Master’s in Early Childhood Education

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

A Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education gives students a deeper understanding of child development and learning. Master's degree students become equipped with the professional competencies and knowledge needed for leadership roles such as preschool directors, public policy coordinators, child care administrators, child development instructors, and lecturers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment for preschool directors, child care directors, preschool teachers, and other child care positions is expected to grow by about 15% through 2022.

Choosing an Online Master's Degree Program

An online Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education is a viable option for busy students who have career responsibilities. With online programs students can study, research, and participate in class on their own time. However, it is important to choose a program that is reputable. To help you select a good online program, review the following questions:

Is the Program Accredited?

Accreditation is the first step in helping you weed out online programs that are not reputable. Accreditation proves that a college or university offers a high level of quality education. Accredited early childhood education programs are built around the framework and competencies established by NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children). To learn more about the accreditation, you can visit:

How Long Has the Program Been Offered?

The next thing you can inquire about is the amount of time an online school or program has been in service. In general, the longer the better. Do keep in mind that online learning is a relatively new form of education. However, you should be skeptical of a program that has bot been around long enough to obtain full accreditation.

What Technologies Will Be Used to Facilitate Online Learning?

In order to facilitate online instruction, teachers use various online learning platforms, such as Moodle or Canvas. Through such platforms, students will be able to access learning materials and communicate with instructions as well as peers. These virtual classrooms can easily be accessed through a designated website. Not all schools use the same program, so you may want to find out ahead of time in order to preview the platform.

What Resources Will I Have Access To?

Schools often give students access to comprehensive online resources, such as scholarly journals, articles, research databases, and textbooks. Master's degree programs will often require students to conduct extensive research. With that said, such student services can play a huge role in your overall experience in an early childhood education program.

What Skills and Topics Are Covered?

Good programs will be able to communicate an organized curriculum upon request. In other words, a set of clear and measurable outcomes which should be achieved over the course of the master's degree program. Think about the program goals and if they tie in with your career goals.

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

Alumni are wonderful resources. What are recent graduates from an online Master's in Early Childhood Education program up to? What have they done with their career? How has an online Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education helped them succeed? This will help you determine the validity of an online program.

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Is an Online Master's Degree Right for You?

As our daily lives become busier, the demand for online degree programs continue to rise. Today, you will find there are many online programs for a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education. This can be a time saving and cost effective way to move ahead in your educational career. Learn more about online degree programs:

Flexible Schedule

Online degree programs have become a very popular and viable way to earn a degree. One of the most common reasons for that is the amount of flexibility these types of programs offer. Since coursework can be completed anywhere and at any time of day, more students feel as though they can keep up. Online degree programs take away the fear of missing class due to scheduling conflicts.

Opportunity and Accessibility

Many people do not live within commuting range to a school and do not have the option to relocate. For those, online education is a great way to earn a degree. Online degree programs create opportunities for students to complete program requirements regardless of geographic location, physical ability, and scheduling restraints.

Tuition and Costs

When considering an online Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education, you may realize the overall cost to be less than a similar on-campus program:

  • No costs associated with driving to and from school, this includes gas, car maintenance, and parking passes.
  • No money spent on campus dining.
  • No costs associated with relocating in order to live closer to a campus.
  • Importantly, online programs allow working students to maintain a source of income.

Program Curriculum

A child's early years are the foundation for future development. The goal of a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education program is to provide an organized curriculum intended to prepare graduates to work with young children, birth through eight years old. You can expect the following elements:

  • Deadlines and accountability checkpoints for projects, early childhood education practicums, research assignments, and reading assignments.
  • Lessons and assignments delivered by means of online textbooks and multimedia lectures.
  • Whole class message boards where students are encouraged to communicate, share ideas and collaborate.
  • A final thesis, project, portfolio, or comprehensive exam.

Master's Degree Course Topics

Designed to further students' theoretical and practical groundings in the field of education, obtaining a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education allows students to market themselves more fully to a variety of education employers. While degree course offerings and research interests do vary between institutions and graduate students, the following curricular goals are available in their master's degree program of choice:

  • Evaluate the historical development of early childhood education in North America and from a global perspective
  • Argue and support various viewpoints surrounding universal childcare and similar concepts
  • Articulate theories, models and approaches to early childhood education
  • Compare and contrast models and approaches to education
  • Articulate the merits of various foundational educational approaches
  • Relate the above mentioned into a cohesive philosophy statement about one's developing teaching practice
  • Asses the influence of economic, political and social justice policies
  • Analyze and articulate why a professional collaborative delivery model is beneficial to students and colleagues
  • Discuss impacts, barriers and supports to professional practice
  • Develop an understanding of ethics, policy and legislation that impact children, families and educational settings
  • Form a philosophical framework that supports decision-making in the best interests of the child
  • Analyze aspects of children, families, and professionals; determine best practice for education planning
  • Analyze current and historical trends, legal issues, legislation and policy that affects children, families, programs and educators
  • Discuss the multiple historical, philosophical, and social foundations of early childhood education
  • Discuss how the history of the movement influence current thought and practice in the classroom and in research
  • Apply professional code of ethics in decision-making; taking care to place child wellness at the forefront of the solution set
  • Interpret and apply relevant and peripheral legislation as it relates to children, families and service models
  • Research and implement advocacy strategies for children, families and educational professionals
  • Establish procedure for setting family goals based on strengths, needs and interests of the parent and guardians; focus on building a proactive, trusting relationship
  • Identify and access community services and resources available to assist parents in meeting goals and needs of the family, as well as identifying resources to assist pregnant women, children and families to meet the individual needs of families, children and/or children with disabilities, mental health issues or special needs
  • Plan family involvement and educational activities that are responsive to the ongoing and expressed needs of the parents as individuals and as members of a group
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Professional Associations

As a way to further connect yourself with the field of early childhood education, graduate students can join professional networks such as the California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC). CAEYC was established by a group of dedicated nursery school professionals who gathered together in order to share and information and support those emerging in the profession. Many states and regions have their own specialized associations. Staying informed and connected is a wise way to network and possibly advance in your career.