Associate in Early Childhood Education

Note: This page provides information on earning a Associate degree in early childhood education. For details on other degree levels, please see our early childhood education degree page.

In order to gain acceptance into an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education program, one must have graduated from high school (or equivalent) and have been accepted into the institution of higher education. Most schools will require letter(s) of recommendation, payment of fees, and a completed application. Some colleges may even require a background check. An associate degree will usually take about two years to complete. Of course, this time can be altered depending on your class load.

After earning an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education, many go on to careers as child care workers, preschool teachers, associate teachers, and infant/toddler teachers. If you are interested in becoming a preschool teacher, visit our Preschool Teacher Career Page to learn more.

Choosing an Online Associate in Early Childhood Education

There are many online programs available for an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. To help you choose the best online program for your needs, here are a few questions you may want to ask:

Is the Program Accredited?

The online program you choose should be accredited in training students to become skilled in the educational needs of children as well as child development theories and how to utilize them. Accreditation is a verification by a legitimate outside authority. The NAEYC Commission on Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation maintains a list of accredited early childhood associate degree programs. To learn more about accreditation, you may visit: and

How Long Has the Program Been Offered?

If an online program or school has been around and accredited for several years, it's usually a good sign of a program's success. This will help you assess the reputation of the program. Online degree programs are relatively new when it comes to higher education; however, the credibility of a school may be murky if it is too new.

What Technologies Will Be Used to Facilitate Online Learning?

Online schools use technology to facilitate instruction and learning. This comes by means of the internet and online learning environments. These virtual learning platforms include assignment submission features, discussion boards, and multimedia lectures. Students will be able to view grades and class requirements all in one location.

What Resources Will I Have Access To?

Schools often give students the ability to access online databases and research centers such as scholarly journals. These are very useful resources when it comes to research assignments. Some students heavily rely on school resources while other do not. Knowing what resources are available may help you make your decision in choosing the best online program to fit your needs.

What Skills and Topics Are Covered?

To help you choose the right online program for an Associate in Early Childhood Education, find out the program's goals. These will come in the form of measurable foals and outcomes. In other words, you will find out what the curriculum will prepare students to do upon completion of the program.

Do You Have Job Placement Information for Students Who Recently Graduated from the Program?

Knowing what past graduates from the same program have done in their career will help you make a better assessment of the program. Additionally, some schools offer personalized career guidance. If available, do take advantage of this great resource as it will give you a look into the careers of those who have completed an online Associate in Early Childhood Education.

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Is an Online Degree Right for You?

Online associate degree programs in early childhood education are designed for busy adult students who find it necessary to maintain flexibility in scheduling while attending classes. Here are a few additional factors to think about when considering online education:

Flexible Schedule

Online classes allow students to complete classes at their own pace, leaving more time for work and family obligations. In most cases, degrees can be earned 100% online with no need to attend classes. In other words, students will not be required to travel to and from campus. This is ideal for individuals who do not live or work near a college with an ECE program, since classes can be taken at home, at work, or from any other convenient location chosen by the student.

Program Curriculum

Quality online programs will deliver curriculum in line with programs found in traditional college settings. Students will learn how to develop and implement appropriate material for young children in order to foster emotional, verbal, and social competence. In good programs, you should be able to find:

  • An organized curriculum with firm deadlines and accountability markers intended to keep students on track.
  • Interactive message boards, faculty, and practicums to help students build partnerships.
  • A cumulative project or portfolio.

Faculty and Staff

Teacher quality is very integral to the success of a program. It may be a good idea to read faculty profiles and backgrounds. You may notice some teachers also teach in traditional on-campus programs - which is a good sign. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are there many full-time and tenured teachers?
  • Are any of the faculty conducting their own research or studies?
  • Do the teachers maintain an interactive online presence?
  • What real-life experiences do these teachers have in the field of early childhood education?

Tuition and Costs

Online programs can be more cost effective than traditional on-campus programs. Consider the following:

  • No costs associated with room, board, gas, or car maintenance.
  • Students can continue to work and maintain a source of income.
  • In many cases, students will not need to pay out-of-state fees.
  • Online schools often have less overhead, which makes them more affordable.

Additionally, keep in mind that there are many grants and scholarships available for students who are working towards an online Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. Online students can apply for grants and other financial assistance through FAFSA. Additionally, students can learn about other scholarships and grants on our scholarships page here.

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Associate Program Course Topics

Although course topics vary from school to school, you can expect to see similar concepts offered both at online and on-campus programs:

Building Self-Esteem in Young Children

This course will assist prospective teachers to understand how a child's interpersonal relationships and growth relate to the ability for a child to develop a sense of self-esteem. Teachers will be taught how to create a positive learning environment in order to support the development of self-awareness and self-esteem in children.

Health, Safety, and Nutrition

This course emphasizes the importance of the correlation between proper nutrition, safe learning environments, and a child's optimal physical and cognitive development. Students will learn how the topics of nutrition, health, and safety are interrelated.

Behavior Change and Young Children

The course will take students through different discipline and behavior modification techniques. Students will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each technique. Often times, prospective teachers will be required to create their own behavior plan prior to completing the class.