Early childhood education (ECE) programs cover education theory and instructional methods for children through age eight. An online master's in early childhood education provides instruction on how to teach children from preschool through second grade. Students 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 degree prepares aspiring teachers to lead children as they develop cognitive and social skills.
This ranking lists our picks for the top five online master's in early childhood education programs. For more generalized information about distance learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges.
Featured Online Early Childhood Education Schools
Rankings in Master's in Early Childhood Education
Our editors started with a list of 35 colleges and then used our customized ranking methodology to shortlist the top five. We narrowed these initial findings by applying 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 and from each school’s website to apply the rating and ranking methodology above. In the event of a tie, the school with the lower tuition receives a higher ranking.
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. The degree does not lead to initial teacher certification, but those who already hold teacher certification can complete the program within 18 months, allowing them to advance their careers quickly.
In addition to its 18 hours of core coursework, the program offers three tracks, depending on a teacher’s preferred area of expertise. The program 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. The school limits how many students can be enrolled in each track at the same time.
Clemson University does not offer separate in-state tuition or reciprocity tuition. All students pay the same tuition and fees, regardless of residency.
Georgia Southern University offer an online master of education in early childhood education. The 36-credit program admits candidates who hold a bachelor’s and are eligible for a Georgia level-four certificate in ECE. People who possess or are eligible for a Georgia certificate of eligibility for an induction certificate in ECE may also apply. Students in this master’s in early childhood education program learn developmentally appropriate practices. They complete field experiences working with diverse student populations.
Study areas in GSU’s master’s in early childhood education online program include curriculum and instruction and learning theories and application. Learners also study educational research and specialized courses in math, science, social studies, and language arts. The program culminates with a course that puts learned theory into practice in a P-5 classroom setting. GSU’s curriculum, delivered via the Desire2Learn platform, is approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and meets its certification upgrade requirements.
The online M.Ed. 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 7.5 weeks. This includes a 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. Students need a computer and internet access. Learners can access technical support 24/7.
Through online coursework, applied activities, and clinical experiences, the program equips students with specialized skills. Learners gain advanced knowledge in early childhood pedagogy, community collaboration, administration, policy analysis, and advocacy.
The M.Ed. in early childhood education has two offerings:
- M.Ed. with certification (45 credit hours)
- M.Ed. (30 credit hours)
Liberty University’s online master’s in education focuses on preparing students to become K-12 education leaders. The degree covers 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, and behavior management. Learners also take a leadership and supervision in education course.
Students must complete 36 credit hours in the general program, or 48 credit hours in the school counseling concentration. Learners may transfer up to 50% of course credits from another regionally accredited institution. Applicants must provide a minimum 3.0 GPA 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. Asynchronous online courses take students eight weeks to complete. Most students finish the program in four semesters, taking four classes each term.
University of Missouri’s online master’s in early childhood education can help enrollees better design, implement, and evaluate educational services for children from birth through age 8. Students gain skills to work with children with special needs. Professionals seeking to advance or recharge their teaching career may benefit from earning this degree.
Requiring 30 credit hours of required coursework, University of Missouri’s master’s in early childhood education online degree teaches students how to design and implement developmental programs for children at various ages. It emphasizes 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.
The program focuses on teaching students how to work with diverse groups of children, families, and children with disabilities, including autism. Students also learn about implementing appropriate assessment methods and creating inclusive environments.