Cynthia Sullivan
Written By - Cynthia Sullivan

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Teaching young children can be an enriching 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 teaching, mentoring, or training career opportunities 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. This advanced degree equips educators with specialized knowledge and skills tailored to the unique needs of young learners, empowering them to create nurturing and inclusive learning environments where children can thrive emotionally, socially, and academically. Whether aspiring to become a preschool teacher, childcare director, curriculum specialist, or educational consultant, graduates of a Master’s in ECE are prepared to make a profound impact on the lives of young children and contribute to the future of education. Read along to understand the various facets of this degree.

Early Childhood Education

Table Of Contents

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 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 Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online Programs

Early Childhood Education rankings are typically awarded to colleges or programs with above-par course quality 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:

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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 Master’s 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 some affordable online Master’s in Early Childhood Education programs:

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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 Master’s in Early Childhood Education Programs

Early childhood careers can be very demanding and challenging. Delving deeper into developmentally relevant teaching techniques, methodology, and skills can be rewarding. 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 (that is, Grade 2 or 3). It is also common for them to learn how toddlers and young children acquire language skills and how they develop emotionally, cognitively, and socially. Most programs include study, training, and sometimes a practicum or capstone project.

A Master’s in Early Childhood Education will give one 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.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master’s in Early Childhood Education Programs

The curriculum for Early Childhood Studies university courses is the same across different 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 graduates how to stoke a child’s curiosity, foster learning, and improve outcomes. Topics such as continuous assessment and progress mapping are also prevalent.

One will generally have regular courses coupled with special education courses, methods courses, a practicum/internship capstone, or both. All this depends on the college and program; therefore, read the Program Guidelines or Prospectus carefully to understand the subjects/courses on offer and whether they suit their requirements. Some of the courses that one can expect in a Master’s in Early Childhood Education program are:

Early Childhood Development

The Early Childhood Development course delves into the intricate process of physical, social, and psychological growth and change that spans from conception through childhood. Students explore the five stages of early childhood development: newborn, infant, toddler, preschooler, and school-age child. Additionally, topics such as early childhood development’s significance and defining characteristics are covered, providing a comprehensive understanding of this critical phase of human development.

Curriculum Planning

An integral component of the early childhood education program, the curriculum planning course emphasizes understanding the elements of deep thinking, social-emotional learning, civic engagement, equity, and best practices. Students learn about the interrelated phases of curriculum development, including content and methods, planning, implementation, evaluation, and reporting. This course equips educators with the skills to design effective and engaging curricula tailored to the diverse needs of young learners.

Assessing Young Children

Assessing children’s developmental progress is paramount in early childhood education. This course explores various assessment methods, including informal techniques such as collecting data, creating child portfolios, using teacher ratings, conducting natural observations, and formal methods like standardized testing and questionnaires. Educators can effectively track and support children’s growth and development by understanding different assessment tools and strategies.

Literacy and Language Acquisition

Language development and literacy play pivotal roles in a child’s overall development. This course focuses on understanding how language is encoded in learning and writing systems through orthographic rules and how language and literacy learning begin in children. Educators learn strategies to foster language and literacy skills in young learners, promoting their communication abilities and laying a solid foundation for academic success.

Methods and Standards for Educational Research

Educational research is essential for advancing knowledge and informing effective teaching practices. In this course, students explore various research methods, including naturalistic observation, existing data analysis, qualitative research designs such as phenomenology and ethnography, and quantitative methods like grounded theory design. By understanding research methodologies, educators can critically evaluate educational practices and contribute to evidence-based decision-making in the field.

Some additional courses that one can find across institutions include:

  • 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 knowledge;
  • support learners with disabilities with the assistance of, or in collaboration with, other professionals;
  • develop a curriculum that teaches core concepts and tools of inquiry that suit students’ individual 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 learners; and
  • interpret and apply educational research on early childhood, child development, and teaching and learning strategies.

Master’s 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 inferred on education-related programs. 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, pedagogy, and technology. It also covers 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 two 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 arts and humanities stream. While there are commonalities between the two degrees, MA Early Childhood Education graduates will often find the need to specialize further and fulfill more criteria for licensure (to teach). That said, an MA deals with the fundamental aspects of Early Childhood Education while encouraging one 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 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 Master’s in Early Childhood Education Programs

A Master’s in Early Childhood Education online program concentrates on the more oversized Master’s 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 SocietiesThis specialization focuses on understanding the complex interactions between children, families, and society, emphasizing the role of social and cultural contexts.Family support specialist, social worker, community outreach coordinator, and more.
The Early Childhood Learning EnvironmentThis specialization explores design, organization, and management of early childhood learning environments, emphasizing best practices in creating enriching spaces.Preschool teacher, childcare center director, early childhood program coordinator, and more.
Early Childhood Education PracticumThis specialization provides hands-on experience in real-world early childhood settings under the supervision of experienced educators, allowing for practical skill development.Student teacher, early childhood intern, practicum coordinator, and more.
Teaching Diversity in Early Childhood EducationThis specialization addresses strategies for creating inclusive and culturally responsive learning environments that honor and celebrate diversity among young learners.Diversity coordinator, multicultural education specialist, equity and inclusion advocate, and more.
Infant and Child DevelopmentThis specialization focuses on infant and young children’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development, emphasizing the understanding of developmental milestones.Developmental therapist, early intervention specialist, infant/toddler teacher, and more.
Early Childhood Reading and Literacy InstructionThis specialization explores evidence-based practices for teaching early literacy skills, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.Reading specialist, literacy coach, early childhood literacy instructor, and more.
Administration Management and LeadershipThis specialization prepares educators for leadership roles in early childhood education settings, emphasizing organizational management, policy development, and staff supervision.Childcare center director, preschool administrator, early childhood program director, and more.

Timeline for graduation from Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online Programs

More than a handful of colleges use the credit hour system, requiring students to have 36 to 48 credit hours to graduate from a Master’s in Early Childhood Education online program. However, in some instances, colleges allow the transfer of credit hours from accredited programs taken up in another university, which will, in turn, bring down the duration of the course. The average time 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 in a Bachelor’s and Master’s Dual-Degree Program, which generally requires about 150+ credit hours and is designed to be completed in five years (including two summers). Here is a summary of the timeline to complete an online master’s in early childhood education:

  • Full-time: An online master’s in early childhood education can be completed in two years when taken up full-time
  • Part-time: An online master’s in early childhood education can be completed in two to four years when taken up part-time

Early Childhood Education Accelerated Programs

Accelerated Master’s programs in Early Childhood Education (ECE) are designed to provide students with an intensive and streamlined pathway to earning their graduate degree in a shorter timeframe than traditional programs. Typically, these programs condense coursework and offer year-round schedules, allowing them to complete their studies in approximately 12 to 18 months. Few colleges providing early childhood education accelerated programs include:

Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online Programs Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for Master’s in Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs may vary slightly depending on the institution and program, but here are some common requirements one can expect:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Most programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. While some programs may prefer applicants with a background in education or a related field, others may accept graduates from diverse academic backgrounds.
  • Minimum GPA: Many programs have a minimum GPA requirement for admission. It typically ranges from 2.5 to 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, although some highly competitive programs may have higher GPA expectations.
  • Transcripts: Applicants usually submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. These transcripts provide evidence of academic achievement and may be used to assess applicants’ readiness for graduate-level coursework.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Programs often require applicants to submit letters of recommendation from academic or professional references who can speak to their qualifications, character, and potential for success in graduate school and early childhood education.
  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement: Applicants are typically asked to submit a Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose outlining their reasons for pursuing a master’s degree in early childhood education, their career goals, relevant experiences, and areas of interest within the field.
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV): Programs may request a current Résumé or CV detailing applicants’ educational background, work experience, volunteer activities, professional development, and any relevant certifications or licenses.
  • Prerequisite Coursework: Some programs may require applicants to have completed prerequisite coursework in education, child development, psychology, or related fields. These courses may vary depending on the program’s specific requirements.
  • Standardized Test Scores: While not always required, some programs may request GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores as part of the application process. However, many programs have been waiving this requirement in recent years.
  • Interview: In some cases, applicants may be required to participate in an interview as part of the admissions process. This interview may be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video conferencing and provides an opportunity for the admissions committee to learn more about the applicant’s qualifications and goals.
  • Additional Requirements: Depending on the program, applicants may be asked to submit additional materials such as a writing sample, teaching philosophy statement, or portfolio of relevant work.

No GRE Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online Program

GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is used by institutions to judge the academic caliber of the student. However, many institutions are eliminating the GRE score based on evidence of structural barriers and bias that many schools aim to eliminate to ensure diverse pools of applicants have access to high-quality academic degrees. Increasingly, many universities across the U.S. are providing admissions to candidates to pursue some specific programs without the GRE scores or making it optional. Some schools providing online early childhood education master’s degrees without GRE scores include: 

Accreditation for Master’s 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, 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 [5] 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) [6], which accredits ECE programs for quality in educator preparation.

Some of the master’s in early childhood education programs get accredited by regional organizations like

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

Where to Find Free Online Courses for Early Childhood Education Master’s Students

Free online courses can be valuable resources to enhance knowledge in early childhood education. Some examples of free early childhood education courses are:

CourseFoundations of Teaching for Learning: Developing Relationships [13]
Provided byCoursera
DescriptionThis course benefits individuals aspiring to enter or engage in teaching roles across various settings. It enhances skills in professionalism, assessment, teaching methodologies, and more. Participants also learn to cultivate positive relationships with young learners, fostering a supportive environment conducive to their educational growth.
CourseChildcare and EYFS [14]
Provided byAlison
DescriptionIn this course, participants explore various techniques and strategies for nurturing and educating children. They understand the importance of investing time in demonstrating care and reassuring infants and young children, ensuring they feel safe and genuinely supported. Additionally, students learn about the various approaches to caregiving and teaching and strategies to adapt and evolve their methods as children grow and develop.
CourseEarly Childhood Development: Global Strategies for Implementation-edx[15]
Provided byedx 
DescriptionThis course offers an opportunity to explore leading practices in child and family policies, financing, advocacy, and innovative interventions that promote early childhood development. Participants delve into scalable and creative strategies while examining global experiences, drawing insights from community initiatives, policymakers, experts, and evidence-based practices worldwide.

How to Pay for Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online Programs

Early Childhood Education costs approximately $20,000 annually for residents and roughly $45,000 for non-resident students. Paying the Early Childhood Education tuition fee and other related expenses can be burdensome. Fortunately, many ways exist to offset the cost of rising education. Those should explore all sorts of funding mechanisms, from scholarships to assistantships to loans, 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 the easiest and most popular way to fund advanced education.


Fellowships are financial aid, usually merit-based or project-based awards, that assist full-timers in pursuing their studies.


Assistantships allow students to assist the college or program with teaching or other non-teaching work while studying simultaneously. Many colleges offer two types of Assistantships – Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships. One can read the program guide to check for Assistantships and conditions thereof.


The federal, state, or private sectors provide grants to cover tuition costs or other associated student expenses, such as study materials, transport, equipment, etc.

Working on Campus

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

Federal Loans

Loans are funds 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.


FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is one possible source for funding an online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree. 

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

Scholarships for Master’s 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. Many scholarships are available nationwide for a Master’s in Early Education online program. The list below outlines some hand-picked ones that seem to be sound propositions:

The Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship [17]

The Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship recognizes one in the field of education who demonstrates exceptional dedication to professional standards. It is open to current teachers pursuing advanced degrees, such as master’s programs, at qualified universities or educational institutions. 

Award/Amount: $1,000

Application Deadline: January, annually

Underwood Smith Teaching Scholars[18]

The Underwood Smith Teaching Scholars scholarship supports undergraduates or graduates majoring in teacher education or related fields. Recipients commit to teaching for two years for each year of scholarship received unless designated for high-needs areas, in which case the commitment is one year for each year of funding. 

Award/Amount: $10,000

Application Deadline: July, annually

National Scholarships and Grants Program[19]

The National Scholarships and Grants Program, offered by the Association of American Educators, aims to enhance academic and educational standards nationwide. While membership in the organization is preferred, it is not required. The program provides monetary grants, with additional funding for expenses such as books, travel, conferences, workshops, and registration fees. 

Award/Amount: Up to $500 

Application Deadline: October 1st and March 1st

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Early Childhood Education Graduates

The Education Industry always needs professionals in teaching and training at various levels of education. Roles such as administration and management are 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:

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

Some of these occupations are explained below:

OccupationSocial Workers [20]
Skills RequiredCommunication, interpersonal, organizational, problem-solving, and compassion skills.
Median Annual Salary$55,350
Job Growth (up to 2032)9% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionSocial workers assist clients in coping with life challenges such as divorce, unemployment, or illness. They research, advocate, and refer clients to community resources like food stamps, healthcare, childcare, and other services essential for improving well-being.
OccupationPreschool Teacher [21]
Skills RequiredCommunication, interpersonal, organizational, physical stamina, patience, and creativity skills. 
Median Annual Salary$35,330
Job Growth (up to 2032)15% (much faster than average)
Job DescriptionPreschool teachers utilize play-based methods to teach children fundamental skills such as identifying shapes, numbers, letters, and colors. They also foster social skills, employ instructional techniques, and cultivate diverse interests beneficial for a child’s development through problem-solving, experimenting, and playing.
OccupationSpecial Education Teachers [22]
Skills RequiredCommunication, critical thinking, interpersonal, patience, and resourcefulness skills. 
Median Annual Salary$62,950
Job Growth (up to 2032)4% (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionSpecial education teachers modify general lessons to meet the needs of students with various abilities, including emotional, physical, or specific learning disabilities. They develop tailored instructional plans to support individual learner’s requirements.
OccupationPreschool and Childcare Center Directors[23]
Skills RequiredBusiness, communication, interpersonal, leadership, and organizational skills
Median Annual Salary$49,690
Job Growth (up to 2032)8% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionDirectors establish policies, communicate with staff and parents, develop educational standards and programs, maintain instructional quality, and oversee the care and education of students. They also engage with parents to discuss their child’s progress.
OccupationKindergarten and Elementary School Teachers[24]
Skills RequiredCommunication, patience, physical stamina, and resourcefulness skills
Median Annual Salary$61,620
Job Growth (up to 2032)4% (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionThese teachers grade assignments, communicate with parents about student progress, provide individualized support to learners, and establish classroom rules to promote appropriate behavior.
OccupationInstructional Coordinators[25]
Skills RequiredAnalytical, communication, decision-making, interpersonal, and leadership skills
Median Annual Salary$66,490
Job Growth (up to 2032)7% (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionInstructional coordinators oversee the school curriculum, supervise teaching standards, develop educational materials, organize training sessions and conferences, and collaborate with school staff to assess curriculum standards.

Certifications and Licensing for Early Childhood Education Graduates

Professional certifications are crucial in personal and professional growth, enhancing expertise and credibility. While traditional curricula offer comprehensive knowledge, certifications provide specialized skill sets or knowledge tailored to specific areas, allowing individuals to serve specialized clients better. Some certifications relevant to those pursuing online master’s degrees in early childhood education include:

Child Development Associate Credential [26]

The Child Development Associate Credential is a cornerstone of advanced early childhood knowledge, providing experiential professional development. It is based on a core set of standards to prepare and evaluate early childhood educators for the professional realm. This certification is invaluable for professional growth, equipping educators to become qualified and exceptional teachers.

Microsoft Certified Educator[27]

This certification empowers educators to design activities that promote collaborative learning, shared responsibilities, and critical decision-making. Completing this certification enables educators to evaluate, design, analyze, and manage learning environments to foster student collaboration, utilizing available classroom resources effectively.

Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) [28]

Designed for early childhood teachers and educators, the Certified Childcare Professional certification requires candidates to complete a professional portfolio and undergo classroom teaching under the supervision of a professional adviser. Candidates accrue 180 hours of continuing education credits through college courses and childcare conferences.

It is important to note that childcare licensing regulations vary by state and cover various topics, including child supervision, building safety, immunizations, nutrition, training, and health requirements for childcare program staff [29]. These licensing requirements are essential to ensure the safety and well-being of children and may differ from state to state.

Additional Resources for Early Childhood Education Professionals

To share experiences and deal with real-life situations, graduates 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 various resources will always help increase knowledge and advance careers. Some of the resources that can benefit ECE students and working professionals are:

Association of American Educators (AAE) [30]

AAE is the most prominent national professional educators’ organization, offering a modern approach to teacher representation and promoting professionalism, collaboration, and excellence among educators. The site has numerous valuable resources and publications.

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) [31]

ASCD serves as a vast repository for educators and individuals involved in education. It offers a comprehensive range of resources, including books, videos, webinars, communities, conferences, and more. Educators can access valuable insights, strategies, and professional development opportunities to enhance teaching practices and learning outcomes.

National Education Association [32]

The NEA is committed to helping individuals achieve professional excellence and advocating for strengthening public education. Through collective action, advocacy efforts, and policy change initiatives, the NEA promotes the interests of educators and students alike. It provides resources, support, and representation for educators at all levels, contributing to the advancement of education nationwide.

Early Childhood Education Zone [33]

The Early Childhood Education Zone is a valuable resource hub offering guides, blogs, articles, and other materials tailored to toddlers, preschoolers, elementary students, families, and teachers. With a focus on early childhood development and education, this platform provides insights, activities, and resources to support young children’s holistic growth and learning.

NYC Department of Education [34]

The NYC Department of Education’s Info Hub is a centralized source of information and resources for educators, students, families, and stakeholders within the New York City education system. The Info Hub offers many resources for teaching and learning in diverse educational settings, from remote learning curricular resources to instructional guidance, templates, and family childcare curricula.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) [35]

NAEYC is a leading professional organization promoting high-quality early learning experiences for young children. Through advocacy, professional development, accreditation, and research initiatives, NAEYC advances early childhood education and supports early childhood educators’ professional growth and development. The organization provides resources, publications, conferences, and networking opportunities for educators and professionals in the field.

FAQs About Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online Programs

What is a Master’s in Early Childhood Education (ECE) program?

A Master’s in Early Childhood Education program is an advanced graduate-level degree program that focuses on preparing educators to work with young children from birth through age eight. It delves deeply into theories of child development, pedagogical approaches, curriculum design, assessment strategies, and family engagement practices within early childhood settings such as preschools, childcare centers, and elementary schools. The program equips educators with the knowledge, skills, and competencies to provide high-quality educational experiences supporting young children’s holistic development and learning.

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

Are their online Master’s in ECE programs available?

Can I pursue a Master’s in ECE if my bachelor’s degree is in a different field?

What is the difference between a Master’s in ECE and a Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education?

Are there hands-on experience or practicum opportunities in Master’s in ECE programs?

What is the difference between licensure and certification in Early Childhood Education?


Grand Canyon University

The Regents of the University of Michigan

University of North Dakota

Walden University

NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Foundations of Teaching for Learning: Developing Relationships-Coursera

Childcare and EYFS-Alison

Early Childhood Development: Global Strategies for Implementation-edx


The Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship

Underwood Smith Teaching Scholars

National Scholarships and Grants Program

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Childcare Workers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Preschool Teacher

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Special Education Teachers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Instructional Coordinators

Child Development Associate Credential

Microsoft Certified Educator

Certified Childcare Professional (CCP)

Child Care Licensing

Association of American Educators (AAE)

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

National Education Association

Early Childhood Education Zone

NYC Department of Education

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)