Best Online Bachelors in Early Childhood Education Degrees for 2023

Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education Career Options & Salary

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A well-rounded online bachelor's in early childhood should rest on current theory, well-tested research, up-to-date perspectives, and classroom activities. Students should be exposed to skills, attitudes, effective education practice, and field experiences that will enable them to become effective and knowledgeable future educators in early childhood student teaching.

Early childhood 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 ethical guidelines in education and how to use play as pedagogy. Luckily, though, one of the state requirements will be completing a student teaching internship to prepare graduates for classroom experience. Online education can allow you to expand on a previous associate degree or gain a first, entry-level degree without leaving home and is a great way to further your college education.

PROS

  • One of the best parts of being an early childhood education teacher is that you’ll be able to make a positive impact in the lives of your future 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 programs and career paths from which to choose. You may choose to teach as a kindergarten teacher, preschool teacher, 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 leadership positions that allow you to help shape and mentor incoming future 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. By expanding your education through online learning, you can even gain the necessary credentials to teach online learning at higher educational levels.

CONS

  • Even with a bachelor of science early childhood degree, 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 degree in education. Even with online education, this will take time and money.
  • 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 teaching licensure, which you have to renew through online or in-person continuing education credits every few years. Now, look at the listings for principals or school administrators. Every one of them requires that, at a minimum, you have a master’s early childhood degree.

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What are the Best Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education College Programs?


1

University of Washington

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,745
    • Out-of-state: $39,114
  • Net Price: $9,661
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 82%
  • Total Enrollment: 48,149
  • Undergrad Students: 32,244
  • Graduate Students: 15,905
  • Grads Salary: $81,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • University of Washington
2

Purdue University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,992
    • Out-of-state: $28,794
  • Net Price: $12,294
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 46,655
  • Undergrad Students: 35,706
  • Graduate Students: 10,949
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Purdue University
3

University of Arizona

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $12,716
    • Out-of-state: $36,743
  • Net Price: $15,620
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Total Enrollment: 45,601
  • Undergrad Students: 35,357
  • Graduate Students: 10,244
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • University of Arizona
4

Florida International University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,565
    • Out-of-state: $18,963
  • Net Price: $8,988
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 58,836
  • Undergrad Students: 49,049
  • Graduate Students: 9,787
  • Grads Salary: $66,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 25:1
  • Florida International University
5

Arizona State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $11,338
    • Out-of-state: $29,428
  • Net Price: $14,653
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Total Enrollment: 74,795
  • Undergrad Students: 63,124
  • Graduate Students: 11,671
  • Grads Salary: $72,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Arizona State University
6

Kansas State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $10,466
    • Out-of-state: $26,342
  • Net Price: $18,494
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 68%
  • Total Enrollment: 20,854
  • Undergrad Students: 16,257
  • Graduate Students: 4,597
  • Grads Salary: $69,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Kansas State University
7

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,690
    • Out-of-state: $26,820
  • Net Price: $17,341
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Total Enrollment: 25,108
  • Undergrad Students: 20,286
  • Graduate Students: 4,822
  • Grads Salary: $68,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
8

Charter Oak State College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,553
    • Out-of-state: $11,166
  • Net Price: $11,872
  • Retention Rate: 50%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,634
  • Undergrad Students: 1,538
  • Graduate Students: 96
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Charter Oak State College
9

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $28,184
    • Out-of-state: $28,184
  • Net Price: $21,827
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,108
  • Undergrad Students: 2,677
  • Graduate Students: 431
  • Grads Salary: $69,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Indiana Wesleyan University
10

St. Catherine University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $42,594
    • Out-of-state: $42,594
  • Net Price: $18,912
  • Retention Rate: 82%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%
  • Total Enrollment: 4,277
  • Undergrad Students: 2,983
  • Graduate Students: 1,294
  • Grads Salary: $69,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • St. Catherine University
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Associate Vs. Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education


Both options have advantages. With a certificate or associate degree, 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 an early childhood education bachelor will best assure you of finding work in a school district. If you already have an online degree in another field, such as a bachelor of science, you may be able to become an elementary school teacher once you pass an alternative teacher certification exam and get your teaching license.

What Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Degrees are Available?


When you look at the different early childhood education degree options you have in earning a bachelor’s in early childhood education, whether online or in a traditional on campus program, 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 online bachelor's degrees in education.

  • Bachelor of Science Early Childhood Education (BS-ECE):
    This bs in early childhood 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. Except for the student teaching requirement, you may be able to find these degrees either 100% online or through hybrid programs with early childhood education online components.
  • 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. These degrees may be found online more often than science degrees because of the focus on liberal arts courses.
    Sample Professional Education Courses with an early childhood development track:
  • Curriculum development
  • Special education early intervention
  • Strategic assessment techniques
  • Early cognitive development
  • English language development
  • Early emotional development
  • Teaching children communication skills
  • Instructional strategies
  • Lesson planning
  • Critical thinking
  • Produce rewarding learning environments
  • Strategic classroom management
  • Early childhood development standards
  • Human development
  • Importance of cultural diversity
  • Literacy development
  • Building successful early childhood settings

Admission Requirements to Enter a Bachelor's 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 will need your high school diploma or a G.E.D along with your full high school transcripts and any transcripts from community colleges or other schools you have attended. Any public or private school will typically require a minimum 2.0 GPA for acceptance into an early childhood education degree program, whether it is an online program or not. Students pursuing an early childhood education program, depending on the school, may be required to obtain letters of recommendation in order for you to be immediately accepted into their early 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. Prospective students with a associate degree programs diploma can be considered transfer students to a four year institution. Also, you should be aware that students attending early childhood education online classes will have to supply the same items as those attending an on campus teacher education program.

Potential Careers in ECE with a Bachelor’s


Those seeking a career in early childhood education are likely not doing so for the money. There are other occupations requiring a college degree that pay more, but that may not be as satisfying.

Without an advanced degree, it is not possible to progress beyond the role of classroom teacher. However, teachers at public and many private schools receive good benefits and summers off. With each degree earned, you become eligible for better-paying jobs within the early childhood field.

Those with early childhood master’s degrees earn, on average, $13,000 more annually than those holding a bachelor’s degree in this field. However, many pursuing master’s degrees are seeking entry into school administration positions, such as principal or curriculum developer, rather than teaching positions. Administrative positions pay higher salaries than teaching positions. There are many education roles available to graduates with an early childhood education degree and some of the early childhood education positions are below:

  • Elementary School Teacher:
    Elementary school teachers teach 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:
    Kindergarten teacher will require 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
  • Preschool Teacher:
    Preschool teachers teaches and cares for children in a preschool setting. Preschool teachers typically have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field. They must be able to create lesson plans, work with students of all abilities, and maintain a safe and positive learning environment. They help children develop social, emotional, and academic skills that will prepare them for kindergarten and beyond.
    Average annual salary: $30,200
  • Curriculum specialists
  • Childcare Center Director
  • Childcare Providers
  • Childcare Workers

Professional Organizations for Early Childhood Education Programs


Early childhood educators are fortunate in that there are many organizations promoting their professional development, along with advocating for the needs of young children. Joining such organizations allows members to stay current on the latest issues and research in the field. Membership benefits may include educational, conference, and other discounts as well as access to substantial resource material. In addition to national organizations, early childhood educators should join state and regional associations.

  • Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Division of Early Childhood Education:

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC):

  • National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) :

  • National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) :

  • National Head Start Association (NHSA) :

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 and earning one of many graduate degees. There are a variety of options when it comes to earning a master’s degree online or in a classroom: 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 online 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.

Frequently Asked Questions


Will this degree ensure I have licensure to teach?

While you’ll need to check with each school individually to make sure of what they promise, there is generally no assurance that any degree you earn will 100% provide you with teacher licensure, though most programs are meant to prepare you to obtain licensure. The reason they can’t ensure it is because most if not all states require a test be taken and passed before a graduate of one of these programs can receive initial or full teacher licensure. Most states use the PRAXIS exams to test whether or not you have learned what you need to be able to teach kids at your chosen level. PRAXIS exams offer an Early Childhood Education exam meant for those who aim to teach at this level. They are given by computer, though there are some accommodation options. Study topics include the following.

  • Language and Literacy (Emergent literacy, reading, writing, speaking and listening, etc.)
  • Mathematics (Emergent math, numbers and operations, etc.)
  • Social Studies (Identity, social, and emotional development; culture; people, places, and environments; etc.)
  • Science (Concepts and processes, physical, earth and space, life science, etc.)
  • Health, Physical Education, Creative and Performing Arts

What is the highest paying job in early childhood education?

Early childhood educators aren’t exactly top-of-the-list when it comes to pay. In fact, those who teach very young children and don’t have master’s degrees can often expect to make the least of any teacher in a public school system, despite the fact that the job they are doing is one of the most important to the children themselves and society as a whole. (Private school systems have different pay scales than public systems and, therefore, depending on where you live and what types of schools are nearby, this may or may not be different if you choose to work in a private school.) However, there are always exceptions to the rule and the exception in early childhood education is often the special education teacher. This position requires more focus, more time, and more compassion than some other positions, as well as requiring an endorsement to ensure that you have the qualifications to teach children who have special needs. In response to these requirements, special education teachers can make significantly more than teachers in other roles.

Does the college have post-graduate job placement help & assistance?

Look for a college offering employment placement opportunities after graduation to help you land your first job as a teacher. A school may offer job fairs to accomplish this, but the best option is a school that has connections to nearby school districts, either as a way to allow their students to get their in-classroom experience or with alumni connections to local teachers. Make sure you ask about these possibilities before you commit to a program.

Why you need to consider how rating/accreditation can affect your salary

A well-known, highly rated school can boost your job prospects. You should attend a school with a solid reputation for turning out well-prepared early childhood educators. It is crucial that any college considered for your education is accredited. Federal and state financial aid is not available for schools lacking accreditation, and the receipt of most scholarships and grants is contingent on attending an accredited college. To put is simply, attending an unaccredited college is a waste of money. For early childhood education, look for a college accredited by the NAYEC’s Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs.

The six regional accreditation bodies in the US are:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • New England Commission on Higher Education
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission

Make sure your college is accredited by the appropriate regional body.

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. Some online programs may be completed at an accelerated pace, and some traditional programs may be sped up by taking extra online courses during the year or over the summer.

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.

How much does an ECE bachelor’s degree cost?

The cost of early childhood education programs depends on various factors. There is of course the school’s tuition, but also whether you must pay for room and board, books, lab fees, meals, and more affects the cost of a degree. Expect to pay roughly $5,000 per year for a quality education online, and perhaps $14,000 annually for tuition at a state college or university. The cost of a private college education is even higher, $30,000-$50,000 per year. However, many students receive scholarships and grants which can offset some of the costs of a bachelor’s degree.

Who has the highest income in early childhood education?

That would be those who specialized in and gained an endorsement for special education in early childhood classrooms. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, early childhood special educators can earn as much as six figures a year. For a teaching position, that’s quite a good salary. Of course, it’s important to understand that those at the higher income levels will be those who have been teaching for some time and gaining experience. Some of them may have spent a few years completing a master’s degree or they may work outside the public school system, where they can earn more money by working within a specialty. It is vital for those students who need special help in their education to get that help as early as possible. That is part of why those who work in this field are paid the most in early childhood education.

What are the key areas of development in early childhood?

There are generally accepted to be four areas of development that are particularly important in early childhood. These include socio-emotional development, which will help children interact with each other and the adults in their lives, as well as helping them to learn to manage their emotions. Then there are fine and gross motor skills, which will allow them to learn to walk and run, as well as helping them learn to write letters and sentences. This is important for many reasons. Along with these skills, students at this age will also spend time learning speech and language and making great strides in cognitive development. All of these are important so that students can continue to develop and learn everything they need to, both in school and for the rest of their lives.

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