education.

M.Ed. in Early Childhood

M.Ed. or Master’s in Education is a border title that is inferred on programs related to the field of education. An M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education narrows down the concentration of the field, as the title suggests, to Early Childhood Education. Students and educational institutions generally prefer this type of degree, as it covers everything from teaching methodology to educational transactions to pedagogy and educational technology. It also covers aspects such as instruction, curriculum, counseling, and leadership. In most cases, a B.Ed. Degree precedes an M.Ed., and the program is generally of a duration of 2 years.

MA Early Childhood Education

An MA or Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education is another alternative to an M.Ed. that stems from the stream of arts and humanities. While there are commonalities between the two degrees, graduates of MA Early Childhood Education will often find the need to further specialize and fulfill more criteria for licensure (to teach). That said, an MA deals with the fundamental aspects of Early Childhood Education while encouraging students to build proficiency in pedagogy and leadership.

MS In Early Childhood

A Master of Science or MA in Early Childhood Education online program focuses more on the technicalities of Early Childhood Education from a scientific approach rather than from an educational or teaching perspective. This degree is best suited for those who prefer to work in areas outside of the classroom, such as research and educational technology, administration, and policy building.

Specializations in Masters in Early Childhood Education Programs

A Master’s in Early Childhood Education online program concentrates on the larger Masters in Education program. While the degree may be adequate to pursue exciting careers, specializations are always recommended to be better employed and paid. Here are a few specialization options in addition to an online Child Development Master’s Degree one could consider:

  • Children, Families, and Societies
  • The Early Childhood Learning Environment
  • Early Childhood Education Practicum
  • Teaching Diversity in Early Childhood Education
  • Infant and Child Development
  • Early Childhood Reading and Literacy Instruction
  • Administration Management and Leadership

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Early Childhood Education Programs

The curriculum for Early Childhood Studies university courses is pretty much the same across the different types of degrees. They essentially seek to help students better understand a child’s developmental stages and how teaching methods should adapt accordingly. Frequently, programs include courses that teach students how to stoke a child’s curiosity, foster learning, and improve outcomes. Topics such as continuous assessment and progress mapping are also prevalent.

In general, students will have regular courses coupled with special education courses, methods courses, and a practicum/internship or capstone, or both. All this, of course, depends on the college and program in question, and students must therefore read the Program Guidelines or Prospectus carefully to understand the subjects/courses on offer and whether they suit their requirements or not. Some of the courses that one can expect in a Master’s in Early Childhood Education program are:

  • Observing and Recording the Behavior of Young Children
  • Psychological Foundations of Learning
  • Curriculum Development
  • Social and Emotional Learning
  • Create and Motor Learning
  • Early Childhood Development, Learning, and Motivation
  • Literacy Development
  • Issues in Family Science
  • Parent Education
  • Foundations of Early Childhood
  • Child, Family, Community, and Philosophy of Early Childhood Education
  • Integrated Curriculum in Early Childhood
  • Multicultural Education
  • Individualized Coaching and Field Experiences
  • Career Coaching for Educators
  • Early Childhood Assessment
  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Strategies and Materials for Teaching Emergent Literacy & Social Studies

Note: Some MS Programs will also require a Master’s Thesis to be submitted.

Apart from developing creative, organization, communication, and interpersonal skills, graduates of a Master’s in Early Childhood Education will have the ability to:

  • understand the various stages of child development and how children learn and grow;
  • develop and implement techniques to observe, document, and assess learning;
  • identify each child’s unique strengths, weaknesses, qualities, and learning needs;
  • develop assessment tools for formative and summative evaluation of  student’s progress;
  • collaborate responsibly and ethically with parents, caregivers, and educators;
  • encourage children to question, investigate, understand, acquire skills and create their own knowledge;
  • support linguistically and culturally diverse learners;
  • support learners with disabilities with the assistance of, or in collaboration with, other professionals;
  • develop curriculum that teaches core concepts and tools of inquiry that suit students’ interests and developmental levels;
  • create learning environments that nurture the learning, development, and self-esteem of all children;
  • research and devise new approaches, techniques, and methodologies that engage and interest students; and
  • interpret and apply educational research related to early childhood, child development, and teaching and learning strategies.

Accreditation for Masters in Early Childhood Education Programs

Accredited online schools for Early Childhood Education will have programs endorsed and recognized by State and Federal Education Authorities. Even so, prospective candidates should always check with their State’s Education Department to see whether the chosen Master’s Program qualifies graduates for teacher licensure or not, as norms and compliance requirements vary from state to state.

One of the accreditation bodies is the NAEYC Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs, which grants the NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation to an ECE program at the associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degree levels that prepare students to work in the field of early childhood. Another reputed one is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) that accredits ECE programs for quality in educator preparation.

Read the Guide on Accreditation to better understand why accreditation is important when choosing an Early Childhood Education Master’s program.

Timeline for graduation from Masters in Early Childhood Education Online Programs

More than a handful of colleges use the credit hour system and require a student to have 36 to 48 credit hours to graduate from a Master’s in Early Childhood Education online program. However, in certain cases, colleges allow the transfer of credit hours from accredited programs taken up in another university, which will bring down the course duration. All things considered, the average time it takes to complete an Early Childhood Education Master’s Degree is about two years. Typical in-takes at colleges are in the Spring and Fall but vary by college and program.

There is also an option to enroll for a Bachelor’s and Master’s Dual-Degree Program, which generally requires a total of about 150+ credit hours and is designed to be completed in 5 years (includes two summers).

Masters in Early Childhood Education Online Programs Admission Requirements

The first basic requirement for a Master’s in Early Childhood Education is a Bachelor’s Degree. Quite naturally, and depending on the program opted for, students may need a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.), Bachelor of Science (BS), or Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, preferably in a stream related to education. Other admission requirements are quite standard: Academic Transcripts, Letters of Recommendation, and a Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose. Some colleges may additionally require a Teaching Certificate and some teaching experience as well, along with a Resume.

As for scores, a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 is usually necessary. While standardized test scores of GRE or GMAT are usually not asked for, GRE scores may be required for students who do not meet the minimum GPA.

Early Childhood Education 1-Year Programs

Although generally a 2-year program, an Early Childhood Education 1 year program is looked for by many. While the duration may be shorter than standard programs, such accelerated Early Childhood Education online programs have the downside of being quite demanding on time and study. However, for those interested, there are only a very few universities that offer 1-year programs. One such accelerated program is a fully online M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from the University of West Alabama, which can be completed in about one year, with 34 credits, each lasting about eight weeks. Here are some more 1 year early childhood education programs:

18 Months

How to Pay for Masters in Early Childhood Education Online Programs

The average cost of Early Childhood Education is in the region of approximately $20,000 per year for resident students and approximately $45,000 for non-resident ones. Conclusively, paying the Early Childhood Education tuition fee and other related expenses can be a burdensome affair. Fortunately, there are quite many ways for students to offset the cost of rising education. From scholarships to assistantships to loans, students should explore all sorts of funding mechanisms to see if they meet their requirements. The list below outlines a few such funding mechanisms:


Scholarships offer financial assistance and do not require repayment. They are quite clearly the easiest and most popular way of funding advanced education.


Grants are funds provided by the federal, state, or private sectors to cover tuition costs or other associated student expenses, such as study materials, transport, equipment, etc.


Assistantships allow a student to assist the college or program either with teaching or other non-teaching work while studying at the same time. Many colleges offer two types of Assistantships – Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships. Students should read the program guide to check for Assistantships and conditions thereof.


Fellowships are a type of financial aid that are usually merit-based or project-based awards that assist full-time students in pursuing their studies.

Working on Campus

A working student (at the University) who is not on an assistantship is referred to as a student worker. Working on campus creates an employer-employee relationship with the University, where students are paid based on the quantum of time they work for.

Federal Loans

Loans are funds that are borrowed on interest to help pay for education. While the interest on Federal Loans is set and controlled by Federal Law, there are Private Loans that one could avail of but at varying and often higher interest rates.


(Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is one possible source for funding an online Masters in Early Childhood Education Degree. A complete look at FAFSA is available here

Find out all there is to know how to finance advanced education by reading the best Financial Guide.

Scholarships for Masters in Early Childhood Education Online Students

Scholarships are a great way to fund higher or advanced education, as the money awarded does not have to be repaid. There are many scholarships available across the United States for a Master’s in Early Education online program. The list below outlines some hand-picked ones that seem to be sound propositions:

Langguth Sisters Scholarship

Langguth Sisters Scholarship (University of Minnesota) of $3,500 is a one-time, one-semester scholarship awarded to students of an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education for the final term of their program. Application Deadline: Each Fall Semester.

Sheri Stears Education Scholarship

Sheri Stears Education Scholarship (University of Alaska) awards $2,500 to eligible students who have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Application Deadline: February 15th, annually.

Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship

Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarships are available to highly qualified students interested in pursuing a career as a West Virginia math or science teacher or as an elementary or special education teacher. Award amounts typically do not exceed $5,000. Application Deadline: TBA.

National Board Certification Scholarship

National Board Certification Scholarship is available for those undertaking a National Board for Professional Teaching Standard Certification offered by the Maine Department of Education. Varying each fiscal year, the award amount is in the region of about $75,000 in total. Application Deadline: December, annually.

Educational Advancement Foundation Scholarship

Educational Advancement Foundation awards one-year, one-time-only merit scholarships to qualifying graduate students. The scholarship amount varies each year. Application Deadline: August 21st, 2024.

In addition to the ones listed here, there are many scholarships available for special categories of students, such as Disability ScholarshipsScholarships for Women, and African American Scholarships.

Finding the right scholarship is important, as students could easily fall prey to scholarship scams that can have several ramifications on funding and the application in general.

FAQs about Masters in Early Childhood Education Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Early Childhood studies?

Early Childhood Studies or Education is the study of linguistic, cognitive, social, and emotional development in children from birth to age 8. It covers family engagement, assessment methodology, designing of early childhood curricula, language, social skills, and other related topics.

Should I get my Masters in Early Childhood Education?

For those individuals who like the presence of children, educating and mentoring them, a Master’s in Early Childhood Education can be a very engaging and rewarding experience. Students who want to become teachers, school or childcare administrators, or researchers in ECE should get this degree.

What can you do with a Master’s in Early Childhood?

Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in Early Childhood Education Graduates

The Education Industry is always in need of professionals in the field of teaching and training at various levels of education. Roles such as administration and management are also equally in demand, as are counselors and education technology experts. A Master’s in Early Childhood Education online degree will bring with it a wide range of career paths and options, some of which include but are not limited to:

  • Instructional Technologist
  • Counselor
  • Child and Family Advocate
  • Child Development Instructor
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Home or Private Tutor, Online Tutor
  • Child Care Administrator
  • Director or Owner of a Childcare Centre
  • Preschool or School Director, or Administrator
  • Teacher Trainer
  • Professional Development Facilitator
  • Lecturer in Early Childhood Education
  • Program Administrator for Early Childhood Programs
  • Curriculum Designer and Developer
  • Public Policy Coordinator
  • Researcher
  • Teacher, Lecturer, Professor, Principal
  • Education Consultant
  • Education Technology Specialist

When it comes to salary, the primary role of an individual and the chosen career path defines how much the salary could be. For example, Payscale reports that Preschool Teachers (but not Special Education) can earn about $33,000 on average, while an Executive Director of a Preschool can take home about $72,000 on average. Early Childhood Educators can expect an average annual pay of $37,000, and Program Coordinators for Non-Profit Organizations, about $47,000 on average. Similarly, Special Education Teachers can expect a median annual salary of $49,338.

Certifications and Licensing for Early Childhood Education Graduates

Certifications considerably boost the value and credibility of a Master’s Degree and open out innumerable career options to choose from. A Graduate Certificate helps in finding a more specific job within the larger scope of Early Childhood Education and often translates to better pay and career prospects. For example, ECE students could consider certification programs such as the Bilingual/ESL Education Certificate, Dual Language Principal Leadership Certificate, or Special Education, LBS1 Endorsement Certificate. These are just a few from a wide range of certification courses.

An important point to note is that students should always ensure that a Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Education online program is accredited by an industry-recognized body. One such accreditation authority is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits several programs related to Early Childhood Education.

Apart from a graduate certificate in Early Childhood Education online that is accredited by a recognized agency/body, Certification or Licensure is required to work in most education sectors or education-related sectors, some of which include:

  • Elementary School Educators and Administrators.
  • Child Development Professionals.
  • Educators in Childcare Subsidy Funded Programs.
  • Anyone directly involved in serving young children through Early Childhood Programs.
  • Other related Professionals like Home Visitors, Early Intervention Specialists, Counselors, and Family Service workers.

As licensure requirements vary by state, graduates should check with their local Department of Education to understand guidelines and regulations applicable to their particular state.

Additional Resources for Early Childhood Education Professionals

To share experiences and deal with real-life situations, students of a Master’s in Early Childhood Education online program and professionals in the field should network and involve themselves in ECE communities. Furthermore, tapping into a variety of resources will always help in increasing knowledge and advancing careers. Some of the resources that can benefit ECE students and working professionals are:

  1. Association of American Educators (AAE)
    AAE is the largest national professional educators’ organization, offering a modern approach to teacher representation and promoting professionalism, collaboration, and excellence among educators. The site has numerous useful resources and publications.
  2. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
    ASCD is a huge repository for educators and those connected with the field of education, complete with books, videos, webinars, communities, conferences, and a whole lot more.
  3. National Education Association
    NEA helps individuals achieve professional excellence and strengthens public education through collective action, advocacy, and policy change.
  4. Early Childhood Education Zone
    The Early Childhood Education Zone has guides, blogs, articles, and much more for toddlers, preschoolers, elementary students, and families and teachers.
  5. NYC Department of Education
    The NYC Department of Education’s Info Hub has everything from remote learning curricular resources to instructional guidance, templates, family childcare curriculum, and more.
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