How to Earn an Early Childhood Education Degree Online in 2023

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Early childhood education (ECE) is a field that focuses on the development and learning of children from birth to age eight. ECE professionals work with young children in various settings, such as preschools, daycare centers, elementary schools, and family homes.

They help children develop their cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and language skills through play, exploration, and interaction.

If you are passionate about working with young children and helping them grow and thrive, you may want to consider earning an early childhood education degree online.

An online ECE degree can provide you with the knowledge, skills, and credentials you need to succeed in this field. You can also enjoy the flexibility and convenience of studying from anywhere, at any time, and at your own pace.

But how do you earn an early childhood education degree online in 2023? What are the benefits, costs, features, and options of online ECE degree programs? How do you compare and contrast different online ECE degree programs and find the best one for your career goals?

In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to earn an early childhood education degree online in 2023.

We will also provide you with some information, benefits, and transactional details about the top online ECE degree programs in 2023. We hope that this article will help you make an informed decision and find the best online ECE degree for you.

What is an Online ECE Degree?

An online ECE degree is a type of academic degree that focuses on the study of early childhood education and development. ECE degrees can be offered at different levels, such as associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral.

However, the most common and popular level is the bachelor’s degree, which typically takes four years to complete. A bachelor’s degree in ECE can prepare you for entry-level or mid-level positions in ECE, such as preschool teacher, preschool director, child care worker, or early intervention specialist.

An online ECE degree can also prepare you for professional certification in ECE, which can enhance your credibility and employability in the field. Some of the most recognized and respected ECE certifications are:

  • Child Development Associate (CDA), offered by the Council for Professional Recognition
  • Early Childhood Education Professional (ECEP), offered by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • Early Childhood Professional (ECP), offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)
  • Early Childhood Teacher (ECT), offered by the Association of Childhood Education International (ACEI)

An online ECE degree can be delivered in different formats, such as synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid. Synchronous means that you need to attend live online sessions at scheduled times and interact with instructors and classmates.

Asynchronous means that you can access the online courses and assignments anytime, without having to attend live sessions or meet deadlines. Hybrid means that you need to complete some courses or components online, and some on campus or at a local site.

An online ECE degree can also vary in terms of the curriculum, accreditation, cost, duration, and reputation of the program. Therefore, you need to do your research and evaluation before choosing an online ECE degree program that suits your needs and goals.

Why Earn an Online ECE Degree?

There are many reasons why you may want to earn an online ECE degree, such as:

  • Career advancement: An online ECE degree can help you qualify for higher-level or more specialized positions in ECE, such as ECE manager, ECE consultant, ECE educator, or ECE researcher. It can also help you earn a higher salary, as the median annual wage for preschool and childcare center directors was $49,160 in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Career change: An online ECE degree can help you transition to a career in ECE from another field, such as business, health, psychology, or sociology. It can also help you gain the skills and knowledge to work in different settings, populations, or programs that need ECE professionals, such as Head Start, special education, or home-based care.
  • Career growth: An online ECE degree can help you keep up with the latest trends and developments in ECE, such as brain research, curriculum integration, technology integration, and family engagement. It can also help you prepare for the future of ECE, which may involve more diversity, inclusion, collaboration, and innovation.
  • Career satisfaction: An online ECE degree can help you pursue your passion and interest in working with young children and helping them achieve their potential. It can also help you make a positive impact on the children, families, and communities that you serve.

How Much Does an Online ECE Degree Cost?

The cost of an online ECE degree can vary depending on several factors, such as the level, format, curriculum, accreditation, and reputation of the program. However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition and fees for a four-year online bachelor’s degree program in 2020-2021 was $13,016 per year for public institutions, and $36,801 per year for private institutions.

However, the cost of an online ECE degree may not include other expenses, such as books, supplies, technology, transportation, or living costs. Therefore, you need to consider your total budget and financial resources before enrolling in an online ECE degree program.

Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce the cost of an online ECE degree, such as:

  • Applying for financial aid, such as grants, scholarships, loans, or work-study programs, from the federal government, state government, or the online ECE degree program itself. You can use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility and amount of financial aid.
  • Transferring previous credits or degrees from other accredited institutions, which can shorten the duration and lower the cost of your online ECE degree program. You can also earn credits by taking exams, such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST), or by demonstrating prior learning or experience, such as military service, professional training, or certification.
  • Choosing an online ECE degree program that offers a flat-rate tuition, which means that you pay the same amount per term or year, regardless of the number of credits or courses you take. This can help you save money by taking more credits or courses per term or year, and completing your online ECE degree program faster.
  • Choosing an online ECE degree program that offers a tuition discount, which means that you pay a lower amount per credit or course, based on certain criteria or conditions. For example, some online ECE degree programs may offer a tuition discount for military personnel, veterans, spouses, or dependents, or for alumni, employees, or partners of the online ECE degree program.

What are the Features of Online ECE Degree Programs?

Online ECE degree programs can have different features, such as:

  • Accreditation: Accreditation is a process of quality assurance and recognition that evaluates the standards and outcomes of an online ECE degree program. Accreditation can be regional, national, or specialized. Regional accreditation is the most widely accepted and respected type of accreditation, and it is granted by regional accrediting agencies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). National accreditation is another type of accreditation, and it is granted by national accrediting agencies that are also recognized by the ED and the CHEA. However, national accreditation is less common and less accepted than regional accreditation, and it may not be transferable to other institutions or programs. Specialized accreditation is a type of accreditation that focuses on a specific field or discipline, and it is granted by specialized accrediting agencies that are also recognized by the ED and the CHEA. For example, some online ECE degree programs may have specialized accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which are the leading accrediting agencies for ECE education.
  • Curriculum: Curriculum is the content and structure of an online ECE degree program, which includes the courses, assignments, projects, and assessments that students need to complete. Curriculum can vary depending on the level, format, focus, and goals of the online ECE degree program. However, some of the common and core topics that an online ECE degree program may cover are:
    • ECE foundations, such as the history, philosophy, and theories of ECE, and the roles and responsibilities of ECE professionals
    • ECE development, such as the physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and language development of young children, and the factors and influences that affect their development
    • ECE learning, such as the learning styles, needs, and interests of young children, and the principles and practices of effective and appropriate ECE instruction and assessment
    • ECE curriculum, such as the design, implementation, and evaluation of ECE curriculum, and the integration of various content areas, such as literacy, math, science, art, music, and social studies
    • ECE environment, such as the creation and maintenance of a safe, healthy, and supportive ECE environment, and the use of ECE materials, resources, and technology
    • ECE diversity, such as the recognition and respect of the diversity and individuality of young children, families, and communities, and the promotion and inclusion of multicultural and anti-bias ECE practices and policies
    • ECE collaboration, such as the communication and collaboration with young children, families, colleagues, and other professionals, and the involvement and advocacy of ECE stakeholders and issues
  • Faculty: Faculty are the instructors and mentors who teach and guide the students in an online ECE degree program. Faculty can vary depending on the qualifications, experiences, and backgrounds of the online ECE degree program. However, some of the common and desirable characteristics that an online ECE degree program faculty may have are:
    • Academic credentials, such as a master’s or doctoral degree in ECE or a related field, and accreditation or certification in ECE or a related field
    • Professional experience, such as working or consulting in ECE or a related field, and having relevant and current knowledge and skills in ECE or a related field
    • Teaching experience, such as teaching or facilitating online or on-campus courses or programs in ECE or a related field, and having effective and engaging pedagogical and technological skills in online or on-campus education
    • Research experience, such as conducting or publishing research or scholarship in ECE or a related field, and having original and innovative contributions to the field of ECE or a related field
  • Resources: Resources are the materials and services that support the learning and success of the students in an online ECE degree program. Resources can vary depending on the availability, quality, and accessibility of the online ECE degree program. However, some of the common and useful resources that an online ECE degree program may offer are:
    • Course materials, such as textbooks, articles, videos, podcasts, webinars, and other multimedia and interactive content that provide the information and instruction for the online ECE courses
    • Learning management system (LMS), such as Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, or D2L, which is the online platform that hosts and delivers the online ECE courses and assignments, and allows the students to access, submit, and track their progress and grades
    • Library, such as the online or on-campus library that provides the students with access to books, journals, databases, and other academic and professional sources and references for their online ECE courses and assignments
    • Tutoring, such as the online or on-campus tutoring service that provides the students with academic assistance and guidance for their online ECE courses and assignments, such as writing, math, or statistics
    • Advising, such as the online or on-campus advising service that provides the students with academic and career counseling and support for their online ECE degree program, such as choosing courses, transferring credits, applying for financial aid, or finding internships or jobs
    • Mentoring, such as the online or on-campus mentoring service that provides the students with personal and professional mentoring and coaching for their online ECE degree program, such as developing skills, building networks, or preparing for certification

What are the Options of Online ECE Degree Programs?

Online ECE degree programs can have different options, such as:

  • Concentration: Concentration is a specific area or topic of focus within an online ECE degree program, which allows the students to customize and specialize their online ECE education according to their interests and goals. Concentration can vary depending on the availability, diversity, and depth of the online ECE degree program. However, some of the common and popular concentrations that an online ECE degree program may offer are:
    • ECE Administration, which focuses on the management and leadership of ECE programs and organizations, and the development and implementation of ECE policies and practices that support the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of ECE services and outcomes
    • ECE Special Education, which focuses on the identification, assessment, and intervention of young children with special needs, such as disabilities, delays, or giftedness, and the design and implementation of ECE curriculum and instruction that meet their individual and diverse needs and abilities
    • ECE Family and Community, which focuses on the relationship and partnership between ECE professionals and families and communities, and the design and implementation of ECE programs and services that involve and support the participation and empowerment of families and communities in ECE
    • ECE STEM, which focuses on the integration and enhancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in ECE curriculum and instruction, and the promotion and development of STEM skills and competencies in young children
    • ECE Literacy, which focuses on the development and improvement of literacy skills and competencies in young children, such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and the integration and enhancement of literacy in ECE curriculum and instruction
  • Minor: Minor is a secondary area or topic of study that complements an online ECE degree program, which allows the students to broaden and diversify their online ECE education according to their interests and goals. Minor can vary depending on the availability, compatibility, and flexibility of the online ECE degree program. However, some of the common and relevant minors that an online ECE degree program may offer are:
  • Business, which covers the basic and essential topics and skills of business, such as accounting, finance, marketing, management, and economics, and provides the students with a general and practical understanding of the business environment and operations
  • Psychology, which covers the scientific and applied topics and skills of psychology, such as cognition, emotion, motivation, personality, and social behavior, and provides the students with a theoretical and empirical understanding of the human mind and behavior
  • Sociology, which covers the systematic and critical topics and skills of sociology, such as culture, society, groups, organizations, and social change, and provides the students with a sociological and analytical understanding of the social world and issues
  • Communication, which covers the interpersonal and organizational topics and skills of communication, such as verbal, nonverbal, written, and digital communication, and provides the students with a communicative and expressive understanding of the interaction and exchange of information and ideas
  • Health, which covers the health and wellness topics and skills of health, such as nutrition, fitness, safety, disease prevention, and health promotion, and provides the students with a health and wellness understanding of the physical and mental well-being of themselves and others
  • Dual Degree: Dual degree is a combination of two different degrees that can be earned simultaneously or consecutively in an online ECE degree program, which allows the students to accelerate and integrate their online ECE education according to their interests and goals. Dual degree can vary depending on the availability, feasibility, and requirements of the online ECE degree program. However, some of the common and beneficial dual degrees that an online ECE degree program may offer are:
    • Bachelor’s and Master’s in ECE, which allows the students to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in ECE in a shorter and more efficient time than earning them separately, and provides the students with a comprehensive and advanced online ECE education that can prepare them for higher-level or more specialized positions or further education in ECE
    • Bachelor’s in ECE and MBA, which allows the students to earn both a bachelor’s degree in ECE and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) in a shorter and more efficient time than earning them separately, and provides the students with a multidisciplinary and versatile online ECE education that can prepare them for leadership or management positions or further education in ECE or business
    • Bachelor’s in ECE and JD, which allows the students to earn both a bachelor’s degree in ECE and a juris doctor (JD) degree in law in a shorter and more efficient time than earning them separately, and provides the students with a interdisciplinary and specialized online ECE education that can prepare them for legal or consulting positions or further education in ECE or law

How to Compare and Contrast Online ECE Degree Programs?

To compare and contrast online ECE degree programs, you need to consider several criteria, such as:

  • Accreditation: You need to check the accreditation status and type of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that it is accredited by a reputable and recognized accrediting agency, such as a regional, national, or specialized accrediting agency. You also need to check the accreditation status and type of the online ECE degree program’s institution, and make sure that it is accredited by a reputable and recognized accrediting agency, such as a regional or national accrediting agency. Accreditation can affect the quality, credibility, and transferability of your online ECE degree, so you need to choose an online ECE degree program that is accredited by the best and most appropriate accrediting agency for your needs and goals.
  • Curriculum: You need to review the curriculum content and structure of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that it covers the topics and skills that you want to learn and that are relevant and current for the field of ECE. You also need to review the curriculum alignment and preparation of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that it follows the standards and guidelines of the professional associations and certification bodies in ECE, such as the NAEYC or the CAEP. Curriculum can affect the learning, performance, and outcomes of your online ECE degree, so you need to choose an online ECE degree program that has a comprehensive, rigorous, and updated curriculum for your needs and goals.
  • Faculty: You need to evaluate the faculty qualifications and experiences of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that they have the academic credentials, professional experience, teaching experience, and research experience that are suitable and sufficient for teaching and mentoring online ECE students. You also need to evaluate the faculty availability and accessibility of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that they are responsive, supportive, and engaging with online ECE students. Faculty can affect the instruction, guidance, and feedback of your online ECE degree, so you need to choose an online ECE degree program that has a qualified, experienced, and available faculty for your needs and goals.
  • Resources: You need to assess the resources availability and quality of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that they provide the materials and services that can support your learning and success in the online ECE degree program. You also need to assess the resources compatibility and accessibility of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that they are compatible with your devices, software, and internet connection, and that they are accessible 24/7. Resources can affect the support, convenience, and quality of your online ECE degree, so you need to choose an online ECE degree program that has adequate, high-quality, and accessible resources for your needs and goals.
  • Options: You need to explore the options diversity and flexibility of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that they offer the choices and opportunities that can customize and enhance your online ECE education according to your interests and goals. You also need to explore the options feasibility and requirements of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that they are feasible and achievable for your academic and professional qualifications and experiences. Options can affect the personalization, integration, and acceleration of your online ECE degree, so you need to choose an online ECE degree program that has diverse, flexible, and feasible options for your needs and goals.
  • Cost: You need to calculate the cost affordability and value of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that it is affordable and valuable for your budget and financial resources. You also need to calculate the cost return and investment of the online ECE degree program, and make sure that it has a positive and worthwhile return and investment for your career and income potential. Cost can affect the affordability, value, and return of your online ECE degree, so you need to choose an online ECE degree program that has a low cost and a high value and return for your needs and goals.

To compare and contrast online ECE degree programs, you can use the following table as a template, and fill in the information and ratings for each online ECE degree program that you are considering:

Criteria Online ECE Degree Program 1 Online ECE Degree Program 2 Online ECE Degree Program 3
Accreditation
Curriculum
Faculty
Resources
Options
Cost

You can also use the following scale to rate each online ECE degree program on each criterion, from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent):

Rating Meaning
1 Poor: The online ECE degree program does not meet the minimum or expected standards for the criterion, and has significant weaknesses or drawbacks that can negatively affect your online ECE education
2 Fair: The online ECE degree program meets the minimum or expected standards for the criterion, but has some weaknesses or drawbacks that can affect your online ECE education
3 Good: The online ECE degree program meets or exceeds the minimum or expected standards for the criterion, and has some strengths or advantages that can enhance your online ECE education
4 Very Good: The online ECE degree program exceeds the minimum or expected standards for the criterion, and has many strengths or advantages that can greatly enhance your online ECE education
5 Excellent: The online ECE degree program surpasses the minimum or expected standards for the criterion, and has exceptional strengths or advantages that can significantly enhance your online ECE education

By using this table and scale, you can compare and contrast online ECE degree programs in a systematic and objective way, and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each online ECE degree program. You can also weigh the importance of each criterion according to your needs and goals, and calculate the overall score and ranking of each online ECE degree program. This can help you narrow down your options and find the best online ECE degree program for you.

Conclusion

In conclusion, earning an online ECE degree can be a rewarding and beneficial decision for your future career in ECE. It can provide you with the knowledge, skills, and credentials you need to succeed in this field. It can also provide you with the flexibility, convenience, and quality of online education.

However, not all online ECE degree programs are the same, and you need to do your research and evaluation before choosing one. In this article, we have provided you with a comprehensive guide on how to earn an early childhood education degree online in 2023.

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