Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Shaun ReillyASO Rankings Team
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Updated October 17, 2023
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Early childhood education is the study of the holistic development and education of young children, typically from birth to age eight. It focuses on nurturing youths’ cognitive, social, emotional, and physical growth during their formative years. As distance learning becomes more common, online degrees in early childhood education have emerged as a convenient and flexible option for aspiring educators.

In this comprehensive guide, we explore the world of online bachelor’s programs in early childhood education, highlighting their curricula, graduates’ career prospects, and more. Use this page to learn more about online early childhood education programs and discover how they can shape your career.

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Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

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#1 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Northwestern College

  • Location-markerOrange City, IA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$32,700
  • Out-of-state$32,700
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate74%
  • Students Enrolled1,496
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Northwest Florida State College

  • Location-markerNiceville, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$2,496
  • Out-of-state$9,552
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,004
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment78%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Lynn University

  • Location-markerBoca Raton, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$37,600
  • Out-of-state$37,600
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate79%
  • Students Enrolled3,232
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment48%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global

  • Location-markerMarion, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,871
  • Out-of-state$8,871
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled10,944
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment92%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Charter Oak State College

  • Location-markerNew Britain, CT
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,656
  • Out-of-state$10,056
  • Retention Rate50%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,634
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Eastern Oregon University

  • Location-markerLa Grande, OR
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,830
  • Out-of-state$20,520
  • Retention Rate70%
  • Acceptance Rate94%
  • Students Enrolled2,853
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment92%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Chaminade University of Honolulu

  • Location-markerHonolulu, HI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$26,800
  • Out-of-state$26,800
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate89%
  • Students Enrolled2,208
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment61%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Florida International University

  • Location-markerMiami, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,721
  • Out-of-state$16,529
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate58%
  • Students Enrolled58,836
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment86%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Concordia University-Wisconsin

  • Location-markerMequon, WI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$30,890
  • Out-of-state$30,890
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate71%
  • Students Enrolled5,492
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment53%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Programs

Bluefield College

  • Location-markerBluefield, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$25,750
  • Out-of-state$25,750
  • Retention Rate63%
  • Acceptance Rate76%
  • Students Enrolled965
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment39%
  • AccreditationYes

Did You Know?

According to a 2021 study from the peer-reviewed journal Child Development, children who receive high-quality early childhood education are more likely to graduate high school and college.

Why Should You Earn Your Degree in Early Childhood Education Online?

Earning an online degree in early childhood education (ECE) offers several advantages. The field of ECE is in high demand, making it a rewarding and fulfilling educator career path. Benefits of online early childhood education degrees can include:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Online programs often have lower tuition fees — including in-state rates for out-of-state learners at public institutions — and eliminate commuting or relocation expenses.
  • Flexibility: Online early childhood education programs let enrollees access course materials and lectures from home. Asynchronous courses often provide more flexible schedules that let students balance their degree with other commitments.
  • Accelerated or Self-Paced Options: Some online programs offer accelerated formats or self-paced learning, enabling learners to complete their degree at their own pace.
  • Access to More Schools: Because online learning does not require relocation, prospective students are not limited to institutions in their vicinity, providing a wider array of options for potential schools.
  • Practical Experience: Many online early childhood education programs allow learners to complete field work or practicum components in their area, ensuring these enrollees still receive valuable hands-on learning opportunities.

By earning an early childhood education degree online, individuals can acquire the skills and knowledge they need for careers in this field while enjoying the flexibility and affordability that online learning can offer.

What Do You Learn in an Online Early Childhood Education Program?

Online early childhood education programs typically award a bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degree. Specific coursework varies by school, but classes generally cover the following topics:

  • Child development and psychology
  • Classroom management strategies
  • Teaching methods and curriculum design
  • Language development

ECE online programs may also offer specializations or concentrations that let students focus their studies on specific topics. For example, ECE majors can specialize in early childhood special education or administration and leadership.

These programs often include fieldwork or practicum experiences to provide hands-on learning. Enrollees observe and lead educational experiences in early childhood settings under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Prospective learners should research individual programs to understand the specific courses, concentrations, and fieldwork requirements they offer to ensure the degree aligns with their goals.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education?

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers help children under the age of five learn subjects such as reading, writing, and science by instructing them on skills like letter and number recognition. These professionals must tailor their curriculum and teaching styles to accommodate young children.

  • Median Annual Salary (2021): $30,210
  • Job Outlook (2021-2031): +15%

Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers educate and guide students in their early academic years. They create lesson plans, deliver lessons, assess student progress, and promote a positive learning environment. These teachers play a crucial role in shaping students’ foundational knowledge, skills, and social development.

  • Median Annual Salary (2021):$61,350
  • Job Outlook (2021-2031):+4%

Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants provide instruction to young children under the supervision of licensed teachers. Job duties include enforcing classroom rules, keeping records, maintaining class materials, and supporting lesson plans.

  • Median Annual Salary (2021): $29,360
  • Job Outlook (2021-2031): +5%

Preschool or Child Care Center Director

Directors oversee the operations of preschool and child care centers. This work entails hiring, training, and supervising employees; developing education programs; and managing organizational finances. In addition, preschool and child care center directors must comply with state regulations.

  • Median Annual Salary (2021): $47,310
  • Job Outlook (2021-2031):+8%

What Should You Consider Before Choosing an Online ECE Program?

Before you enroll in an online early childhood education program, you need to make sure that it fits your needs. The following factors will help you choose a quality program that aligns with your career aspirations and provides a solid foundation for a rewarding, impactful career in education:

Accreditation

Confirm that all schools on your list are institutionally accredited, which signifies they meet established standards of academic quality.

Additionally, programmatic accreditation from relevant organizations like the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, or the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation demonstrates that an ECE program adequately prepares enrollees for educator careers.

Learning Experience

Check that the program’s format aligns with your learning style and schedule. Some programs offer synchronous courses, which require students to log on at specific times to participate in virtual class sessions. Other courses use asynchronous learning, which typically allows learners to engage with course materials on a more flexible schedule. Asynchronous courses may be ideal for enrollees who work full time or have family obligations.

Additionally, ensure any prospective program provides ample opportunities for hands-on learning, such as fieldwork or practicum experiences. These opportunities are essential for developing your teaching skills.

Specialization Options

Exploring specialization options is crucial in aligning your program with your career goals and interests. Look for programs that offer coursework or specializations in specific subfields of ECE, such as special education, infant/toddler education, or curriculum development. Having the opportunity to delve deeper into your chosen area of interest can enhance your expertise and make your skills more marketable.

Licensure vs. Non-Licensure Track

Decide whether you want a licensure or non-licensure track program. Licensure track programs are designed to prepare graduates for teacher licensure or certification — typically required for teachers in public schools. Non-licensure track programs may be suitable if you’re interested in roles outside of traditional classroom teaching, such as educational administration, policy, or advocacy.

Explore Other Degree Levels for Early Childhood Education

FAQ About Online Early Childhood Education Programs

question-mark-circleWhat are the admission requirements for online early childhood education college?

Admission requirements for online bachelor’s programs in early childhood education typically include a high school diploma or equivalent, completed application form, transcripts, letters of recommendation, admission essay, and a minimum GPA. Some programs may require a background check.

question-mark-circleHow long does an online bachelor’s in early childhood education take?

Typically, students can complete an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education in four years of full-time study. Part-time options, which can provide additional flexibility for enrollees, usually take longer.

question-mark-circleHow much does an online bachelor’s in early childhood education cost?

The cost of an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education varies because of factors like the institution’s public or private status, students’ state residency, and financial aid options. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics for the 2020-21 school year, full-time tuition at public institutions averaged $9,400, while private nonprofit schools averaged $37,600. Learners should also factor additional expenses such as textbooks and technology fees into their budgets.

question-mark-circleWhat is the highest-paying job in early childhood education?

While salaries can vary depending on factors like location and experience, positions with the highest average salaries in early childhood education include kindergarten or elementary school teacher and preschool or childcare care center director. Professionals who pursue advanced educational credentials like a master’s degree can also qualify for roles as instructional coordinators, a job which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports paid a median salary of $63,740 in 2021.

question-mark-circleWhat qualities should early childhood teachers have?

Successful early childhood teachers should possess qualities such as patience, creativity, empathy, strong communication skills, and flexibility. They must create nurturing, stimulating learning environments, effectively collaborate with families and colleagues, and adapt teaching strategies to meet the diverse needs of their students.

Next Steps

Page last reviewed July 25, 2023. All rankings and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by the ASO Rankings Team.

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