Why This Matters

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 86,400 MORE OF YOU BY 2030

    Employment of preschool teachers is expected to increase by 18% in the next decade, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

  • EARN $18,160 MORE IN A DIRECTOR POSITION

    The average annual median salary for a preschool director is $47,940, compared to $29,780 for a preschool teacher. Having an advanced degree better prepares you for a leadership position. Employment in director positions is also expected to increase 11% by 2026.

  • 50% OF HEAD START JOBS REQUIRE A DEGREE

    Head Start is a national government program aimed at supporting preschool-age children and their families. Individual agencies administer Head Start programs, and many of them require that individuals have an ECE degree in order to be eligible for employment.

Our Research

All coursework for listed programs can be completed online. However, most programs include a field experience component which must be completed in person. It’s important to review these requirements and ensure that you can fit them into your schedule.

This list also includes associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in early childhood education. Your current education level will guide which type of degree you are seeking. Some bachelor’s programs are specifically targeted at individuals who have an associate’s degree or are transferring credits from another institution. At the master’s level, some programs require students to already have a degree or experience in education; others accept students from all academic and professional backgrounds.

Once we selected our top programs, we evaluated their reputation, course strength, flexibility, and cost, and then we calculated the Intelligent Score of each degree on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 72 hours to write this article
  • 144 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 394 education programs we compared

The Top 63 Online Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Best Online Early Childhood Education Degree Programs
01
Northern Arizona University

intelligent score 99.22

Award Intelligent Pick

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Intelligent Pick

Delivery Format Online

Programs B.A.S. in Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

Department Department of Teaching and Learning

Estimated Cost per Credit $425 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 888-628-2968

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs B.A.S. in Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

01
Kansas State University

intelligent score 99.15

Award Best in the Midwest

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best in the Midwest

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

Department College of Human Ecology

Estimated Cost per Credit $436.40 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 785-532-5575

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

01
University of Cincinnati

intelligent score 98.99

Award Best Concentration Options

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Concentration Options

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education (Birth - Age 5)

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

Department School of Education

Estimated Cost per Credit $455 credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 513-556-3600

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education (Birth - Age 5)

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

01
Western Carolina University

intelligent score 98.86

Award Most Affordable

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

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No

Award Most Affordable

Delivery Format Online

Programs Birth-Kindergarten Program B.S. degree with a concentration in Early Childhood

Required Credits to Graduate 30 credits

Department College of Education and Allied Professions

Estimated Cost per Credit $121.45 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 828-227-2272

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs Birth-Kindergarten Program B.S. degree with a concentration in Early Childhood

Required Credits to Graduate 30 credits

01
Florida State College at Jacksonville

intelligent score 98.77

Award Good Value

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Good Value

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

Department School of Health, Education and Human Services

Estimated Cost per Credit $161.72 per credit

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 904-633-8182

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

01
California Baptist University Online

intelligent score 98.01

Award Best Religious-Affiliated School

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Religious-Affiliated School

Delivery Format Online

Programs BA in Early Childhood

Required Credits to Graduate 48 credits

Department Dr. Bonnie G. Metcalf School of Education

Estimated Cost per Credit $613 per credit

accreditation Western Association of Schools and Colleges

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 877-236-1617

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs BA in Early Childhood

Required Credits to Graduate 48 credits

01
Southwestern College

intelligent score 97.73

Award Most Experienced Faculty

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Most Experienced Faculty

Delivery Format Online

Programs BA in Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 124 credits

Department Professional Studies

Estimated Cost per Credit $562 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 888-684-5335

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs BA in Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 124 credits

01
The University of Alabama

intelligent score 97.47

Award Child Development Emphasis

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Child Development Emphasis

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences, Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

Department Department of Human Development & Family Studies

Estimated Cost per Credit $375 per credit

accreditation National Association for the Education of Young Children

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 800-467-0227

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences, Early Childhood Education

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

01
Mount Vernon Nazarene University

intelligent score 97.21

Award Best Honors Program

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Honors Program

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education

Required Credits to Graduate 123 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit $398 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 740-392-6868

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education

Required Credits to Graduate 123 credits

01
University of Nebraska at Kearney

intelligent score 96.68

Award Best for International Students

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for International Students

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Inclusive

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

Department

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $259 per credit; Out-of-State: $396 per credit

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 308-865-8441

Learn More

Delivery Format Online

Programs Bachelor of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Inclusive

Required Credits to Graduate 120 credits

01
Best Advisors
West Virginia University at Parkersburg
01
Best for Preschool Concentration
Winston-Salem State University
01
Most Transfer-Friendly
Eastern Oregon University
01
Best State University
Portland State University
01
Best Summer Residency
Edinboro University
01
Best Bachelor's Degree
Fort Hays State University
01
Most Flexible Start Terms
Northwestern College
01
Best Religious-Affiliated School
Indiana Wesleyan University
01
Most Innovative Curriculum
Florida International University
01
Best Bachelor's Degree
University of Florida
01
Best Doctorate Degree
University of Massachusetts Amherst
01
Best Montessori Credential
Chaminade University of Honolulu
01
Best Christian University
Liberty University
01
Best Public Research School
Arizona State University
01
Best in the Northwest
University of Washington
01
Best in the South
University of Missouri
01
Best Master of Science Degree
University of North Dakota
01
Best Master of Arts Degree
University of Alabama at Birmingham
01
Best in the Northeast
California University of Pennsylvania
01
Best Scholarships
University of Colorado Denver
01
Best for Pre-K-5
Albany State University
01
Best Private University
Umass Global
01
Low Tuition
Bay Mills Community College
01
Birth-Grade 2 Emphasis
Mercy College
01
Best Master of Arts in Teaching Degree
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
01
Best in the Southeast
Bluefield College
01
Best Financial Support
University of Arizona
01
Fastest Completion Time
Kennesaw State University
01
Industry-Leading Faculty
Ball State University
01
Shortest Completion Time
Eastern Washington University
01
Best Play-Based Learning Emphasis
Capella University
01
Most Flexible Completion Time
Texas Tech University
01
Best Alumni Network
University of South Alabama
01
Best Interdisciplinary Curriculum
East Tennessee State University
01
Best Certificate Program
West Virginia University
01
Multiple Campuses
Arkansas Tech University
01
Best Student Support Services
University of Toledo
01
Best for Accelerated Classes
National University
01
Best Faith-Based Institution
Grand Canyon University
01
Low Tuition
University of the Cumberlands
01
Most Flexible Start Terms
University of West Alabama
01
Best Scholarships
Regent University
01
Fastest Completion Time
Arkansas State University
01
Best Christ-Centered Program
Colorado Christian University
01
Credit for Experience
Pacific Oaks College
01
Best Project-Based Curriculum
Champlain College
01
Best Cohort-Based Program
Fresno Pacific University
01
Multiple Campuses
Wayland Baptist University
01
Best for Hands-On Learning
Central Methodist University
01
Most Flexible
Jackson State University
01
Long-Running Program
National Louis University
01
Most Transfer-Friendly
Mayville State University
01
Best Concentration Options
Charter Oak State College

What You Should Know About This Degree

While an online degree in early childhood education prepares you to work with young children in settings like Head Start programs, daycare centers, and private homes, it is not the same as a teaching degree. Most early childhood education programs do not lead to teaching certification, which is usually required for teaching jobs in public and private schools. Consider what your ultimate career goals are and if you need a degree program that will prepare you for teaching certification.

Each state sets its own requirements for being a preschool or early childhood educator or center director. Some states mandate that early childhood educators have the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, which requires a minimum of 10 instructional hours in eight distinct areas. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your state’s requirements, and make sure that you select a program whose curriculum aligns with those standards.

Although all the coursework for the listed programs can be completed online, most of them have a practicum component that involves working with children in an early learning setting. The number of hours and type of setting may vary by program, but you must consider how this requirement will fit into your schedule when researching programs.

What’s Next?

When researching online early childhood education programs, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Does this program have the specialization I want? There are a number of areas of focus under the umbrella of early childhood education, including infant-toddler mental health, administration and leadership, and special education. If concentrating on one of these areas is important to you, make sure the schools you are researching offer coursework or a specialization in that topic.
  • Where can I work with this degree? Because individual states set their own requirements for early childhood educators, some programs only prepare graduates to work in the state in which their degree is granted, even if the program is available online. Be sure to identify where your degree makes you eligible to work post-graduation.

Once you’ve found the programs that interest you, research their application processes and requirements. This information is typically available on the program’s webpage; you can also contact the program directly if you have questions.

Financing your education is another important consideration. Research scholarship opportunities and financial aid deadlines. If you are currently employed, check with your employer to see if tuition remission/reimbursement benefits are available.