Earning a master’s in early childhood education prepares graduates to supervise those who educate young children between the ages of two and six years of age. An online master’s in early childhood education enables individuals to prepare for such a career at a distance and on their own schedule. While this degree can be utilized to land teaching positions in childcare or preschool settings, most choose to pursue a master’s in early childhood education online focus their career in curriculum development, administration, and other high-level education leadership roles. When individuals achieve this master’s degree, it signifies that they have gained expertise in preschool curriculum design, teaching methods for infants or toddlers, advanced child psychology, and cognitive development of young learners.
Thanks to the advancements in technology and the rising popularity of virtual classrooms, graduate students now have the freedom to pursue a Master’s in Early Childhood Education online from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. Rather than attending a traditional brick and mortar program, online degrees provide students with the flexibility and convenience needed to complete coursework during a busy schedule filled with family or work obligations. In addition to flexible scheduling, students in online courses have the advantage of participating in smaller class sizes, high degrees of student interaction with peers and instructors, and increased exposure to online multimedia for learning.
Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs
For those who have chosen the logical step towards furthering an educational career online, it is important to choose a program that has been nationally recognized in the rankings and accredited to ensure the highest level of quality education. We compiled a list of schools offering advanced degrees in special education from College Navigator, and then narrowed our list to include only schools offering an online master’s in special education. From that list of schools, we focused on those recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), a nationally recognized indicator of a quality early childhood program. We then ranked our top programs in order of average graduate tuition cost based on information on College Navigator. Below is our list of the top 10 best online master’s degrees in early childhood education.
#10 – Nova Southeastern University – North Miami Beach, Florida
Master of Science in Education with a Specialization in Preschool Education
Average Graduate Tuition: $16,760/year
Nova Southeastern University offers an online MS degree with a specialization in preschool education. The program trains individuals how to effectively work with children from birth through age four using developmentally appropriate teaching techniques. The program includes an applied professional experience component which allows students in their final semester to work in an early childhood setting and maintain a file of their students’ work, journal about their experience, and use a variety of assessment tools to demonstrate student achievement as it relates to state educational standards. The program can be completed entirely online, with no residency requirement. Coursework covers important areas such as the needs of children with disabilities, appropriate curriculum in multicultural settings, and literacy development.
#9 – Mercy College – Dobbs Ferry, New York
Early Childhood Education Master’s Online
Average Graduate Tuition: $14,904/year
The online M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Mercy College is a 39-credit hour program teaches students how to work with children from birth through 2nd grade. Students who complete the program are prepared for New York State certification. Through coursework, field experience, and clinical practice, students benefit from a well-rounded curriculum that prepares them for a career working with children. Additional certificate options are available including Early Childhood-Birth to Grade 2, Early Childhood-Birth to Grade 2 and Childhood Education-Grades 1 – 6 (Dual Certification), and Early Childhood-Birth to Grade 2, Childhood Education-Grades 1 – 6, with Students with Disabilities (Triple Certification). Students can complete required coursework to earn their initial certification and can earn their permanent certification after meeting work experience requirements.
#8 – Concordia University – River Forest, Illinois
Online Master of Art in Early Childhood Education
Average Graduate Tuition: $14,328/year
The Online Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education is designed for early childhood professionals with at least two years of work experience in the field. Students come from a wide variety of child education settings including both public and private childcare centers, schools, community based education settings, and organizations which help children and families. The program is 30 credit hours and can be completed in one to two years of study. Students can pursue an endorsement in Special Education and/or English as a Second Language. Coursework covers the latest trends and issues in early childhood education, how to work with diverse learners, and multicultural communities. The capstone experience for this online master’s program is a culminating project to demonstrate knowledge and application of NAEYC advanced standards.
#7 – Capella University – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education
Average Graduate Tuition: $14,175/year
Capella University features an online master’s degree in early childhood education with ten week courses and a liberal credit transfer policy. Students complete coursework in psychology, family engagement, teaching strategies, and learning outcomes. This 46-credit hour program can be completed in less than two years, with several start dates throughout the year which allow students to begin the program when it is most convenient. A practicum experience is required as part of this program so students can demonstrate their skills and knowledge in a real classroom setting.
#6 – Northern Arizona University – Flagstaff, Arizona
Early Childhood Education MEd Online
Average Graduate Tuition: $8,691/year
The online master’s in early childhood education from Northern Arizona University is designed for working early childhood professionals who want to develop additional classroom and leadership skills. Students can select from three different emphasis areas including Early Childhood Teacher, Early Childhood Leadership, or Early Childhood National Board Preparation. This 30-credit hour program includes an optional field experience (depending on area of emphasis), and coursework can be completed entirely online. Graduates of the program are prepared for successful employment as a curriculum specialist, preschool teacher, or childcare administrator.
#5 – West Chester University – West Chester, Pennsylvania
Master of Education in Early Childhood Education Online
Average Graduate Tuition: $8,460/year
West Chester University features an online M.Ed. in early childhood education that is ideal for professionals who want to climb the career ladder into leadership positions. Students select from either the accomplished teacher track or the program administration track. The accomplished teacher track teaches students advanced skills and training beneficial to teachers who want to excel in the classroom. The program administration track offers coursework for professionals who want to become administrators. The program is comprised of 10 courses, eight core courses and two specialty courses that depend on the program track selected. At the end of the program, students complete a final capstone course looking at the researcher role of an early childhood professional. All courses can be completed online.
#4 – Youngstown State University – Youngstown, Ohio
Master of Science in Education, Early Childhood Education Advanced Teacher Education Program Online
Average Graduate Tuition: $8,280/year
The Advanced Teacher Education Program in early childhood education from Youngstown State University is an innovative program offering students the opportunity to become advanced teachers in an ECE classroom setting. Students complete 33 credit hours of instruction that includes both core courses and specialty courses. Students can select 18 credit hours of specialty coursework that includes literacy, research, social issues, pedagogy in math and science, curriculum, and intervention concepts. Several courses have been approved by Quality Matters, a nationally recognized review process that validates the quality of specific online courses. Throughout the program, students submit an E-Portfolio with each course to showcase their work. Students have six years to complete the program.
#3 – East Tennessee State University – Johnson City, Tennessee
Online Master of Art in Early Childhood Education
Average Graduate Tuition: $7,812/year
East Tennessee State University features a cohort model online master’s degree in early childhood education. Students attend a one day on campus orientation at the start of the program, and the rest of the coursework is completed online. Students in the cohort complete two courses each semester and can complete the program in just two years of study. While the program does not lead to licensure, coursework does meet criteria for an add-on license in Pre-K through grade three for those who already have another teaching license. Out of state students can also receive the same great low graduate tuition rate for this online program.
#2 – University of Colorado – Denver, Colorado
MA, Early Childhood Education Online
Average Graduate Tuition: $6,516/year
The University of Colorado offers an online early childhood education master’s degree program with three different areas of concentration. Students can choose between a concentration in Administration and Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, and Teaching and Learning. While most coursework can be completed online, students are required to come to campus for three to five days each June for a summer seminar. Coursework covers areas related to child growth and development, learning, family dynamics, and culturally responsible practices. Faculty are highly experienced in the field and are familiar with the latest trends in the field of early childhood education.
#1 – Northwestern State University of Louisiana – Natchitoches, Louisiana
Master of Education in Early Childhood Education Online
Average Graduate Tuition: $5,738/year
The online master’s degree in early childhood education from Northwestern State University of Louisiana is the only online program of its kind in the state. The program is tailored to meet the needs of certified teachers who want to deepen their knowledge working with children and families. The program features a practicum experience which aligns with the standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Coursework covers trends and issues within ECE, positive relationships, educational research, and learning space design. All coursework for this program is available online.