Top 24 Online Master’s Programs in Early Childhood Education

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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.

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Check them out below!

#24 – Pacific Oaks College

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education



The Pacific Oaks College master’s degree in Early Childhood Education deals with issues of bias and inclusion in early childhood education. Students learn the importance of collaborating with children and their families to build quality classroom experiences and develop a curriculum. They also study how to evaluate current research and trends in education to ensure they remain current on best practices.

Students can choose a general early childhood education degree or a specialization in trauma studies. The trauma studies specialization deals with common forms of trauma for young learners, such as family separation, death, and child abuse, and looks at ways these affect children and appropriate interventions for educators.

This program includes 30 credits of coursework. Full-time students can complete the degree in two years, though part-time students can choose to take up to four years. Those who want some face-to-face interaction can choose to take blended online and traditional courses at the school’s Pasadena campus.

Tuition Fee: $1,103 per credit hour

#23 – West Virginia University

Online Master’s in Elementary Education



West Virginia University’s Advanced Master of Arts in Elementary Education program best suits teachers in elementary or middle school settings. Those who enroll should already have teaching certification, as this program does not lead to licensure on its own. It covers classroom management, content, and curriculum development topics and assumes attendees already have a background in education.

Students in the West Virginia University advanced master’s program take nine courses. Some cover specific subject matter teaching, such as math instruction or social studies curriculum development. Others equip teachers with skills they can use in the context of any subject, such as cultural influences on curriculum. All students complete a capstone project regarding technology integration.

This program requires 30 total credit hours of coursework. Attendees can expect to pay $18,840 over the course of the program, as of 2019.

Tuition Fee: $594 per credit hour

#22 – Northwestern State University

Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online



Northwestern State University’s Master of Education in Early Childhood Education program addresses the standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It is also the state of Louisiana’s only degree of its kind, serving anyone who wants to work with children from infancy through age eight.

This program consists of 12 courses, most of which are only offered online during specific academic terms. As a result, the Northwestern State program has a mostly fixed progression of courses, though students have occasional flexibility within the program to choose different courses addressing similar issues. Students complete either a master’s thesis or a research project that seeks ways to improve a specific issue in a school setting.

To be admitted at Northwestern State University, students must submit documentation of a teaching license, official transcripts from their undergraduate education, and two letters of recommendation.

Tuition Fee: $475 per credit hour

#21 – Albany State University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education



Students who seek T-5 certification in Early Childhood Education can earn their degrees from Albany State University. This gives them the skills they need to work with children in preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school. Those who prefer roles beyond direct classroom instruction can instead go on to work in curriculum development, research, or administrative positions, using their skills as master teachers to improve education for many young people. The program also improves a teacher’s understanding of classroom technology, preparing them to implement technological solutions for learning issues.

This program requires students to complete 36 hours of coursework built around the Albany State University College of Education’s conceptual framework. Students must have a background in early childhood education before starting the program, though those who did not study the field for their undergraduate degrees can complete additional undergraduate courses before beginning the program.

Tuition Fee: $300 per credit hour

#20 – University of Toledo

MEd in Early Childhood Education Online




This online master’s degree program serves those who teach preschool, as well as childcare professionals and administrators in early learning organizations. The University of Toledo (UT) program does not lead to any kind of teaching licensure for those above three years of age, but instead builds familiarity with the principles of teaching young people.

The UT program’s philosophy centers on individualized, purposeful teaching. UT believes that learning initiatives should be tailored to each child, including those with disabilities that make it more difficult for them to learn. Likewise, it believes parents and other caregivers should be active participants in children’s learning processes.

The UT program lasts about two years, and requires 36 hours of coursework. Six of these hours require the completion of a thesis or project as a culminating activity, and twelve of these hours come from foundation coursework. Students work with their advisors to choose appropriate courses for the remaining 18 hours.

Tuition Fee: $548.58 per credit hour

#19 – SUNY – Albany

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education



SUNY University at Albany offers an approved teacher preparation program under the guidelines of the New York State Education Department. Not all students have to pursue this option, however, with some choosing to instead enroll in a non-certification version of the program. This approach suits those who want the degree for reasons other than teaching in New York, including those who do not hold New York residency.

This degree program requires students to complete 30 credits of coursework, including 27 credits of mandatory courses and one three-credit elective. All students learn about children’s literature, the role of literacy in society, and data-based decision making, as well as subject-specific instruction skills for courses like English, mathematics, and social science at the early childhood level. For the elective course, students can choose between topics like media literacy, language acquisition, and reading in a second language.

Tuition Fee: $ 603.01 per credit hour

#18 – Champlain College

Online MEd in Early Childhood Education



Champlain College serves educators already in the field with its online master’s in early childhood education. It encourages professionals to take the lessons they learn in the program and start applying them to their teaching and administrative duties immediately, and helps connect them with other early childhood educators in their area and beyond. Program participants share their insights with one another, enabling them to rapidly build skills in early childhood education. This program does not lead to a license in the field.

The Champlain program emphasizes observational skills. Teachers are encouraged to learn how to observe children playing on their own, rather than directing them to specific forms of play, and then use those insights to more effectively design lessons and motivate students.

Champlain University offers three specializations for early childhood educators. Students can take courses on teaching, special education, or administration in early childhood education.

Tuition Fee: $595 per credit hour

#17 – Portland State University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood: Inclusive Education



The non-licensure early childhood program at Portland State University focuses on inclusive education and curriculum development for children as old as eight. The program places its emphasis on childhood development, diversity, and culture as pillars of the educational experience for young people, and considers social justice a key element of education. The program requires 45 credits of coursework, and most students complete it within three years.

The Portland State program allows students to specialize. Students can choose a constructivism, infant-toddler mental health, or early childhood special education concentration. The constructivism specialization looks at young children as active participants in their learning, rather than just sponges for knowledge. Infant-toddler mental health students, meanwhile, learn mental health models that apply specifically to the very young. In the final concentration, early childhood special education, students learn about topics like the effects of culture on learning and early intervention methods.

Tuition Fee: $630 per credit hour

#16 – 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

#15 – 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

#14 – 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

#13 – 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

#12 – Auburn University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education



The Auburn University Early Childhood Education program focuses on children up through third grade, and suits educators working in preschools, kindergartens, and elementary schools. Teachers who pursue this master’s degree learn how to be advocates for their students, tailor their teaching to children’s developmental stages, and participate in curriculum development. They will work with a departmental advisor to find a set of courses that suits their professional needs.

This master’s degree requires 30 hours of coursework, and can be taken as an MS or M.Ed. degree, depending on a student’s needs. The M.Ed. program leads to recommendation for Alabama’s Class A professional educator certification, and has a stricter course selection than the MS. The MS’s greater flexibility, however, makes it a better fit for students who do not need Alabama teacher certification to achieve their professional goals, such as community educators, international students, or students who already satisfy teacher certification standards.

Tuition Fee: $535 per credit hour

#11 – Kennesaw State University

Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online



Kennesaw State University’s Master of Education in Early Childhood Education serves candidates who already teach students in grades 5 or earlier. This program can be finished in approximately 13 months, and will equip these teachers with the skills they need to improve their teaching and administrative activities. Students can choose a fully online option, or take coursework face-to-face as needed.

This program can also serve as a way for teachers who want additional endorsements to prove their knowledge. The Kennesaw program includes opportunities for endorsements for reading, teaching English to speakers of other languages, online teaching, and many others. These endorsements make teachers more marketable in a competitive environment.

Scheduling for this program coincides with public school scheduling. The schedule can also be found well in advance, making it easier for teachers to schedule their master’s degree obligations across from their obligations as teachers.

Tuition Fee: $588 per credit hour

#10 – Mercer University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education



Those hoping to advance their careers through a better understanding of pedagogical best practices and advocacy can turn to the Mercer University Master of Education in Early Childhood Education program. This program can be completed in less than 16 months, and provides educators with a better understanding of how children’s developmental stages affects appropriate curriculum choices.

This program requires the completion of 30 semester hours of coursework, including 12 hours devoted to professional studies. Professional studies courses cover topics like culture and diversity in the classroom, educational research, and current curriculum practices in the classroom.

The remaining courses in the program deal with specific subject matter areas, such as literacy, mathematics, and teaching of English to speakers of other languages. Students can also complete a clinical practicum, or learn about classroom environment management in early childhood education.

Tuition Fee: $596 per credit hour

#9 – West Chester University

Online MEd in Early Childhood Education



West Chester University’s early childhood education program prepares teachers to serve as leaders in the field, whether continuing in a teaching role or moving on to administrative positions. Students can choose between a program administrator track or an accomplished teacher track to more tightly focus in on the elements of the field that most engage them. In the program administrator track, students learn about small business management and leadership, while in the accomplished teacher track, students can choose a further specialization like literacy or educational technology.

The school’s most foundational course in early childhood education covers child development from pre-birth to eight years of age. Later courses in both options deal with the role of play in children’s learning, the impact of multiculturalism on education, and advocacy.

Regardless of option, this program takes 33 credits to complete. Students in both options must complete a capstone project.

Tuition Fee: $825 per credit hour

#8 – 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

#7 – 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

#6 – 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

#5 – 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)

#4 – 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

#3 – 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

#2 – 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

#1 – Clemson University

MEd in Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood) Online



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

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

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