Nothing matches the experience of working with children and playing a vital role in their growth to become adults. Inspiring and educating future generations comes with a level of satisfaction that is impossible to describe. A Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE) prepares you for a career teaching children in the age range from birth to around eight-years-old. Typically, you’ll teach students up through the third grade.
Working in early childhood education means having the important task of shaping students’ lives and setting the foundation for a love of learning. Teaching students at this level means creating an educational environment that is safe, caring, and fosters growth to maximize a child’s potential.
Being an effective educator at this level requires listening and communication skills. Teachers must have a strong sense of integrity, adaptability, and dependability for their students to succeed.
Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
A bachelor’s degree program in ECE typically takes four years to complete. Throughout the program, students are expected to complete coursework and gain field experience. Many colleges and universities offer degree programs to students online, where they complete a majority of their coursework without going to campus. However, for most colleges, these students must still earn some form of field experience before they graduate.
While there are associate degree programs in ECE, most programs are at the bachelor’s degree level. This degree level is the typical requirement to work in public schools and for someone to earn their teacher certification.
Throughout an ECE degree program, students learn about child development, curriculum design, and various teaching methods. The program also has a strong emphasis on hands-on leadership skills and training. These courses prepare students for work as a director or lead teacher.
Working as an early childhood educator requires patience and a passion for helping children grow, learn, and develop their skills. Below is a list of some of the more common courses associated with this degree program:
· Children with Differing Abilities
· Infancy and Early Childhood
· Guiding Child Behavior
· Methods of Teaching Reading
· Introduction to Early Childhood Education
· Educational Psychology
· Early Language and Literacy
While many schools do provide similar coursework, not all of them are the same. Throughout the hundreds of colleges and universities offering bachelor’s degree programs in early childhood education, many stand out for their excellent quality. Choosing the right program is the first step toward finding a successful career in your field.
Best Early Childhood Education Degree Programs
Early childhood education programs vary in length, credit hours, and coverage. Some colleges only offer traditional programs while others provide online options that are known for their high quality. Below is a list of the top colleges and universities that offer a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, both on-campus and online.
Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education Programs
Mercer University offers a Bachelor of Science in Education and students can major in early childhood and special education. Completing this program certifies students to teach Kindergarten up to fifth grade. Students are also eligible for Level 4 certification upon graduating.
Mercer University’s program focuses on several aspects of childhood development. Courses cover a child’s environment, cognitive and social development, health and nutrition, fundamentals of special education, and the implementation of technology.
In addition to coursework, students receive field experience. This experience includes participating in several settings and classrooms to gain valuable experience and learn how to handle various scenarios in a classroom setting.
The University of Florida offers a unique five-year Unified Early Childhood ProTeach program. After completing a four-year degree, students can enter a one-year graduate program where they earn their Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.
The Unified Early Childhood ProTeach program certifies graduates to work in various age brackets. Upon completing the program, graduates earn Certificates for Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten/Primary School. Pre-Kindergarten Disability and ESOL Endorsements are available as well.
New York University offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. This degree program is a combination of the university’s highly acclaimed Liberal Arts Core and its incredible teacher training.
New York University offers a dual-certification program where students earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education. Thanks to New York’s diverse community, students receive insight into various special education and general settings.
The fieldwork offered at NYU gives students an experience that broadens their horizons and strengthens their understanding of various classroom settings.
Indiana University-Bloomington has a well-received bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education. Upon graduating, students receive dual teaching licenses and have the freedom to teach anywhere in the state. Graduates are certified to teach in the preschool setting up to third grade.
The university gives students a wide array of coursework to fully prepare them for success in their field. The program has a strong emphasis on special education, early intervention, and inclusion to give students a well-rounded understanding of their role as an educator.
Along with studying in class, students in the early childhood education program also receive opportunities for student teaching, field experience, and practicums. There’s also the option for graduates to receive a teaching license in reading.
Arizona State University offers an early childhood education program that is highly ranked amongst other colleges and universities. ASU provides a unique experience to students. Its program gives graduates dual certification in both early childhood education and early childhood special education.
Throughout the program, students receive clinical experience, take internships, and receive teaching opportunities. Students receive real-life experience and mentorship to better prepare them for their careers. After passing the required Arizona Educator Exams, graduates from the program are allowed to work anywhere in the state from pre-kindergarten to third grade.
The University of Georgia offers one of the best bachelor’s degree programs in early childhood education. Upon earning the degree, graduates receive certification for teaching pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.
The University of Georgia gives students a combination of hands-on experience and coursework to fully prepare them for their careers. Students learn to create curriculums and how to utilize the best practices in education.
One thing that separates the University of Georgia from other early childhood education programs is its strong relationship with local schools. This relationship allows students to receive practical skills through tutorials, working in the Reading Clinic, or participating in various forms of school culture.
Graduates from UGA’s program walk away with a great deal of experience thanks to spending their last semester working as a full-time student teacher with a mentor.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education Programs
The University of Alabama has a 120-credit hour online bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education. Students can also take a concentration in early childhood development. The curriculum has a strong emphasis on strengthening the relationship between parent and child, as well as the holistic development of children.
Throughout the course, students must complete an early childhood education internship along with their coursework. In addition to these internships, students must also complete field courses that require placement at an accredited preschool. The program does not come with teacher certification.
Within the University of Washington’s early care and education program, students learn about child development, family learning, and early childhood. Upon completing the course and receiving their bachelor’s degree, students gain skills in social policy, child observation and assessment, and relationships between child and parent.
Online students can enroll in part-time or full-time courses. While enrolled in the program, students have access to the University of Washington’s libraries, its Career and Internship Center, as well as technical support through the university’s information technology office.
The University of Cincinnati offers an online early childhood education bachelor’s degree program. The program is designed for aspiring educators wishing to work with children from birth to the age of five.
This 120-credit hour course does not lead to licensure. However, students may focus on Pre-K, administration, or infant-toddler when it comes to their concentration. Throughout the program, students cover topics such as educational technology, assessment and evaluation, and language arts and literacy.
Wichita State University has a bachelor’s degree program in education that includes a concentration in early childhood unified/elementary education. Students who earn an online degree are qualified to pursue licensure in Kansas for elementary and early childhood teaching.
There are two paths available to students, based on whether they’ve completed their associate of arts degree in a related field.
Students, depending on their path, must complete either a four-part internship or four-part field experience and internship in order to graduate. Students must also complete a research or applied learning project, as well as a Kansas Performance Teaching Portfolio to meet their degree requirements and qualify for licensure.
West Virginia University’s online bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education is 120-credit hours long with roughly 40 courses that students must attend. Some of the courses in the program include child development, early socio-emotional growth, and infant-toddler language and literacy.
Students can choose between the non-certification track, birth through age five track and pre-k certification track, or a certification plus pre-k special needs endorsement track. Graduates who complete any track where they earn a certification qualify to apply for teacher licensure in West Virginia.
In addition to coursework, students are required to complete a child development practicum, hospital child life practicum, and various teaching practica and field experiences. If students plan to pursue a track in certification or endorsement, they must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA and pass the Praxis Core exam.
Early Childhood Education Degree Career Prospects
Upon earning your degree in early childhood education, you have the potential to work in many career fields. While some work in grade schools, many people take completely different career paths and help children in various ways.
Below is a list of some of the careers available to those who have earned their Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.
Preschool Teacher: A preschool teacher is one of the more common positions taken by those who have earned their degree in early childhood education. These instructors are tasked with helping children develop properly throughout the early stages of their life. The challenges faced by preschool teachers are very unique compared to those who teach kindergarten and grade school students. Some of the entry-level positions as a preschool teacher involve working as an assistant or teacher’s aide.
Childcare Center Director: As a childcare center director, you’re responsible for the daily operations of a childcare facility, such as a preschool or daycare. These educators are experienced and personally trained to make sure that the daycare meets its goals and responsibly looks after the children under the facility’s care.
In addition to supervising, childcare center directors must work directly with teachers to improve the standards of the curriculum, prepare budgets, develop more programs to help children succeed, and monitor the progress of children and teachers.
Early Childhood Special Education Teacher: Special education teachers work with students that have varying learning abilities. When working in this position, you must create a lesson plan that meets the unique needs of all the children in your classroom. This position is challenging but very rewarding.
These are just some of the career opportunities available to those that want to work in early childhood education. Other positions involve working in research, consulting, and family support.
Working as a teacher is very rewarding. When you’re tasked with developing the minds of future generations, you have a job that is incomparable to any other. The work required to become a teacher is well worth the effort and many people find great success in the field.
Take the first step towards becoming an educator by earning your bachelor’s degree in early childhood education today.
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