Best Master’s in Early Childhood Education Programs 

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Emmanuel

Updated on November 26, 2022

In today’s classroom settings, about twelve percent of learners have varying forms of disabilities that require special education attention (National Center for Education Statistics). If you are committed to encouraging children and ensuring that they have the intellectual foundations needed for future success, a master’s in early childhood education, in particular, maybe the right choice for you. Via this course, graduates will broaden their knowledge and competence needed to have a more significant impact on student’s lives.

Early childhood professionals can work in many settings, such as daycare centers, public schools, nonprofit institutions, churches, social service groups, and others. According to PayScale, Early Childhood Education specialists make an average of $46,989 yearly. From the knowledge gained in this program, graduates can opt for advocacy, teaching, and leadership roles in academic settings.

In this article, we will cover early childhood education basics, its importance, available careers, admission requirements, a list of institutions offering the program, professional associations, and a general overview of master’s degrees in early childhood education.

What is early childhood education?

Early Childhood Education is the period of birth to age eight years old, which correlates with the third-or -second-grade academic level. While early childhood education remains of uttermost importance to policymakers and parents, the majority still incorrectly identify this crucial period as birth through kindergarten or preschool.

What is the purpose of early childhood education?

The answer is simple: the purpose of Early Childhood Education is to provide “young children” with methodologies & strategies that aid them in developing the emotional, cognitive, and social skills necessary to become lifelong learners.

What does a high-quality Early Childhood Education program look like?

An ideal early childhood education program is challenging, dynamic, enriching, and effectively planned. A typical Early Childhood curriculum might integrate songs, art, books, toys, games, experiences & nature exploration into daily lesson plans for a group or entire class. According to the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), the critical elements of this degree include;

  • Assessments that focus on children’s academic, physical, and social-emotional progress
  • Well-prepared educators who offer engaging interactions & classroom environments that aid learning
  • Research-based learning standards & curricula

Check Now: Masters in Education Degrees with Federal Aid in South Carolina

General Information regarding Online Early Childhood Education Master’s

An Early Childhood Education program will equip candidates with a deepened knowledge of learning and child development. The course prepares educators for Leadership positions in/out of classroom settings. Furthermore, enrollees will examine the latest trends to foster collaboration among families/colleagues and apply cutting-edge research to tackle issues in the field.

What can I expect from an Online Early Childhood Education Master’s?

Depending on the institution, applicants enrolled in an early childhood education master’s degree online can choose a concentration in ESL or bilingual education. Applicants that opt for those emphases will learn to Integrate instructional methods and assess new language learners at all stages of childhood development. In addition, they will examine the role of play in language and literacy acquisition.

Other concentration areas in the domain of Early Childhood Education include -Trauma Studies, Reading K-8, Diversity and inclusion, Leadership and Administration, and Special Education.

What courses will I take in an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education?

Universities (Colleges) that offer an online master’s in early childhood education vary significantly in areas of coursework since various institutions include a set of core or mandatory courses that introduce or develop the fundamental knowledge and abilities needed to instruct young children. For instance, in an Early Childhood program, candidates will take courses in Curriculum Design; Attitudes that affect Learners; the Effect of Cultural Influences, Fundamental theories in childhood developmental psychology & their impacts on early childhood education practices.

For aspiring professionals aiming for an early childhood education master’s degree online program, coursework in Child Psychology is inevitable. Also, the curriculum provides some representations (visuals) of successful lesson plans while exploring the connections between the class curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Other required courses focus on topics important to early childhood education, like classroom management, curriculum development strategies, as well as language and literacy development.

What are the admission requirements for an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education?

The admission requirements comprise of the;

  • Original Academic Transcript
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field
  • A Minimum GPA of 2.6 on a 4.0 scale 

What skills will I acquire in an Online Early Childhood Education Master’s?

Early Childhood Education train aspiring educators on how to collaborate with young children in private or public schools, as well as; daycare centers that operate outside parents’ homes or other settings. Via this program, applicants will learn best practices to promote educational advancement that is suitable for kids between the “young learners” between the ages of 2 to 8. Through this, graduates gain skills such as curriculum development, human development, principles of child psychology, language development in kids, and Safety & Health Management skills.

How long does it take to earn an Online Early Childhood Education Master’s?

To earn a Master’s in Early Childhood Education via on-campus or online route, graduates can expect to complete the curriculum within 12 to 24 months due to the inclusive practicum in the program.

How do I pay for My Online Early Childhood Education Master’s?

Applicants can fund their Early Childhood Education degree with numerous financial aids ranging from Scholarships, Grants, Graduate Assistantships, and Government loans. Meanwhile, some institutions allow installment payments for candidates enrolled in various Master’s programs.

How Do I Choose an Online Early Childhood Education Master’s program?

Before embarking on the MS or MA in Early Childhood Education, applicants must consider the criteria below when deciding on the appropriate colleges to choose;

  • Tuition Cost

Early childhood education master’s degrees online typically consist of 30 to 36 credits. Therefore, based on a Per-credit cost, an online early childhood education graduate degree will cost between $350 to $660. Due to this, applicants can expect to incur charges ranging from $10,500 to $24,000.

  • Admission Requirements

The primary enrollment requirements for an early childhood education master’s include;

  • A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, elementary education, child development, or a related field
  • A minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.75 for all  coursework or a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the senior and junior years of undergraduate work on a 4.0 scale
  • Official Transcripts, personal statement, recommendations for admission
  • Program or Learning Format

Early Childhood Education programs are available in hybrid, on-campus, and online learning formats. The learning options suit the demands (needs) of all prospective students.

  • Certification and Practicum Opportunities

Several online master’s in early childhood education degrees (programs) incorporate a practicum aspect. The practicum experiences blend supervised fieldwork at a local classroom or relevant academic setting, where graduates will showcase the practical applications of all they learned in college. Meanwhile, the overtime length of a college practicum also varies, with some universities requiring as few as four or as many as 70 hours.

  • School Location

For working-class applicants, enrolling in an Online Early Childhood Education program will be of immense benefit, as it gives you higher flexibility to combine work and studies. However, if you are financially capable and still want to explore the campus experience, the on-campus or hybrid option will be necessary. Recall that: if coursework is for morning periods, students should ascertain whether they can cope, especially if they are taking lectures on campus.

  • Accreditation

Accreditation is one of the vital elements for prospective students to check. Universities and Colleges in the United States receive accreditation from government agencies licensed by the U.S. Department of Education. Also, an institution’s accreditation determines applicants’ eligibility for federal student aid. Therefore, prospective students should confirm that the institution delivering the program has received regional or national accreditation.

Hybrid and Online Early Childhood Education  Master’s Programs 

University of Michigan -Dearborn

Graduation Rate: 56%

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Institution Type: Public 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Degree Offered: Master of Art in Early Childhood Education 

Course Credits: 30-credit

University of Michigan -Dearborn offers an MA in Early Childhood Education that trains upcoming students to educate future generations in the country. During this program, candidates will have an in-depth understanding of established research practices in “early childhood” or “early childhood special education.”. Likewise, they will gain knowledge of various evidence-based methodologies (techniques) to aid them in becoming impactful leaders within their chosen disciplines at the school, classroom, or district level.

Boston University

Graduation Rate: 88.3%

Acceptance Rate: 20.1%

Institution Type: Private

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

Degree Offered: M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education 

Course Credits: 18

Boston University provides a Master’s Education in Early Childhood Education tailored for learners who are immensely curious to gain knowledge about the learning and development of young children. Graduates in the M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education are equipped with robust pedagogical competencies necessary to function as instructors dedicated to academic excellence in the “early childhood education (Pre-K–2)” field. In this program, candidates center on Learning and developing “young learners” in public school classrooms, preschools, and other educational settings in suburban and urban communities.

University of Central Oklahoma 

Graduation Rate: 36%

Acceptance Rate: 80.5%

Institution Type: Public

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission/North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC) 

Degree Offered: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education 

The University of Central Oklahoma offers an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education, designed to provide a practical course of study focusing on the education and developmentally appropriate care of children from childbirth through the ages of 1 to 8 within various elementary school and early childhood settings. During this program, learners will develop fundamental knowledge and understanding of educational research, such as research methods and procedures; critical review of research reports; formats and sources utilized for presenting education research; and the defense and preparation of a research proposal.

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Walden University 

Graduation Rate: 33%

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Institution Type: Private 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Degree Offered: Online MS in Early Childhood Education Studies 

Course Credits: 30-credit

Avg. Cost per Credit: $615

Walden University offers an MS in Early Childhood Education that exposes students to the Foundations of Early Childhood Professionalism. In this course, candidates will learn about developing the Brain & the Young Child, as well as Community and Family Partnerships. The institution provides a “Tempo Learning” option that enables students to work at their own pace while advancing in each coursework as they demonstrate a complete understanding of each subject. Via this learning option, students will benefit from online learning, plus the tendency to tailor and control the cost, length, and pacing of their respective programs.

University of South Alabama 

Graduation Rate: 42.6%

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Institution Type: Public 

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

Degree Offered: Master of Education in Early Childhood Education 

Course Credits: 30-credit

University of South Alabama provides an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education for teachers or educators that already possess the Class B Professional Early Childhood Qualification. After completing the program, graduates are eligible for the “Class A” Professional Early Childhood Education (P-3) certification, which remains a core requirement for candidates aiming to work in grades PreK-3 at a private or public elementary school.

What are the Professional Organizations and Resources for Early Childhood Education Professionals?

Learn the Signs. Act Early

Child Care Aware

Zero To Three

Head Start Center on Inclusion

Birth To Five: Watch Me Thrive 

First Step in Getting to Know a Child

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI)

What Can you do with an Early Childhood Education Masters Degree?

In this section, we will consider all the early childhood education jobs that graduates can choose from, as well as various early childhood education salaries for different roles.

  • Preschool Teachers 

Preschool teachers are trained to care for young learners above the age of 5 who are yet to enter kindergarten. Typically, they teach language, social, and motor skills to young children. They organize curricular activities that aid children in learning basic things about the world. Likewise, they focus on traits/signs of developmental or emotional problems in children while relaying their observations to all concerned parents.

Other Duties and Responsibilities of Preschool Teachers are to:

  • Keep records of all learner’s progress, interests, routines, and inform respective guardians about their child’s academic advancement
  • Create routines and schedules to ensure that “young learners” have enough rest and exercise 

Based on the BLS report, the yearly salary of Preschool Teachers as of May 2021 is $30,210. While the top 10% makes $58,530 annually, the lowest 10% earns $22,840. The employment of professionals in this discipline will rise by 15% over the next ten years.

  • Kindergarten & Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are specialists that employ a variety of digital learning tools, such as laptops, and tablet PC, to relay information to learners. They develop curricula contents to instruct students in subjects like mathematics, science and reading. In schools, they effectively grade pupils’ assignments and communicate all kids/child’s progress with respective guardians or parents.

Duties and Responsibilities of Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

  • Educate learners on how to interact with their peers
  • Develop & enforce classroom guidelines to properly guide children’s behaviors
  • Evaluate and analyze students to ascertain their strengths, competencies, and areas of improvement

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers earn an average of $61,400 per annum. Recruitment of experts in this field will rise by 4% from 2021 to 2031.

  • Childcare Workers

Childcare workers cater to learners’ needs while aiding their early development. They assist young pupils with assignments and may help younger kids prepare for kindergarten. Also, they implement a curriculum that enables students to learn about essential things globally. Furthermore, they organize and prepare snacks & regular meals for children. 

Other Duties and Responsibilities of Childcare Workers are to:

  • Change the napkins s of infants & toddlers
  • Keep track of children’s routines, interests, and progress
  • Monitor and supervise the safety of children
  • Develop routines that foster physical activity, like playtime and rest

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, the median annual wage of Childcare Workers as of May 2021 is $13.22 per hour. Likewise, the employment of professionals in this field will rise by 6% from 2021 to 2031, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. More so, there will be about 170,000 job openings for childcare workers, many of which result from the need to replace employees due to retirement, change of jobs, e.t.c.

  • Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers aid the learning needs of youngsters with disabilities & ensure their behavioral, educational, emotional, and social success. They equip learners with behavioral, social, and academic skills they will utilize throughout their lives. In addition, they work with pupils in small groups, one-on-one, and in traditional classroom settings. Also, they might help with group projects, teach certain subjects, or help with the implementation of behavior management strategies.

According to PayScale, the median annual salary of Special Education Teachers as of August 2022 is $48,650.

  • Childcare Center Directors

Childcare Center Directors lead and supervise staff, implement program plans, prepare budgets, and oversee daily activities. They spearhead every aspect of their center’s program, including “before -and after-school care. Aside from training and hiring new staff members, they communicate and establish policies for parents and staff. In addition, they engage parents to inform them regarding their children’s progress.

Other Duties and Responsibilities of Childcare Center Directors are to:

  • Maintain instructional excellence
  • Prepare budgets & allocate program funds
  • Ensure that learning facilities are cleaned and maintained based on state regulations
  • Supervise childcare workers and preschool teachers 
  • Offer professional development benefits for staff

Career Outlook for Early Childhood Educators

Employment of Early Childhood Educators will increase by 15 percent over the next ten years, far higher than the median for all occupations. About 60,000 job openings will be available for practitioners in this field.

Licensing and Certification for Professional Early Childhood Educators

Child Care Professional (CCP)

The National Early Childhood Program Accreditation provides the Child Care Professional (CCP) certification. The CCP qualification shows that the professional has competencies in the following areas:

  • Maintaining and establishing an engaging and safe learning environment 
  • Promoting learners’ social, cognitive, emotional, and physical development
  • Creating a centered learning atmosphere via content and curriculum development 
  • Effectively managing the learning environments
  • Maintaining a commitment to professional and leadership development
  • Creating a culturally inclusive and responsive learning environment

Child Development Associate (CDA) Certification

The Child Development Associate credential is a nationally recognized qualification tailored to demonstrate a candidate’s expertise in preschool education. Meanwhile, the CDA is an essential prerequisite in some states of America and among institutional employers.

Frequently Asked Questions: Masters in Early Childhood Education 

In this section, we will consider all the frequently asked questions relating to Masters of Arts in Early Childhood Education, as well as Early Childhood Education jobs or careers.

What is the highest paying job in early childhood education?

For a fact, Early Childhood Special Education Teacher remains one of the highest-paying jobs in this field. In their duties, they work with at-risk learners of all ages to help improve their educational advancement as they transition from infants to adults. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top 10% in this specialty makes more than $100,000 per annum.

What degree is best for early childhood education?

One of the best degrees in this area of specialization is -An Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. The 2-year graduate degree qualifies candidates for several entry-level early childhood education jobs. Also, it’s very affordable to obtain and can offset the first “2 years” of a bachelor’s degree for those that aim to get a complete bachelor’s qualification in this area.

What is MA in education and early childhood?

The early childhood education pathway focuses on services, policies, early years pedagogy, research in early childhood, and child development. The concentration is on child advancement from birth to age five.

What are three different careers you could have in early childhood education?

It’s uncommon for graduates to ask: What Can You Do With an Early Childhood Education Degree? Here are a few careers available to professionals in this field;

  • Nanny
  • Childcare Worker
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Childcare Center Director
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Psychologist or School Counselor
  • Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Is early childhood education in demand?

The remarkable thing is that; there will be a rise or increase in the recruitment (employment) of early childhood teachers (professionals). According to BLS, Preschool teaching jobs will grow by 18% over the next ten years, much more significant than teaching in elementary and high schools.

Is an early childhood education degree worth it?

Opting to pursue a career in early childhood education, you could assist young students in gaining long-term rewards, such as competence in elementary school and potential lifetime earnings. Likewise, you may also be able to do something to lessen the likelihood that “young kids or learners” will end up (getting involved) in criminal activities as adults.

Is an early childhood teaching a good career?

Early childhood teachers and educators are highly skilled practitioners that play a vital role in the social, physical, emotional, and cognitive development of children. Therefore, this is the best period for aspiring learners to pursue their careers in early childhood education.

How much do early childhood educators make?

Since different institutions and states pay different salaries/wages, there is No Single Salary Scale For experts in the field of Early Childhood Education. Although, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) reports that; the entry-level salary varies between $3,600 to $2300/month for preschool teachers and $3,200 to $1,800 for the educarer.

What are five skills you need as an early childhood educator?

In this field, a competent educator must possess top-notch qualities and skills to function effectively. When working in early childhood education settings, it’s a great experience while providing care for and interacting with children. However, the reality of the job as an instructor extends much beyond fun, dance, and playground. Core skills are Adaptability, Reflectiveness, Critical thinking, Growth mindset, and Empathy.

What state pays the most for early childhood education?

Here is an overview of the states in US. that pays early childhood education practitioners the most salary;

Hawaii pays the most ($43,600), followed by California ($40,866), New York ($40,587), and New Mexico ($38,878).

What is the fastest growing sector of early childhood education?

Early Childhood Development (associate level) remains the fastest growing “child care” field in the United States. A national scarcity of qualified caregivers presents a special opportunity for instructors since Early Childhood program enrollment rates keep rising yearly.

Related: Top Masters in Education Qualifications with Federal Aid in Colorado

What qualifications do I need to be an early childhood teacher?

A Master’s in Early Childhood Education is the crucial qualification to become a specialist in this field. The credential validates applicants’ ability to meet the various Teaching standards in different States of the Federation.

How do I become an early childhood teacher in the US?

Here are the steps to follow to become an early childhood professional in the United States. These steps are: Complete a graduate program for early childhood education that the state board of education has approved. Successfully undergo & complete a student teaching internship in an early childhood setting. After that, sit for and pass the appropriate state exams for educators in your locality. After meeting all the previous requirements, contact the state board of education to obtain a teaching license or certificate.

What are the pros and cons of early childhood education?

The advantages or pros of early childhood education include; Exposure to new academic experiences; Relationships with other reputable adults; A place/avenue to practice effective (practical) social skills; and exposure to a learning environment that isn’t obtainable at home.

Some disadvantages or cons of early childhood education are: Relatively high costs, a demanding schedule, and Kids getting sick.

Why Get a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education?

As we know, the development of children’s curiosity, self-confidence, and passion for learning; begins in their early years. With the knowledge acquired from an M.Ed. in early childhood education, graduates can create effective curricula and immersive learning environments for young children from different backgrounds. Likewise, you will better understand how early development & classrooms are affected by the community, families, and social policy.

What is the biggest problem in early childhood education?

Managing a classroom full of young learners (toddlers) is not always an easy task. Some of the most significant issues faced by early childhood education practitioners in this field include: Hindered career growth, Communicating with difficult parents, Adhering to the varying school curriculum, Lack of societal recognition and value, and Low salaries.

Should I select an on-campus or online master’s degree in early childhood education option?

This decision depends on time-management needs and personal preferences. Meanwhile, most enrollees in online master’s in early childhood education programs discover that online learning enables them to effectively balance personal and work commitments alongside their academics. Others prefer the atmosphere of a traditional or conventional brick-and-mortar colleges/universities for their early childhood education academic degree. 

What is the difference between early childhood education and preschool?

Early childhood education (ECE) concerns the intellectual, social, and academic growth of young children from infancy through preschool. In contrast, elementary education is the “primary education” that follows preschool but occurs before middle school (mostly kindergarten from fifth or sixth grade.)

What are some disadvantages of early childhood education?

  • Less individualized learning & one-on-one time
  • It can lead to separation phobia, unlike one-on-one parental care
  • A more significant proportion of child-to-adult compared to one-on-one childcare
  • Unavailability during statutory holidays and summer, unlike typical daycares 

 

Wrapping Up!

Early Childhood experiences lay the groundwork for a child’s future development, giving them a solid basis for lifelong knowledge and learning skills, including psychological and behavioral growth. Due to this, a Masters in Early Childhood Education serves as a crucial foundation for a robust understanding of the pedagogical strategies necessary to shape a child’s future.

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