Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor's Degrees

By the OnlineU team | Updated 2/22/2021
Quick Facts
Accreditation: CAEP, MACTE, NAEYC, NCATE
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Certificate
Average Tuition: $23,410
Average Salary: $55,449

In today’s society, many parents work full- or part-time. This means there are hundreds of thousands of preschoolers, kindergarteners, and grade-school-aged children who need to be cared for and educated while their parents work. This creates tremendous job opportunities for people who enjoy working with young children of all ages. Preschool teachers and caregivers with associate degrees earn about $30,000 a year, while elementary school teachers with bachelor’s degrees earn closer to $60,000 annually. The following is a list of the best schools for online bachelor's degrees in early childhood education. Keep reading for more details about common online courses, accreditation, relevant licensure, and career paths.

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Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education with the Highest Return on Investment

2021 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's Degrees in Early Childhood Education Badge

The schools on this list offer the top online bachelor's degrees in early childhood education by return on investment (ROI). To compare programs, we calculated ROIs based on projected 10-year alumni earnings after paying off student debt. Since ROI takes both earnings and debt into account, it can help prospective students decide if the price of tuition is worth it for the online degree they are considering. Every program on this list has a higher-than-average ROI compared to all bachelor's degrees in early childhood education (online or not) in the United States, which average at $337,200.

ROI amounts are based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Tuitions are manually researched in order to determine tuition amounts specific to online degrees. Read our methodology for more details.

RankSchool Annual Tuition Median Starting Salary Median Debt 10-year ROI
# 1 #1 $11,811 $41,808 $19,678 $405,900
# 2 #2 $10,376 $40,429 $16,903 $395,200
# 3 #3 $12,773 $40,643 $21,823 $391,200
# 4 #4 $23,850 $41,007 $27,000 $388,500
# 5 #5 $18,138 $39,304 $17,500 $382,800
# 6 #6 $12,600 $39,344 $23,000 $376,400
# 7 #7 $20,340 $39,729 $27,961 $374,200
# 8 #8 $25,950 $39,060 $22,500 $374,100
# 9 #9 $11,130 $38,810 $24,875 $368,600
# 10 #10 $15,000 $37,865 $19,490 $365,500
# 11 #11 $13,650 $37,703 $18,750 $364,800
# 12 #12 $8,963 $37,904 $21,841 $363,000
# 13 #13 $12,075 $37,888 $22,500 $362,000
# 14 #14 $11,250 $37,738 $23,500 $359,200
# 15 #15 $14,550 $38,597 $31,000 $358,700
# 16 #16 $10,383 $37,478 $22,250 $358,100
# 17 #17 $16,650 $38,559 $31,250 $358,000
# 18 #18 $22,409 $37,455 $23,000 $357,000
# 19 #19 $36,888 $37,856 $27,000 $356,100
# 20 #20 $12,600 $37,149 $21,688 $355,400
# 21 #21 $15,584 $37,392 $24,250 $354,700
# 22 #22 $14,042 $37,006 $22,500 $353,000
# 23 #23 $17,559 $38,072 $31,398 $352,800
# 24 (tie) #24 (tie) $7,722 $36,410 $20,500 $349,300
# 24 (tie) #24 (tie) $20,961 $36,591 $22,000 $349,300

Best Bachelor's Degrees in Early Childhood Education Rankings Details

#1

Wilmington University

New Castle (DE)
  • 10-Year ROI: $405,900
  • Median Salary: $41,808
  • Annual Tuition: $11,811
  • Median Debt: $19,678

Wilmington University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education-Preschool. The College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). While this program does not lead to licensure, it prepares students for teacher and assistant teacher positions in preschools, daycare centers, or private school classrooms.... The core curriculum includes classes in creating environments for learning, differentiated methods of teaching infants and toddlers, family, community, and school partnerships, and instructional technology. Students must complete an internship to graduate.

Asynchronous online courses are hosted on the Canvas platform, where students must complete weekly readings and assignments. Out-of-state students are charged the same per-credit tuition rate as in-state students. Wilmington University students and alumni can benefit from Handshake, a virtual career development tool that includes networking services, opportunities for resume review, and job boards. Ten of the last twelve Delaware Teacher of the Year were graduates of Wilmington University.

Applicants to submit an online application. Academic advisors are prepared to assist prospective students in the enrollment process and provide support to enrolled students.

Cost per Credit: $381
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 124
Graduation Rate: 25%
Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
Accreditation: MSCHE
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 4,665

#2

Florida International University

Miami (FL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $395,200
  • Median Salary: $40,429
  • Annual Tuition: $10,376
  • Median Debt: $16,903

Florida International University (FIU) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development. Students in the program take classes in foundational lessons in classroom management, decision-making, educational psychology, cultural/social aspects of education, and language and literacy development. The degree program does not culminate in a teaching license; however,... graduates of the program will be prepared for careers as early childhood specialists.

Online students have 24/7 access to course materials and the ability to communicate with instructors and classmates. FIU offers several undergraduate scholarships based on need or academic merit. Online students can join the Honors College that involves seminars, study abroad and research opportunities, personal advising, and access to exclusive internship and job listings.

Prospective students can submit an online application for the fall, spring, or summer. Once admitted to the program, students are paired with an academic success coach to guide them throughout the program.

Cost per Credit: $346
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 58%
Acceptance Rate: 54%
Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
Average SAT Scores: 1090 - 1260
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 9,286

#3

St. Petersburg College

Clearwater (FL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $391,200
  • Median Salary: $40,643
  • Annual Tuition: $12,773
  • Median Debt: $21,823

In the B.S. in Educational Studies and Community Leadership - Early Childhood Education at Saint Petersburg College, students gain the knowledge to work with children from birth to age four. The program is completely online, but some classes have synchronous components. Courses cover education and public policy, business communication, cultural diversity, and learning styles.

Students... complete courses on the D2L Brightspace platform and use Zoom and Workplace. This program gives students a competitive edge to pursue careers in Head Start programs. On average, preschool teachers in Florida earn over $25,000 per year, and the industry is expected to grow by 14% between 2018 and 2028. In addition to traditional financial aid packages, St. Petersburg College also offers an interest-free monthly payment plan and scholarships such as the Last Mile scholarship for students who only have 12 credits left to graduate.

Students can apply online for the fall and spring semesters. To support students, the school offers Optimal Resume for online job searching, Hire SPC Titans by Handshake to facilitate career and internships, and a Virtual Learning Commons center.

Cost per Credit: $426
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 28%
Financial Aid Recipients: 74%
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 10,068

#4

Drexel University

Philadelphia (PA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $388,500
  • Median Salary: $41,007
  • Annual Tuition: $23,850
  • Median Debt: $27,000

The Bachelor of Elementary Education at Drexel University offers concentrations in either PreK-4 education or special education. Up to 90 quarter credits, equivalent to 60 semester credits, can be transferred. In total, the program takes 10 terms to complete for a total of 180 credit hours, which can be completed in 2.5 to 5 years culminating in 12 weeks of student teaching. The... skills acquired in this degree program can lead students to become teachers and other jobs in education such as counselors, curriculum designers, or librarians.

Online courses in the program are asynchronous; students access Blackboard to view weekly lectures, complete discussion posts, and turn in assignments. The courses are designed to fit certification requirements for the Pennsylvania Instructional I Certificate, and through Interstate Reciprocity Agreements, that certification will also transfer to many other states. Drexel offers study abroad options for online students and 24/7 tech support, an online library, writing center, and career center.

Applications can be completed online with no application fee, and the next application deadline is March 5th for the spring term. Dedicated enrollment counselors are ready to help online students take advantage of all the university has to offer.

Cost per Credit: $530
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 180
Graduation Rate: 74%
Acceptance Rate: 79%
Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
Average SAT Scores: 1170 - 1380
Accreditation: MSCHE
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 559

#5

Arizona State University

Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • 10-Year ROI: $382,800
  • Median Salary: $39,304
  • Annual Tuition: $18,138
  • Median Debt: $17,500

Arizona State University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies - Early Childhood Education degree that prepares students to work in educational settings with young children. Students in the program learn how to work with English language learners and use technology in the classroom in innovative ways. The core curriculum includes topics in child and adolescent... development, collaborating, planning, and implementing instruction in diverse contexts, and foundations in typical/atypical child development. In addition to coursework, students also complete fieldwork in educational settings, including a part-time internship during junior year and a year-long, full-time internship in their senior year.

Online programs contain custom-designed content and utilize state-of-the-art technology and tools. Students can access lectures, videos, and simulations on the online learning platform and participate in discussions and interactive activities. More than 80% of ASU students receive financial aid. Merit-based scholarships and tuition assistance for veteran and military students are available. ASU courses are taught by renowned and award-winning faculty.

Students interested in applying must submit an online application. Online students have access to various student resources, including counseling, wellness support, advisors, and technical resources.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 66%
Acceptance Rate: 76%
Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
Average SAT Scores: 1091 - 1298
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 28,353

#6

Iowa State University

Ames (IA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $376,400
  • Median Salary: $39,344
  • Annual Tuition: $12,600
  • Median Debt: $23,000

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Programming (ECEMS) degree at Iowa State University (ISU) prepares students to work in childhood education programs in the community and on military installations. The program does not lead to licensure but prepares students for job opportunities in childcare centers, infant/toddler programs, preschools, Head Start programs,... and other educational settings for children from birth to age 8. Students must complete three practicum experiences in different settings with a range of age groups in addition to completing coursework. The curriculum covers topics in child development, the assessment of young children and their environment, understanding developmental differences, and working with families.

Online classes are delivered through the Canvas learning management system. Students may complete the OneApp scholarship application to be considered for all ISU scholarship awards. The College of Human Sciences offers career services to students and alumni that include job listings, resume and personal statement review, interview preparation, and career fairs.

Prospective students must be accepted into Iowa State University before applying to the ECEMS program. Resources for online students include the ISU virtual library, tutoring center, advising, and enrollment and registration assistance.

Cost per Credit: $420
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 74%
Acceptance Rate: 89%
Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
Average SAT Scores: 1092 - 1334
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 323

#7

Brenau University

Multiple Locations
  • 10-Year ROI: $374,200
  • Median Salary: $39,729
  • Annual Tuition: $20,340
  • Median Debt: $27,961

Brenau University offers a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education that leads to teacher certification in Georgia for pre-school through grade five. This program is delivered fully online, except for required fieldwork experience that includes a year-long classroom residency. Courses run in accelerated, seven-week terms. Students take courses in developmental psychology, multicultural... education, the history and politics of Georgia, instructional education, classroom management, and legal and ethical issues in education. In addition to online lessons, students spend time shadowing professionals in classrooms around the state, gaining experience in various settings and institutions. Upon completion of the degree program, students are prepared to start their teaching careers.

Online classes are asynchronous and delivered through the Canvas platform, where students can view lectures, recorded videos, PowerPoint, and reading assignments. Students also interact with peers during group assignments. All Brenau online students are considered full-time, so they are eligible for federal financial aid and are eligible for several scholarships. Online students are taught by the same faculty as on-campus programs on online classes are capped at 20 students for a low student-to-faculty ratio.

The application process for Brenau University's early childhood education degree online involves students passing the first half of the GACE (Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators) and submitting their scores and an online application. The second half of the GACE is taken after the program has concluded.

Cost per Credit: $678
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 43%
Acceptance Rate: 66%
Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
Average SAT Scores: 910 - 1130
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 778

#8

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lincoln (NE)
  • 10-Year ROI: $374,100
  • Median Salary: $39,060
  • Annual Tuition: $25,950
  • Median Debt: $22,500

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers an online Bachelor of Science in Child, Youth & Family Studies - Early Childhood in a Mobile Society degree completion program. This program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA) partnership and prepares students to specifically work with young children whose families are impacted by unique job... demands, poverty, or homelessness. Students take classes in developmental differences, assessing young children, and technology in the classroom. Students also participate in three practicums in professional settings to get hands-on experience in the classroom.

The university accepts transfer credit from other institutions, credit by examination, and military credit. Online courses are taught by the same award-winning faculty who teach the on-campus program. Career services include career counseling, resume and cover letter review, interview preparation, job and internship search, and networking opportunities.

To apply to the BS program, students must first be accepted to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by submitting an online application. Enrolled students have access to tutoring, writing support, and career services.

Cost per Credit: $865
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 69%
Acceptance Rate: 64%
Financial Aid Recipients: 88%
Average SAT Scores: 1130 - 1360
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 285

#9

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Whitewater (WI)
  • 10-Year ROI: $368,600
  • Median Salary: $38,810
  • Annual Tuition: $11,130
  • Median Debt: $24,875

The Bachelor in Early Child Care and Education program at the University of Wisconsin -Whitewater is a non-licensure degree completion program for students with at least one credential. The program is available in part-time or full-time formats and is prepares students to work in childcare centers, preschools, or head start programs. Classes focus on classroom management, teaching... children with special needs, infant and toddler development, preschool behavior, and more. While studying, students gain the skills they need to prepare young children for elementary school.

Online coursework is delivered through the Canvas learning management system. Students can transfer up to 90 credits into the program. UW-Whitewater helps students access financial aid packages. The school also offers a Warhawk Emergency Fund for students at risk of quitting their programs due to financial emergencies. As students near the end of the program, they can access career advising services such as resume reviews, interview preparation, and the Handshake job and internship search tool.

Students can apply online. There are rolling admissions for the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Before applying, interested students can request an unofficial transcript review to determine how many credits are likely to transfer. Resources for online students include advising services, support for veterans, tech support, and research and library support.

Cost per Credit: $371
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 58%
Acceptance Rate: 70%
Financial Aid Recipients: 80%
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 496

#10

University of Arizona

Tucson (AZ)
  • 10-Year ROI: $365,500
  • Median Salary: $37,865
  • Annual Tuition: $15,000
  • Median Debt: $19,490

The online Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education at the University of Arizona is a degree completion program for students who have already earned an associate degree. The program aims to develop students' critical thinking, leadership, organization, communication, and educational technology skills. Classes cover early childhood language and literacy, early childhood... creative arts and physical education, and developmental differences in children. While this early childhood education degree does not lead to teacher licensure, it does provide the skills necessary for careers in preschools, childcare centers, and Head Start programs.

Online coursework is delivered through the Desire2Learn learning management system, allowing students to access course materials and communicate with professors and classmates. ASU students may apply for scholarships available through Scholarship Universe. There are no out-of-state tuition rates. According to Payscale, ASU was ranked number one out of all Arizona public universities in alumni earning potential.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered. Online students have access to many resources, including academic tutors and coaches, a disability center, and alumni mentors.

Cost per Credit: $500
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 64%
Acceptance Rate: 84%
Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
Average SAT Scores: 1070 - 1310
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,903

#11

Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff (AZ)
  • 10-Year ROI: $364,800
  • Median Salary: $37,703
  • Annual Tuition: $13,650
  • Median Debt: $18,750

The online Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood and the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Early Childhood programs at Northern Arizona University (NAU) prepares students to work with preschool and primary-age children. Students take specialized courses in early childhood education, but they must also complete classes in computer literacy, communication, language,... and science. The programs are flexible, and students can choose between traditional online learning, which requires them to complete courses on a certain schedule, or the competency-based program, which lets them work at their own pace.

NAU uses Blackboard Learn as its learning management system, where students can participate in online discussions, submit assignments, and ask questions 24/7. The school's Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid helps students create a financial aid package. Online students have access to the same scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities as on-campus students. Students may transfer up to 90 credits into this 120-credit degree program, and they can save money with the competency-based format, which offers a six-month, flat tuition rate.

NAU offers an online application, and the school hosts regular virtual events to help students learn more about their programs. Support services for students include mentorships, tech support, online tutoring, and access to an advisor.

Cost per Credit: $455
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 52%
Acceptance Rate: 81%
Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 4,483

#12

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro (NC)
  • 10-Year ROI: $363,000
  • Median Salary: $37,904
  • Annual Tuition: $8,963
  • Median Debt: $21,841

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers an online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies - Early Care and Education. This degree completion program blends social and behavioral studies with early childhood special education. Students can select one of two concentrations: early care and education, or birth through kindergarten teacher licensure.... For both concentrations, students take core classes in human development, families and children in a global perspective, social-emotional competence in inclusive settings, and diversity in inclusive early care and education. Although this program does not result in licensure, it prepares students to become licensed or work as a school administrator at nonprofits or governmental agencies.

Classes are primarily asynchronous. However, some classes have set meeting times in the evening. Transfer students may be eligible for additional scholarships. Online instructors are experienced and respected within their fields. Students have access to career development services, including career advising, presentations, employer research, and job placement.

To apply to the online degree program, students must have an AAS degree from a North Carolina community college and submit an online application. Matriculated students have access to the same resources as on-campus students, including academic advising, tutoring, and IT support.

Cost per Credit: $299
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 53%
Acceptance Rate: 78%
Financial Aid Recipients: 87%
Average SAT Scores: 990 - 1160
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,931

#13

Kansas State University

Manhattan (KS)
  • 10-Year ROI: $362,000
  • Median Salary: $37,888
  • Annual Tuition: $12,075
  • Median Debt: $22,500

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree at Kansas State University is designed for individuals interested in working with young children from birth through kindergarten in various educational settings. This program equips students to work with children with developmental delays, learning disabilities, or special needs. In addition to coursework, students must... also complete a field experience at a school in their community. Graduates of this program can apply for a Kansas State Early Childhood Unified (birth–K) teaching license.

Online coursework can be completed asynchronously on Canvas and the Kansas Student Information System (KSIS). Students can enroll in classes, communicate with classmates and professors, submit assignments, take quizzes, and access class materials. Online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of their location. The K-State Global Campus Scholarship is offered specifically to distance learners. The career center provides resume and cover letter review, job and internship search strategies, interview preparation, and networking opportunities.

The admissions process requires students to submit an online application. Online learners have access to IT support, career resources, academic advising, tutoring, online test proctoring, and mental health counseling.

Cost per Credit: $403
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 64%
Acceptance Rate: 94%
Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 798

#14

University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa (AL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $359,200
  • Median Salary: $37,738
  • Annual Tuition: $11,250
  • Median Debt: $23,500

The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Early Childhood Education at the University of Alabama offers a completely online experience through Bama by Distance. In this program, students learn about the development and learning styles of children from birth to age eight and gain the skills needed to guide and support children. Courses focus on conceptual creative experiences for children,... family development, and working with children with special needs.

While taking these courses, students use the Blackboard learning management system. The College of Continuing Studies has scholarships available to online students and offers financial assistance to veterans or members of the military.

The school offers an online application with deadlines for the fall, spring, and summer sessions. Typically, students need to submit scholarship applications by the deadline for the fall semester application. The school's virtual discussions to help aspiring students learn more about their programs, and once accepted, students get to work with LifeTrack advisors throughout the length of the program.

Cost per Credit: $375
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 71%
Acceptance Rate: 53%
Financial Aid Recipients: 80%
Average SAT Scores: 1060 - 1280
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,198

#15

St. Catherine University

Saint Paul (MN)
  • 10-Year ROI: $358,700
  • Median Salary: $38,597
  • Annual Tuition: $14,550
  • Median Debt: $31,000

At Saint Catherine University, the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education is a degree completion program for Montessori-credentialed students. This online program trains students to be more socially-aware, better informed, and innovative Montessori teachers for kids from birth to age eight. Courses focus on social justice, personal transformation, innovative pedagogy, holistic... teacher education, and community engagement. Students typically finish their degree in two to four years. While Saint Catherine's is traditionally an all-girls school, people of any gender are encouraged to apply to their online programs. To graduate, students must complete a field experience in their community.

The program relies on the Brightspace learning management system. The school awards 25 credits to students who have already earned a Montessori teacher education credential. Students can apply for financial aid in the form of grants, loans, or merit scholarships, including the Minnesota TEACH scholarship and the Jeri Grant Miller scholarship.

Saint Catherine's has three start dates during the year. Typically, classes start in September, February, and May, and students should apply at least four weeks before the start date. There are admission counselors available to help students with the process.

Cost per Credit: $485
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 54%
Acceptance Rate: 70%
Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
Average SAT Scores: 1119 - 1263
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 791

#16

Mayville State University

Mayville (ND)
  • 10-Year ROI: $358,100
  • Median Salary: $37,478
  • Annual Tuition: $10,383
  • Median Debt: $22,250

Mayville State University offers a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education program with concentrations in administration, special needs/paraprofessional, infant/toddler, or after school. The specialized concentrations allow students to adjust the coursework to fit their career aspirations. Students can complete their entire 120-credit hour degree at Mayville State or transfer credits... from another school. The university works with community and technical colleges in North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Arizona, and Washington to ensure that associate degrees obtained at those schools will transfer into the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education program. The online program may not be available to residents of all states, and students outside of North Dakota will need to contact an advisor to determine eligibility.

Many of the courses for this program are synchronous classes over Zoom, and Blackboard is also used in many classes. The school offers various scholarships, including honor scholarships available to North Dakota and Minnesota residents based on academic performance in high school. Tuition discounts are available to residents of North Dakota, Minnesota, and nearby states.

Mayville State accepts applications year-round, and students can apply online through the school's application portal. Online students can take advantage of many of the school's programs, including library services and specialized technical support for online learners.

Cost per Credit: $315
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 132
Graduation Rate: 29%
Acceptance Rate: 48%
Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 622

#17

National University

La Jolla (CA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $358,000
  • Median Salary: $38,559
  • Annual Tuition: $16,650
  • Median Debt: $31,250

The Bachelor in Early Childhood Education online program at National University is designed to meet California's teacher licensing requirements. The program focuses on teaching theories and concepts for children ages eight and younger. Students complete 180 quarter units, and credits can be transferred from other schools. Coursework will culminate in-field experience designed to... put theory into practice, solidifying the foundation for graduates to work with young students and their families in an educational setting.

The early childhood development program can be completed in accelerated 4-week classes, and all work is asynchronous so that students can study around their schedule. National University's online resources allow students to view virtual lectures, participate in threaded discussions, and interact with professors individually. As a Yellow Ribbon school, National University offers tuition discounts to military personnel and their dependents.

Applications can be completed online, and rolling application deadlines mean students can apply at any time. Students have one advisor who assists with everything from financial aid to academics, and the Student Concierge Services help make sure every student has the support needed to succeed.

Cost per Credit: $370
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 180
Graduation Rate: 36%
Accreditation: WSCUC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 3,130

#18

East Carolina University

Greenville (NC)
  • 10-Year ROI: $357,000
  • Median Salary: $37,455
  • Annual Tuition: $22,409
  • Median Debt: $23,000

East Carolina University's (ECU) Bachelor of Birth through Kindergarten Teacher Education program offers students the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to teach preschool or kindergarten, work in an early intervention program, or work with families of young children. The full degree can be completed at ECU, or credits can be transferred from other schools. A typical student... can expect to take 15-16 credit hours per semester for four years, incorporating a year-long internship program their senior year. The fully operating preschool on campus allows local students to gain real-world experience as they earn their degrees.

Online students will use Canvas, Webex, and Blackboard to attend classes and manage assignments. Once accepted to the school, students can apply for scholarships through an online scholarship portal. North Carolina residents can take advantage of lower in-state tuition rates fixed based on the date of enrollment. Lower tuition rates may also apply to military personnel. ECU participates in the Uniform Articulation Agreement, which guarantees credit transfers for students who have completed an associate degree in early childhood education in the North Carolina Community College System.

Applicants can apply through the school's online application portal. For fall 2021, first-year students must apply by April 1, and transfer students must apply by April 26. Online students can access many of the school's resources online, including virtual library access, virtual academic advising, and online technical support.

Cost per Credit: $700
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 128
Graduation Rate: 64%
Acceptance Rate: 79%
Financial Aid Recipients: 81%
Average SAT Scores: 1040 - 1190
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 3,603

#19

Wilkes University

Wilkes-Barre (PA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $356,100
  • Median Salary: $37,856
  • Annual Tuition: $36,888
  • Median Debt: $27,000

The Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Early Childhood Education program at Wilkes University is a degree completion program designed for working adults. The program accepts students who have at least 55 credits or an associate degree. In this 100% online program, students are prepared to teach grades pre-K through four and can obtain an 18-credit minor in reading education.... Students take courses titled School, Family, and Community; Integrating Tech in the Classroom; Child Development and Cognition; and Teaching Students with Special Needs.

Students use the D2L platform to access their online courses. Students who earn a BA in elementary and early childhood education have the chance to join a field that is expected to grow by about 7% in the next 10 years, and on average, early childhood and elementary teachers earn $55,490 per year. The school offers various financial aid packages, and the Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (TEACH) scholarship offers financial assistance to people who work in Keystone STARS facilities.

Students can apply for admission and the TEACH scholarship online. To learn more about the school, they can attend a virtual lunch, schedule a personalized on-campus visit, or set up a transfer credit evaluation.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 60%
Acceptance Rate: 75%
Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
Average SAT Scores: 1050 - 1240
Accreditation: MSCHE
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 61

#20

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

Stillwater (OK)
  • 10-Year ROI: $355,400
  • Median Salary: $37,149
  • Annual Tuition: $12,600
  • Median Debt: $21,688

The Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences - Early Childhood Education at Oklahoma State University (OSU) provides students with a degree to help them pursue careers in childcare centers, preschools, or Headstart programs. The 120-credit degree is offered completely online. Courses focus on classroom management, ethics of early childhood education, and effective pedagogical... methods. Students must complete a hands-on practicum to complete this degree.

OSU uses Canvas as the school's learning management system. While students can work at their own pace, they must take classes on a semester schedule and meet assignment deadlines. Students can also transfer credits from other universities, but they must complete the final 51 credits at OSU. Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid, and the school awards nearly 500 scholarships worth over $750,000 to students every year.

Students can apply online for the fall or spring semesters. They must first be admitted to OSU, and then they can apply to this program. The school offers academic advising, student development opportunities, and a career development department to help students find internships and jobs.

Cost per Credit: $420
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 61%
Acceptance Rate: 74%
Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
Average SAT Scores: 1060 - 1280
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 803

#21

Ball State University

Muncie (IN)
  • 10-Year ROI: $354,700
  • Median Salary: $37,392
  • Annual Tuition: $15,584
  • Median Debt: $24,250

Ball State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education with a Minor in Early Childhood Special Education taught by faculty from the Teacher's College. Although this program does not lead to licensure, graduates are prepared for leadership or administrative positions in private school classrooms, preschools, after-school programs, and daycare centers.... Students can expect to take courses in early childhood curriculum and instruction, culture and language in teaching and learning, administration of early childhood programs, and early emergent literacy.

Students may transfer up to 70 credits from a previous academic institution to satisfy the university's general education requirements. 80% of BSU students qualify for financial aid. The school also offers various scholarships to early childcare professionals in Indiana. The program is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the same faculty teach both the online and on-campus formats.

To be considered for admission, students must submit an online application. Online learners have access to various resources, including peer mentoring, technical support, academic advising, and career development resources.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 62%
Acceptance Rate: 62%
Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 785

#22

Winona State University

Winona (MN)
  • 10-Year ROI: $353,000
  • Median Salary: $37,006
  • Annual Tuition: $14,042
  • Median Debt: $22,500

The Bachelor of Science in Teaching - Early Childhood Education program at Winona State University is a completion program for early education professionals who already have some credits or an associate degree. This online program includes the courses students need to obtain an early childhood education license and prepares them to teach literacy and numeracy to young children.... The program requires 60 credits and takes four semesters to complete, including one semester of student teaching.

The school uses Brightspace to facilitate online learning. Students can obtain financial aid, and they may be able to offset tuition costs with a TEACH grant through the federal loan forgiveness program. Typically, graduates from Winona State have an excellent placement rate in highly regarded districts in Minnesota and the rest of the country. Although the program is available completely online, students can enhance their education with in-person learning experiences through Miller Mentoring, Kids First, or the St. Paul Immersion Experience.

Students can apply twice per year in the spring and fall for the upcoming semesters. The Center for Teacher Success offers students assistance as they pursue this degree and launch a career as an early educator.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 64%
Acceptance Rate: 66%
Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
Average SAT Scores: 1000 - 1190
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 172

#23

North Carolina Central University

Durham (NC)
  • 10-Year ROI: $352,800
  • Median Salary: $38,072
  • Annual Tuition: $17,559
  • Median Debt: $31,398

North Carolina Central University's Bachelor of Science Birth-Kindergarten Teacher Education online program is designed to prepare students for careers in teaching or child development. Most students complete the degree as a full-time four-year program, but those who have a bachelor's degree in a different field or already licensed teachers can complete the degree in two semesters.... Upon completing the program, students will be prepared to pursue careers in elementary teaching, childcare, or childhood early intervention programs.

Online students use Blackboard to complete coursework on their own schedule with no set class times. North Carolina residents can take advantage of lower tuition rates, and online students enjoy access to career services and a large alumni network.

Applications can be completed online. The fall semester application deadline is July 15, the spring semester deadline is November 15, and the summer semester deadline is May 1. Online students can access library services online along with online tutoring, career services, a counseling center, and a dedicated veterans center that helps military personnel transition to college life and a new career.

Cost per Credit: $585
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 46%
Acceptance Rate: 83%
Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
Average SAT Scores: 900 - 1050
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 648

#24 (tie)

Appalachian State University

Boone (NC)
  • 10-Year ROI: $349,300
  • Median Salary: $36,410
  • Annual Tuition: $7,722
  • Median Debt: $20,500

The online Bachelor of Science in Child Development - Birth through Kindergarten at Appalachian State University allows students to complete their degree in the early childhood field and help them obtain a certificate to teach preschool and kindergarten in the state of North Carolina. Students must transfer a minimum of 30 credits into the program and take six to eight credit hours... per semester for seven semesters. After those seven academic semesters, students will complete one semester of student teaching.

Courses are a combination of synchronous and asynchronous classes using the AsULearn platform, and classroom work is combined with hands-on experience. Students can save money by transferring credits into the program, although courses taken over ten years ago can only be transferred for students who have been working in the field recently. Local students will save money by qualifying for in-state tuition, and the school offers scholarships and financial assistance.

The Child Development - Birth through Kindergarten program begins each fall, and students must apply by July 1st. Applications can be completed online via the College Foundation of North Carolina website. Online students can take advantage of academic resources, technical support, the bookstore, and wellness resources.

Cost per Credit: $644
School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 72%
Acceptance Rate: 70%
Financial Aid Recipients: 71%
Average SAT Scores: 1100 - 1270
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 493

#24 (tie)

Purdue University Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne (IN)
  • 10-Year ROI: $349,300
  • Median Salary: $36,591
  • Annual Tuition: $20,961
  • Median Debt: $22,000

At Purdue University Fort Wayne, the Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education program is a degree completion program for students with associate degrees. Students may select from several tracks in the program: Birth to Age 5; Preschool to Grade 3; and Preschool to Grade 6. The preschool to grade six program track takes eight semesters and at least one summer to complete.... This program offers a hybrid of online and face-to-face learning. The birth to age five and preschool to grade three tracks are available completely online, and they take four to five semesters to complete if studying full-time. In all these programs, students studying pedagogical approaches and learning styles.

Purdue University Fort Wayne uses the Brightspace platform as its learning management system. Students can watch lessons, take quizzes, and engage with educators and fellow students on the forum. The school offers mentored field experiences and practicums to students to gain practical experience. About 70% of students receive financial aid, and banded tuition rates help keep costs low. The Student Sucess Center gives students access to advisors who will guide them through the program and help them obtain their license after graduation.

Interested students can apply online. The school has application deadlines for fall and spring semesters and accepts applications on a rolling basis from the deadline to the first day of classes.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 38%
Acceptance Rate: 94%
Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
Average SAT Scores: 970 - 1180
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 469

Online Early Childhood Education Degree Overview & Career Information

An online associate degree or undergraduate certificate in early childhood education can prepare graduates to earn respected professional credentials, such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. The core of these programs is made up of classes that discuss the cognitive and physical changes that children undergo in their earliest years. Courses cover childhood nutrition, communication, and teaching children with special needs, as well as general education classes in college math, English, and natural science.

The online bachelor’s degree in early childhood development is one way to begin a career in education as a Head Start teacher or preschool teacher in a public school setting. These degree programs discuss the skills needed for instructing young children in a variety of subjects, such as language arts, creative arts, and math and science. The length of the bachelor’s program also affords students the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in the classroom, observing students and experienced teachers and practicing teaching skills.

An online master's in early childhood education is an excellent way for those experienced in the field to gain the credentials necessary to enter positions in public policy, administrate early childhood education programs, or open their own schools for young children. Master’s programs may prepare graduates to earn a teaching credential in one or several early childhood education areas; this credential is necessary to teach in some public school systems.

Undergraduate programs in early childhood education may require experience working with children, a high school diploma, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Graduate programs may be entry-level, or they may require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area with a minimum GPA, as well as standardized test scores and letters of recommendation. Most early childhood education programs require applicants to pass a background test and have necessary immunizations.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Early Childhood Education

The bachelor’s program in early childhood education prepares graduates to teach and nurture children from birth through age 8. These degrees typically take four years to complete and require about 120 credit hours of work. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate, as well as a clear criminal background check.

The coursework in the early childhood education bachelor’s program discusses the social and behavioral science concepts, education theory, and teaching strategies necessary to be an effective instructor of young children. Courses in topics like principles of early childhood development, educational psychology, and teaching exceptional children discuss the cognitive and social growth of young children. Classes in teaching methodology cover the instructional skills necessary for teaching math, science, language arts, health, and physical education. Teaching practicums place students in an actual classroom setting, where they practice teaching under the guidance of an experienced instructor.

Graduates of the early childhood education bachelor’s degree go on to teach in preschools, Head Start programs, and elementary schools. Depending on the program, students may need to seek out an additional credential after graduation to teach in a public school setting. Other graduates can work as special education teachers for young children. Others go on to work in child care and day care settings.

Common Online Courses in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education programs prepare graduates for roles in the child care and child education professions. Upon graduating, you will have an understanding of developmentally appropriate practices, as well as techniques for behavior guidance and classroom management. You will also know how to plan and implement curricula and establish and maintain a safe environment. The following classes are often included in an ECE degree program:

  • Child Development: Child development courses are essential for any early childhood education professional, as they help students become familiar with the ways in which children learn, process thoughts and emotions, and deal with challenges.
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching in Multicultural and Multilingual Settings: Students learn about the necessity of being culturally sensitive to children of varying backgrounds.
  • Early Childhood Reading and Literacy Instruction: This class focuses on strategies for teaching young children of varying ability levels how to read.
  • Exceptional Children in the Early Childhood Setting: This course teaches students ways to challenge intellectually advanced children while also integrating them with the rest of the classroom.
  • Family Engagement: This course helps future educators and caregivers learn how to work with parents to help children reach their full potential.
  • Health and Safety: Students learn how to talk to young children about the importance of being healthy and maintaining a safe learning environment.
  • Special Education: Special education courses focus on the best ways to engage children who have special needs, developmental delays, or learning disabilities.
  • Standards-Based Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment: This course prepares future teachers to develop lesson plans as part of broader curricula and assess the lesson's' strengths and weaknesses.
  • The Early Childhood Learning Environment: Students learn how to create an environment where children can feel comfortable and reach their full learning potential.

Accreditation for Online Early Childhood Education Degrees

Accreditation is granted to schools and degree programs that meet the standards established by independent, authoritative agencies. These agencies provide comprehensive evaluations in order to verify the quality of the curricula being offered, the qualifications of the faculty members, and the availability of research programs and student resources. Accrediting agencies should be recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Choosing an accredited degree program can help students feel confident in their education and help them meet eligibility requirements to transfer credits to other schools or apply for federal financial aid. It's always best to verify the precise accreditation requirements necessary for your future education and career plans with the proper regulation boards in your state.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) sets the national standard for higher education programs for early childhood degrees. NAEYC's Commission on Early Childhood Associate Degree Programs accredits associate degree programs, and NAEYC works with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (a consolidation of the former National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council) to accredit baccalaureate and graduate programs.

To learn more about accreditation, please visit OnlineU's accreditation hub.

Certification & Licensure for Early Childhood Education

Prospective early childhood educators and caregivers will need to abide by their state’s legal requirements before they can seek employment. Each state has its own rules and regulations for individuals who wish to teach or care for young children. Some may simply require a high school diploma and experience, while other states require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject.

Professional certification for early childhood educators and caregivers is a wise investment for those who wish to advance in their career, and it may also be a requirement for employment in some settings. Earning a recognized certificate lets families and employers know that you are competent, knowledgeable, and dedicated to the profession. One of the most popular forms of professional certification for this field is the Child Development Associate Credential (CDA), which is offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. The CDA is available for professionals who work in preschool or infant and toddler settings, or provide family child care or home visits. Students can earn this designation by completing a certain number of hours of professional education and work experience.

Another professional agency that issues certification for early childhood educators is the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. This organization issues the Certified Childcare Professional credential to those who have a high school diploma and work experience in this field, and who have enrolled in continuing education courses. Several options for continuing education can be pursued via distance education; students can enroll in formal classes or seminars to receive credit hours.

Students who plan to teach in public preschools must fulfill state licensure requirements, which can vary widely. Most US states require public preschool instructors to pass a national examination, as well as procure continuing education units. Some of these areas require instructors to complete a teacher training program; those who have majored in early childhood education development can usually skip this requirement. Prospective preschool educators should verify their individual state's requirements prior to enrolling in a degree or certificate program.

Early Childhood Education Career Paths

A career in early childhood education can be very rewarding, as educators play an important role in the lives of children at a time when they are learning so much and discovering who they are. The term “early childhood education” is quite broad, and it encompasses a variety of careers and education levels. The following list represents some of the career opportunities available for graduates of ECE programs:

  • Caregiver: Caregivers work with young children in a wide range of public and private day care settings. Their main responsibilities are to provide supervision and a safe place for children to play, learn, and socialize while they are away from home. Sometimes caregivers work with parents and provide collaborative care, while others act as the primary caregiver without parent involvement.
  • Teacher: Teaching is a common career choice for graduates of early childhood education programs. Preschool and kindergarten teachers provide developmentally appropriate activities and exercises to help young children learn about academic subjects and the world around them. Additional courses, such as child development or communications, be beneficial to your role in the classroom. In addition to a degree, teachers also need to obtain a state teaching license.
  • Teaching Assistant: Many people begin their career in early childhood education as a teaching assistant. Teaching assistants work under the guidance of teachers and provide valuable support for individual students or small groups of students who need extra encouragement, tutoring, or supervision. Teaching assistants who do not yet have a bachelor's degree can gain valuable classroom experience before committing to a four-year degree.
  • Program Director: Program directors have the flexibility of working in schools or in private child care or education settings. Many programs that offer childhood development and learning opportunities exist outside of the school system; the programs often specialize in one subject or age range and can be tailored to children with special needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Early Childhood Education Degrees

Do I need a degree to work with young children?

Although some states will license people without degrees to work as preschool teachers or non-teaching childcare workers, many states require an associate degree before issuing a license. Students who earn online bachelor's degrees in early childhood education enjoy even more career options. They are eligible to teach in preschools, Head Start programs, and elementary schools, or to become special education teachers in elementary schools. All of these positions require licensure, and in some states an additional teaching credential may be required.

How much can I earn with an online degree in early childhood education?

Current data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that childcare workers have a median annual income of $24,230, while preschool teachers have a median annual income of $30,520. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers—most of whom will have earned a bachelor's degree and a teaching credential—earn about $59,420 annually.

What kind of degree do I need to teach children online?

An emerging growth opportunity for people interested in early childhood education is teaching elementary school online. The number of children acquiring their education through homeschooling and by taking classes online is growing. Most online education providers require their teachers to hold master's degrees in early childhood education, education, or another subject. Teaching credentials and certification aren't always required because the curriculum and lesson plans are carefully prescribed by the provider.

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