Here you can learn about some of the degree programs available for early childhood development. Explore types of programs, course topics and career information.
Some schools and programs for young children might require only a high school diploma or some college education, such as an associate degree. However, public schools typically require a bachelor's degree in early childhood development. In a bachelor's program, students participate in coursework and supervised classroom practicums. Some schools also offer completion programs online for students who have taken general education and prerequisite courses. Many of these programs (both on-campus and online) include coursework that fulfills requirements for mandatory state licensure. Within the program types outlined here, students can find tracks focusing on pre-k and kindergarten teaching, as well as preparation for careers outside of teaching. Depending on the program students may cover topics that include child psychology, development theory and more.
Programs At a Glance
Early Childhood Development
- This program is formatted as a bachelor's degree completion program that requires 120 quarter credits from a community college.
- This program is offered online.
Early Childhood Development and Education
- These programs are available as bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree programs, and an undergraduate degree is required for graduate degree programs.
- These programs are found on-campus.
Adult Education in Early Childhood Development Program Courses
Early childhood development bachelor's degree programs usually include several early childhood education courses. Others offer specializations for prospective teachers and those interested in working with children in a non-academic field, such as counseling or social work. Some programs additionally prepare graduates to work in special education. Some sample courses students may encounter in a program include child psychology, child observation, children's literature, elementary math, science, language arts and social studies, special education, early childhood assessment, child and family development theory, curriculum development, cultural diversity, and health, safety and nutrition. Graduate degree programs may offer additional specializations in areas such as administration management, early childhood public policy and advocacy, teaching diversity and more.
All programs designed to prepare graduates for licensure include classroom practicums. This work takes place in a real educational setting where the student, under the supervision of a mentor teacher, helps lead a preschool or kindergarten class. The time spent in these environments helps meet the state requirements for a teaching license.
Most early childhood development teachers have a bachelor's degree, and some schools might require it. In addition, every state mandates licensure in order to teach in a public school. This typically requires several hours of practical teaching experience. Some common careers for graduates include teachers, social workers, child program workers, and childcare specialists.
Preschool teachers work with children who are at the age before kindergarten. Children have this opportunity to learn basic skills needed for further education. For example, the teacher may introduce concepts which help the children count by using blocks. In addition, they encourage language skills and group participation through story-telling and spoken word group games. Graduates may also pursue careers teaching kindergarten through the third grade.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be a 7% job growth for preschool teachers over the decade spanning 2014 through 2024, while kindergarten and elementary school teachers will experience similar, average growth of 6% during that period. As of May 2016, median annual earnings for preschool teachers (except special education) was $28,790, while kindergarten teachers (except special education) earned a much higher median wage of $52,620. Elementary school teachers (except special education) made a median wage of $55,800 according to the BLS.
Students wishing to complete their bachelor's degree program in early childhood development can find programs online, while those wishing to pursue a bachelor's, master's or doctorate in the field can choose from several different on-campus programs. Graduates of these programs are often prepared to teach at the preschool, kindergarten and elementary school levels.