Best Early Childhood Education Programs: List of Top Schools

Read on to learn about the top schools that offer early childhood education programs. Get info about university rankings, locations and degree programs so you can compare and contrast your education options.

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School Information

Below, you can read about a pair of top schools that offer early childhood education programs. Early childhood educators focus on infants, preschoolers and children in pre-kindergarten (pre-K) through third grade. The early childhood education programs at these two schools both award a bachelor's degree, though University of Texas at Austin also offers master's and doctoral degree programs in early childhood education that emphasize educational theory or leadership. After reviewing profiles for the following two schools, check out the list of additional options for early childhood education training.

1. Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN

School Highlight: Undergraduates at Peabody are quickly placed in preschools and primary schools, sometimes beginning in their second semester, so they can gain as much practical experience as possible before graduation.

In 2016, Vanderbilt University was ranked 15th by U.S. News & World Report in its 'National Universities' category. They also ranked the Peabody College of Education and Human Development as 3rd in the nation in the 'Best Education Schools' category.

Peabody College, which merged with Vanderbilt in 1979, offers an early childhood education major in its bachelor's program. The curriculum begins with field observation and participation in classrooms in local schools, agencies and Peabody College's experimental programs. Students are required to complete a second major in child studies, which may add courses beyond the 120 hours needed for the primary major.

During their time as undergraduates, students have options to study abroad at a variety of international partner institutions. Students how wish to gain their teacher licensure must meet the requirements and apply through the Office of Teacher Licensure at Vanderbilt.

2. The University of Texas at Austin

School Highlight: Students in UT's School of Education have the opportunity to join a variety of education-related student organizations, including the Bilingual Education Student Organization, the Student Council for Exceptional Children, and Teachers of Tomorrow.

The University of Texas at Austin (UT) was ranked 16th among 'Top Public Schools' by U.S. News & World Report in 2016. UT was also ranked as 10th among 'Best Education Schools' with exceptionally high-ranking specialty programs, including 'Special Education' at 4th and 'Educational Psychology' at 10th.

Undergraduate degrees for early childhood-6th grade are divided into a generalist option or a bilingual generalist option. The College of Education's Department of Curriculum and Instruction offers an interdisciplinary program that leads to a Master of Arts, Master of Education or Doctor of Philosophy in Early Childhood Education. The program, which focuses on child development and research methodology, as well as early childhood education issues, is considered preparation for careers in public elementary schools, childcare centers and preschools. Available to doctoral students are specialized courses, such as inquiry in play, thinking as social construction and childhood education theory.

Top Early Childhood Education Programs

School Name Distinction Location
Arizona State University Bachelor of Arts in Education (BAE) prepares graduates for both early childhood and early childhood special ed certifications Tempe, AZ
Boston University All students in early childhood programs spend a semester working in the Early Childhood Learning Lab located on campus Boston, MA
Florida State University Only a select group of students is admitted to the Early Childhood Education program each year, ensuring a high-quality program Tallahassee, FL
New York University The core curriculum at NYU meets the 30-point liberal arts concentration needed to be a certified teacher in New York State New York, NY
Purdue University Graduates of early childhood program are prepared for licensure in generalist and exceptional needs categories West Lafayette, IN
University of Georgia Bachelor of Science in Education (BSEd) in early childhood education prepares graduates to work with students up through the 5th grade Athens, GA
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign To be admitted into the Early Childhood Education Program, students must complete seven prerequisite courses Champaign, IL
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