Top 20 Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs for 2019

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs available in early childhood education are projected to grow by 7% between 2014 and 2024. Online early childhood education degree graduates are qualified to enter the field in numerous positions, which include teaching and directing. Early childhood educators play a vital role in society, as they influence our children and help shape their future.



Concordia University - Portland Portland, Oregon

Established in 1905, Concordia University’s Portland location has since adapted to address the needs of nontraditional students. CU-Portland offers seven online degrees in the fields of education, law, business, and homeland security. The school's bachelor's in early childhood education (ECE) program is well-suited for adult learners and prepares graduates for careers working with young children between the ages of zero and five years old.

The program requires a total of 124 credit hours to graduate. Students can take most courses asynchronously. Each class lasts approximately 7.5 weeks and the entire program is typically completed in five semesters. During their final semester, students complete an internship where they work with young children. If students already work with children at their current job, this experience can count towards the internship requirement. New students can transfer credit hours from other accredited universities or build upon an associate degree that they earned at CU-Portland.


Florida International University Miami, Florida

To meet the country’s growing demand for child care specialists, Florida International University recently established a bachelor's in early childhood education program for non-traditional students; this program can be completed entirely online. The curriculum focuses on the practical knowledge students need to work with young children, including in-depth study of child psychology, child development, and working with children who have special needs. All distance learners receive a personal success coach to help them throughout the program.

Students complete a total of 120 credit hours, 69 of which concentrate on ECE-related coursework. Distance learners have the option to take courses asynchronously. Students must maintain a GPA of 2.5 while finishing all lower-division courses in order to remain in the program. Transferring students may apply credits from other Florida public colleges, including completed associate degrees in ECE.


Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College aint Mary of the Woods, Indiana

Located in western Indiana, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College offers nine different early childhood education programs that can be completed online. One standout concentration is SMWC’s bachelor's in preschool-grade 3 education. Successful graduates earn an Indiana teaching credential.

Distance coursework is delivered asynchronously. Near the end of the program, students complete a semester of student teaching at a local elementary school. During this student teaching experience, pupils have the option to work in a general education classroom or with special needs students. Applicants who are considering this program must have already completed at least 40 hours of college credit, including one field experience course. To apply, students should also have a portfolio of work and a GPA of 2.75 or higher.


California Baptist University Riverside, California

In addition to offering classes at its Riverside campus, California Baptist University has 22 bachelor's degree programs that are taught online; these programs are designed for working professionals. CBU is a transfer-friendly institution, allowing students to transfer in credit from other colleges and universities. As a result, many degree programs take fewer than four years to complete. For example, distance learners can earn a bachelor's in early childhood studies in as few as 16 months.

Students enrolled in this early childhood education degree online can pursue a K-12 teaching credential or an early childhood education specialist credential. The latter program focuses on preparing students to work with special needs children. To complete this bachelor's in early childhood studies, students must complete at least 40 general educational units, including an overview of the Bible and foundations of Christian thought, in addition to 49 major-related units. Before beginning the program, students must also pass two composition courses.


University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, Nebraska

The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers a bachelor's in education degree where students complete an early childhood inclusive (ECI) program that has two possible specializations: birth through kindergarten or age three to grade three. Both specializations lead to a Nebraska teaching certificate.

The ECI program, in conjunction with UNK's general education courses, requires students to finish 120 credit hours. The program's course of study focuses on fostering childhood literacy and math skills. The majority of courses are available online, but there are two in-person components that students must complete to graduate: 100 hours of field experience in a school setting and one semester (16 weeks) of student teaching. However, these requirements can be fulfilled near a student’s home. Other in-person components may be necessary if students seek additional endorsements.


University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio

The University of Cincinnati offers two specialized bachelor's degrees in early childhood education that are well-suited for working professionals. The birth-age 5 major prepares students to work with pre-kindergarten aged children, while the pre-k through grade 3 major prepares students for careers at public elementary schools. Depending on a student's quality of work, UC faculty may recommend that a student receive an apprentice teaching license upon graduation.

For prospective students without transferable credit, the ECE bachelor's degree takes 120 credits and four years to complete. All courses are offered online and delivered synchronously. In the fourth year, distance learners complete both classroom practicums and student teaching experiences. Students record sessions of the latter for grading and professional development purposes. If a student already works in an educational setting, this experience may fulfill the practicum and/or student teaching requirements.


Fort Hays State University Hays, Kansas

Fort Hays State University has delivered online education programs through its virtual college since 1999. The school utilizes Blackboard and Skype to serve over 6,000 online students. One of FHSU’s online offerings is its bachelor's of science in education - early childhood unified program where students learn the skills required to work with both general education students and those with special needs. The program also prepares its students to earn a Kansas K-3 teaching license.

Distance learners must complete 126 credit hours of coursework, 76 of which are taken in major-related classes. FHSU students interested in the program must complete three foundational courses before applying. Once accepted, students can complete classes asynchronously. To remain in the program, students must earn a “C” or better in every course. The program requires four in-person components: three internships split over different semesters and a semester of student teaching.


Vanguard University of Southern California Costa Mesa, California

Vanguard University of Southern California offers an accelerated, completely-online bachelor's in early childhood education program that is designed for nontraditional students. All courses last seven weeks, and the curriculum emphasizes the school's Assemblies of God religious beliefs. In addition to its mandatory religious instruction, the program provides distance learners with an in-depth education in special education with a focus on autism.

Students pursuing this bachelor's in early childhood education must complete a total of 124 units, 55 of which are in major-related coursework. Classes are delivered asynchronously. Near the end of the program, students complete a semester-long practicum working with children in a classroom setting. The program culminates in a capstone course where students put their work, practicum experiences, and research into a portfolio to demonstrate how they integrated faith into early childhood education.


Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu, Hawaii

Chaminade University of Honolulu provides ample flexibility and an accelerated curriculum in many of its online degree programs. In its bachelor's in early childhood education program, students can take courses asynchronously and complete their degree in fewer than four years. Although this program does not result in a teaching certificate or license, students have the option to further customize their degree with a Montessori credential.

Prospective students who already hold a Montessori credential may apply up to 18 transfer credit hours to their degree. Before beginning the program, students must pass an introduction to early childhood education course. Graduation requires the completion of 120 credits, 61 of which are education-specific coursework. Towards the end of the program, students participate in two semesters of in-person fieldwork at local educational institutions such as daycares or private schools.


Mount Vernon Nazarene University Mount Vernon, Ohio

One of the benefits of pursuing a degree at Mount Vernon Nazarene University is the fact that the school locks in a student’s annual tuition rate when they enroll. This guaranteed tuition applies to both on-campus and online learners, many of whom enroll in MVNU’s bachelor's in early childhood education program. Students who complete the program are eligible to earn their Ohio teaching license in early childhood education.

To enter the program, prospective students must pass 14 prerequisite courses in education and maintain a 2.5 GPA. Students can take these courses asynchronously. Admission is also dependent on a successful interview with a department advisor or coordinator. Once admitted into the program, students complete 16 core courses and build a solid foundation in modern teaching methods. The program also requires 600 hours of in-person field experiences, including student teaching.


Southwestern College Winfield, Kansas

Southwestern College, located in the heart of Kansas, offers an online bachelor's in early childhood education program that prepares students to work in both general education and special education classrooms. Southwestern is partnered with many special education programs, providing students with ample opportunity to gain experience working with special needs children. After earning their online degree in early childhood education, graduates are eligible for a Kansas early childhood education and special education license.

To enter the program, prospective students must have already completed at least six college credits with a 2.75 GPA or better. Students may transfer in up to 60 credit hours from other colleges and universities. The program requires distance learners to finish 124 credit hours. Students can take the majority of classes asynchronously. Near the end of the program, students complete a semester of student teaching at two different grade levels.


Fresno Pacific University Fresno, California

Students enrolled in Fresno Pacific University’s bachelor's in early childhood development program can complete their degree completely online or take courses in a blended format, combining online classes with in-person instruction at one of the school's three campuses. This program also boasts small student cohorts and a curriculum that satisfies the requirements for a California teaching credential.

Prospective students must have already completed at least 60 general education units with a GPA of 2.4 or higher. Distance learners may transfer general education units from another accredited college or university. All courses are offered in an accelerated, six-week long format. Over three 24-week semester, students take courses synchronously with their cohort group. The majority of students finish the program in 18 months.


National University La Jolla, California

Distance learners pursuing an online bachelor's in early childhood education at National University select from three distinct concentrations: early childhood administration, infant and toddler, or teacher education. The foundation for all of these online early childhood education degree programs focuses on both educating young children and working with their families. NU's program also instructs students about the value of play as a learning strategy. Graduates earn a California teaching credential in early childhood education.

To earn their degree, students must complete at least 180 quarter hours. NU allows students to transfer in up to 135 quarter hours of college credit. Most online courses are delivered asynchronously. During the program, students complete both a practicum, where they observe young children, and student teaching. Students who already work with young children may use their professional experience to fulfill these requirements.


Notre Dame College Cleveland, Ohio

Ohio’s Notre Dame College is one of the nation’s top online schools for early childhood education. The college’s online bachelor's of arts in education - early childhood education (pre-K-3) program includes field experiences where students learn about and utilize the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession. Graduates are eligible to receive a Ohio pre-K-3 teaching license.

Applicants should have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and complete a successful admissions interview. Students take a total of 120 credit hours, and distance courses are delivered asynchronously. Major-related courses revolve around five core themes: teaching phonics, foundations of education, working with reading-disabled students, developmental reading, and using creative arts in ECE.


University of Toledo Toledo, Ohio

At the University of Toledo, distance learners who are enrolled in the online bachelor's in early childhood education program have access to a wide variety of support, including eTutoring, an expansive eLibrary, and 24/7 tech support. Students in this fast-track program work at an accelerated pace, earning their degree in just four semesters. Distance coursework is delivered synchronously and each semester requires students to engage in some type of field experience. The program is comprised of 64 semester hours, including 36 hours of online coursework and 28 hours of field work. The degree does not confer an Ohio teaching license. Applicants must already hold an associate in early childhood education with a 2.7 GPA or higher. Working part- or full-time at a childcare facility is also a program requirement.


Wilmington University New Castle, Delaware

Wilmington University’s education studies department offers four concentration options, including an online bachelor's in early childhood education program. Students have the option to take classes fully online on enroll in a hybrid program where they attend some classes in-person at one of WU's three Delaware campuses. Besides core education courses, the curriculum includes an in-depth exploration of child psychology. This degree does not confer a Delaware teaching license.

Students in this 122-credit program can transfer in up to 90 credits from other accredited institutions. Most classes are taught asynchronously, and distance learners can choose to follow an accelerated or traditional semester format. Coursework is accessible through the Blackboard learning management system.


Brandman University Irvine, California

Since it was established in 1958, Brandman University has helped nontraditional students earn associate, bachelor's, and doctoral degrees. Its education department offers over three dozen degree and credential programs, the majority of which can be completed online. BU’s bachelor's in early childhood education confers a California teaching credential in early childhood education.

Before applying, prospective students must already have earned 12 or more transferable college credits. Once accepted, students develop their skills through fieldwork and two practicum experiences where they work with children who are up to eight years old. Coursework is delivered asynchronously. The program ends with a capstone course where students prove mastery of ECE pedagogy.


Mayville State University Mayville, North Dakota

Located in eastern North Dakota, Mayville State University’s online bachelor’s of science in education in early childhood education program boasts an average class size of 15, providing students with ample one-on-one access to their professors. Distance coursework is taught asynchronously and includes a variety of classes, such as human relations/cultural diversity and social/emotional development and guidance. After completing at least 75% of the core coursework, students perform a semester of student teaching at a local educational institution.

MSU accepts transfer credits from other accredited colleges or universities. Once accepted, students must maintain a 2.75 average, with some courses requiring a "B" or higher to receive credit. Although the majority of this program is completed online with asynchronous courses, students must attend some teaching methods classes offered as synchronous, evening courses. Completion of the program meets the requirements for teacher licensure in the state of North Dakota.


Granite State College Concord, New Hampshire

Students in Granite State College’s bachelor's in early childhood education program have the option to take courses online or in a hybrid format. Coursework is delivered asynchronously. Graduates who reside in the state of New Hampshire are eligible to sit for the relevant PRAXIS exams to earn a K-3 teaching certificate. Students living outside of New Hampshire may also qualify for teacher licensing or certification, depending on their state of residency.

GSC is a very transfer-friendly institution; 84% of the students who have pursued this early childhood education degree online entered the program with transferable credits. Distance learners can transfer in up to 90 credit hours towards their diploma. Prospective students can apply to the program in the spring, summer, or fall semesters. Once accepted, students must maintain a “C” average in all courses; this rule also applies to transfer credits.


Lewis-Clark State College Lewiston, Idaho

At Lewis-Clark State College, students can choose from four online early childhood education degrees or certificates that prepare them to work with young children under the age of six. In LCSC's online bachelor's in early childhood development program, distance learners work with children throughout the four-semester program. Students spend approximately eight to 10 hours a week at an approved practicum site where they learn the the skills needed to succeed as teachers in daycare settings. Most distance coursework is delivered asynchronously.

Students who have already earned an associate degree in early childhood development from another institution can complete this bachelor's program in as few as two years. The program does not meet the requirements for teacher licensure or certification.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Program

Students considering earning their early childhood education degree online should consider many factors as they compare various programs, including curriculum content, classroom setting requirements, and how the program supports online students.


Course content can vary between programs, and students should seek programs that offer courses in subject matter that aligns with their career and individual interests. Core courses cover the various learning styles of children and teaching methodologies that meet a wide range of needs and abilities. It's important to know your intended career path, as online schools for early childhood education focus on different aspects of the field and better prepare students for certain careers.


Students who plan to pursue teaching licensure after they complete their accredited online early childhood education degree should verify that the program they wish to attend includes a clinical component, which is required by state licensure commissions. This means that degree candidates are offered opportunities to learn and apply their knowledge in a classroom environment under the supervision of a licensed instructor, who acts as a mentor and oversees the development of their teaching skills.


Online schools for early childhood education vary in the level of support they provide to online students. Some universities help students secure a classroom student teaching position. Schools often provide mentors and other online resources for distance learners, such as career services and interview preparation. Mentors supply degree candidates with helpful strategies for managing difficult students and balancing the demands of parents with government-mandated curricula.

Accreditation for Early Childhood Education Programs

Accreditation is awarded after a school has passed inspection by an accreditation agency. National accreditation agencies generally accredit vocational, career, and trade schools; it is seen as less prestigious than region accreditation. Regionally accredited graduate schools typically require applicants to have an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Regional accreditation means that a school’s program has met the high standards applied by one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the United States. Students may want to look for program accreditation that's awarded by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The NAEYC applies the highest standards in evaluating programs for accreditation to meet state licensure requirements.

Careers for Graduates of this Program

Early childhood education degree online graduates are prepared for many careers. These jobs generally entail hands-on work educating children. Some early childhood education jobs are managerial or administrative in nature, such as a position directing a child care facility. Regardless of your ultimate ambition, students are able to find rewarding work after completing an online early childhood education degree.

Teacher Assistant

Teacher assistants work in the classroom, providing assistance to teachers by working with small groups of students, supervising, and creating lesson plans and visual aids. They may work in other environments, such as coaching facilities.

Median Salary: $22,338

Childcare Director

Child care directors manage child care facilities. They are responsible for the hiring and supervision of staff. They make sure personnel are supported in their efforts. Child care directors also work closely with parents to engender cooperation and to ensure that their concerns are addressed.

Median Salary: $39,307

Preschool Director

Preschool directors are responsible for the administrative aspects of a preschool facility. They oversee the policies and budget and manage the staff and the programs they implement. An important part of their job is to ensure that teachers and programs comply with state and federal regulations.

Median Salary: $40,166

Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers lay the groundwork for students’ educational futures. They teach fundamentals across multiple subjects and instill an understanding of school procedures and early learning skills. Teachers pass along a love of learning, respect for others, and appreciation for standards of behavior.

Median Salary: $43,895

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers accommodate the needs of children with various learning disabilities. This may involve assistance with physical motor functioning and promoting the improvement of general life skills. Special education teachers craft curricula based on the unique needs of their students. The work often involves cooperation with other professionals to secure the necessary resources.

Median Salary: $45,301

Job Outlook and Salary

Preschool and child care directors are projected to see substantial job growth in the coming years. A professional in the field of early childhood education should be aware that several factors are at play with regard to salary. This includes the specific career, the setting, and location. Private institutions may offer higher salaries and certain states are going to have higher median salaries do to job demand.

Employment Growth for Early Childhood Education Professionals
Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024
64,000 68,200

Source: BLS


More years of experience within a field will lead to a higher salary. An elementary school teacher with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education will earn significantly more money as they acquire years of experience. The table below shows how this can affect the salary potential for various early childhood education careers.

To determine the best online bachelor's in early childhood education programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the 10 best online bachelor's in early childhood education programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.