A well-rounded bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education (ECE) should rest on current theory, well-tested research, and up-to-date perspectives. Students should be exposed to skills, attitudes, effective education practice, and field experiences that will enable them to become effective, knowledgeable early childhood educators
Teaching emphasis will be placed on creating an appropriate learning environment for young students and instruction techniques that allow educators to gain the broadest learning outcomes possible. Future teachers may also learn about law and ethics in education and how to use play as pedagogy.
Education Degrees & Career Paths
- One of the best parts of being a teacher is that you’ll be able to make a positive impact in the lives of your students. If you read them the right story or introduce them to a new idea, you may even change their lives. In the ECE field, you have many educational career options from which to choose. You may choose to teach in kindergarten or an early elementary grade; you may choose to work with special-needs children; or, after several years in the classroom, you may choose to move up into a leadership role that allows you to help shape and mentor incoming teachers.
- This career field is unique because you can develop and grow your credentials to move toward a career path that allows you to work as anything from a preschool teacher, English as a second language teacher, special education teacher, or principal of a preschool.
- Even at the bachelor’s level, you are limited in what you can do and how high you can advance. Yes, you may have the opportunity to become a child care center director once you have plenty of experience but, if you have plans to move to the top of a school district, you’ll really need to earn a master’s in education.
- Take a look at the job postings for kindergarten, first, second, and third-grade teachers. All of them require that you hold a bachelor’s degree. You also need to hold an early childhood education licensure, which you have to renew every few years. Now, look at the listings for principals or administrators. Every one of them requires that, at a minimum, you have a master’s degree.
Certificate Vs. Bachelor in Early Childhood Education
Both options have advantages. With a certificate, you’ll have the knowledge and skills needed to begin working in a childcare center. However, you won’t be able to handle certain roles or tasks; these will be taken care of by the lead teacher who has earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Going the route of earning a bachelor’s degree will best assure you of finding work in a school district. If you already have a degree in another field, such as science, you may be able to become an elementary-level teacher once you pass an alternative teacher certification exam.
What Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Degrees are Available?
When you look at the different degree options you have in earning a bachelor’s in early childhood education, you may be a little confused. BS, BA, BSEd; what do these degree designations mean? Check below for a list of the most commonly available degrees in education.
- Bachelor of Science Early Childhood Education (BS-ECE):
This degree may involve more science-oriented courses than other early childhood education degrees. It will certainly include more technical courses, whether those are in pedagogy or child development. This degree may have fewer liberal arts classes, but you will still need to complete most general education courses required by your school of choice. This option is good for you if your teaching specialization will be math, general science, or any of the science specializations, such as biology or chemistry. However, as most early childhood education classes are combined, this likely won’t have much effect on your career unless you decide at a later point to earn certification in teaching for higher grade levels and wish to move into a science focus.
- Bachelor of Arts Early Childhood Education (BA-ECE):
This degree prepares you to teach children from birth to age 8. You will also be equipped to work with English Language Learners. In this category, you’ll notice you’re taking more classes in the humanities or the arts. You will still be equally prepared to teach a class where you are responsible for all lessons throughout the day, but if you decide to move up to a higher grade, or you want to specialize into the sciences, you may not have completed as many of the prerequisite courses as a teacher with a BS degree.
Admission Requirements to Enter a Bachelors Program
As you work toward admission into an early childhood education program in the school of your choice, you’ll likely need to complete a variety of steps to complete everything necessary for admission. Colleges usually require you to submit a current TB skin test and ensure your immunizations are up to date. You might be asked to write a career goals statement or provide a personal statement. You’ll need to provide your full high school transcripts and any transcripts from community colleges or other schools you have attended. And some schools may require letters of recommendation in order for you to be immediately accepted into their education program. Check with your schools of choice to determine exactly what you will need to provide to be considered for admission and send everything early in case there are any delays or missing items when they receive your application packet.
How Long does it Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education?
A bachelor’s degree is a four-year degree program, more or less. Some ECE degree programs require you to earn more credits, while others may require fewer credits to be able to graduate. This is often based on state requirements for teacher licensure.
Before you are formally admitted to an ECE bachelor’s degree program, you may be required to complete your general education courses—you should take most or all of these in the first two years. The final two years of your degree program will be spent learning about the needs and characteristics of young children and factors that exert an influence on how they develop and learn. You’ll observe, document, and assess the development and learning of each child in your classroom.
Potential Careers in ECE with a Bachelor’s
- Elementary School Teacher:
As you teach children from first grade up to sixth, you’ll cover most subjects, from math and science to English. You’ll educate your students on the basics, giving them a foundation in each subject. You’ll also provide feedback to the parents of each child so they know what their needs and opportunities may be.
Average annual salary: $45,700
- English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher:
In this role, your first function is to teach English to students who grew up speaking other languages. You’ll also explain American expectations and customs so that students can understand this country. You may also be expected to help your students understand materials from other subjects as well, such as math.
Average annual salary: $44,700
- Kindergarten Teacher:
This position will requires that you manage and teach a classroom of students between the ages of four and six. Because this may be their first exposure to formal education, you’ll be introducing them to the basics and helping them to establish a foundation for upcoming learning.
Average annual salary: $41,000
- Art Teacher:
At the early childhood education level, you may need to have a bachelor’s degree in the arts as well as in ECE to create a lesson curriculum suitable for group instruction. You’ll also need to be able to maintain control over a large group of students.
Average annual salary: $45,500
- Physical Education Teacher:
In this position, you’ll instruct elementary and kindergarten students in physical education. You’ll be responsible for creating instruction plans that encourage your students to participate in healthy physical activities during P.E. classes. You may also work with children of differing abilities in a combined class.
Average annual salary: $44,700
Options to Advance
If you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree, you’ll have many options to consider, but most of them will mean going back to school. There are a variety of options when it comes to earning a master’s degree: you could earn a degree that will let you move into a higher grade level, specialize in a specific type of instruction (music, math), or begin moving toward a career in administration if you want to remain in early childhood education but take a more prominent role in your school district.
If you have already worked with children who have autism, autism spectrum disorders, or anything similar, you will be uniquely equipped to continue this work after earning a master’s degree. You might consider earning a Master of science in Psychology and Early Childhood Education. You can earn certifications in teaching students with disabilities. If you’ve taught first through sixth grade, then will be a natural progression for you. By majoring in behavioral science or psychology, you’ll be well-equipped to work with children who have emotional or mental health needs.
Colleges that Offer a Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
St. Charles, Missouri
The Department of Education at Lindenwood offers a bachelor’s degree in education, along with an early childhood certification. This degree allows you to learn everything you need in education, from pedagogy and child development to lesson planning and assessment of your students.
- Early Childhood Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s Degree
- Education, General – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
- Elementary Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s Degree
- Physical Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s Degree
- Special Education and Teaching, General – Bachelor’s Degree
St. Davids, Pennsylvania
Eastern University’s education department offers an undergraduate education program that allows you to become a top-notch teacher in early education. You’ll also learn as a member of a group and on your own how to use technology to help yourself and your students.
- Early Childhood Education and Teaching (Pre K-4) – Bachelor’s Degree
University of Dayton
The School of Education and Health Sciences offers an Early Childhood Education program. Students are taught much more than education—they are taught how to teach their students to love learning. Students in the ECE program prepare to work with children from the ages of three to eight (pre-K to third grade).
- Early Childhood Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
- Education, Other – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
- Special Education and Teaching- Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certification
Santa Fe College
Santa Fe College offers a bachelor’s degree in ECE to students planning to work as early childhood educators (infant to preschool or birth through four years of age). While this degree is designed as a two-year (associate degree) or a four-year (bachelor’s degree), students learn everything they need to be effective early childhood educators.
- Early Childhood Education and Teaching – Associate & Bachelor’s Degrees
New York City, Bronx Borough, New York
This program is designed to instruct students on the development and education of children from birth through age seven (second grade). This program focuses on the educational needs of young children living in high-need areas.
- Early Childhood Education and Teaching – Bachelor’s Degree
Colleges that Offer Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education
University of Phoenix
Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington
The University of Phoenix helps you to learn everything you need to know to earn your teaching license. You’ll learn how to take the cognitive, social, and academic skills of children and shape them so they can continue learning throughout their life. The children you will be teaching range from pre-K to third grade.
- Bachelor of Science in Education/Early Childhood Education
Ball State University Online
The education degree program here offers an online BS in early childhood education, along with a built-in minor in early childhood special education. This means you’ll be well-prepared for teaching within a wide variety of early childhood classroom settings.
- Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (Non-Licensure)
Colorado Christian University
The College of Adult and Graduate Studies at this university offers an early childhood education with a licensure and non-licensure option. You’ll learn about education theory and benefit from real-time field-based learning opportunities right in an early childhood education classroom.
- Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (Licensure)
- Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (Non-Licensure)
The University of Toledo
This online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education degree was created for students who already have a two-year associate degree in ECE. This degree is in the non-licensure track. Gain exposure to the newest research and theory.
- Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Non-Licensure)
University of West Alabama
This online degree is slightly different. It’s an early childhood development degree that allows you to gain knowledge in the development of a young child. Topics include literature, growth, development, technology, education, and special needs.
- Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development (Non-Certification)