The 25 Best Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online for 2019

By BCR Staff
July 2018

Early childhood education (ECE) programs cover education theory and instructional methods for children through age eight. Generally, an online master's in early childhood education provides instruction on how to teach children from preschool through second grade. You may also study infant-toddler education, which is normally facilitated by parents for children from birth to age two.

ECE professionals include teachers, paraeducators, child care center personnel, special education teachers, psychologists, and social workers. Earning a master's in early childhood education will prepare aspiring teachers to lead young children as they develop cognitive and social skills.

In this ranking, our editors examine our picks of the top 25 online master's for Early Childhood Education programs. For more generalized information regarding distance learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges.

Rating and Ranking Methodology
Tuition Points:

  • Under $45,000—1 point
  • Under $40,000—2 points
  • Under $35,000—3 points
  • Under $30,000—4 points
  • Under $25,000—5 points
  • Under $20,000—6 points
  • Under $15,000—7 points
  • Under $10,000—8 points
  • Under $5,000—9 points

US News and World Report Recognition as a Top Online School for Master's in Engineering Programs

  • Top 5— 5 points
  • Top 10— 4 points
  • Top 25 —3 points
  • Top 50 —2 points
  • Top 75 —1 point

Customization Options

  • Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, Accelerated, Degree Completion, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
  • Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option (5-point cap)

Wow Factor

  • 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that "wowed" us


Our editors started with a list of 35 colleges and then used our customized ranking methodology to shortlist the TOP 25. We were able to narrow these initial findings by applying a few factors such as affordability (average net price is capped at $35,000), program customization, return-on-investment, and career prospects. Finally, we used information from U.S. News & World Report as well as from each school's website to apply the rating and ranking methodology above. In the event of a tie in points, the school with the lower tuition receives the higher ranking.

Check them out below!


#25 – Pacific Oaks College

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education



Culminating in a Master's in Early Childhood Education degree, students in this ECE online graduate program learn how to create and support educational experiences for children that center around inclusion and anti-bias. Immersed in real-world and diverse working environments, Early Childhood Education master's degree students will develop a hands-on understanding of staff development and administration collaboration, as well as working with families and children as a whole.

Designed to be flexible and accessible from anywhere, our online Early Childhood Education Master's degree programs have been designed to meet the needs of students with a wide range of scheduling needs and learning styles. Students do not have to put their life on hold while working to achieve their personal and professional goals and earning their early childhood education degree online. This degree requires 30 units for successful completion.

Tuition Fee: $1,103 per credit hour


#24 – West Virginia University

Online Master's in Elementary Education



The online Advanced Master of Arts in Elementary Education degree is offered by the College of Education and Human Services to certified teachers who want to advance their knowledge of content, curriculum, and classroom management. The program serves educators in the elementary (early/middle) school setting.

This degree is equivalent to a Master's of Early Childhood Education, and is offered completely online. This master's degree consists of classes like: Twenty-First Century Teaching and Learning, Science Research and Teaching Ethics, History of American Education, Reading and Writing Instruction in Elementary School, and Technology Integration through Capstone Experience. The program is 30 credit hours and can be completed in two years.

Tuition Fee: $594 per credit hour


#23 – Northwestern State University

Master's in Early Childhood Education Online



This MEd in Early Childhood Education online is an advanced program that allows certified teachers to facilitate their work with young children, their families, and their communities. The degree program is comprised of Education courses and a Practicum experience that address the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards, and the program involves advanced candidates in strengthening their knowledge, skills, and dispositions relating to working with children from birth to eight years.

The following courses are offered in this online degree program: Curriculum Development for School Improvement, Advanced Child Development, Positive Relationships with Children, Families and Communities, Educational Research and Evaluation, and Action Research for School Improvement. You can choose to complete this online Masters of Education in Early Childhood Education with a thesis option as well.

Tuition Fee: $475 per credit hour


#22 – Albany State University

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education



This Early Childhood Education online master's program leads to T-5 certification in Early Childhood Education and is designed to prepare master teachers to work with children in grades PreK-5. This program also provides knowledge and skills for teachers to serve in leadership roles in curriculum development, supervision, and research in the field of Early Childhood Education. Graduates become master teachers who are poised for administrative positions in all fields of education.

  • Students' progression through the Early Childhood Education Program will lead to an array of evidence-based best practices in PreK-5 settings, creative and effective teaching performances, strengthened knowledge for making data-driven decisions, and methodologies for impacting student achievement through action research.
  • The Early Childhood Education Program enhances understanding of how the influence of the intellectual, emotional, and physical development of young children relates to teaching and learning.
  • Candidates in the Early Childhood Education Online Program will gain knowledge and skills for designing and implementing culturally responsive teaching strategies that are infused with technology and hone reflective practices that refine effective dispositions for teaching.

Tuition Fee: $300 per credit hour


#21 – University of Toledo

MEd in Early Childhood Education Online




The online master degree in early childhood education is designed for preschool, childcare, and early learning educators and administrators. It's a non-licensure program that will not allow graduates to teach students above 3 years of age in public schools. The curriculum is built around the following fundamental early childhood education principles:

  • Learning is relationship-based; relationships between adults and children and between children and their peers are crucial to development and success.
  • Active partnerships with families strengthen children's learning and potential.
  • Learning can and should be individualized to meet the needs of every young child, including those with disabilities

The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education online is a 36-semester hour program, with Foundations Core Courses (12 hours), Specialty Courses in Early Childhood (18 hours), Culminating Activity i.e. Thesis or Project (6 hours).

Tuition Fee: $548.58 per credit hour


#20 – SUNY – Albany

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education



This online masters program in Early Childhood Education is designed to foster in our students a set of closely interrelated dispositions, pedagogical knowledge and teaching skills. We expect that our graduates will be caring and responsive observers and listeners who theorize about their teaching and learning and know how to research their own practice. To do this requires that they know how to document and analyze students' learning and to critically analyze their own teaching.

There are two facilitation options available: on campus or online. If you have initial certification in Early Childhood (B-2) and want the MS degree toward your professional certification to teach children in pre-school and up to Grade 2, this is the appropriate degree. This program has an option that allows you to take the entire degree ONLINE but the required 30 credit coursework is the same. This program will prepare you to be a classroom teacher; it will not provide literacy specialist certification.

Tuition Fee: $ 603.01 per credit hour


#19 – Champlain College

Online MEd in Early Childhood Education



The Champlain College's online Master's degree in Early Childhood Education will engage you on a deeper level as an early educator. Our unique, project-based approach to learning is tailored to allow you to work independently in your online courses and apply the content to your current position in the field of early childhood education. The online Master's in Early Childhood Education curriculum is also geared to connecting you with the early childhood community in your area.

Among the first colleges to offer full degree programs online, Champlain has been a leader in online education since 1993. Champlain's asynchronous schedule gives you complete flexibility on when and where you do your coursework. Additionally, The online degree in early childhood education has specialized courses that allow you to choose a path focused either on Special Education, Teaching or Administration for Early Childhood Education.

Sample courses for specializations:

  • Special Education – Designing Environments for Diverse Learners, Behavior Analysis & Intervention
  • Teaching – Infant & Toddler Development & Curriculum with Project, Early Language & Literacy
  • Administration – Administration of Early Childhood Programs, Financial Management in the Early Childhood Setting

Tuition Fee: $595 per credit hour


#18 – Portland State University

Online Master's in Early Childhood: Inclusive Education



Portland State University's master's degree in Early Childhood: Inclusive Education and Curriculum & Instruction combines a master's degree core with a specialized focus on one of three critical areas of early childhood education. Taught jointly by the Curriculum and Instruction and Special Education departments from Portland State's nationally ranked Graduate School of Education, our early childhood master's degree will empower you to advance into leadership roles in early childhood education. This 100% online degree consists of 45 credits and can be completed successfully in 2-3 years.

You'll choose one of three concentrations in our Early Childhood master's degree program:

  • Constructivism in Early Childhood: Grounded in the works of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, the Constructivist specialization explores how children's interaction with their world shapes their learning.
  • Infant/Toddler Mental Health: Examine the most up-to-date research and interventions related to children from prenatal to three years of age.
  • Early Childhood Special Education: Get the knowledge to provide services to children with special needs (ages birth through 8) and their families.

Tuition Fee: $630 per credit hour


#17 – University of Colorado

Online MA in Early Childhood Education



The mission of the Colorado University's Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education online is to prepare early childhood professional leaders with the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of young children and their families within a rapidly changing and diverse society. This Master's of Arts degree in ECE will prepare you to excel in the following fields:

  • Classroom and educational settings
  • Child care programs
  • Early intervention programs (including Head Start and Early Head Start)
  • Family support and home-based programs

Some sample courses include Language and Literacy in Young Children, Basic Statistics, Research in Schools and Curriculum in Early Childhood Education. Finally, this 36 credit hour online MA degree usually takes 2 – 3 years to complete, and this includes Recommended courses, Performance-based assessments, Practicum, Comprehensive examination and Fieldwork (200 hours).

Tuition Fee: $448 per credit hour


#16 – University of West Alabama

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education



Through the online master's in Early Childhood Education from the University of West Alabama, you can make a difference in the lives of young children with their master's in early childhood education online. Prepare to meet the educational, social and emotional needs of children in preschool through third grade, in a variety of environments.

This fully online degree can be completed in about 1 year, with 34 credits each lasting about 8 weeks. All courses are divided into 2 sections: Professional Courses (such as Technology Portfolio, Introduction to Special Education, Counseling Multicultural Populations and Educational Planning) and Teaching Field Courses (such as Literature for Early Childhood Education).

Tuition Fee: $429 per credit hour


#15 – University of North Carolina

Online MA in Education – Early Childhood, Special Education, and Literacy



The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Education is designed for individuals interested in developing the skills necessary for conducting educational research in organizations or institutions focused on the study of education. The degree is not intended for those planning to teach, but the degree does presume that prospective students have an interest in schooling and education. The M.A. in Education is a 30-hour program and the ECSEL program requires the completion of an empirical data-based thesis. The M.A. program does not result in teacher licensure.

The Early Childhood, Special Education, and Literacy (ECSEL) research specialization focus on the study of curricular and intervention strategies that promote the development and learning of both typically developing children and children with special needs. Individual student programs of study concentrate on early childhood education, early intervention, early literacy, and the roles of cultural context and family in early development.

Tuition Fee: $4431.75 per semester


#14 – Biola University

MA in Early Childhood Education Online



The Master of Arts Teaching degree with the concentration in Early Childhood is designed for individuals who desire to serve in public and private programs serving infants through age four and in transitional kindergarten through third-grade classrooms. This concentration also strengthens Elementary Teachers' understanding of developmental, social, academic, cultural, and spiritual needs, particularly in the early childhood/primary setting.

The Master of Arts in Teaching with a Concentration in Early Childhood is a 30-unit hour program that can be completed in 18 months. The program has three distinct elements:

  • Core coursework (14 units)
  • A concentration of Early Childhood coursework (15 units)
  • A capstone experience (1 unit)

Sample courses include Research in Culture & Intercultural Instruction, Writing Literature Reviews, Classroom Management in Early Childhood Settings, Observation and Assessment of Young Children, and Action Research Capstone.

Tuition Fee: $621 per unit hour


#13 – Auburn University

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education



In Auburn University's Early Childhood Education online program you'll learn the best approaches for teaching young children from pre-kindergarten through grade 3. Through coursework and authentic practical experiences, students learn child development, curriculum development, developmentally appropriate practice, diversity, and advocacy.

This online master's programs prepare you to apply theoretical and research knowledge to your teaching. You'll deepen your understanding of the use of reflection to make wise decisions about teaching young learners. In your coursework, you'll focus on social constructivist approaches to solve practical problems in the education of young children. As a graduate of our Master of Education program, you'll be eligible to apply for Alabama Class A professional educator certification. You can also opt to complete this degree as a Master of Science.

The coursework consists of 30 hours, out of which 24 Hrs are Teaching Field Courses and 6 Hrs are Advisor-approved Education Courses.

Tuition Fee: $535 per credit hour


#12 – Kennesaw State University

Master's in Early Childhood Education Online



The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education online is designed for candidates who are already certified and are practicing P-5 teachers who wish to continue to learn more about the Early Childhood Education field and improve their practice. The program allows certified teachers in Elementary education (P-5) to earn their M.Ed. in 13 months while continuing their teaching career.

The program is delivered in an entirely online or mostly face-to-face delivery method; students choose which format they prefer. The program of study schedule is designed to coincide with the public school calendar and is provided in advance so teachers can coordinate educational and personal commitments with program requirements.

The complete program is 36 credit hours, and these are some of the sample courses: Diversity and Global Education, Integrated Models of Instruction, Trends and Issues in Science for Early Childhood Education, Essentials of Technology Strategies and Skills.

Tuition Fee: $588 per credit hour


#11 – Mercer University

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education



The 30-semester hour Master of Education in Early Childhood Education online program is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of currently certified educators in grades preK-5, and focuses on leadership development, advocacy for all learners, best practices in pedagogy, and applied research skills.

Upon completion of the program, students will be prepared to:
  • Understand the social, behavioral, emotional, cognitive and physical characteristics and needs of young children and how these factors apply to the creation of supportive and engaging learning environments for early childhood students
  • Design, implement and evaluate an integrated, developmentally appropriate curriculum to meet the social, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs of the young child
  • Demonstrate competency in developing, implementing and evaluating a broad spectrum of formative and summative assessment strategies

This program can be completed in 12-16 months.

Tuition Fee: $596 per credit hour


#10 – West Chester University

Online MEd in Early Childhood Education



The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education is an online, advanced program of study designed to prepare individuals for leadership positions in the field as teachers or administrators. The accomplished teachers track is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of in-service, certified teachers. The program administrators track is focused on developing the leadership skills of child-care administrators and primary-level principals. Students in either track will take the same eight core courses and then two additional courses based on their track. All candidates will take the capstone course to complete the program.

Sample courses include Foundations of Special Education, Teaching-Learning: Theory to Practice, Digital Media Production and Storytelling, and Language, Learning And Literacy.

Tuition Fee: $825 per credit hour


#9 – University of North Dakota

Master's in Early Childhood Education Online



The University of North Dakota's online Master of Science (MS) in Early Childhood Education is a non-licensing degree that prepares professional teachers and leaders to address the educational needs of young children, ages 0 to 8. The online MS in Early Childhood Education program is a 32-credit program, that combines theory and research with practical experience. You will begin with the belief that the child is a born learner. Therefore, as a teacher, you must be a careful and open-minded observer who develops curriculum with the child in mind.

As a graduate of the online master's program, you will have advanced skills and knowledge to:

  • encourage the child's natural curiosity and exploration of the environment.
  • develop an understanding of human diversity and recognize its value in a community of learners.
  • create supportive and productive learning environments for children, teachers, parents, and support staff.

Tuition Fee: $404.06 per credit hour


#8 – University of Dayton

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education and Advocacy



University of Dayton's Early Childhood Education and Advocacy online program requires students to earn 36 or 37 credits. The curriculum features graduate leadership coursework, a master's core, and strand options, which include early childhood leadership and early childhood advocacy. The early childhood leadership strand consists of coursework in early childhood program and personnel management; curriculum instruction; regulations, licensing, and law in early care education; and managing finances and marketing. The early childhood advocacy strand features coursework in curriculum instruction; advocacy in early care and education leadership; and collaborating with families, professionals, and agencies. Two of these courses are considered workshops.

The concentration in early childhood leadership and advocacy is ideal for experienced professionals, such as program administrators, supervisors, teacher leaders, and other professionals who work in careers that advocate for young children and their families. All coursework is available online in a part-time format. On-site courses are also available.

Tuition Fee: $626 per credit hour


#7 – University of Alabama

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education



The University of Alabama – Birmingham's School of Education is vested in academic excellence and research, administering programs that prepare educators to enhance P-12 education in the state and the world. UAB's 31- to 34-credit master's of education in early childhood education online prepares graduates for careers as teachers in preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school. The licensure program, offered in hybrid and online formats for flexibility, is taught by renowned faculty in teacher education. Focus areas for this online master's in early childhood education program include developmental reading, primary math methods, teaching pedagogy, curriculum development in elementary, and early childhood education. Teacher certification coursework includes teaching N-6 math, science, and social studies; reading assessment and evaluation, and current issues in education.

The school also offers its 49 to 58 credit Alternative Master's Program for learners without certification (and who hold a bachelor's degree that is not in education).

Tuition Fee: $626 – Resident | $1167 – Non-resident


#6 – University of Missouri – Columbia

Master's in Early Childhood Education Online



University of Missouri's online master's in early childhood education can help you better design, implement and evaluate educational services for children from birth through age 8, especially those with special needs and those with challenging behaviors. If you want to advance or recharge your teaching career, this may be the degree for you.

Requiring 30 credit hours of required coursework, University of Missouri's master's in early childhood education online teaches students how to design and implement developmental programs for children at various age. Its emphases are special education and atypical behaviors. Students typically take one or two classes in each of the three semesters and may finish the degree in two years.

This program emphasizes

  • Working with diverse groups of children and families
  • Working with children with disabilities, including autism
  • Implementing appropriate assessment methods
  • Creating inclusive classrooms

Tuition Fee: $433.37 per credit hour (including other fees)


#5 – Liberty University

Online Master's in Education – Curriculum & Instruction



Liberty University's online master's in education focuses on preparing students to be K-12 education leaders through various cognates in subjects including early childhood education, elementary education, and history. Courses in the program include current issues in early childhood education, curriculum and methods for early childhood, behavior management, and leadership and supervision in education.

Students must complete 36 credit hours in the general program, or 48 in the school counseling concentration. Up to 50% of course credits may be transferred from another regionally accredited institution. Applicants must provide a minimum GPA of 3.0 from previous undergraduate studies. Students with a master's degree or at least 12 graduate credits may earn acceptance into the program based on their graduate performance. Online courses take students eight weeks to complete, delivered asynchronously in the virtual classroom. Most students complete the program in four semesters, taking four classes in each term.

Tuition Fee: $565 per credit hour


#4 – Arizona State University

Online Master's of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (Early Childhood)



This online MEd program at Arizona State University focuses on meeting the educational, social, and emotional needs of children from birth through third grade. The program consists of 10 courses, each delivered online over seven and a half weeks. This includes practicum placement which must be completed in person, as well as an applied project course. ASU offers six start dates per year, allowing students the flexibility to take courses tailored to their schedule. Basic technical requirements include only a computer and internet access. Students can access technical support 24/7.

Through online coursework, applied activities and in-person clinical experiences, the program will equip you with specialized skills and advanced knowledge in early childhood pedagogy, community collaboration, technology, administration, policy analysis, and advocacy.

The MEd in early childhood education has two offerings:

  • MEd with Certification (45 credit hours)
  • MEd (30 credit hours)

Tuition Fee: $670 per credit hour


#3 – Georgia Southern University

Online Master's in Early Childhood Studies



Georgia Southern University's Master of Education in Early Childhood Education is a fully online, 36-credit program for candidates who hold a bachelor's and are eligible for a Georgia level-four certificate in ECE, or those who possess or are eligible for, a Georgia Certificate of Eligibility for an Induction Certificate in ECE. Students in this master's in early childhood education program learn developmentally appropriate practices and are immersed in field experiences working with diverse student populations.

Study areas in GSU's master's in early childhood education online program include curriculum and instruction, learning theories and application, educational research, and specialized courses in math, science, social studies, and language arts. The program's culminating course is the implementation of learned theory into practice in a P-5 classroom setting and GSU's curriculum, delivered via the Desire2Learn platform, is approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and meets its certification upgrade requirements.

Tuition Fee: $410 per credit hour


#2 – Removed by Editor


#1 – Clemson University

MEd in Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood) Online



The Clemson Master of Education in Teaching and Learning is a 100% online graduate program for current PK-12 educators. The rich, engaging curriculum will prepare you to advance your professional standing in just 18 months. Students have the option of personalizing their experience by selecting from one of three specialization areas: STEAM, Experiential Learning for Early Childhood, or Instructional Coaching.

The M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning is an entirely online degree comprised of 30 credit hours of coursework. Students must maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher in their coursework. The M.Ed. program is composed of two elements:

  • Core pedagogical coursework (18 hours)
  • Specialization courses (12 hours)

Distance learners complete online courses asynchronously, provided they first complete an orientation module for new students. Students can complete the program entirely online. Tuition rates remain the same, regardless of the state of residence.

Tuition Fee: $460 per credit hour


This concludes our ranking of the Top 25 Best Online Master's in Early Childhood Education. Thanks for checking it out!

Related Rankings: