When you look into the eyes of an early learner do you often wonder: what is she thinking? How can I reach this developing mind? You probably understand the value of play and the importance of setting up an engaging learner environment, but are you ready to step go deeper into your understanding though research and with a clear understanding of how to assess the early learner?
Earning an online master’s degree in early childhood education offers a multitude of benefits that extend well beyond the realm of academia. The convenience and flexibility of online learning allow aspiring educators to maintain a work-life balance while advancing their careers. This flexibility is particularly important for those who are currently working in the field or have family commitments.
An interdisciplinary early childhood education degree equips teachers with a deeper understanding of:
- child development
- curriculum development
This knowledge not only enhances their teaching skills but also opens doors to leadership roles within educational institutions.
An online master’s degree in early education often includes specialized courses that focus on:
- inclusive education
- diverse populations
- early literacy development
- the use of technology in the classroom
These topics are highly relevant in today’s educational landscape, making graduates well-prepared to meet the needs of young learners.
Career-wise, having a master’s in early childhood education can lead to increased earning potential and greater job opportunities. Many educational institutions, both public and private, value educators with advanced qualifications, making it easier to secure positions and advance in one’s career.
The sense of accomplishment and personal growth that comes with earning an online master’s in early childhood is immeasurable. Graduates in early childhood education have the privilege of positively impacting the lives of young children. They can help foster a lifelong love for learning and contribute to the future of society. In essence, an online master’s degree in early childhood education not only enhances professional prospects but also allows educators to play a vital role in shaping the next generation.
How Much Can I Make in Early Childhood Education?
Salary ranges for early childhood education professionals can vary significantly. The range is primarily dependent on two key factors: experience and education. Professionals with more years in the field and more knowledge tend to command higher salaries due to their expertise and ability to effectively manage classroom environments. Individuals with advanced degrees in early childhood education, such as master’s or doctoral degrees, are often better compensated. Employers are willing to pay them more since they bring specialized knowledge and leadership skills to their roles. In contrast, entry-level positions or roles with minimal experience and qualifications generally offer lower starting salaries. Ultimately, the combination of experience and education plays a pivotal role in determining the salary scale for early childhood education professionals.
Payscale.com suggests that individuals with a master’s degree in early childhood education can expect to see an average base salary of about $53,000/year. They report some of the highest paying jobs are:
- Executive Director (average salary $81,408)
- Education Manager (average salary $65,408)
- Child Care Director (average salary $52,459)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information on specific jobs in early childhood education. They report the median pay for a preschool teacher was $35,330/year in 2022. The typical entry level education required for this role is an associate’s degree, so teachers with a master’s degree can expect to be paid a higher wage. ECE professionals that pursue roles as kindergarten or elementary school teachers can expect to be paid a median wage of $61,620/year according to the BLS. These roles require a bachelor’s degree (and often a state-issued certification or license) which is reflected in the increased salary projection. Another popular role, preschool and childcare center director, has a median pay of $49,690/year. These roles also require a bachelor’s degree.
How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education?
The time it takes to earn an online master’s in early childhood education degree can vary depending on several factors, including the program’s structure and the student’s enrollment status. Typically, a full-time student can complete an online master’s program in early childhood education in about 18 months to two years. Part-time students who are balancing work or other commitments may take longer, usually between two to three years. Some universities also offer accelerated options that allow students to finish in as little as 12 to 18 months. Others offer flexible, self-paced programs that can be completed at the student’s preferred pace. Ultimately, the duration of the program is influenced by individual circumstances and program-specific requirements.
What are the Cheapest Online Graduate Programs in Early Childhood Education?
In today’s dynamic world, where opportunities abound, pursuing an advanced degree can be the key to unlocking exciting career prospects and personal growth. For those with a passion for nurturing young minds, an online program in early childhood education is a significant stepping stone. Yet, affordability plays a pivotal role in this journey. Fortunately, some of the cheapest online master’s degree options are also some of the best.
Quality education, especially in the realm of early childhood education, hinges on factors such as:
- well-designed curricula
- experienced faculty
- program accreditation
While there are many affordable online master’s programs available, one should not compromise on educational excellence. Affordability should not come at the cost of a comprehensive curriculum, seasoned instructors, and a holistic learning experience that equips educators with the skills to excel in their field.
Earning a degree without getting into a lot of debt is important. It’s not just about money, but also about making smart choices for the future. Graduating with minimal debt helps teachers focus on their passion for teaching, without financial stress.
The pursuit of the cheapest online masters degree programs in early childhood education highlights the desire for accessible and reasonably priced education. Nevertheless, it’s essential to underscore that affordability should never overshadow the importance of receiving a high-quality education. The objective isn’t merely to find the cheapest online master’s in education but to strike a harmonious balance between cost-effectiveness and educational excellence. By doing so, individuals can embark on a fulfilling journey towards a rewarding career in early childhood education, with optimism and enthusiasm, unburdened by financial constraints.
Ranking the Most Affordable Masters Degrees Online
We selected these graduate degree programs because we understand that as a teacher, when you are ready to advance in your field, the options presented must be affordable options. We also understand that today the classroom is a little different than what it once was and are pleased to present not only affordable online programs, but programs that also address the diversity present in the 21st century classroom; focus on strategies and best practice deeply rooted in research the blossoms into a full-fledged philosophy and practice of education that will truly answer that question of how to reach the developing mind of the early learner. If you are ready to advance in the field of early childhood education, we recommend taking a look at our top ten picks for Most Affordable Master’s in Early Childhood Education.
To select these top affordable online early childhood education degrees, we examined the following two valuable components:
- Affordable Out-of-State Tuition Rates Weighted for Percentage of National Students Available for In-State Tuition
- Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid
1.) Northwestern College – Orange City, Iowa
Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Program
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $6,120/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Northwestern College is a private Christian liberal arts college that was founded in 1882. Set in Rural Iowa, there are just over 1,600 students enrolled. Students benefit from a small classroom size and student-to-faculty ratio of just 15:1. 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 affordable since Northwestern College offers generous financial aid packages.
Northwestern College offers a Master of Education (MEd) in Early Childhood Education. The program is structured into 8-week courses and if students take taken two-at-a-time may be completed in just 2 years. This program is TEACH-grant compliant.
Students can complete their degree with 33 credit hours of coursework. Course offerings include:
- Advanced Child Development
- Educational Research Methods and Design
- Teaching Young Children with Diverse Needs
Early childhood education students can add an endorsement by taking an extra semester of courses and student teaching.
2.) National Louis University – Chicago, Illinois
Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Program
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $11,646/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
National Louis University (NLU) is a private university located in Chicago, Illinois with additional locations in Wisconsin, Florida, and Nowy Sacz, Poland. There are 7,525 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1. More than 90 percent of classes contain fewer than 20 students. The Higher Learning Commission accredits NLU to award bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as postbaccalaureate certificates and post-master’s certifications. NLU got its start thanks to social reformer and education pioneer Elizabeth Harrison. Harrison opened a training school as well as a kindergarten to promote early childhood education. Today NLU offers over 60 undergraduate and graduate degrees in a vast array of fields that includes in addition to education, biology, visual and performing arts, business and much more. The online programming is varied and affordable. Top programs include a bachelor’s in criminology and forensic psychology.
National Louis University offers a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Early Childhood Education. This program focuses on child development and areas that affect teaching and students learning. Course offerings include:
- Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Early Childhood Education
- Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Settings: Language Arts, Social Studies, Art, Music and Movement
- Methods of Developing Mathematical Mindsets in Early Childhood
Students complete internships in both an early childhood education preprimary and primary setting. Graduates are eligible to receive a Professional Educator License endorsed for early childhood and self-contained general education (birth through 2nd grade).
3.) Concordia University – Saint Paul, Minnesota
Online Early Childhood Education Degree
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $8,550/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Concordia University- Saint Paul (CSP) is a private liberal arts university located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. There are 5,544 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1. The Higher Learning Commission accredits CSP to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as professional certifications. CSP has a growing online presence with nearly 50 degree and certification programs that include online associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees as well as professional certifications. The adult and continuing education program enrolls just as many non-traditional students as traditional students. This may have to do with the wide range and flexible accessible programs offered online including some of the most popular online offerings like a master’s in human resources and a master’s in early childhood education.
Concordia University offers a Master of Arts in Education (M.A.T.) with a focus in Early Childhood Education. Courses are 7-weeks in length and offered completely online. The curriculum provides students with the opportunity to engage with education research and its applications. Course offerings include:
- Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education
- Observation and Assessment in Early Childhood Education
- Language Development and Emergency Literacy
Students can complete their degree in just five-and-a-half semesters.
4.) The University of Toledo – Toledo, Ohio
Master of Education in Early Childhood Education Online
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $15,053/year in-state and $26,415/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
The University of Toledo is a public research university located in the Scott Park neighborhood of Toledo. There are 15,545 students enrolled, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 17:1. The student body is diverse and represents 46 states and 82 nations. There are over 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional programs offered through their 14 colleges. The Higher Learning Commission- accredits the University of Toledo to offer associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degree programs. We like the University of Toledo for its affordable programming, quality of education, and vast range of online learning options- everything from accounting to theater.
The University of Toledo offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) in early childhood education. We selected this program for its affordable online tuition rate as well as for the high percentage of students receiving financial aid which is 95%. The course requires 36 credit hours for completion and includes:
- Theory and Research in Early Childhood
- Mathematics for the Young Child
- Science Methods for Early Childhood Education
Students complete a culminating activity that may be a thesis or a project.
5.) Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, Arizona
Master’s in Early Childhood Education
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $10,655/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Grand Canyon University is a private for-profit university located Phoenix, Arizona. There are 101,816 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 20:1. The Higher Learning Commission accredits GCU to award bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. GCU offers a wide range of programs in fields like the humanities, business, and more. Online, Grand Canyon University offers an impressive number of degrees that range from the bachelor’s to doctoral level including a PhD in psychology. We not only value GCU for its fantastic online options but also for their student support services that include academic/career counseling as well as employment services. GCU also accepts dual credit, credit for life experience, and AP credits.
Grand Canyon University offers an online Master of Education (MEd) in Early Childhood Education. This program does lead to initial teacher licensure. We selected this program for its affordable tuition rate and high percentage of students receiving financial aid. Courses are generally 8-weeks in length and include specialization as well as core course material. Course offerings include:
- Instructional Planning, Assessment and Reporting in Early Childhood
- Methods of Structured English Immersion for Early Childhood Education
- Early Childhood Phonics and Science of Reading Development
All graduate degree students complete a six-week practicum experience in a birth through Pre-K setting along with a 15-week experience in a K-3rd grade classroom.
6.) Capella University – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $14,826/year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 35:1
Capella University was established in 1993. Founded as The Graduate School of America, it initially focused on providing working adults with access to advanced degrees through distance learning. In 1996, the institution changed its name to Capella University, inspired by the star “Capella” in the constellation Auriga. In 2000, it became one of the first universities to offer online doctoral programs, further cementing its reputation as a leader in distance education. Over the years, Capella has expanded its program offerings across various disciplines, including business, counseling, education, and information technology. Capella currently has almost 40,000 distance learners.
Capella University offers an online master’s in early childhood education. The program is designed around NAEYC recommendations. Students learn how to design, implement, and evaluate developmentally appropriate learning experience for children in their classroom. The program prepares students for licensure through online coursework and face-to-face experiences. Course offerings include:
- Infant and Child Development
- Exceptional Children in Early Childhood Setting
- Early Childhood Reading and Literacy Instruction
Graduates are prepared for a variety of exciting career opportunities working as teachers, directors, and instructors.
7.) Jacksonville State University – Jacksonville, Alabama
Early Childhood Education Master’s Degree Program
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $9,840/year in-state and $19,680/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Jacksonville State University (JSU) is a public 4-year institution located in Jacksonville, Alabama. There are 9,632 students enrolled with a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits Jacksonville State University to award bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs as well as postbaccalaureate and post-master’s certificates. JSU offers over 45 undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of fields such as education, business, liberal arts, human services, and the performing arts. Additionally, JSU offers over 20 affordable online course including a master’s degree in early childhood education and business administration.
The Early Childhood Education Master’s Degree offered by Jacksonville State University is an innovative program for students interested in earning a certification in early childhood education. Courses cover areas like:
- early childhood issues
- trends in early childhood
- teaching methods
Students can choose to complete specialized courses covering topics like children’s literature and intervention. Coursework is offered online and there are no on-campus residency requirements. Graduates are eligible for Alabama Class A Early Childhood Education Certification (P-3).
8.) Penn West Global Online – California, Pennsylvania
Online Master’s in Advanced Study in Education-Early Childhood Education
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $9,288/year in-state and $12,630/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
PennWest University is the result of a combination of California, Clarion, and Edinboro universities. There are 12,778 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1. The Middle State Commission on Higher Education accredits PennWest to award associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees as well as postbaccalaureate certificates and post-master’s certifications. When it comes to academics, PennWest offers degree programs in a wide range of fields like Women’s studies, customer service management, journalism, sociology and more. And with over 100 programs available it may come as no surprise that online programming continues to grow. Currently, there more than 20 online degrees and professional certifications available.
PennWest Global Online offers an online Master’s in Early Childhood Education. This program does not include teacher certification, though added certification is available. We selected this early education program for its affordable tuition rate and the high percentage of students who receive financial aid. This high-quality affordable program includes in its early childhood curriculum:
- Child Development
- Content Learning
- Observe, Assess, and Document
- Leadership for Early Childhood Education
All students complete a field experience in order to demonstrate their professional skills.
9.) University of Missouri – Columbia, Missouri
Online Master’s in Learning Teaching, and Curriculum-Early Childhood Education
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $10,447/year in-state and $28,605/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
The University of Missouri, Columbia, commonly referred to as Mizzou, has a rich and storied history. It was founded in 1839, making it the first public university west of the Mississippi River. Initially known as the University of the State of Missouri, it was established through the Geyer Act as a land-grant institution. Over the years, Mizzou has grown into a leading research university, with notable accomplishments such as the discovery of vitamin K and the development of the first journalism school in the world. Mizzou currently has over 31,300 students and a student to faculty ratio of 18:1. Mizzou is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Mizzou offers one of the most affordable masters degrees online for students who want to serve children birth through age eight. While the program does not provide initial teacher certification, it is a great choice for active teachers who want to learn how to better design, implement and evaluate educational services. This 30-credit hour program includes courses like:
- Instructional Leadership and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education
- Classroom Research-Learning, Teaching and Curriculum
- Language Acquisition and Development
Students can complete their degree in about two years taking one or two classes each semester.
10.) University of West Alabama – Livingston, Alabama
MEd Early Childhood Education, P-3
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $6,678/year in-state and $13,356/year out-of-state
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
The University of West Alabama (UWA) is a public liberal arts institution located in Livingston, Alabama. There are 5.860 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits UWA to award associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees as well as post-master’s certifications. UWA represents a diverse student body for a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The academic focus includes liberal arts degrees as well as a number of art and science programs business and education. Their affordable online programming is robust and includes nearly 30-degree opportunities for distance learners!
The University of West Alabama offers a Master of Education (MEd) in Early Childhood P-3. This program was selected for its affordable online tuition rates and the high percentage of student who receive financial aid. The course is broken into two component parts: 19 credit hours of professional courses and 15 credit hours in teaching field courses. Programs include the following:
- foundation in education
- educational planning
- educational statistics
- advanced educational psychology
- literature for early childhood education
- planning programs for early education
Courses are eight weeks long. Graduate students can complete their degree in about one year of study.