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Best Online Master's Early Childhood Education Top 25 Online Education Degrees

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In this moment the world has stopped in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are looking around at what is to come and wondering how to better ourselves to better the world around us. Being an educator in this time of uncertainty might be one of the most valuable offerings, as it extends to a dream of a future that is met with hope and innovation. A master’s in early childhood education online almost seems as if it were designed to plug into these times. Though we do not know what is to come in terms of early childhood education, we do know that even though it might shift, it is not going anywhere. The Bureau of Labor Statistics made a prediction that preschool director positions are going to steadily increase by at least 11% by 2026. A bachelors degree is Early Childhood Education can get you a stable career and a Master’s will take it to the next level. An online masters degree in early childhood education offers the flexibility to continue working or even being in quarantine while achieving a degree. The degree itself will open doors to be in leadership roles in the field of early childhood education. Many programs enable students to play a role in sculpting their degree focus. This can lead you towards special education, early childhood administration, among many other possibilities. 

We have come up with a list of 25 schools based on the metric that takes into account the following factors:

  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Success Rate of graduates

And we have then ranked them accordingly. Notice each degree program has its own unique flair, emphasis, or special nuance. We hope this time is one of great personal transformation for you, as we all look ahead. Good luck and be well. 

If you are currently working as an educator for grades K-12, this might be the perfect master’s in early childhood education online program for you. It is delivered entirely online, meaning you can participate from anywhere on the globe. The degree title is Masters in Education in Experiential Learning for Early Childhood Education. As noted in the degree name, this program expressly relates to students who are currently teaching to a room full of children, and this scenario is imperative to your success in the program. Your current position will act as the fieldwork component of the coursework. There are four specializations for which students will choose, including: Instructional Coaching, Effective and Reflective Teaching, Experiential Learning for Early Childhood, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Clemson takes online learning seriously, and offers the most up-to-date technological experience. All of the classes are delivered asynchronously, meaning students can log in and participate when it is convenient for them. They Utilize the CANVAS learning platform, where students will engage with their cohort and faculty members as well as participate in all of the facets of their coursework. 

Degree Title: MEd – Experiential Learning for Early Childhood

Length of Program: 18 months


The University of Colorado Denver

The University of Colorado Denver offers a Masters program in Early Childhood Education through their School of Education and Human Development. There is an option to specialize in this program and achieve a Early Childhood Special Education Specialist Licensure or Endorsement. There are other opportunities to specialize in topics that include Diversity and Inclusion, Administration and Leadership, as well as Teaching and Learning.This program is committed to training educators to nurture the entire child by offering an education that is linguistically and culturally aware, caters to diverse learning environments, and is inclusive. The program offers the cohort model, which is excellent for building community and cooperative learning opportunities. The fully online option enables students to participate from all over the world. Each student is given opportunities to receive support from faculty and advisors. The curriculum provides a family centered value and many avenues to look at models that celebrate diversity in learning. 

Degree Title: MA in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 30-42 credit hours

Auburn University offers two masters degree programs in Early Childhood Education. One of the programs is a Masters of Education in Early Childhood Education, which gives graduates an opportunity to apply for an Alabama Class A certification for Professional Educators. The Masters of Science degree that they offer is a non certification program, though graduates walk away with an interdisciplinary approach to education that can be applied in the community setting and beyond. Both programs give the option of being completed entirely online and require a minimum of 30 credit hours. This offering requires students to participate in 24 hours of field work that includes teaching. Also included are 6 hours of education classes that must be approved by an advisor. The MS degree program has a required orientation to learning and teaching that is 1 hour, the requirement of an instructional design course that an advisor must approve, a series of early childhood education courses, elective options, and a teaching and learning capstone project. 

Degree Title: MS or MEd in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 30 credit hours minimum

The School of Education at George Mason University offers a Masters in Education in Early Childhood Education for Diverse Learners. This program is not intended for students who are interested in achieving a licensure. There are some unique aspects of this program, as the goal is to learn how to plug into the world as educators and change makers. The perfect candidate for this program is someone already working in the field of early childhood education and is interested in furthering their path. Each student will complete 15 credits of elective requirements, all of which must be approved by an advisor. The other 15 credits are made up of the core coursework which include the following classes: Developmental Pathways of Diverse Learning-Birth-Adolescence, Inclusive Curriculum for Young Learners: Planning Instruction and Guidance, Engaging Families of Diverse Young Learners, Assessment of Diverse Young Learners, Frameworks for Early Childhood Education, and Policy Perspectives in Early Childhood Education. 

Degree Title: MEd in Early Childhood Education for Diverse Learners

Length of Program: 30 credit hours

Arizona State University- Skysong offers a fully Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education. This program offers a flexibility that makes it easy to fit studying into your regular life commitments. There are two programs, one of which is designed for students to achieve a certification. This path requires more coursework. Both options, however, include in person clinical work and applied activities. All of the classes themselves are delivered online. The entire program includes 10 classes and each class lasts seven and a half weeks. Students will learn advanced skills related to working with young people ages birth to eight years old. Some of the required courses include:  Introduction to Research and Evaluation in Education, Foundations of Early Childhood Education, Child Guidance and Management: Child, Family, Community, and Culture, Emergent Literature, Integrated Literacy for the Young Learner, among others. 

Degree Title: Curriculum and Instruction: Early Childhood Education (MEd)

Length of Program: 45 or 30 credit hours


University of Missouri-Mizzou

The University of Missouri’s Mizzou Online Program offers an Early Childhood Education Masters in Education degree program. This course of study emphasizes learning, teaching and curriculum development. It also  offers a lot of skills associated with the teaching discipline for students with a variety of needs,  including behavioral issues and learning differences. The classes are delivered on a semester schedule, and generally students complete up to two classes per semester. Most students complete the program in two years. Perfect candidates for this course of study include: early childhood practitioners, child care center staff workers, head start teachers, kindergarten or primary school teachers, preschool teachers, among others. One of the benefits of the online learning component of this program is the fact no matter where they live, online learners receive in-state tuition. 

Degree Title: MEd in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 30 credit hours- generally completed in 2 years

The School of Education at the University of Mississippi offers an Online Masters of Education Program in Early Childhood Education. Many students in this program hold a teaching license, and are interested in enhancing their skills while acquiring a license endorsement in Pre-K. This is specifically for teaching in the state of Mississippi. There are scholarship opportunities available for this masters option through the Graduate Studies Office. Many graduates of this program see dramatic career shifts as they take on leadership positions in the field. Some possible careers post graduation include: professional development coordinators, school administrators, curriculum coordinators, consultants, policy advocates, researchers, among other options. The coursework is designed to seamlessly fit into the lives of the students, which means the classes are extremely flexible. All students will have access to comprehensive advising. 

Degree Title: MEd in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 30 credit hours- can be completed in under two years

The University of Kentucky Online offers a Masters of Science in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education program through their College of Education. This program is very family centered and works with students to gain expertise in complex support of families, many of which are undergoing early interventions. Students will learn how to build and develop curricula in a variety of early childhood classrooms. Students will learn assessment skills as well as how to utilize current research and theories to support children to learn in healthy environments. Many graduates will go on to become researchers, teachers, and administrators, as well as work in special ed environments. They ask students to already be certified prior to entering the program. Prospective students must have achieved a bachelor’s degree with a record of a 2.8 GPA or above. 

Degree Title: MS in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 33 credit hours

The University of North Dakota offers a master’s in early childhood education online. This course of study brings together research, theory, and practical experience to give students a well rounded education in the field. This advanced degree path is not intended for students interested in achieving a license, but for those who are wanting a foundation in best practices for working with young people ages birth to eight. Students will gain skills that will give them the tools to work in a myriad of educational environments. The program centers the needs of the child in the context of family, culture and community. University of North Dakota has a partnership with the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership that extends an opportunity to achieve an Aim4Excellence online national director credential specifically for Early Childhood Administrators. 

Degree Title: MS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 32 credit hours- 32+ years 

Kansas State University’s Global Campus offers a master’s in early childhood education online. This program is offered through their College of Human Health and Sciences. The goal of this path of study is to effectively train people with a background in Early Childhood Education to take on leadership positions in the field with a knowledge foundation that supports the whole child. The online format is known to be both flexible and convenient. Graduates of the degree often emerge to become program administrators and policy makers, as well as expert teachers. Prospective students who do not already have a license must take a set variety of prerequisite courses that prepare them for this course of study. They have a 99 percent rate of passing the licensure exam and graduates of their programming have shown to have a starting salary that is above average. 

Degree Title: MS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 30 credit hours


University at Albany

The University at Albany offers a fully online Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education Program. This course of study was designed for students to deepen a practice they already have with working in classroom settings made up of children ages birth through second grade. Participants will learn the skills to create curricula that is age appropriate and takes into account the language and literacy levels of their students. Some of the classes include: teaching literacy, teaching science for early childhood education classes, intervention strategies, mathematics, next generation learning standards, and data based decision making. The curriculum is updated with regularity to reflect changes in best practices research and technology. Each student will choose electives based on their teaching interests. A final project is required to culminate the program. The application requires three letters of recommendation, one being from a previous professor. 

Degree Title: MS in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: varies

The School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton offers a Masters of Science in Education Program in Transdisciplinary Early Childhood Education. This course of study is offered online and allows students to take an interdisciplinary approach to learning about culture, families, and of course young children. The program utilizes a cohort model meaning students will work with the same group of peers throughout the course of the program. There are many ways to engage with this course of study- students can choose to achieve a license while undergoing the degree. The two specializations offered include early childhood intervention specialist and early childhood. There is another option to dive into a pre kindergarten special needs preparation program, which includes leading an endorsement from the state of Ohio. There are a myriad of financial aid options for program participants. 

Degree Title: MSE in Transdisciplinary Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: varies

Martin Luther College offers a Masters of Science degree program in Education Administration-Early Childhood Director that is delivered entirely online. This program, as referenced in the title, is designed exclusively for students who are interested in play leadership, and especially director roles in Early Childhood Education environments. Some of the classes include: servant leadership, communications, planning, vision, management, school safety and budgeting. There are also a variety of classes that involve topics such as child development, legal requirements that specifically pertain to young children, curriculum for early childhood education and more. Martin Luther King College is a Lutheran institution of higher learning, and this denomination is reflected in the coursework of all of their programs. Their ownership and foundation is run by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). Both one and three credit courses are offered in the summer. 

Degree Title: MS in Education Administration – Early Childhood Director

Length of Program: varies

The School of Education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro offers a Masters degree in Education in Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies. The program is in partnership with Family Studies and the Department of Human Development. There are two concentrations, including Early Childhood and Advanced Teaching Licensure as well as Early Childhood Leadership and Program Administration. The coursework is interdisciplinary with an emphasis on leadership specifically in diverse environments. Students will learn frameworks for a myriad of education scenarios including community based and also traditional classroom oriented. There is a focus on working with students with learning differences and disabilities that students can choose to engage in. Participants will also learn how to work with traditional students ages birth to five years old as well as their families. The Classes are delivered in a synchronous format, meaning there are specific class times that students must adhere to. 

Degree Title: MEd in Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies

Length of Program: 37 semester hours

Ball State University offers a master’s in early childhood education online. This program is known for being remarkably customizable and able to meet the explicit needs of those already working in the field of early childhood education. Many students choose to focus on something they are passionate about including topics such as: reading/ literacy instruction, autism, gifted and talented education, human development and learning, middle school education, education technology for teachers, response to intervention, among many others. Students may also choose to apply for a graduate certificate. The master’s degree program, however, does not lead to a licensure without further education. Ball State ensures their online students that they will receive the exact same education as traditional on-campus students, including the same faculty and learning resources. There is even an online orientation and access to a technology helpdesk and store. 

Degree Title: MA in Education – Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 30 credits 

Kennesaw State University offers a master’s in early childhood education online. This program is unique in that it is designed expressly for teachers in the field who are already certified and interested in furthering their teaching practice. The program is designed around the academic school year so it fits easily into the schedule of students who are currently teaching. Graduates of the program will earn a KSU endorsement in one of the following subjects: Pathway to Tier 1 Leadership Certification, Special Education Certificate, Teacher Leadership Endorsement, Online Teaching Endorsement, Gifted Endorsement, ESOL Endorsement, and Reading Endorsement. Online students will be required to attend classes at distinct times, not unlike traditional face-to-face students and the same deadlines apply. Online students also have access to the same financial aid options as traditional students. The program coordinator is available to prospective students to answer any application questions. 

Degree Title: MEd in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 13 months

Northern Arizona University offers an Online Masters in Education degree in Early Childhood Education. Students can choose one of the following concentrations: Early Childhood National Board Preparation, Early Childhood Leadership, and Early Childhood Teacher. The program was designed specifically for teachers who are already working in the field of early childhood education and are interested in deepening their practice. The classes vary based on the concentration, though many students take classes such as parental involvement in education, educational psychology, curriculum instruction, educational leadership and special education. Completion of the program enables students to enroll in classes for the National Board Certification. Many graduates of the program choose career paths as preschool teachers, curriculum specialists, and childcare administrators.  A 3.0 or above is required for achievement of the degree, and all of the work must be completed within a consecutive six year period. 

Degree Title: MEd in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 30 credit hours

West Chester University of Pennsylvania offers an online masters degree in early childhood education. The program is made up of two different track options, one being Early Childhood Education-Accomplished Teachers Track and the other Early Childhood Education-Program Administrators Track. Both tracks require students to participate in a culminating capstone class and project. Each option features courses in leadership, play as a learning medium, advocacy for young people, coaching and supervision. Both tracks offer the same core curriculum that consist of eight classes and two additional courses that are track specific. This program does not offer a certification, but there are others at West Chester University of Pennsylvania that will lead graduates to a certification. Program participants are eligible for financial aid and other resources that traditional students have access to. 

Degree Title: MEd in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 33 credit hours


Texas A&M Commerce

Texas A&M Commerce offers three Masters degree options in Early Childhood Education that are delivered online. One is a Masters in Education, one is a Masters in Science, and one is a Masters in Arts. This course of study offers students an opportunity to hone leadership skills in the field and train them to work in a variety of public and private classroom environments. The coursework is designed to give students a foundation in the psychological development of young children ages birth through grade four. Students will also learn classroom management skills as well as advocacy and topics related to literacy, diversity and inclusion, and also working with students with special needs. Following all of the coursework, students will take a comprehensive exam made up of 50 multiple choice questions. 


Length of Program: 36 credit hours

The University of West Georgia offers an online masters in education and Early Childhood Education program. This course of study is research based, and enables students to put their theories to the test with extensive field work opportunities. The program takes on an overarching social justice framework, enabling students to learn how to impact the systems that already exist and work to vision and change foundations that do not serve young people. There is a requirement of nine hours of professional studies, fifteen hours of elementary content, and six elective course hours. Topics of focus in the coursework include: advanced methodologies for content area instruction, knowledge and understanding of the classroom learner, curriculum theory and development, social and/ or philosophical foundations of education, and research in elementary education. The program itself does not lead to a certification.

Degree Title: MEd in Early Childhood Education

Length of Program: 36 semester hours-6-8 semesters

Northwestern College offers a Masters of Education in Early Childhood Education Online. Students in the program will learn how to take their early childhood education career to the next level in an effort to advance their teaching practice or move up the ladder in their careers. Many graduates move on to become administrators for early childhood education, specialists, or consultants. The classes are incredibly flexible, allowing students to login to their classes when it is convenient for them. Each class consists of an eight week period. Students are eligible to apply for the TEACH grant, which is directed towards masters degree students who will commit to teaching in low income and high needs learning environments after graduation. With an extra semester where student teaching is the focus, students can achieve an Early Childhood Masters in Education Endorsement. 

Degree Title: M.Ed. Early Childhood

Length of Program: 33 credit hours- two years (5-6 semesters)

The University of Missouri St Louis offers a masters degree program in Elementary Education with a focus on Early Childhood. This course of study is delivered entirely online. The online classes are designed to be flexible so students can continue their work in the field simultaneous to program completion. They consider the following tennents to be paramount to the program: reflective practice in action, cultural intelligence, and child advocacy. Students will learn how to build a complex understanding of the systems in place and how they inform learning processes. The coursework covers topics such as: meeting the needs of diverse learners, action research cycle to improve professional practice, social justice and community settings, and creative technology intervention for learning. Students have the opportunity to earn a graduate certificate in social justice with nine extra hours of coursework. There are additional concentrations such as special education that students can also consider. 

Degree Title: MEd in Elementary Education – Early Childhood

Length of Program: 33 credit hours

Arkansas State University offers an Online Masters in Science degree in Early Childhood Services that is delivered entirely online. This course of study offers extensive coursework in teacher education and opportunities to learn best administrative practices.  Students will gain in depth understandings of child development and differences that may occur along with the most up to date intervention strategies and influences. Students will have opportunities to form relationships with communities and families that are collaborative and supportive This is known as one of the more accelerated options, as the degree can be completed in as little as 12 months time.  A thesis capstone portfolio is required instead of taking written comprehensive exams. The program utilizes something called Live Text for technical support, meaning students must have a texting plan on their phone as well as high speed internet to participate. 

Degree Title: (MS) Master of Science in Early Childhood Services

Length of Program: 30 credit hours-12 month minimum


Clarion University of Pennsylvania offers a master’s in early childhood education online. This program offers a foundational approach to best practices in working with the youngest group of people in our country. The program lays out many opportunities for professional growth and advancement while providing students an academically challenging course load that tackles many research based theories and principles. Students will get to work within a flexible and convenient online format. Some of the program outcomes include: demonstration of content specific to the disciplines chosen by students, which may include pedagogical content knowledge and child development, analysis and reflection on instructional strategies and progress, and creation of appropriate assessment tools that measure the progress of learners, among others. Students will take 9 credits worth of core coursework, 12 credits of specialized courses, and 9 elective credit hours. 

Degree Title: M.Ed. Education: Early Childhood Concentration

Length of Program: 30 credit hours

The School of Education at Biola University offers an Online Masters of Arts in Education. This MA program prepares students to work in a variety of classroom settings with an Early Childhood Concentration. This course of study is explicitly for educators who are interested in taking their impact to the next level, specifically with children ages birth to third grade. Many learning environments and working with diverse populations are all addressed. This is not a certification program, however, upon graduation one will have the opportunity to apply for a variety of licenses. This program is specifically designed for christian students, as this identity and faith-based framework is paramount to the program’s vision. Professional writing skills will be heavily addressed in this course of study, along with communication skills, and the ability to work in different settings. 

Degree Title: MA Education-Concentration Early Childhood

Length of Program: 38 credit hours

What Can I Do with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education?

There are many master’s in early childhood education jobs that anchor the discipline from a leadership perspective. Practitioners everywhere choose the route of obtaining a masters degree in the field, because they want to deepen their teaching practice and open more doors as classroom facilitators. However, many embark on this path to take on positions such as preschool directors, curriculum developers, policy advocates, among other administrative roles that are timely and relevant. It is imperative that someone playing a leadership role in a preschool environment has a finger on the pulse of the currents in the field. They will have to be the ones, in most cases, to communicate with families about complex issues related to their children and make decisions that impact the entire student body and their families. Many times those who hold this degree wear many hats in whatever role they end up playing, because they are often the jack (or Janes) of all trades in the profession. 

How Much Can I Make with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education?

The projected masters in early childhood education salary is around $48,000, though a director of a childcare center earns in the range of $51,000. The high end salary from a masters degree in early childhood education is $78,000 for the role of a human resources manager. You can see that the early childhood education salary with masters gives a significant boost from the $36,000 projected salary for associates degree holders in the same field. It is clear that there is long term financial payoff for advancement in the field. Though with higher pay, clearly comes more responsibility. The more of a leadership role you take on, the higher the pay potentia-l period. 

Can I Specialize in Special Education for Early Childhood?

Absolutely. There are so many places you can go with a specialization in early childhood education. In fact, an online masters degree in early childhood special education is one of the most common avenues to take in this regard. There are so many opportunities to engage in a path that supports young people with learning differences that include a variety of disabilities. Those who pick this discipline might be required to participate in a fieldwork experience that might be as long as a semester or even a year where they engage in leadership roles with students who have special needs. Many times coursework in this particular discipline includes a framework for collaborating with families and communities, as such collaboration is a skill paramount to serving this population in particular. A degree in speech therapy can also be a road to special education. 

There are often additional required credits to choose a specialization, but the extra coursework allows you to personalize your degree. Adding a speciality will make you even more marketable and ultimately more in demand. Specializations can also include topics like diversity and inclusion, literacy specialist, english as a second language, leadership and administration, among many others. Adding a specialization can also make it easier to qualify for niche financial aid opportunities in that particular discipline.

Related Resources:

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Ready to start your journey?