People who love working with and teaching children will find a home for themselves in the career of early childhood education. Most early childhood education professionals go on to become K-5 teachers at public or private schools, however some choose to specialize and become consultants, therapists, specialists, or even start their own early education small business. This field of study is always improving and in search of talented passionate people to recruit into education. Online early childhood education programs are becoming more and more popular as a flexible option for study. Because classes are offered online, people can continue working their full time job in a different field or raising their children at home while they study – and then in 2-5 years, depending on their class load, graduate with a degree that will get them straight in the classroom. Here’s what to look for in an online early education program.
Online programs must be accredited just like traditional schools in order for their diplomas to be legitimate in the workplace. Prospective online students should first check that the college they are looking at is approved by the country or state it is operating within, and then check that the education courses are approved by the State Board of Education within the state the college resides. Most education degrees and certifications – online and other – only allow teachers to teach within the state where they studied unless they are willing to take more tests and certifications in the state in which they move.
The top ranked online education programs will offer a range of concentrations for students wishing to teach or work in a particular position. Specialization options include childhood nutrition, English as a second language, infants and toddler, small business management, special education, and more.
Becoming a teacher requires certification and ongoing training. Most of the best online early education programs offer a certification track where the program itself helps students graduate with their certification, classroom hours required to be a teacher, and the knowledge necessary to pass any required testing. By taking a certification track, new teachers will save time and money getting their first job. Certifications are required for teachers to get the best pay and jobs available. The median pay for an early education teacher is $42,960, but with additional education and experience, this will be higher.
Below are the best online early childhood education programs. These programs are accredited and have been around for at least several years. Student surveys were administered to assess satisfaction in each program and education experts have also weighed in on the final decision.
The Top Online Early Childhood Education Programs:
Oklahoma Wesleyan University is a college providing early education programs that emphasize the impact that teachers have on the development of the child. OWU is a Christian school that integrates the faith and religious worldview into their programs and their students’ lives. They offer both an undergraduate degree in Early Education and a Master of Education graduate degree.
Southeastern Technical College offers Associate degrees, Diploma’s and Certification Programs for Early Education Care. The degrees and programs focus on early childhood care and preparing graduates for employment in child care centers or Head Start programs. Southeastern Technical College is committed to excellence and employs a system of Institutional Effectiveness to constantly assess and improve its programs.
Grays Harbor College is a regional college in Washington State that offers an on-line Early Childhood Education Certificate of Achievement program or Associates Degree geared towards working professionals seeking certification or skill development. Grays Harbor offers low tuition and open admission to residents of Grays Harbor and the surrounding counties.
University of Nebraska’s early education programs require students participate in at least two student teaching or practicum programs while enrolled. UNL’s early education program is the only one accredited by the American of Family Consumer Sciences and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Students at UNL will also have the opportunity to attend meetings and enroll in two professional organizations while taking classes.
Southwestern Community College’s Early Childhood Education degree seeks to teach its students all about childhood development from education to the children’s’ nutritional and physical needs. The North Carolina school’s Continuing Education program allows increased flexibility in course offerings at a very reasonable cost.
Southwest Florida College is a private, accredited career education college offering both a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. The Florida career school seeks to supplement traditional early education curriculum with additional skills such as peer collaboration and parental communication. The school also places more than 85% of its graduates with employers.
Champlain College offers Bachelor’s Degrees in Early Education, Middle-school Teacher Education, and Secondary Teacher Education as well as a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. This school located in beautiful Burlington Vermont, offers a wide range of education related courses, and boasts a 100% career placement for its most recent 2011 graduates of its Early Childhood and Elementary Teacher programs.
Randolph Community College provides students with certificate, diploma and degree tracks in Early Childhood Education. The school recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and continues to provide affordable and flexible classes and programs to both traditional and non-traditional students.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers a huge assortment of online degrees including a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences with a concentration in Child Development and Family Relations. They also offer 13 different Master of Education and Master of Arts in Teaching programs.
University of Dayton in Ohio has a dedicated School of Education and Allied Professions offering both licensure and a Master of Science in Education programs. Completion of the program requirements will qualify students for two Ohio Department of Ed teaching licenses.
Regis University in Denver, Colorado is a private university founded in 1877. The school boasts 3 Rhodes Scholar candidates in 2013, a small 14:1 student to faculty ratio, and offers Teacher Education Licensure Program and 4 separate Master of Arts in Education programs and several options for minor and concentration combinations.
Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee is a state run school offering Certificate Programs in Elementary and Childhood Education, Continuing Education and a Transfer Pathways program that allows students to easily transfer credits to a 4-year college or university. The school supplements its traditional classes with online courses, videotape courses, and CD-ROM courses all geared towards meeting the students’ unique needs.
Alamance Community College is a small college with a campus in Graham, NC and another in Burlington, NC. The school offers Associates Degrees, Diplomas and Certificate programs in Early Childhood Education all focusing on providing a curriculum that prepares students to work with children from infancy to middle childhood. Their diverse online program is built on the Moodle web-based program.
At Washington Adventist University, students can expect to learn about early child development, collaborative teaching, effective communication strategies and a variety of creative approaches to teaching as they work towards a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. WAU is a faith-based school affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It has the distinction of being recognized by US News as being among “America’s Best Colleges,” as well as making the Top-Ten Thriving Colleges and Universities list according to the Gazette.
Chaminade University of Honolulu offers a BS in Elementary Education, a Master of Arts in Teaching and an intensively paced Master of Education with both Master’s programs geared towards working teachers who want to advance their career and skill sets. Chaminade is the only Catholic university in Hawaii and was founded by the Marianists in 1955.
Bowling Green State University in northwest Ohio was founded in 1910. The school hosts students from 50 states and over 70 countries. The ethnically diverse, State University offers more than $20 million in annual scholarships. Bowling Green’s College of Education and Development has produced the greatest number of teacher graduates in Ohio. The school has a long history of producing educators and offers more than 50 graduate and undergraduate programs in Education.
Santa Barbara Business College has multiple campuses in the state of California and offers Associate Degree programs in Early Childhood Teacher and Preschool Teacher designations. SBBC is one of the oldest colleges in the U.S., established in 1888. It offers an extensive variety of degrees and maintains a low per class average of 10 to 20 students.
Shasta Bible College and Graduate School’s Department of Christian Teacher Education offers a certificate program in Early Childhood Education, an Associate of Art’s Degree in Early Childhood Education Administration and a BA Degree in Christian Teacher Education. The school is located in Redding, California.
Iowa Western Community College offers day, evening and online courses from its Council Bluffs, IA campus. IWCC has an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education, and Early Childhood Studies Diploma program as well as Certification Programs in a variety of educational disciplines. The school provides robust course-work that is easily transferable to a 4 year degree program.
Greenville Technical College has 4 campuses in the Greenville, South Carolina area. The school offers an Early Care and Education program and Associate Degrees and Certificates in education. The programs make use of Greenville Tech’s nationally accredited Child Development Center and offer possible Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (TEACH) scholarships and bonuses to qualified candidates.
The University of the Southwest located in beautiful Hobbs, New Mexico offers undergraduate programs in Elementary Education and graduate level courses offered as both continuing education units (CEU’s) or as graduate credits leading towards a Master’s of Science in Education. The school has always been focused as a commuter college with primarily non-traditional students but is recently expanding to include residential, traditional students.
Bay Mills Community College in Brimley, Michigan is Michigan’s first tribally controlled college and is a member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). The school offers Associate of Arts degrees in Early Childhood Education – Teacher Prep or Administration. The two-year program is delivered entirely on-line and has a secondary intention of providing its students an understanding of Native American culture and its influences on childcare and education.
Taft College in Taft, California is a career, technical college that provides students the opportunity to earn certificates in its Early Care, Education and Family Studies program. The program offers a lab school and hands on experience and education in an intimate learning environment.
Hebrew College located in Newton Centre, Massachusetts was founded in 1921 as a college committed to meeting its students’ educational needs centered around the study of Judaism, Jewish values and the Jewish community. The college’s Early Childhood Institute was founded in 1987 and provides certificate programs that are easily transferable towards Bachelors or Masters programs at the school that are more broadly focused.
United Tribes Technical College serves students from 75 separate Native American tribal nations. The campus is located in Bismarck, North Dakota. UTTC offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education designed to meet teacher licensure requirements in the state of North Dakota. The program approaches teaching from the philosophy of focusing on care and competency when teaching children.
Western Kentucky University’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences is offering B.S. degrees in Early Childhood Education, Special Education and Elementary Education as well as a host of Masters of Education degrees. WKU can assist teachers in becoming fully licensed and certified in the state of Kentucky.
Liberty University boasts world-class Christian education for its students. The school located in Lynchburg, Virginia is the largest private, non-profit university in the country and the largest Christian faith university in the world. The school offers both undergraduate and graduate programs for students aspiring to become teachers or administrators.
SUNY at Albany located in the capital of New York State has students that represent more than 100 different countries. The large university is focused on diversity and research. The university’s School of Education offers both Certification Programs and Master’s degrees in Early Childhood Education.
Nashville State Community College offers an Associate of Science in Teaching in Elementary Education, a General Education Certification program. NSCC has been recognized by the Tennessean as ranking second in the Toast of Music City Awards. The school is also a Pathways college allowing students to easily transfer their credits or Associate Degree to a Bachelor Degree at a four-year college or university.
Mayville State University in Mayville, North Dakota is committed to providing their students with the tools they need to succeed. Mayville was the first university to provide tablet computers to all of its students. Mayville also is a school that allows students to take full advantage of distance learning while earning either Associate Degrees or Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Early Childhood Education. Most all of their courses require working directly with children.
Haywood Community College in Clyde, North Carolina is a small, open-door community college offering Associate in Applied Science Degrees and several Certificate programs in Early Childhood Education. The school maintains a Distance Learning Department to support its non-traditional students.
Southwest Tennessee Community College prides itself on offering students fully accredited programs with small class sizes at affordable costs. Southwest’s Early Education Associate Degrees stress the needs of Tennessee’s Head Start programs and prepares teachers accordingly. The Memphis, TN campus serves both traditional and distance learners.
Lake Region State College prepares students to work in child care, schools, rec centers and children’s institutions. LRSC’s Certificates and Associate in Applied Science Early Childhood Education programs are preparing students for immediate employment or a transfer to a 4-year college. The campus is located in Devils Lake, ND but they offer full degrees and certificates online.
Concordia University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Initial Teaching Licensure for the state of Oregon. Concordia is a private Christian school that is open to students of all faiths. Located in Portland, Oregon and founded in 1905, Concordia is committed to preparing its teachers with academics and hands-on teaching experiences.
Albany State University located in Georgia and recognized as one of the top Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country, has a College of Education that offers both undergraduate and graduate programs for prospective teachers.
Pacific Oaks College in provides a diverse offering of bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs in Early Childhood Education. Their programs can be tailored to one or a combination of online and traditional classes in order to meet the needs of distance and adult learners.
The University of West Alabama boasts as many online students as on-campus students. The school was chartered in 1835 and originally an all female school. It has long since become a co-ed campus beautifully situated in Livingston, Alabama. In addition to Bachelor’s and Certification programs, UWA’s School of Graduate Studies offers 3 different Master of Education, Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master of Science in Continuing Education programs.
Gratz College is the oldest college of Jewish studies in the U.S. and is recognized by the Ministry of Education and Culture by the State of Israel. Gratz College’s Community Teaching Certificate Program seeks to prepare entry-level teachers the skills they need and the background in Judaic and Hebraic studies for success in Jewish supplementary schools.
Kansas State University is a large, well-respected state university that prides itself on preparing future teachers for the world. KSU offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Certification programs in Early Childhood Education all of which can be completed on-line. Its Division of Continuing Education is backed by Kansas State University’s Manhattan, Kansas campus and administration. Kansas State is annually ranked among the best schools in the country by the Princeton Review and ranks first nationally in the total number of students who are Rhodes, Truman, Goldwater and Marshall Scholars over the last 25 years.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette offers certification and non-certification programs in Early Childhood Education as well as B.A.’s in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. The school also offers several Master’s in Education degrees and a Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. The school offers scholarship and student merit awards for qualified individuals.
Post University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online with students able to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months or a master’s in just 14 months. The school has a rich tradition in New England having been established in 1890. Prospective teachers can earn an associate degree in Early Childhood Education, a BS in Child Studies or a general Master of Education degree.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is a women’s college continually ranking among the nation’s best Midwest regional colleges. The school recently celebrated its 173rd Commencement. The Woods online Education Department offers Bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood/Mild Intervention Education. The school also prepares students for teacher licensure.
Southeast Community College Area schools offer Associate of Applied Science degrees as well as certificates and diplomas in Early Childhood Education. The school offers the most affordable tuition in all of Nebraska and was most recently ranked 8th among 786 community colleges in the United States for graduation and retention rates. The Aspen Institute also ranked it among the top 10 percent of all community colleges.
Colorado Mountain College was listed by CNN/Money as one of the top 20 colleges for student success among 2-year colleges. The school’s 10 campuses are located throughout picturesque Colorado. CMC offers a 2-year an accredited associate degree in Early Childhood Education.
Ivy Tech Community College is the country’s largest state community college and the state of Michigan’s largest public college hosting more than 200,000 students in its more than 30 state-wide campuses. The school offers Associate of Science and Certificate degrees in Early Childhood Education.
Northern Arizona University has been meeting the needs of distance learners for over 20 years. NAU has Masters, Bachelors, and Certificate programs in Early Childhood Education as well as more than 20 other degree and certificate programs for teachers. Two of NAU’s online graduate degree programs recently earned Best Buy national rankings.
Barton County Community College offers several Early Childhood Education Programs that blend traditional, hybrid, online, summer and accelerated classes. The school has 2 certificate programs and 2 AS degrees in Early Childhood Education as well as a transfer agreement with Fort Hays State University and Kansas State University that allows Barton students to continue their pursuit of a bachelor or master’s degree.