Online Degree in Early Childhood Education

Pursuing online degree in early childhood education offers a convenient and flexible way to train as a teacher in a primary school, Kindergarten or preschool.

Online courses and programs from an accredited school let you learn the skills needed for this rewarding profession without leaving your current job or sacrificing your lifestyle.

During the program, you will learn how to succeed at teaching younger children. This includes teaching them basic skills like speech, shape recognition, and other building blocks of learning.

You will understand how children develop, and study effective methods for classroom instruction. You will even learn how to communicate with parents, other teachers and the school community.

As a teacher, you will be faced with issues other than how to help children read and write. An early childhood education online degree will teach you how to create a learning environment that allows every child feel included. You will learn to think critically about other problems faced in the classroom, and how to use the latest research to enhance learning.

Courses and degree options in early childhood education

Coursework for early child educators covers classroom instruction, curriculum development, and childhood development. Some programs also include a research or field experience that allows you to observe and interact with young children in a classroom setting. These types of hands-on experiences provide you with valuable insight into your future career, and enables you to put into practice the skills and knowledge you learn in the program.

Undergraduate programs are designed to prepare you for certification as an early childhood educator. Many preschools require you to have at least an associate’s degree. Some employers prefer that you have a bachelor’s degree. You can choose to specialize in certain areas like special education or reading instruction.

Masters and doctoral programs in early childhood education are designed for people with prior teaching experience. They include more coursework and emphasis on child development and instructional design. A PhD program is primarily designed for those who want to conduct research in early childhood education, or become master teachers or school administrators.

Featured Online Colleges with Early Childhood Education Programs

Walden University

  • B.S. in Child Development - General
  • B.S. in Child Development - Infant/Toddler
  • B.S. in Child Development - Preschool
  • B.S. in Child Development - Psychology
  • B.S. in Child Development - Administration and Management
  • B.S. in Child Development - Child & Adolescent Studies
  • B.S. in Child Development - Dual Concentration (Preschool & Infant/Toddler)
  • B.S. in Psychology - Infant and Toddler Development
  • B.S. in Public Health - Child Development
  • M.S. in Early Childhood Studies - Administration, Management and Leadership
  • M.S. in Early Childhood Studies - Early Childhood Public Policy and Advocacy
  • M.S. in Early Childhood Studies - Teaching Adults in the Early Childhood Field
  • M.S. in Early Childhood Studies - Teaching and Diversity in Early Childhood Education
  • Teacher Preparation Program with a Master of Arts in Teaching - Early Childhood Education (Birth-Grade 3)
  • Ph.D. in Education - KAM-based - Early Childhood and Primary Education
  • Ph.D. in Education - Mixed-Model - Early Childhood and Primary Education

Certification options with an online degree in early childhood education

  • Early childhood education degree online programs offer two basic pathways to a career in teaching young children: certification, which leads to state licensure, and non-certification.
  • If you plan on teaching young children in a public school, you will need to be licensed by the state. The requirements vary with each state and include completion of an approved teacher education program, a supervised practical teaching experience, and often one or more exams that test your competency in general or subject areas.
  • Private schools and preschools may not require licensure or certification. If you plan on teaching at one of these schools, you can enroll in an online program that does not lead to certification.
  • Although coursework for an early childhood education degree can be completed online, many of the courses require you to observe or interact with young children in a school setting.
  • Online programs handle these types of practicums in different ways. If you are currently working in a school as a teacher's aide, you may be able to use this for your observations. To develop a well-rounded view about teaching, you may also be required to observe students in other settings.

Careers with a degree in early childhood education

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education prepares you for employment in public and private schools (PreK through Grade 3), Head Start programs, child care specialist, child life specialists and various childcare centers. If you are already a teacher, a graduate degree will give you the additional knowledge to help you advance in your current position. You will also be able to teach or do research in early childhood education at universities.

The job outlook for early childhood educators is expected to be good over the next decade as federal funding for programs related to this field increases. Qualified preschool teachers should have very little trouble finding a job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is a high turnover in this field as people leave for other occupations, or because of low wages.

Job prospects for teachers in grades K through 3 will vary depending upon the subject and the region. Many K-3 teachers are generalists, while some may focus on reading or science. Positions will be more readily available in urban or rural areas where schools have difficulty attracting qualified teachers, or teachers leave after only a few years.

Related Degrees

Adult Education


Special Education Degrees: Special education instructors are trained to work with students with mild to moderate disabilities. As with early childhood education, this degree can lead to state licensure as a Special Education teacher. Some states let you become double certified in Special Education and Elementary Education after completing the online degree.

Reading Specialist: Reading specialists work with students to help them read, write, and communicate. This degree is often offered as a master’s degree program, and is taken by current teachers who have a strong interest in literacy. The program can lead to state licensure as a Reading Specialist.

Return to the top of Online Degree in Early Childhood Education Programs


Search Online Programs