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 5 online master’s for Early Childhood Education programs. For more generalized information regarding distance learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges.
Featured Online Schools
Rating and Ranking Methodology
- 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
- 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)
- 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 5. 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.
#1 – Clemson University
MEd in Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood) Online
POINTS – 15
Clemson University’s Master of Education in Teaching and Learning serves those who already hold teaching positions, and suits educators from preschool to high school. It does not lead to initial teacher certification, but those who already have teacher certification can complete the program within 18 months, enabling them to advance their careers quickly.
In addition to its 18 hours of core coursework, this program offers three tracks, depending on a teacher’s preferred area of expertise, and does not offer a general education degree option. Available tracks include STEAM, Experiential Learning for Early Childhood, and Instructional Coaching. Each track includes four courses, for a total of 12 credit hours of work. The school limits how many students can be in each track at the same time.
Clemson University does not offer a separate in-state tuition or reciprocity tuition. All students pay the same tuition and fees, regardless of where they live.
Tuition Fee:$460 per credit hour
#2 – Georgia Southern University
Online Master’s in Early Childhood Studies
POINTS – 14
Georgia Southern University’sMaster of Education in Early Childhood Educationis 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
#3 – Arizona State University
Online Master’s of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (Early Childhood)
POINTS – 13
This online MEd program at Arizona State Universityfocuses 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
#4 – Liberty University
Online Master’s in Education – Curriculum & Instruction
POINTS – 13
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
#5 – University of Missouri – Columbia
Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online
POINTS – 12
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)
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