Why Should I Earn a Degree in Early Childhood Education?

top accredited online early childhood program

Earn a degree from one of our 30 accredited online colleges for early childhood education and you’ll be on your way to making a lifelong difference in children’s lives.

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In recent years, countless studies have shown the critical importance of a preschool education. The Economic Policy Institute found that children entering kindergarten underprepared are likely to stay behind through the rest of their schooling. By advancing your online education, you can help early learners excel in the classroom for years to come. 

Policymakers across the U.S. are working to expand access to quality preschool education. This is good news for students. It’s also good news for aspiring teachers!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of preschool teaching jobs is expected to grow by 18% by 2030. Moreover, several organizations, like T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® and Bright Horizons, offer scholarships as part of their commitment to increasing the number of highly skilled educators.

See Also: Top 21 Best Online Master’s in Educational Technology

Why is a Bachelor’s Degree Important?

In 2015, the National Academies of Sciences made a researched recommendation that all lead educators in preschool settings should have a bachelor’s degree. While some preschool teaching jobs only require an associate’s degree, you can expect that employers prefer a bachelor’s degree, especially after the 2015 recommendation from the NAS.

Topics you might study in a typical early childhood education program include:

  • Classroom management
  • Working with special needs students
  • Pedagogy
  • How to build effective learning environments

Not only does a bachelor’s degree prepare you more thoroughly to be a preschool teacher, but it also prepares you for future academic pursuits. For example, you’ll need a master’s degree to rise to an administrative position. But before you can do that, you must already have a bachelor’s degree.

Furthermore, bachelor’s degree typically results in higher pay than if you simply have an associate’s degree. According to a study by Northeastern University, the median salary for a bachelor’s degree holder is $18,772 more than that of a worker with an associate’s degree. What’s more, an associate’s degree nets you $7,332 more per year in earnings than if you have just a high school diploma. So, pursuing a bachelor’s degree can have a significant impact on your earnings.

See Also: 30 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

What are the Benefits of Studying Online?

Pursuing an online degree allows you to continue to work while improving your credentials. Your resume and bank account will thank you!

Online colleges for early childhood education have programs designed with working students in mind, so your studies won’t be all-consuming. You might find that courses have flexible due dates. Many courses also don’t have set meeting times. This allows you to study on your own time, when it’s most convenient for you.

Additionally, many online learning programs allow you to take classes in whatever order you choose. Again, this flexibility enables you to pursue your degree on your own terms.

There are financial benefits of studying online, too. For example, many colleges and universities charge a flat per-credit rate for online courses rather than charging in-state and out-of-state tuition. If you don’t live in the same state as your selected school, this can mean the difference of thousands of dollars in savings each semester.

In the same vein, there are just as many federal financial aid opportunities for online learning at early childhood education online colleges as there are for on-campus students. In fact, you might find that there are specific scholarship and grant opportunities specifically for online learners such as yourself!

Most importantly, you’ll be learning the latest best practices in early childhood education. And you can put these right to work to set your students on a path for success. 

See Also: 10 Tips for Maximizing Your Learning Experience in Online College

Are there Accredited Online Colleges for Early Childhood Education?

Yes, there are plenty of online colleges with early childhood programs that are accredited.

An accredited online early childhood education degree is important for a variety of reasons:

  • Many financial aid awards require that you attend an accredited school.
  • Some licensure exams require that your degree is from an accredited school.
  • Employers often prefer that employees graduated from an accredited school.

Additionally, it’s important that you consider the type of accreditation. There’s institutional accreditation, which is either regionally-based or nationally-based. Regional accreditation is the preferred type since it is a more rigorous process to be accredited. Most public and private non-profit colleges and universities are regionally accredited.

National accreditation is often reserved for trade schools, online schools, and for-profit institutions. As noted a moment ago, regional accreditation is much more difficult to get, so national accreditation isn’t as prestigious. For this reason, regionally-accredited schools don’t accept transfer credits from nationally-accredited schools.

There’s also something called programmatic accreditation. Rather than occurring at the institutional level, programmatic accreditation is achieved at the program level. In this case, looking for early childhood education degrees that are accredited is also important. There are many program-level accrediting agencies (like the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC) that lend their expertise in determining if a program offers the appropriate level of rigor for its students.

Each of the schools listed in our rankings are accredited online colleges for early childhood education.

See Also: 30 Top Fastest Masters Degree Programs in the United States

What are the Best Early Childhood Education Degrees?

Don’t just randomly Google “online colleges early childhood education.” Instead, rely on our research-based rankings to help you find the right program for you!

Accredited Online College uses data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics to determine its rankings.

Each program listed below has an individual score. That score is compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking.

To aid in establishing these rankings, Accredited Online College considers several other factors, including:

  • Affordability
  • Student-to-faculty ratio
  • The number of programs offered on-campus and online

To learn more about how we determine these rankings of online colleges that offer early childhood education, visit our methodology page. 

1. University of Washington

University of Washington

The University of Washington leads as the most highly regarded public university on this list of early childhood education colleges online.

Currently, this Seattle-based school ranks No. 20 on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Schools. Through UW’s fully online Bachelor of Arts in Early Care and Education, distance learners can earn the same respected degree as on-campus students.

UW’s BA in Early Care and Education is delivered through asynchronous online coursework. You can access class material at any tine and from whatever location you’re in, provided you have internet access.

You’ll move through the program with the same group of peers, The program takes most full-time students two years to complete.

UW’s curriculum covers topics like child development and family studies. It places a strong emphasis on service-learning as well.

Admission requires at least 70 previously-earned undergraduate credits. You might have more eligible transfer credits, which will put you closer to the finish line. All students must earn a total of 180 quarter credits to graduate.

This early childhood education program begins each fall.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of Washington here.

2. National University

National University

Based in San Diego, National University specializes in educational opportunities for working professionals. This institution only offers online programs or in-person classes during the evenings or on weekends. Moreover, NU’s four-week courses help students juggle multiple responsibilities. This short, intensive format allows you to quickly master a topic before moving on to the next one.

National University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (BAECE). This program is available online and at one of 20 campuses across California and Nevada.

With monthly start dates, you can begin pursuing this 180-credit-hour degree right away. Half of these credits comprise admission requirements including prerequisites for the major. The other 90 credits focus on general education requirements. 

NU’s BAECE curriculum covers topics like early language and literacy. You’ll learn about play as pedagogy partnering with families, too. Each class in the curriculum requires field experience at an approved site. As an online student, NU works with you to find a suitable, local work placement location. This might even be your place of employment, if appropriate. 

Enrollment for this program is year-round.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at National University here.

3. Liberty University

Liberty University

If you search for “online schools early childhood education,” you’ll find Liberty University among the top recommendations.

Led by a mission to train “Champions for Christ,” Liberty University is a large Christian institution based in Lynchburg, VA. This university began distance learning in the 1980s when classes were completed through snail mail. Today, Liberty’s high-tech learning platform offers hundreds of online degrees.

Liberty’s Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education is a fully online, 120-credit-hour program. Up to 75% of this degree’s required credits can be transferred in. This makes it a great option if you’ve already completed undergraduate credit hours. Otherwise, you will likely need three and a half years to graduate. 

In this program, you’ll learn from faculty with an abundance of teaching experience. You’ll explore topics like the psychology of childhood and wellness in the early childhood setting. Each course takes eight weeks to complete.

You have the option to complete a field experience course, too. This allows you to gain hands-on experience in an approved classroom setting close to home. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Liberty University here.

4. Florida International University

Florida International University

Also among the top early childhood education schools online is Florida International University.

FIU may be based in the vibrant city of Miami, but tens of thousands of its students pursue their studies online. Considering the strength of FIU’s online offerings, it’s easy to see why. Currently, FIU is tied at No. 59 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs

FIU has a fully online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree. This degree requires 120 credit hours to graduate. However, students must already have 60 credits of lower-level undergraduate coursework to apply.

Through asynchronous online classes that foster peer-to-peer discussion, you’ll explore topics like:

  • Educational psychology
  • Art in early childhood
  • Early social and emotional development

You can enroll in FIU’s program in the summer, fall, or spring terms. Upon admission, you’ll be assigned a support coach. This person helps align your course of study with your career goals. They’ll also provide resources and encouragement throughout your academic journey. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Florida International University here.

5. Wilmington University

Wilmington University

At Wilmington University, online students are anything but outliers. Nearly half of this school’s student body studies online. And if you want to take a class in-person when your schedule allows, Wilmington provides that option! Coursework in its Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education Program is delivered online and at three Delaware-based campuses.

At Wilmington, students interested in teaching early learners will pursue a BS in Education Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Education.

In total, 121 credit hours are needed to graduate. This includes 41 credits of general education requirements, 21 credits in social and behavioral sciences, and 12 credits in fine arts. You can take courses like drawing, painting, and music appreciation to fulfill this requirement. 

Thirty-nine credits are focused on the major, six of which must be fulfilled through 45 days of a full-time teaching internship. The value of this internship cannot be understated. It’s an excellent opportunity to take your classroom learning and apply it to a real classroom situation. The input and guidance of your mentor teacher will help you put everything together in a way that makes it a valuable learning experience for you and your students.

You might be able to transfer up to 90 credits at Wilmington, too. This can significantly reduce the amount of time you need to finish your degree.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Wilmington University here.

6. University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati’s robust online degree offerings are part of a commitment to making higher education available to more students. In fact, more than a quarter of UC’s graduates are the first in their families to earn a college degree. And this is an impressive degree to hold – UC ranks at No. 67 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Top Public Schools

UC’s fully online, 120-credit-hour Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education focuses on children from birth to age five. Students explore topics like children’s literature, collaborative teaming, and play and development. In addition to core coursework, UC offers three areas of focus: Pre-K, administration, and infant-toddler. 

Among accredited online schools for early childhood education, UC provides one of the best support systems to ensure you finish what you start. Upon enrollment, you’re assigned an orientation specialist. They show you how to access your online coursework. You’ll also get an advisor and student success coordinator who will work with you to help guide and direct your studies throughout the program.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of Cincinnati here.

7. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech

Texas Tech University’s Bachelor of Science in Early Child Care is a seven-for-one deal. This fully online program is delivered by a consortium of seven universities. Gain admittance through Texas Tech, and this institution’s respected name will appear on your diploma. But you can enroll in classes led by any of the university’s accomplished faculty.

This BS program’s 51-credit-hour curriculum consists of 12 core courses. Applicants must have at least 30 previously-earned credit hours. A course in lifespan human development is a prerequisite as well. 

In this program, you’ll learn about the healthy development of children from birth to age eight. You’ll also take a series of professional development courses. For example, these classes include learning how to work with families, technology and young children, and administration of early childhood settings.

Three practicums are interspersed throughout the course of study and are done as partnerships with local educational institutions. One of these requirements can be waived if you have relevant work experience. The other two remain a requirement for completing this early childhood education degree online accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Texas Tech University here.

8. Kansas State University


Go above and beyond your bachelor’s by becoming a master. Kansas State University offers a Master’s in Early Childhood Education degree that can be earned entirely online. Not only is this degree flexible, but it’s also revered. Kansas State ranks at No. 24 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Master’s in Education Programs

This 30-credit-hour master’s program prepares you to excel as a teacher. It also advances your career to an administrative level. By undertaking scholarly research, you have the opportunity to improve early child care policy across the country. 

As a K-State online master’s student, you’ll learn from the same professors who teach on campus. You’ll choose a committee of faculty members who will help you create a plan of study that fits your specific goals for the program. All graduate students take six core courses. After that, this degree is highly customizable to fit with your personal and professional goals. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Kansas State University here.

9. Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University

Established in 1906 as a teacher’s college, Eastern Kentucky University has a long history of educating teachers. Today, this institution’s academic offerings are widely varied. Students from far off can earn an EKU degree online. EKU is tied at No. 74 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

Eastern Kentucky offers an online Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies with a Child Development concentration. This curriculum is delivered in eight-week terms. Online students learn from the same faculty who teach on-campus. 

At least 120 hours are needed to earn EKU’s bachelor’s degree. However, as many as 90 credits can be transferred in. You’ll work through class material on your schedule. You’ll never need to visit campus, either.

At EKU, you can also choose to further your credentials. You can do so by pursuing the Early Childhood Director Certificate. There’s an option for an Infant/Toddler Care & Education Certificate, too.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Eastern Kentucky University here.

10. Colorado State University

Colorado State

Rounding out the top 10 of our best online colleges for early childhood education is Colorado State University.

CSU’s campus is the most sustainable in the U.S. What could be more “green” than leaving your car in the garage by studying from home? This eco-conscious institution is invested in saving energy and saving its students’ time and money. CSU is No. 13 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs

CSU Online offers the same rigorous curriculum taught by respected faculty as on-campus programs. The fully online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies provides you with a well-rounded education that can be applied to an array of careers. This includes early childhood education, social services, or community outreach. 

Requiring 120 credits in total, you’ll take a series of required courses for the major. Your classes will delve into development across the life cycle. You’ll advance your research skills as well.

Eleven courses make up the Early Childhood Professionals concentration. A practicum is included so you can get real-world teaching experience before you graduate. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Colorado State University here.

11. University of Arizona

University of Arizona

While teaching young children, it’s likely that at least one of your students will dream of becoming an astronaut. Graduate from the University of Arizona, and you can tell them your alma mater has sent scientists into space! That’s right, the Wildcats have teamed with NASA on all of its planetary missions. 

In addition to its extraterrestrial accolades, Arizona is tied at No. 46 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top Public Schools. It’s also tied at No. 7 among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

Here, you can earn a Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education (BAS ECE) entirely online. The program is available in person or in a hybrid format, too. 

This degree is intended for students who already have an associate’s degree. Applicants must transfer in at least 60 credits from an accredited institution. Once enrolled, you complete core courses in early childhood education before undertaking a 15-week internship. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of Arizona here.

12. Fort Hays State University


Imagine paying only $5 for a semester’s worth of tuition. That’s what Fort Hays State University’s students paid when the school was first established in 1902!

Today, FHSU remains true to its beginnings with the lowest tuition rates among Kansas’ public universities. With its strong online learning community, FHSU sets up students from across the country to take advantage of its low cost of attendance. And they do: about half of FHSU’s students are online learners.

FHSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Unified Education. The “Unified” in the title signifies that graduates can serve in regular and special education settings.

This program includes 126 credits. There are 55 general education credit hours, which can be waived if you already hold a bachelor’s degree.

FHSU’s curriculum focuses on working with children from birth to third grade. All classes are available online. You’ll also complete internships with three different age groups. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Fort Hays State University here.

13. University of Nebraska- Lincoln

University of Nebraska Lincoln

At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, you can make a difference in young children’s lives by earning a completely unique degree: a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education in a Mobile Society (ECEMS).

This online degree gives you a well-rounded understanding of early childhood education. It also trains you to serve young learners whose families move often – for example, children from military families or those facing homelessness.

Nebraska’s ECEMS program is delivered through a collaboration of 11 universities called the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. Utilizing resources and accomplished faculty from each institution strengthens the program’s offerings. However, if you apply and are accepted by Nebraska, then Nebraska’s name will appear on your diploma.

Ranked at No. 64 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top Public Schools, this is an impressive name to tout.

This degree requires 120 credit hours, 45 of which are within the ECEMS major. This includes a capstone practicum experience in early childhood education. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of Nebraska-Lincoln here.

14. University of Southern Mississippi

University of Southern Mississippi

Go after your goals and advance your education with a degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. The university’s motto proudly exclaims, “Southern Miss to the Top!”

This is an institution that understands the needs of working students. More than 70% of its undergraduates study online. Furthermore, USM offers a long list of scholarships for incoming freshmen, and these are open to online learners.

USM’s Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Sciences offers a Child Development emphasis for aspiring teachers. This is a 124-credit-hour program. At least 50% of these credits must be earned from USM. Core courses span topics that include:

  • Infant development
  • Developmental disabilities in early childhood
  • Family theories
  • Personal and family financial management

As a USM student, you’ll complete a three-credit-hour practicum as your culminating experience. You’ll also have the opportunity to tailor your education to your professional goals with several electives.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of Southern Mississippi here.

15. Mayville State University

Mayville State University

Located in North Dakota, Mayville State University’s online programs allow students from across the country to take advantage of its small, close-knit community and exceptional value.

MSU boasts a private college’s class size at a public university’s cost. On average, its classes have 15 students or less. Its four-year tuition is at least $4,000 less than other North Dakota public universities. Best of all, online learners pay the same low-cost tuition rates no matter where they live.

MSU offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education for teachers who want to work with children up to eight years old.

In this program, you get the flexibility of an online degree without losing out on real-time learning opportunities. Some classes are delivered synchronously to promote discussion and interaction with peers and professors. 

This degree requires completion of 132 semester hours to graduate. This includes a practicum and several field experiences.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Mayville State University here.

16. Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University is based in Flagstaff, AZ, a city that often lands on the lists of the country’s best college towns. NAU’s picturesque campus is surrounded by mountains and a network of national parks, making it perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

However, approximately one-fifth of the NAU Lumberjacks study online. This means that you never need to visit Flagstaff to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education.

NAU’s fully online BAS degree is designed for students with an associate’s degree. In total, students complete 120 credits, but at least 64 of these must be transferred in. If you graduate from an Arizona community college, you’ll get a bigger head start. NAU accepts up to 75 credits from in-state institutions.

Your coursework is evenly split between BAS requirements and the Early Childhood specialization. In addition to taking courses covering child development, literacy, and play education, you’ll undertake an independent study. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Northern Arizona University here.

17. University of Missouri


As headlines warn of rising student debt across the country, the University of Missouri stands out for its affordable tuition rates. Nearly half of Mizzou graduates avoid taking on loans. They earn a well-respected degree in the process. Mizzou holds the No. 58 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top Public Schools

Mizzou offers online master’s degrees in early childhood education, early childhood special education, and early childhood special education/autism. Each requires 30 credit hours for degree completion.

All coursework is online, and no campus visits are required. Better yet, students living outside Missouri still pay in-state tuition.  

As a Mizzou student, you’ll take nine core courses exploring curriculum development and teaching in culturally diverse classrooms. Then, 15 credits focus on early childhood education. These classes cover issues like instructional leadership, language acquisition, and working with families. Lastly, you’ll choose six credit hours of electives, which can include a practicum.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of Missouri here.

18. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is located in one of the sunniest cities in the country: Phoenix. This Christian university is also only a three-hour drive from the natural wonder that gives it its name.

Serving more than 60,000 online learners, GCU is well-accustomed to the needs of distance learners. Here, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education that utilizes a faith-based curriculum. 

GCU’s online bachelor’s program requires 120 credit hours for completion. Up to 40 of these credits are completed through general education requirements. A majority of your studies – 80 credits, to be precise – focus on your early childhood education major. 

Before graduating, GCU’s students participate in two student teaching experiences. Each experience lasts eight weeks. One focuses on children from birth to preschool, and the other focuses on kindergarten to third grade.

This program is designed to prepare you to take the exam for licensure in the state of Arizona. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Grand Canyon University here.

19. University of Toledo

University of Toledo

Founded in 1872, the University of Toledo is a longstanding institution of higher education in Ohio. Today, its focus on nontraditional students has expanded its academic offerings to more than 50 online degree programs. Additionally, UToledo seeks to make college affordable through scholarships specifically awarded to transfer and adult students. 

UToledo’s online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education is for students currently working in an early care and education program. This degree builds on your professional experience. You must also hold an associate’s degree.

The program does not lead to licensure to work in a public school. Instead, it focuses on preparing you to pursue a master’s degree or take on a leadership role within you organization.

At UToledo, you can earn your degree quickly. As long as you have the necessary prerequisites, you can earn this bachelor’s with just 64 credits in four semesters.  

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of Toledo here.

20. Granite State College


Granite State College is on a mission to “expand the perception” of what a student looks like. Here, adult learners are the norm. GSC’s online courses come well-tested, too. In fact, more than three-quarters of its students study online. 

Granite State offers a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education with two tracks. The first is a pathway for certification in New Hampshire. The second is a non-certification pathway.

While both programs are delivered online, some courses may meet on one of GSC’s six campuses across New Hampshire. Each track requires 120 credit hours, and 80% of students transfer in with as many as 90 credits.

In both programs, you’ll cover subjects like:

  • child development
  • language arts and literacy
  • young children with exceptionalities

The difference between the tracks lies in the scope of hands-on experience that’s required. Additionally, the certification track requires that you undertake a series of state requirements designed to prepare you for the certification exam. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Granite State College here.

21. South Dakota State University

south dakota state university

For more than 90 years, South Dakota State University has operated its Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education. In addition to overseeing the development of more than 100 early learners, this center offers opportunities for faculty and students to lead new discoveries in early childhood education. 

As a distance learner, you can benefit from SDSU’s accomplished Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership. You can do so by earning its fully online Bachelor of Science in Early Education and Care.

This program is delivered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. This is a collaboration of universities that each provide online coursework for the degree’s requirements. This means as an EEC student, you’ll learn from faculty on SDSU’s Brookings campus as well as from faculty from seven other institutions.

SDSU’s students take 120 credit hours, 53 of which are dedicated to the major. Practicums are incorporated throughout the curriculum, and a 15-week internship is the final requirement.  

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at South Dakota State University here.

22. University of North Carolina Greensboro

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

When the University of North Carolina Greensboro opened in 1891, it was a women’s college. Today, it is one of the biggest co-ed public universities in the state, serving more than 20,000 students.

UNC Greensboro’s online programs deliver the same quality education that students receive on campus but at a lower price. Here, online credits cost less than those completed on campus.

UNC Greensboro offers an online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with two concentrations: Birth-Kindergarten Teacher Education and Early Care & Education. The former is for students seeking a license. 

These concentrations are intended for students who already have an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education from a North Carolina community college.

Courses are delivered in both asynchronous and synchronous formats. In this program, you’ll often have the flexibility to study when it’s most convenient. You can also connect with your classmates and professors in real-time.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of North Carolina Greensboro here.

23. University of Nebraska at Kearney

University of Nebraska Kearney

The University of Nebraska at Kearney prides itself on providing personal attention to all of its students. This is especially true of its online learners. Online courses are capped at 30 participants. This ensures that students receive individualized feedback from their instructors. 

At UNK, you can pursue a unique degree designed to fill in-demand positions across the state of Nebraska. UNK’s Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood and Family Advocacy prepares you for non-teaching roles in public agency programs or early childhood education centers. You’re trained to serve as family advocates, making home visitations with families to ensure a child is receiving all available educational and social services. 

This degree requires 120 credits, 59 of which are in the major. You’ll gain a foundational knowledge of early child development and educational methods. You’ll also dive deep into topics like counseling skills, families in crisis, and cross-cultural family patterns. All students participate in an internship and several field experiences prior to program completion. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of Nebraska at Kearney here.

24. Central Michigan University


Central Michigan University’s Global Campus offers highly competitive online tuition rates. There’s a cost-per-credit rate of approximately $440.

If you already work in an early child care center in Michigan, you might be able to further reduce the cost of your bachelor’s degree. As part of its initiative to retain highly skilled teachers across the state, the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children offers scholarships through its T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Michigan program. This financial assistance helps teachers reach their educational goals. 

CMU’s Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development and Learning is a 120-credit-hour program delivered entirely online. Approximately 43 credit hours focus on the field, covering topics like special education, program administration, and lifespan development. 

CMU’s program culminates with an eight-credit capstone experience. Students get supervised in-the-classroom experience at CMU’s Child Development and Learning Laboratory. With that said, you also have the option to fulfill this requirement online. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Central Michigan University here.

25. Park University

Park University

Park University’s nickname is the Pirates, and like its mascot, this institution has set sail across the globe. In addition to its first campus in Parkville, MO, Park has expanded to more than 40 campuses. With that many locations, you’re likely to find a campus near you. However, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Education Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education completely online through this private, nonprofit university.

Park’s curriculum is steeped in on-the-job training. This ensures that you’re prepared to lead your own classrooms upon graduation.

To complete your assignments, you’ll need to regularly interact with and observe young learners. Many of the required field experiences can be completed at your place of employment. However, Park also challenges you to complete practicums in other educational settings.

As a Park student, you’ll take 58 credits in the major. Additionally, you’ll choose a minor, like social work, psychology, or sociology. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Park University here.

26. Jackson State University

Jackson State University

Situated in Jackson, MS, Jackson State University is a historically Black university. It holds the No. 18 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list 2020 Best HBCUs.

JSU serves around 10,000 students, and roughly a quarter of its student body is enrolled in the College of Education and Human Development.

JSU’s Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education offers two online degree programs in the field. The Bachelor of Science in Childcare and Family Education is a non-licensure program requiring 122 credit hours. 

The Master of Science in Early Childhood Education is a graduate-level program requiring at least 33 credit hours. In addition to taking advanced courses in childhood development and education, you’ll learn how to conduct educational research. If you choose not to complete a research thesis, then you will need to complete three additional credit hours to graduate.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Jackson State University here.

27. University of West Alabama

University of West Alabama

Located in the rural town of Livingston, AL, the University of West Alabama provides the cost-effectiveness of a public university with the intimate size of a private institution. This institution enrolls around 2,250 undergraduate students, around 10% of whom study online.

Through UWA Online, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development. This degree requires 56 general education credit hours, 63 program credit hours, and at least two elective credit hours, for a total of 123 credits. But here’s some more attention-grabbing math: UWA’s cost-per-credit is only $325. 

UWA’s bachelor’s degree takes between three and four years to earn. Students transferring from a community college can begin the program with up to 60 credit hours, while students from a four-year college can transfer in 90. Courses last eight weeks and examine topics like the importance of play, thematic teaching, and behavior management. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at University of West Alabama here.

28. Ball State University

Ball State University

Teachers typically have big hearts, and Ball State University is an institution known for its friendly campus. Based in Muncie, IN, all of Ball State’s students take a “Beneficence Pledge” to do good. The pay-off? The university completes tens of thousands of hours of community service each year.

Not only is Ball State kind, but it’s technologically savvy too. This university ranks at No. 47 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

At Ball State, you can earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree. This online program is for aspiring teachers who want to work with children up to five years old. 

Ball State’s early childhood education degree requires 120 credits, 48 of which are in the concentration. If you already work in Indiana, a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Indiana Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship might cover up to 80% of your tuition.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Ball State University here.

29. West Virginia University

West Virginia

The West Virginia University Mountaineers are dedicated to their Morgantown community. WVU is one of only 6% of universities that have received the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification. This accolade is granted to institutions that exhibit exemplary community engagement through service-learning and volunteer opportunities.

As an online student in WVU’s Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Studies, you’ll live up to its community commitment with as much as 36 hours of supervised field experience. This fully online bachelor’s degree requires 120 credit hours earned over the completion of 40 courses. Students also have the option to add Pre-K certification in the state of West Virginia to their course of study.

WVU Online’s coursework can be accessed at any time and from anywhere. This program is also open to students who have yet to earn any undergraduate credits. Classes in your major will begin in your first semester. 

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at West Virginia University here.

30. Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University

At Arkansas State University, you can earn a Master of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education in as few as 12 months. Moreover, graduate from A-State and you’ll join a network of more than 90,000 fellow alumni.

This is the second-largest university in Arkansas. Online learning has been a priority since 2008. A-State has graduated more than 10,000 online students. 

A-State’s fully online MSE program requires 30 credit hours. The total tuition is less than $10,000. The curriculum is designed to impart advanced knowledge while helping you conduct scholarly research that can shape best practices in the field.

As an A-State student, you’ll be introduced to statistics, examine models of early childhood curriculums, and enhance your leadership skills.

Applicants must already have a teaching license to be eligible for this program. Additionally, instead of completing a thesis at the end of your studies, you’ll compile a portfolio that shows your mastery of the concepts you’ve learned.

Learn more about Accredited Online Programs For Early Childhood Education at Arkansas State University here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is accreditation important?

As noted earlier, accreditation guarantees the quality of your education. Accrediting organizations are like higher education watchdogs – they make sure that a university is living up to regional or national educational standards. You can confidently enroll in a school that has earned this stamp of approval, knowing that you’ll learn from qualified faculty and that prospective employers will acknowledge the value of your degree.

What will I learn with an Early Childhood Education Degree?

In general, academic programs in early childhood education focus on teaching children from birth to five years old. However, some universities extend this age group to third grade. In many programs, you’ll have the opportunity to choose a specialization in either birth to Pre-K or kindergarten to third grade.

As an early childhood education major, you’ll examine how children develop mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally during these years of rapid growth. You’ll learn how to develop a curriculum that incorporates educational methods through play, art, and music. You’ll also learn how to work closely with families of all socio-economic backgrounds to give early learners the best start in life. Also, special education courses are often incorporated into universities’ core curricula.

While the programs on this list deliver their coursework online, you’ll find experiential learning in every curriculum. After all, this is a career-focused degree, and you’ll greatly benefit from opportunities to put new knowledge into practice. 

Do I need a license to teach preschool?

If your goal is to teach at a public preschool or elementary school, then you will need to be licensed in your state. In general, a state license requires a bachelor’s degree. Just one more reason why advancing your education is important!

Some of the programs on this list offer a licensure track, preparing you to sit for the licensure exam in your state. However, since online programs cater to students across the country, they are often non-licensure programs. Why? Each state has its own requirements for a teaching license, and so it would be difficult for a university to prepare students for all exams. 

If you want to teach at a private school, then a license might not be necessary. It’s important to research the requirements of your prospective employers before you enter a program. Furthermore, it can’t hurt to reach out to a university’s program coordinator. This person can provide valuable advice on whether or not their program fits your professional goals. 

How much do early childhood educators earn?

The BLS reports an annual median salary of $30,210 for preschool teachers in 2022. If boosting your salary is a top priority, then your bachelor’s degree can help. In 2021, preschool and childcare center directors took home, on average, $47,310. Most states require that employees in these leadership positions hold a bachelor’s degree. 

Increasing access to quality preschooling has become a national priority, and increasing the pay for preschool teachers is also on the agenda. The rise in public preschool and Pre-K programs might help grow preschool teachers’ bank accounts, putting them on par with other elementary educators. The BLS found that preschool teachers serving in elementary schools were the highest earners with an average income of $48,190

Which states pay preschool teachers the most?

If you’re looking for the highest paying preschool teaching jobs, then you’ll need to head to the Northeast. According to the BLS, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts top the list. But if you are chasing a bigger income and the sun, then head to the No. 5 top paying state: California!

If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out our Top 12 Accredited Online Colleges with Low Tuition and Top 15 Accredited Schools Online Offering Associate Degrees