5 Best Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education – Grad Schools

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Updated: March 13, 2024, Reading time: 19 minutes

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A good education ensures a lifetime of learning for kids. Throughout school, life, and work, children learn skills and knowledge that will help them succeed. Additionally, it helps them form strong relationships with adults and peers.

However, first, early childhood learning must be explored if they are to create a supportive, comprehensive education system for children. If you already have a background in education and have acquired a bachelor’s degree in any related studies, it’s time to level up and proceed to an online master’s in early childhood education. 

Early childhood educators with master’s degrees can play an important role in this undertaking. A degree in this field is a great choice if you are passionate about working with children and honing a better future for them.

This career pathway opens many doors to opportunities in both the short and long term. Children constitute 22% of the population in the United States and reached over 74 million in 2023. This would mean there will be a constant demand for early childhood educators. 


Online master’s programs in Early Childhood Education are now available at many colleges and universities, giving more people the chance to pursue higher education in this field. If you love handling kids and paving a bright future for them, you should choose this master’s degree. 


Online master’s programs in Early Childhood Education aren’t always easy to find, and neither are the schools that offer them. To learn more about the online master’s program curriculum offered by an institution, students should conduct in-depth research on the university they are considering attending.

They can assist you by providing their List of Best Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Graduate Schools that values and emphasizes the following crucial variables in their programs:

Visit our Methodology section to learn more about our ranking process.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

5 Best Online Master’s Programs in Early Childhood Education

Northwestern College

Northwestern College

Orange City, IO

Online Master of Early Childhood Education

You can advance your education studies or shift to a different career with an online Master of Early Childhood Education from Northwestern College. Study and juggle daily obligations while earning your graduate degree in two years or less.

Think carefully about your future career and academic performance. 100% of Northwestern’s Master’s in Early Childhood Education program is one of the best in terms of value, quality, and cost.

As a childhood educator, you will be creating promising futures. In this master’s degree, you’ll learn to use water tables, math tools, and other teaching tools.

Standout Features:

In two years or less and be eligible for financial aid, you will finish your master’s degree in early childhood education. Use today’s lessons in your classroom tomorrow. As a result of this program, you will be better equipped to teach students in a way that inspires and educates them. Become a leader, mentor, advocate, or consultant with this online master’s degree.

Did You Know?

The board requires field experience and student teaching of educational examiners. Therefore, some of these experiences may occur in your virtual classroom as Northwestern College would implement it.

Walden University

Walden University

Minneapolis, MN

Online Master of Early Childhood Education

Walden University’s MS in Early Childhood Studies is a non-licensure program that will prepare you to be an effective leader, mentor, and advocate.

Standout Features:

You will investigate how children’s brains grow and how early experiences impact learning and social-emotional development in Walden’s master’s degree in early childhood education. Learn tactics to promote the inclusion of play and creativity in the instruction of young children.

Apply your abilities in real-world settings with a range of target populations, including newborns, toddlers, and students in P–3 grades.

Did You Know?

Consider how trauma and mental health problems affect families, kids, and play, as well as the importance of play for healthy development. They have a program called Tempo Learning. The Tempo Learning program offers an alternative path to earning your Walden degree.

You can move forward once you have proven you understand the subject and study at your own pace, which is different from their usual course-based learning. You can customize your program, set your price, and control its pacing while also taking advantage of online learning’s flexibility.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University - Online

Tempe, AZ

Online Master of Early Childhood Education

You can better understand the intellectual and social requirements of kids from birth to age eight, thanks to the training you can earn from Arizona State University’s early childhood education program. Practical exercises and online courses will prepare you for research on this age group. The program provides graduates with the skills and knowledge they need to function as educators in the workplace.

Standout Features:

Your curriculum in the early childhood education program will cover a wide range of subjects that are all related to working with young students. The nine necessary core courses for this 30-credit degree are followed by a capstone course in which you must complete a supervised applied project.

You’ll gain skills and knowledge of childhood development and be exposed to the current trends and research in the field. You will also learn to master the principles of equity and inclusion in the classroom.

Did You Know?

It is the goal of academic programs at ASU to prepare students to apply for licenses and certifications that apply to Arizona. Obtaining a license or certification in another state may require completion of a program at ASU.

National University

National University

San Diego, CA

Online Master of Early Childhood Education

The Master of Early Childhood Education degree from National University is created to assist you in becoming a change agent if you want to broaden your knowledge and take on a more active role in creating the framework for educational environments where young students may flourish.

This online program is intended for those wishing to become directors, leaders, advocates, and educators in higher education.

Standout Features:

During your studies, you’ll be able to explore in depth an area of interest that interests you. Program guidelines are based on those of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This online master’s degree can be finished in as little as ten months, depending on your pace of study.

Did You Know?

The Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education program at National University is built to provide you the flexibility to steer your professional path in a number of ways. Either choose to become a teacher and make a difference in the classroom or choose to become a leader and influence policy at the supervisory level.

Additionally, there are several chances in governmental agencies, hospitals, residential care facilities for people with disabilities, and mental healthcare providers for those who desire to engage in social work or human services. Another pathway is to proceed to a doctorate after graduation. 

Texas Woman’s University

Texas Woman's University

Denton, TX

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Texas Woman’s University is known for keeping costs low while maintaining high education quality. As a result, Texas Wesleyan University is ranked fourth in diversity across the nation and second in Texas.

Standout Features:

You may obtain a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education for as low as $15,000 and in only three semesters. This is completely online, with chances for virtual, useful interactions with kids and families. What’s more, there are opportunities for part-time work. The goal of this master’s degree is to give students a private school education but with a public school price!

Did You Know?

You can earn an MEd in Early Childhood Education from Texas Woman’s while working or studying from home.  With the completion of a graduate research project, the thesis option requires fewer credit hours. In this option, you must defend your research orally.

On the other hand, you can choose the portfolio track. Portfolios allow you to showcase your work throughout your program and conduct action research in your classroom.

Benefits of Enrolling in an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Many possibilities exist for you to advance your profession with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education. Early childhood educators often need a bachelor’s degree to work in the field, but your graduate degree may open up additional career prospects and greater pay for you. Discover some benefits below when you enroll in an online master’s in early childhood education:

Support children in their academics.

Providing opportunities for children to learn and flourish is a major objective of those who work in early childhood education. Many professionals in the industry work with children who require special schooling, have undergone trauma, or speak English as a second language. Teachers may feel more fulfilled if they can foster a supportive learning environment for these kids.

Additionally, these experts can utilize their experience as program directors, politicians, or school administrators to enhance the educational opportunities for kids in one or more school districts. Having such a large impact on the lives of young pupils can improve work satisfaction.

Get opportunities for professional advancement.

The chance to offer professional development is another perk of this master’s degree. For educators, professional development has changed. Many teaching opportunities open up for master’s graduates. You can also be invited to numerous teaching conferences, workshops, and seminars. There is always a need for knowledgeable, experienced, and qualified speakers for these workshops. 

Earn more.

An important advantage of getting this degree is the increase in income. People with master’s degrees frequently make more money than people with bachelor’s degrees, and this is a given. Master’s degree holders in education may make more money overall. Early childhood education specialists may find it easier to land well-paying jobs even if they are not interested in administration.

As professionals, you would love to work hard to expand and advance your knowledge. But this should come with monetary rewards. You feel successful and recognize how your commitment to your education has paid off after you receive the wage raise. Although earning an advanced degree might be difficult, it is unquestionably a worthwhile investment that can transform your life.

Hone your teaching skills and acquire specializations.

Early childhood education programs at the graduate level provide students with advanced teaching skills. You will also be exposed to a wide range of specialization options to further your studies or serve niches in the education industry. You can pursue doctorate degrees and contribute to research. 

Meet the increasing demand for educators.

Early childhood education master’s degree holders may have additional options as the academic discipline expands. As the population grows, there will undoubtedly be a greater demand for instructors.

Additionally, schools are highlighting the value of early childhood education through specialized initiatives and unique lesson ideas. Teachers holding this master’s degree may have greater career prospects due to the increased demand for more meaningful teaching.

Difference Between Early Childhood Studies vs Early Childhood Education

It may not be immediately clear how early childhood education and child development differ from one another. But it’s important to identify both and determine how they differ exactly.

A Master’s in Early Childhood Studies focuses on early learning and is designed for teachers who want to focus their career on the importance of early learning without teaching in a classroom. Many people with degrees in early childhood studies act as advocates or assume leadership positions in early learning contexts. On the other hand, early childhood education degrees are often created for beginning teachers who want to teach in a classroom and need a course of study that leads to licensing.

While specialists in both fields share similar overarching objectives, a closer examination of early childhood education and child development reveals numerous significant disparities. The main distinction is that child development is a bigger topic that includes young children’s and teenagers’ growth.

Experts examine family interactions, such as those between parents and children. Early childhood education, on the other hand, aims to give young children the finest learning environment possible.

Additionally, child development duties might involve leading activities, watching children, and recognizing and resolving difficulties, whereas early childhood education focuses on involving kids in learning and development activities.

As a result, although early childhood education professionals generally work in daycare and school settings, child development professionals operate in a variety of contexts, including healthcare institutions. There may be more diverse employment choices in child development.

Career Pathways for Master’s in Early Childhood Education Graduates

Discover the following career pathways as soon as you graduate from an online master’s in early childhood education:

Preschool Director

You will be in charge of the employees, the programs, and the facility as a whole as a preschool director. Many kindergarten schools would hire a director who knows the nuts and bolts of school administration but, at the same time, is knowledgeable about handling preschoolers.

The creation of an innovative educational program that will encourage both enjoyment and learning is a significant component of this function. Superior communication abilities, as well as leadership and organizational abilities, are needed for this position. 

Child Life Specialist

Being a child life specialist is a terrific opportunity to make a difference if you’re searching for work outside of the conventional school context. You’ll try to reduce hospital-related anxiety among kids in this position. You’ll plan activities, clarify processes, contribute to therapy, and overall assist in making their stay in the hospital a little bit more bearable.

Early Childhood Special Education Director

Candidates with a degree in early childhood education may also find employment as special education directors. They devise and approve curriculums that should be usable, relevant, and successful for kids with a variety of impairments while working with pupils who have a range of special needs. Directors in special education must be detail-oriented, empathic, and adaptable, just like the curriculum they teach.

Intervention Specialist

Working with children who have shown academic, social, or behavioral difficulties is what an intervention expert does. You’ll work together with kids, teachers, and parents to create a strategy that reflects each child’s unique requirements. To make sure the child struggling is receiving the finest help possible, you will next create and put into action a personalized teaching plan.

School Counselor

Master’s in early childhood education graduates might begin their career as a teacher and, with more study, advance to a job as a school psychologist or counselor. Many states mandate the completion of fieldwork and an authorized school counseling curriculum. On the other hand, school psychologists must not only complete a graduate-level degree but also be licensed in the state where they work.

Instructional Coordinator

The implementation of excellent educational materials is the responsibility of instructional coordinators or curriculum experts. You will create curricula, examine student data, and suggest instructional strategies and resources in this position. In order to succeed with the adoption of new educational standards, you’ll also speak with instructors.

Childhood Development Researcher

As a childhood development researcher, you will have to make an effort to discover new information. Universities, governmental institutions, and a variety of non-profit groups all employ researchers. A Master’s or EdD is often required for research roles in childhood development, while many positions call for a Ph.D. in education.

Family Support Specialist

If you have a degree in early childhood education but aren’t sure you want to teach, being a family support specialist is a great career choice. Specialists in family support work for for-profit, public, and private organizations.

They are asked to assist in linking families with resources and support services. An individual will be qualified for a fulfilling job as a social worker with more education, such as a master’s degree in social work.

Social Worker

Even master’s graduates can work in the social work field. Working with people and their families to develop helpful solutions during trying times is part of your job as a social worker. This includes:

For people who want to have a good influence outside of the school environment, this may be a very gratifying vocation. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Early Childhood Education?

Early Childhood Education continues to be highly valued by parents and everyone else, but many still mistakenly believe it spans from birth to kindergarten. Aimed at early literacy development, Early childhood education is the education that children acquire from birth until they reach eight years old.

The right Early Childhood Education master’s degree program, whether it’s online or on campus, may provide you with a deeper understanding of how children learn and grow, giving you the information and professional skills you need to assist in preparing you for positions within and outside of the classroom.

In addition to assisting kids in learning and developing in a range of situations, a master’s degree in early childhood studies may help you connect the significance of early childhood education to concerns of equality and inclusion.

In an Early Childhood curriculum, trends will be examined, cutting-edge research will be applied to the most important problems in the area, and you’ll learn how to work effectively with families, coworkers, and agencies.

Career-wise, what’s an Early Childhood Education worth?

Those with an MS in Early Childhood Education have a wide range of job opportunities besides the early childhood educator pathway. You might work as an elementary education or daycare administrator, kindergarten director, assistant director, or even the owner of a childcare facility if you’re interested in the profession.

You could work as a program administrator for early childhood programs. A job as a lecturer in early childhood studies or child development is another option. You may also go into research if you proceed to a Ph.D. after graduation. 

How long does it take to finish a Master’s in Early Childhood Education online?

Typically, it takes two years of full-time study to finish a 30- to 40-credit online master’s degree in early childhood education. On the other hand, accelerated online programs can finish a degree in a year. Forty-eight credits may be needed for programs that lead to first certification. These courses require you to do fieldwork and teach students.

Key Takeaways

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