How Long Is a Master's in Early Childhood Education Program?

Early childhood education programs are designed to train teachers to work with children from birth to age eight. These programs generally take one to two years to complete. Read ahead to learn about program options.

Time to Complete a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education

Master's degrees in early childhood education vary in length depending upon the actual program chosen and the number of credit hours needed to fulfill degree requirements. Master's programs generally take two years to complete if the student attends full-time. It will take longer if a student decides to attend part-time, due to the number of credits taken.

A master's degree program in early childhood education is designed to prepare certified teachers and other applicants interested in entering the field to work with children from birth to eight years old. Master's degree programs may offer different tracks that focus on various areas of teaching and specific age groups. Most programs require students to complete 30-36 semester hours.

Thesis vs. Non-thesis Programs

Another factor that may influence the length of a program is whether the student chooses a thesis or non-thesis program. A student enrolled in a thesis program must conduct original research, write a thesis on the results and pass an oral defense, as well as taking all required courses. A thesis master's may take longer to complete than a non-thesis master's due to research challenges and increased amounts of work.

Types of Programs and Their Program Lengths


A program leading to certification may take longer to complete, and it will likely require students to earn more credit hours. This may be due to having to take teacher education courses along with a student teaching experience.


It may be possible to earn a master's degree in early childhood education in less than two years by entering an accelerated program. An accelerated program can possibly be completed in one year, but certainly in less than two years. Students may take classes at the same time as they complete student teaching experiences, or they may start courses at the beginning of the summer and work through to the end of the following summer.


Another option for completing the program faster is to take it online. Students are allowed to work at their own pace on their own schedule, which may allow them to take more classes per learning period. Classes may be taken on campus, online or through a combination of both formats.

Dual Degree

Some institutions offer combined bachelor's and master's programs. This option allows students to complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years, rather than six.

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