What You Should Know About This Degree
An early childhood education degree is intended to prepare you for work in Head Start programs, preschools, day cares, and private homes. It’s not meant to serve as a substitute for a teaching degree, and most early childhood education programs don’t lead to a teaching certification. Teaching certification is generally required if you want to teach in a public school setting, and some private elementary and secondary schools also ask for it.
All states set their own requirements for early childhood educators and directors. Some states require that educators obtain the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, which involves 10 hours of learning that cover eight distinct subjects. If your state asks for this, make sure to choose a degree program that includes the credential in its curriculum.
While online programs make it possible to complete coursework remotely, the vast majority of programs have a practicum portion that you must do in an early childhood education setting. How many practicum hours you’ll need varies, but you should consider this factor as you evaluate programs in light of your personal scheduling needs.
Consider these factors when evaluating early childhood education degree programs:
- How long does it take to complete this online degree? How long you’ll spend studying early childhood education depends on what level of degree you pursue. Most associate degrees require two years of full-time study, while bachelor’s programs require four years if you don’t already have an associate designation. Master’s programs are generally two years. Going part-time will extend the duration of any program.
- What licensing or certifications are required? Some states require early childhood educators to have the CDA credential, which is helpful even when it’s not officially required. If your state requires the credential, look for a program that includes it in its coursework.
Once you have chosen programs of interest, check each program’s webpage or contact each school directly to learn more about its application process. You need to know what materials to submit and their deadlines.
Also, consider how you’ll finance your degree. Research scholarship opportunities and ask programs about available financial aid. If you work in the field, find out whether your employer has a tuition remission or reimbursement program.