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The 10 Best Online Masters in Early Childhood Education - Early Childhood Education Degrees
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The 10 Best Online Masters in Early Childhood Education

Much as buildings need a foundation, the early years of a child’s education are foundational for all that is to come. Lifelong developmental trajectories, passions, and self esteem are instilled from a very early age. The developments students go through in their early years are also fascinating in and of themselves. Whether it is the discovery of self and how we differ from others, or learning through the natural environment about the way our world is ordered, these years have been cited by scholars such as Jean Piaget as some of the most important years for learning. They are also very unique, and need accordingly unique instruction for children to get the most out of them. Over the years, our understanding of teaching to meet the needs of these unique learners has grown and has become researched and cataloged into what is now considered “best practice” instruction for children ages 0-8. As an early childhood educator, it is vital to understand best practice and how it is implemented in the 21st-century classroom. The following programs are our top 10 picks for best Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education. They will focus on curriculum development suitable for young learners, research practices, classroom arrangement, advocacy and so much more. We love these programs for their high value, affordable pricing and flexibility, as well as their current up-to-date curricula that will ensure that you stand apart and advance in the field of early childhood education.

Methodology

  • Affordability (1/3): the estimated out-of-state tuition per credit hour rate (if out-of-state is applicable).
  • Flexibility (1/3): the number of flexibility-granting components of the program, including different specializations, prior experience credit, accelerated courses, ability to take synchronous or asynchronous coursework, and more.
  • Academic Prestige (1/3): the accreditation status of a university, as well as accolades from other prominant ranking sites and educational organizations.

1. Arizona State University

Arizona State University is a public research university that is a trail blazer when it comes to online education and has five campuses located across the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. U.S. News ranked Arizona State #1 for Most Innovative School (above Stanford and MIT!). Additionally, it ranks 61st for top public schools and 129th in the nation for the best graduate school. A number of both faculty and students are Fulbright scholars. Other accolades include their top accounting programs, international business, high school counselor degree, management degree, undergraduate engineering programs, and many more. We love ASU for it’s internationally recognized Nobel Prize-winning faculty, great value, and endless flexible online opportunities. The online degrees are vast and unique and including fields of study like anthropology, communications, global leadership, social policy, and geography. The Wall Street Journal recognizes ASU for the quality of graduates that emerge from their programming.

Arizona State University offers an online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction appropriate for individuals interested in learning about an appropriate educational approach for infants, and children in grades K-3 . The program is just ten classes, courses are 7.5 weeks long, and the entire degree requires 30 credit hours for completion. Individuals who wish to add a certification are required to fulfill 45 credit hours. Students engage with the material through online coursework, applied practices, and in-person clinical experience. All courses are completed online, but the practicum placement experience is completed in person (close to the student’s home). The core focus of this program is to equip candidates with advanced knowledge in early childhood pedagogy, technology, administration, and advocacy. This program is presented through the widely renowned Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College which recently placed 11 among the best graduate programs for education in the nation, according to U.S. News . The cost for this accelerated world-class education degree is just $565 per credit hour.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $565
  • Flexibility-granting components: Two offerings, with or without certification

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2. Concordia University Saint Paul


Concordia University- Saint Paul is a private comprehensive liberal arts university that enrolls 4,380 students. There is a student-faculty ratio of 15:1 and over 80% of professors have the highest level of degree in their field. The regional ranking for Concordia University is 103 according to U.S. News . The Higher Learning Commission accredits Concordia University to offer a wide variety of programs for traditional and non-traditional learners, and at the comprehensive level- you can enroll in everything from an online associate’s degree to an online Ph.D! Ninety-two percent of students are offered jobs upon completion of an online degree program through CSP. The affordable tuition rates contribute heavily to student success rates as well as their high level of academic prestige and diverse welcoming student body. According to G.I. Jobs CSP is registered as a “”Military Friendly” institution.

Concordia University offers a Master of Arts in Education with an Emphasis in Early Childhood Education. This program is designed for busy professionals who are looking to advance their career. We like the flexibility afforded through this program through which students are able to attend classes on their own schedule. Each class is 7 weeks long and the total credit hour requirement is 33. This is a non-licensure teaching program, meaning the best candidates for this program are employed or involved in areas of education. Alternatively, students may pursue a shorter licensure program for their specific state after the masters program. The aim of this course of study is to teach its students how to research and implement best practices for early childhood education. The curriculum provides the learner with opportunities to not only engage with research but also curriculum development, play theory and applications, language development, ethics and more. The program finishes with a 3-credit-hour research capstone experience. The cost for this program is $395 per credit hour.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $395
  • Flexibility-granting components: Accelerated courses

3. Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University (KSU) is a public university located in Kennesaw and is part of the University System of Georgia. KSU currently enrolls more than 33,000 students and is fully accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools. Amongst other things, KSU is known for its vast options online, offering 18 degrees: 6 bachelors, 11 masters and one doctorate. The bachelor’s programs available consist of a bachelor of business administration in information security and assurance, a bachelor’s in business administration management, bachelor’s in business administration marketing, Bachelor of Science in nursing, and others. The graduate level programming includes a master of business administration, masters of education in educational leadership, Master of Science in international policy management, a master of education in special education and other. Historically, Kennesaw is known as the staging ground for the Great Locomotive Chase and was cited by Family Circle magazine as one of the nation’s 10 best towns for families.

Kennesaw State University offers a fully online M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. This program is suitable for individuals who are currently certified early childhood educators and are looking to enhance their specialization with graduate level study. Each course is 8 weeks long and 3-credit hours. The online programs at Kennesaw State are just as rigorous and offered at the same quality as those offered on-campus. Kennesaw State’s highly regarded faculty are the same faculty as those teaching the on-campus program. The online program utilizes a cohort and is designed to coincide with the public school calendar. This program takes 13 months to complete, one of the faster options of those surveyed. In addition to a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education KSU makes the following endorsements available: Reading, ESOL, Gifted, Online Teaching, and Teacher Leadership. The cost of this program is $390 per credit hour.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $390
  • Flexibility-granting components: Number of endorsements

4. Mercer University

Mercer University is the oldest university in Georgia and is located in Macon, Georgia. Recently, U.S. News recognized Mercer University as one of the top universities for undergraduate research and creative projects. Mercer enrolls more than 8,500 students in 12 colleges and schools and has a satellite campus in Atlanta as well as a School of Medicine located in Savannah. Mercer is a private church-affiliated university that harbors respect for religious diversity and is rooted in the liberal arts. Class size is smaller averaging at about 15 students per class. There are no teaching assistants at Mercer University. 90 percent of the faculty has doctoral degrees, or the highest advanced degree in their field. In addition, Mercer University is considered to have one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. Mercer offers 6 programs online 2 bachelor’s degrees and 4 master’s degrees.

Mercer University offers a 30-semester hour M.Ed. in Early Childhood Development. This program is designed for certified educators and focuses on grades K-5. Those enrolled will enrich their teaching practices through advanced knowledge of leadership development, early childhood education, best practices in pedagogy, advocacy for all learners and research. Students also have an opportunity to gain an endorsement in the following areas: Autism, ESOL, Mathematics EcE, Reading or Science ECE. Candidates will learn how to design and implement developmentally appropriate curricula to meet the cognitive needs of all students. The curriculum also includes social, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive development of early learners. This program is 12- 16 months in length and is divided by 16-week semesters.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $590
  • Flexibility-granting components: Accelerated

5. Portland State University

Portland State University is a public research institution founded in 1946 that enrolls over 27,000 students. It was originally established as a post-secondary institution for World War II veterans. Today, Portland State represents a highly-diverse student body. The average classroom size is 27 and the student-to-faculty ratio is 17:1. The Northwest Commission on College and Universities accredits Portland State to offer bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degrees and professional certificates. According to U.S. News Portland State is the 9th most innovative school in the nation. One innovative highlight is their “four year degree guarantee” program that is a signed agreement for a four-year graduation time. If that agreement is not met, the remaining tuition is free. Additionally, this adaptable institution supports its students through a commitment to diversity, equality, research experience, community engagement, and sustainability. This is evinced not only through freshman retention but the vast number of programs both on-campus and online that rank highly each year. Other fields ranking highly include, business, criminal justice, and social work.

Portland State University offers a master’s degree in Early Childhood: Inclusive Education and Curriculum and Instruction. This unique program is taught jointly by both the department of Curriculum and Instruction as well as the Special Education Department. We like the flexibility offered through this program. In fact, individuals may select from the following concentrations: Constructivism in Early Childhood Education which is described as a pedagogical approached based on the works of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky and explore the child’s interaction with their learning environment. The other two areas of concentrations are: Infant/ Toddler Mental Health, and Early Childhood Special Education. U.S. News ranks Portland State University’s graduate education programs among the best in the nation. The program cost is $411 per credit hour and requires 45 credit hours for completion.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $411
  • Flexibility-granting components: Number of specialziations

6. Northwestern College


Northwestern College is a private Christian liberal arts college that was founded in 1882. Set in Rural Iowa, there are just over 1,200 students enrolled. Students benefit from a small classroom size and student-to-faculty ratio of just 11:1. According to U.S. News Northwestern College is ranked as the 6th best college in the Midwest. The Princeton Review ranks it as the best in the Midwest. In fact, Northwestern College is regionally accredited- the highest level of accreditation- by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools to offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Though a small institution, students still choose from over 40 majors, 22 clubs, 16 intercollegiate athletic teams, music, and theater. The degree-offerings are well-rounded and include sports management, business administration, and education. Online, Northwestern offers a variety of MEd. programs and endorsements. Most online degrees are designed for completion in 2 years or less and are flexible and affordable.

Northwestern College offers a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education that may be completed in 2 years or less. This program is designed for professionals who need to juggle both work and school and is compatible with the time table of an employed teacher. Additionally, as this program is approved by the TEACH Grant, first-time teachers who are looking to fill high-need fields in low-income areas may also qualify for a free master’s degree program. The core curriculum includes trends in 21st century education, curriculum and assessment, teaching with technology, research methods and a capstone experiences. The early childhood emphasis allows for an additional 15 credit hours in advanced child development, early literacy and more. The total credit hour requirement for this degree is 33. This is also our most affordable option costing only $305 per credit hour.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $305
  • Flexibility-granting components: N/A

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7. Capella University


Capella University is a for-profit institution of higher learning based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The majority of degree offerings are presented online. Capella University offers competency-based education meaning that student may accelerate through programmings based on a competency check list, the curriculum is built by experts directly in the student’s profession and there is high percentage of alumni success. Flexible programming means that online education is offered in two formats: the GuidedPath program and the FlexPath program. Guided requires you to meet set deadlines and mirrors more of an on-campus approach where FlexPath is self-paced and the pace will determine the price. Each path determines different payment options. There are currently over 37,000 student that attend Capella where nearly 80% of the student-body is female and the vast majority are professionals attending part-time. Capella makes it their mission to address the disconnect between academia and real-work experience- suppling career-ready programs to help its graduate make life-changing advancements upon graduate.

Capella University offers a M.S. in Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Education. We like this program for its accelerated courses and high quality comprehensive program. This program requires 46 quarter credits for completion where each quarter is a 3 month period followed by a three-week break. Each course is just 10 weeks in length. The core courses includes foundational material like assessment and instruction, curriculum development, classroom management, and research. Specialization classes include infant and child development, the early childhood learning environment, early childhood literacy and advocacy. This program includes 6 quarter credits of and eduction practicum experience. This accelerated program also has a generous transfer allowance- students may transfer up to 12 classes into this specialization. The cost for this program is $444 per credit hour.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $444
  • Flexibility-granting components: Accelerated courses

8. University of North Dakota


The University of North Dakota is a public space grant university located in Grand Forks. This flagship university enrolls 14,951 students and offers over 225 degree programs. The student body represents all 50 states and over 85 countries across the globe. According to U.S. News the University of North Dakota is the among the 202nd best national universities, 110 top public school and ranks highly for both its business and engineering program. The average classroom size is 24, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 21:1. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accredits UND to offer over 3,000 courses of study that includes 40 online degree programs and 80 graduate education programs. Research is a central focus and the university has a reputation for its research in aerospace, health sciences, energy, and the environment. Additionally, UND offers the only schools for medicine and law in the state. The Oscher Lifelong Learning Institute at UND offers fantastic student support and programming through their distance learning programs. In fact, UND has been offering distance learning for over a century- starting with classes given by written correspondence.

The University of North Dakota offers a M.S. in Early Childhood Education. This program requires 32 credit hours and will take a minimum of 2 years to complete. The Center For Online Education lists this program as one of the top 5 online master’s degree programs. This is a non-licensing degree program that prepares professional teachers to become experts in the educational needs of learners ages 0-8. All students receive in-state tuition regardless of residency. The program curriculum delves into creating appropriate learning environments for young learners, understanding diversity, curriculum design, assessment, developing community, and addressing the needs of exceptional learners. All students will engage with a teaching practicum in their local community. The cost for this program is $410 per credit hour.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $410
  • Flexibility-granting components: N/A

9. California University of Pennsylvania


California University of Pennsylvania is a public university that was established in 1852. It is located in the rural town of California, Pennsylvania. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredits California University of Pennsylvania to offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Currently there are 7,854 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 21:1. Through their 14 schools, Cal U offers over 100 undergraduate majors and minors, and 50 graduate degree programs. In addition to a vast range of degree programs Cal U offers access to internship opportunities through their internship center, study abroad programming, and fantastic academic support. The Princeton Review rates Cal U as one the most affordable options for higher education in Pennsylvania. The U.S. News ranks Cal U as a “Best for Veterans” university. In fact, Cal U offers a Military tuition discount program, veteran benefits as well as military tuition assistance and more. The Global Online program at Cal U offers over 75 online degree programs that are affordable and accelerated.

California University of Pennsylvania offers a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. There are three program option: ECE Master’s plus Certificate, ECE Master’s only, and ECE Certificate. We like the flexibility these three tracks have to offer. Graduates have the flexibility to enter into the classroom setting, work in Head Start Program, child care as well as parental and family support settings. The curriculum examines early childhood curriculum and assessment, advanced childhood development as well as methods of research, advanced psychology of learning, and more. This program requires 39 credit hours for completion. The Master’s only requires 30, and the certificate requires 24 credit hours for completion. The cost of the program is $493 per credit hour.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $493
  • Flexibility-granting components: Three program options

10. Grand Canyon University


Grand Canyon University is a for-profit Christian research university that is based in Phoenix, Arizona. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. There are eight colleges that offer academic programming in areas like business, education, nursing and health care, fine arts and production, theology, and doctoral studies. Online, Grand Canyon University offers an impressive number of degrees that range from the bachelor’s to doctoral level including a PhD in psychology among several others. There are also a large number of theology degrees offered completely online. We like Grand Canyon University for its accelerated online programming, and affordable flexible offerings.

Grand Canyon University offers a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. This program is suitable for those seeking licensure as well as those already holding certification. The total degree requirements are 44 credit hours. Students engage in a comprehensive curriculum that includes early literacy development, managing the learning environment, teaching to exceptional learners, functional assessment, as well as student teaching for birth to preschool and K-3. The field experience exposes individuals to a variety of real-life teaching scenarios where students learn to work with students at varying developmental stages. This program takes a minimum of 27 months to complete and the cost is $515 per credit hour.

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  • Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $515
  • Flexibility-granting components: Accelerated courses
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