Early Childhood Education Degree Online

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The goal of an early childhood education degree is to learn how to understand and then help nurture the process of a child’s learning.  Learn how to help younger kids learn though inquiry and active play. Doing all of this in varied and diverse environments. Learning how culture, family and learning styles all impact how each child learns.

You may also delve into key topics in class management and teaching. This may include areas such as language, tech and assessment. Some programs may also cover teaching children with special needs. You may even be able to choose an area of focus, like preschool, infants or management.


Early Childhood Ed Certificate

Learn core skills and knowledge of learning strategies. Prepare to apply for the CDA credential.

Course Examples:

  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Observation and assessment
  • Basics of child development

AA in Early Childhood Education

Study the foundation of early childhood ed. Learn about development, learning assessment, special ed, strategy and more.

Course Examples:

  • Early childhood ed intro
  • Intro to behavior management
  • Intro to curriculum and instruction

BS in Early Childhood Education, Special Education

Study to help children overcome learning delays. Prepare for a certificate in early childhood ed and special ed.

Course Examples:

  • Legal aspects of special ed
  • Child, family, cultural  relationships
  • Appropriate curriculum


Associate degrees in early childhood education focus on the basics of teaching young children. This includes how to create a course of study and how to identify special learners. Bachelor degree programs may also teach you how to assess learning and development in young children.

A certificate in Early childhood education may be another path to consider. It may cover grad level theories in early childhood education without having to earn a degree. Many certificate students attend classes on a part time basis. This may then take one to two years to finish the program.

Many online masters degree programs in early childhood education teach how to create courses that engage kids. PhD programs in early childhood ed teach a more level of theories in child development. These topics may involve evidence based interventions. The may also cover how to research and analyze if instruction is effective.


Certain courses are a must if you want an associate degree or bachelor degree. You will take two kinds of courses. General ed courses and childhood ed courses.

Some common courses include:

Basics of Child Development: Learn about the different factors that influence child development. This includes historical, biological, environmental, and cultural factors.

Curriculum Development: Learn what elements are needed for a curriculum that is aimed at a diverse set of learners.

Guidance and Discipline: In this type of course you may study strategies to encourage optimal behavior in kids.

Language and Literacy: Learn about milestones tied to the development of language and literacy. The course may also teach you how to develop strategies for involving families in the development of each child.

Creativity and Play: Topics may include learning how to design learning activities.

Special Education: This course may teach students how to include exceptional children in the learning process.


In most states, you need a bachelor degree to become a  preschool teacher. It could take at least four years to earn a BS. You may also need the CDA credential. This is offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. Earning your CDA may take more time. In some cases, your degree program may prepare you to earn the CDA.

Some preschool teachers have only an associate degree or a high school diploma. It depends on what state you want to work in, or the program you work in.  For example, you may not need a BS if you would for a private school.  You may also begin by earning an associate degree. and work with a counselor to make sure you can transfer your credits later.



In 2021, the median in state tuition for an early childhood degree was $6,415 per year. Out of state students paid a median yearly tuition of $29,365 that same year. Here are some specific examples of tuition costs. These rates are for full time students as of 2021.

SchoolDegree Level# of Credits NeededCost Per CreditTotal
Ashford UniversityAssociate Degree67$480$32,160
AshfordBachelor Degree120$480$57,600
Colorado Christian UniversityBachelor Degree120$469$56,280


According to the most recent data, there were 32,920 degrees in this field awarded to students in 2021. Most of them, 59% were bachelor degrees.

Schools2021 Degrees Awarded2023/24 Tuition (out of state unless *)
Ashford University1,076$13,160*
Ivy Tech Community College607$9,465
Grand Canyon University767$17,450*
California State University-Fullerton511$18,953
California State University-Sacramento479$19,482


A certificate in Early Childhood Education (ECE) is something to consider. It helps you gain knowledge in the field if you want to teach preschool. You may earn one before, during or after earning a degree in early childhood ed.

To become ECE certified, you can take courses and do work as an intern. What do the courses cover? Subjects like literacy, child development and family life. You can become certified online or through hybrid courses. Another way is through a degree program. It is typical that a student must be ECE certified to apply for a teaching license. But you must also meet other measures. For instance, you must have a degree.


In 2021, 6.14% of the people who earned a degree in education worked as preschool and kindergarten teachers. Of all teachers, their skills are thought of as more niche.

Of the people who earned this degree, 96.4% were female. The average age of those working in education in 2021 was 46.2 years.


As of May 2022, the following five states had the highest employment for preschool teachers:

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
District of Columbia2,250$61,980
New Jersey17,750$49,490



Preschool teachers work with children aged 3 to 5, engaging in various tasks such as crafting educational lessons, planning physical activities, play, and rest periods. They monitor students’ progress, assess their interests, and pay attention to signs of potential emotional or learning challenges. The role involves a keen focus on ensuring each student’s learning needs are met.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median annual salary: $37,130per year
Job growth through 2032: 3% (faster than average)
Entry level edu: Associate degree or bachelor degree


Preschool and childcare center directors manage all aspects of the center, collaborating with teachers and staff while handling administrative tasks, including budget management. Their responsibilities include ensuring the smooth operation of the center, gaining parental approval of the program, and ensuring compliance with state mandates.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median annual salary: $54,290 per year
Job growth through 2032: -3% (Decline)
Entry level edu: Bachelor degree.


Elementary school teachers work with older children who are capable of learning more and understanding complex subjects. They develop in-depth lesson plans that are tailored to young learners. To become a teacher at this level, individuals must obtain a certificate or license, and a bachelor’s degree is a necessary requirement, as mandated by every state.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median annual salary: $63,670 per year
Job growth through 2032: 1% (Little or no change)
Entry level edu: Bachelor degree

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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