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Best Early Childhood Education Online Associate’s Programs
Top 25 Online Education Degrees 2020

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Best Online Associates Early Childhood Education

These days being an educator has taken on new meaning. Not only that, they are more in demand then ever. It is mandatory that innovation and flexibility come with the territory of this profession as the world shifts. Early childhood educators are truly at the front lines of building a future we can all stand by. They are the ones that create curricula and delivery methods that train young people to think critically and learn how to learn. Many will say that these educators are the heroes of our time, not unlike healthcare workers and first responders. If you are considering going into this field, we want to offer something that supports that effort. We worked hard to build a metric that would support people like you to find programs that fit their needs and meet their dreams. So is to say, if you are looking for an online associates degree in education, you have come to the right place. Our team has compiled a list of 25 schools that each feature an early childhood associates degree online program taking into account these three factors:

  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Success rate of students following graduation 

You will notice that there is some variance in the degree type, but they all share a common goal in training teachers to be excellent early childhood educators. For each school we have listed the title of the degree and the length of time it should take to complete the program. You will notice that each program has its own nuances as they lead you to this in demand field. Good luck taking this next step.

1

Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global
Marion, IN

The AS in Early Childhood Education program at Indiana Wesleyan University was designed to give students a well rounded foundation in the learning and social needs of young children. Indiana Wesleyan is an evangelical christian school, and therefore, the denominational teachings are infused in all of their programming. This course of study is conducted entirely online and focuses on the ages birth to 8 years old. Program participants will work in the cohort model, enabling a community practice feel. All of the faculty members in the program are experts in their field of practice. Though this program does not culminate in a teaching license, graduates will be prepared to work as support team members to educators and organizations, bringing a range of skills to the table. The ability to create a safe, supportive, healthy, and of course, fun learning environment is heavily stressed in all of the coursework. Students will also learn how to uphold moral and ethical standards while engaging child development skills. 

Degree Title: AS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

2

University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK

The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers this online associates degree in education to train the next generation of early childhood educators in critical classroom skills. This offering is called the Early Childhood Education Program, and it can not only serve as a means to a fulfilling career, but also the general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree if the student is interested in taking that path. Some of the classes in the program include nutrition and physical wellness, positive social development, child guidance, among many others that might even be of interest to community members and parents. All students will also participate in programming related to creating healthy and safe learning environments, as well as inclusion for children with special needs. The program consists of 60 credit hours, which can be completed in two years if the student is studying on a full time basis. 

Degree Title: AAS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours 

3

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Cincinnati, OH

The Early Childhood Care and Education Program Online program at the University of Cincinnati answers to the idea that early childhood education responds to the most critical time in a young person’s development. The participants in this program are often already working in the field of childhood education while completing the coursework, which is why the virtual format can be beneficial, as it is convenient and more flexible then an on campus offering. Students in the program will learn how to conduct classroom environments using developmentally appropriate models of integration. Art, music, science, math and music are some of the themes that will be engaged as students learn how to work with diverse families from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Students that graduate from this program can start a career as a head start teacher, infant/ toddler specialist, preschool teacher, and/ or a program administrator in a setting that focuses on early childhood education. 

Degree Title: AS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours-2 years

4

Brunswick Community College
Brunswick, ME

Brunswick Community College offers an Associates in Applied Science online degree program in Early Childhood Education. This course of study focuses on ways to engage diverse learning environments of children ages birth to 8 years old. Some of the classes include Child Growth and Development, Physical Nutritional Needs of Children, Communication Skills with Families and Children, Guidance of Children. Creative learning is something that is engaged throughout the program, and ways to implement creativity in the classroom. Graduates of the program walk away with a skill set that will enable them to be effective facilitators in environments that are appropriate developmentally. Students will have many opportunities to apply the theoretical concepts that they learn to real life environments. Many former students have found successful employment as head start teachers, working at recreational centers, and within a variety of childcare programs. 

Degree Title: AAS

Length of Program: 71 credit hours

5

Northeast Community College

The Northeast Community College offers two different early childhood associates degree online programs. Both options bring forward a variety of skills to engage children ages birth to 8 years old in a variety of learning environments. One of the perks of the program is the hands on element that brings students into real world settings that will truly prepare them for this career path. However, the degree can be completed without any in person requirements through a partnership between other Nebraska based community colleges. Graduates of the program have found successful careers working as head start teachers, after and pre school program leaders, family home care facilitators, nannies, and childcare aides, along with many other related professions. Core coursework includes outside the box classes like expressive arts, observation, assessment and guidance, and lifetime wellness. 

Degree Title: AAS or AA in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

6

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

The Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College offers an online associates degree in education that they call E-Child. Students will learn how to engage young people in educational play, art, science, music, language, among many other subjects and activities. One of the program’s key focal points is integrating diverse groups and understanding learning differences. Though all of the coursework for the program is online, students will have the opportunity to put their theoretical work to the test with the practice of student teaching in community settings. One of the program’s strengths is the emphasis on educational technology and all of its applications. The program is designed for students who want to complete the course of study in a timely manner. It can be accomplished in a two year period. This is considered to be part of a career pathway, making it easy to graduate with employment at your fingertips. 

Degree Title: AS

Length of Program: 60 credits-two years

7

Minnesota State College Southeast

Minnesota State College Southeast offers an early childhood associates degree online that is designed to train students to be effective leaders in the classroom. They place a set of values on the skills that engage a classroom, all of which are brought forth in the coursework. There are some requirements of field experience embedded into the program that provide opportunities for students to be evaluated throughout. Each student will create a professional portfolio that will be completed by graduation. This is based on the standards set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The general education requirements for this course of study include basic written and oral communications, humanities and fine arts, and liberal arts and sciences. Some of the technical requirements include child health, safety and nutrition and foundations of language and literacy. 

Degree Title: AAS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

8

Hagerstown Community College

Hagerstown Community College offers an online associates degree in education program that was expressly designed for students who are interested in transferring into a related four year bachelor degree path. Most students who participate in this program go on to get a state teacher certification in Elementary Education. Throughout the course of the program, students will be building a portfolio that will support their future academic and career endeavors. The entire program consists of 60 credit hour requirements, including 31-33 of general education classes. Students can pull from a variety of other disciplines to meet these requirements, including arts and humanities. There is a three credit requirement in the field of diversity. Other related classes include a course in education psychology, intro to education, and foundations of early childhood education. There is a fourteen credit requirement for free electives, which should be chosen based on the recommendations of a transfer advisor to ensure that you are on the right track for matriculation into a four year program. 

Degree Title: AAS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

9

Eastern Wyoming College

The Eastern Wyoming College offers a Early Childhood Distance Learning Associates of Arts Degree program that is designed to give students the tools to have a career as an educator in four semesters. Not only will students learn the ins and outs of classroom facilitation, but they will also gleen administration skills that will support a back-of-the-house career in education. The coursework brings together a series of lectures with participation and observation activities that will be out to the test in early childhood education settings. Graduates of the program will be well poised to begin a career or matriculate into a four year bachelor’s degree program that can be in service to achieving a teaching certificate. All of the classes at Eastern Wyoming college, even the ones conducted online, ensure an intimate learning environment where the faculty know all of their students. 

Degree Title: AA in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 2 years

10

South Texas College
McAllen, TX

South Texas College offers an online Associate of Arts in Teaching with three options including: EC-6 Generalist, 4-8 Generalist, Grades 8-12. All students who enter the program will gain a foundational understanding of the profession of teaching. All students will take an intro to the profession class along with a variety of well curated general education requirements. Students will participate in coursework like introduction to special populations, as well as the philosophies of teaching and practical knowledge. The degree meets the requirements associated with “no child left behind” programming. Each specialization as a requirement of 18 hours of hands on field work. Students will be given ample opportunities to participate in programming in elementary school environments, including classroom auditing.  Upon graduation students will be career ready or they can choose to matriculate into a four year bachelor’s degree program. 

Degree Title: AAT in EC-6 Generalist

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

11

Dawson Community College

Dawson Community College offers an online associates degree in education for students who are interested in working in the field of early childhood education. The coursework for the program brings together practical general education requirements with a hands on component. Participants will have thirteen credits set aside for electives, which is where they can seek out specific classes that meet their interests. Some of the required courses include: Leadership and professionalism in early childhood education, intro to public speaking, positive child guidance, child adolescent development, and meeting the needs of families. A supportive environment to practice skills with children is part of the package. Students will get to engage a classroom with all of their new skills and receive evaluations accordingly. Advisors are available to support students with choosing appropriate classes that align with their specific goals. 

Degree Title: AAS Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 61 credit hours

13

Liberty University
Lynchburg, VA

Liberty University offers an online associates degree in education that can be completed in as little as one year and a half. Liberty is a christian school, and their orientation towards education centers their foundational belief in christ. All of the classes are eight weeks in length. Their program is known for both affordability and also flexibility. Students can log into their online coursework 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. An entire class is dedicated to creating a learning theory and development portfolio that can be used in future academic and career pursuits. Because education is such a community driven discipline, Liberty stresses the importance of networking, and they offer a lot of opportunities for their students to do so. Electronic textbooks are made available for all students at no additional cost. 

Degree Title: AA in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours-average 1.5 years

14

Stanly Community College

Stanly Community College has a comprehensive online associates degree in education. It is geared towards students interested in transferring into a four year bachelor’s degree program or leaning right into a new career. Students will gain a variety of skills that will qualify them to work with children ages birth to middle childhood in many capacities. They will learn all about growth and development as well as practical classroom facilitation skills. Students will learn how to create healthy and safe environments where young people can thrive. Other aspects of the program train students to effectively make use of technology that will make learning more accessible for every student. Stanly ensures that students will have access to advisors that will support them to choose the right coursework for their individual academic and career goals. The program is designed to be both convenient with its online format and also very flexible. 

Degree Title: AAS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 73 credit hours

15

Surry Community College
Chicago, IL

Among the offerings at Surry Community College is their Associates in Early Childhood Education. This program has a variety of focal points, including training their students to play leadership roles in diverse learning environments. Some of the required classes include growth and development for children, nutrition and physical needs of children, care and guidance of children, communication skills with parents, among many others. Students are also required to take courses like Student Success to set them up academically to succeed. Graduates of the program will be prepared to enter the workforce in jobs such as head start teachers, early child development program coordinators, and working in settings such as public and private schools, church education, among many others. Graduates will also be eligible to transfer to  bachelor’s degree programs at four year schools. 

Degree Title: Associates in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 73 credit hours

16

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Clarion University of Pennsylvania offers an online associates degree in education that is especially geared towards students who are working full time. The program is designed to be both flexible and convenient to accommodate the other life commitments of students. Clarion is interested in proving their students with the skill set that will make them marketable in this in-demand field of education. The program requires students to complete 30 credit hours of general education coursework. They require 30 credit hours of early childhood core courses that include creativity in curriculum building, effective approaches to childhood guidance, leadership in early childhood settings, and exceptionalities in the classroom.  They offer many fun and engaging electives that include drama and other creative disciplines. 

Degree Title: AS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

17

Tallahassee Community College

The Tallahassee Community College offers an online associates degree in education called Early Childhood Development and Education. The department that this program is under is called Behavioral, Social Sciences, and Education. This program was expressly designed for students who are interested in engaging in the career path of early childhood education in a variety of settings. This course of study also can act as a prerequisite for a director’s credential at the Florida Department of Children and Families. The core curriculum includes some interesting classes including personal finance, children’s literature and early childhood education, introduction to diversity for educators, directed observation and participation, among many others. In order to satisfy the state board of education requirements, all participants must achieve a 2.0 or better in all of their coursework. 

Degree Title: AS in Early Childhood Development and Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

18

Gulf Coast State College

Gulf Coast State College offers an online associates degree in education that specifically focuses on working with children ages birth to five years old. This degree program is multifaceted, as it gives students both hands on classroom skills and also managerial aptitude. Students will gain a well rounded education in child growth and development, communications, and also legal and ethical responsibilities associated with working with children. There is a component of the program that enables students to gain hands on practical classroom experience where they will be observed.  Though the majority of the coursework is completed online, students will have three face-to-face advising sessions per class and a few other in person requirements. Embedded in the program are the required courses to obtain a Florida childcare professional credential. Graduates of the program are eligible for careers such as: home visitor, preschool or infant educator, and head start teacher. 

Degree Title: AS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

19

Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Waxahachie, TX

The Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers an online associates degree in early childhood education. Students will be prepared to teach in a variety of educational settings including christian or non-denominational early learning environments. The program is delivered entirely online with no in person requirements. SAGU has just reduced their tuition, making their programming even more accessible. They claim that their graduates have 20 percent less debt than students from other institutions. Their coursework teaches students to promote God’s love in the classroom when appropriate. Graduates will be skilled classroom facilitators with the underpinnings of working within diverse environments. Classroom management strategies are infused in all of the coursework. They have small classrooms, so even online learning grants students the individual attention to thrive. SAGU is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission. 

Degree Title: AA in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

20

Fayetteville Technical Community College

Under the umbrella of Public Service Programs at Fayetteville Technical Community College, you will find their online associates degree in education that focuses on young children ages birth through 8. This program is fully accredited by the Commission on Early Childhood Education of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Graduates of the program will be qualified to teach in a variety of childcare and head start programs, child development programs, public and private school environments, recreational centers, and school age programs. The coursework offers a lot of variety, including classes like care and guidance of children, physical and nutritional needs of children, and communication skills with parents and children. 

Degree Title: AS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 5 semesters

21

Granite State College

Granite State College College offers an online associates degree in education. This program shapes students to have a deep understanding of the needs of young people from a variety of life circumstances. Many students embark on this program as a vehicle to later transfer to a four year bachelor’s degree program. Many students have the ultimate goal of achieving a teaching certification that would specifically be geared towards students in the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island. Some of the courses required for the program include: foundations of early childhood education, language and literary development, young children with exceptionalities, and health, safety and nutrition. This program honors some life experience for credit, including military and work experience. Career counselling is offered within the program. Affordability is something that draws many students to this particular program. 

Degree Title: AS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

22

Great Basin College

Great Basin College offers a well rounded early childhood associates degree online. This program is specifically geared towards students who are interested in entering the field of early childhood education as a facilities director or a teacher. They offer comprehensive advising for students who are entering the program in order to transfer to a four year degree option in a similar field. Their goal is to provide students with all of the tools necessary to excel in their academic experience. The program is in collaboration with six different rural school organizations in the region, and therefore, offer students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience. Their program emphasizes working with diverse families and children, and having the tools of cultural competency to thrive in any classroom environment. 

Degree Title: AA in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: minimum of 60.5 credit hours

23

Haywood Community College

Haywood Community College has a comprehensive online associates degree in education program. This course of study is designed to prepare their students to be versed in working with diverse groups of young people from ages birth to 8 years old. The required classes include physical/ nutritional needs of children, child growth and development, and creative development of children. Students have a variety of electives to choose from. Graduates of the program will be qualified to work in a variety of settings including public, private, and preschool, head start programs, after and before school programming, and recreational centers. The program is fully accredited by the Commission on Early Childhood Education Programs of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Students will choose from a few tracks within the program that will inform their specific coursework. 

Degree Title: AAS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 66-67 credit hours

24

Pamlico Community College

Pamlico Community College offers an early childhood associates degree online. Students in the program will gain a foundation to effectively work with young people from ages birth to eight years old in diverse learning environments. Though all of the coursework for the program is offered in a flexible format online, there are many opportunities to practice theoretical skills in classroom environments. Students will work with qualified instructors to supervise and evaluate their work in the field. The classes offered include child growth and development, care and guidance of children, communication skills with families, creative development of young children, and physical and motor skill development. Graduates of the program will be prepared to facilitate programming in a range of settings that is appropriate developmentally for young children. Many students seek out this particular path for an easy transfer to a UNC bachelors degree program in a related field. 

Degree Title: AAS

Length of Program: 66-69 credit hours

25

Clovis Community College

Clovis Community College offers an online associates degree in education program that is specifically geared towards students who are interested in transferring to a four year degree program. In fact, most students who participate in this course of study are planning on undergoing the bachelors program at Clovis. The associates program prepares students to work in a variety of childcare settings with diverse groups of students. Some of the required courses include: principles and practices of teaching young children, diversity and culture in early childhood programs, child growth and development, child, family and community, among many others. Students must undergo 24 minimum credit hours for the major, and the rest of the required 60 credit hours include prerequisites and general education requirements. Students will learn how to apply ethical standards to classroom practice. They will also build a toolkit of classroom management strategies that can be applied to a variety of learning environments. 

Degree Title: AS

Length of Program: 60 credit hours

How Much Can I Make with an Associate’s in Early Childhood Education?

An associates degree in early childhood education salary can range anywhere from $21k-$52k. For an associates degree in education there is a lot of room for growth and quite a range to work with. At the entry level many jobs can start in the low 20’s, but work their way up pretty quickly with seniority of experience. Also, programs in early childhood education offer the skills to provide administrative work as well as hands on working with children. Therefore, that payscale can vary depending on where in the field you choose to focus your attention. For example, you may want to go into quality assurance, and as a representative you can make upwards of $47k. A non special education preschool teacher can start just below $30k and work their way up into the 40ks

What Will I Learn in an Associate’s in Early Childhood Program?

An associates degree in early childhood education requirements include a variety of general education courses along with core coursework that are specific to the school. Every program has it’s unique touch, however, most of the schools on the list emphasize programming that highlight working with students from diverse backgrounds. Core courses range in topics from creativity in the classroom, child nutrition and growth, to classroom management techniques, and working with students who have exceptional needs. Every program offers a variety of electives that allow students to personalize their coursework even just a little bit. Many electives engage the arts and psychodynamics. Most programs have an experiential learning component, even though the coursework is online. This often includes a teaching practicum where students get to practice their new skills in a classroom environment under the leadership of an instructor. Most programs offer an opportunity to build a portfolio throughout the course of the program that can then be used later to apply for a bachelor’s degree program or a job. 

What is the Cheapest Way to Start a Teaching Career?

It is not easy to find a free online teaching degree, but the list above encompasses many good options if you are interested in finding the cheapest online teaching degree. If you are interested in achieving a teaching certification starting off at a community college is definitely the most affordable option. Many of the programs at hand are geared towards matriculating into a four year school upon graduation from the associates program. Why blow the money at an expensive four year college, when you can achieve the same goal by spending the first two years at a community college for a fraction of the price? Many graduates of associates programs like these decide to go right into the field of teaching for a few years before moving into a bachelors program to ensure that they are on the path they ultimately want to take. There are also ample scholarship opportunities specifically geared towards students going into the field of education, including loan forgiveness programs following graduation. Programs like Teach for America, where students are placed in a variety of rural or underserved communities as new teachers, fall under that category.