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Early Childhood Education Degree in North Carolina with Course Info

North Carolina has 64 schools that offer early childhood education degree programs. Learn about degree programs, tuition info and program options for the 10 largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

Early childhood education and human development programs in North Carolina can be found at many community colleges and universities throughout the state. The educational options include associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs as well as diploma and certificate programs. Child guidance, nutrition and sociology courses are emphasized. Programs feature practicum components and laboratory experiences as well as internships. Upper-level programs may have thesis or dissertation requirements.


Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

Located in Asheville, this community college offers several programs through its Early Childhood Education Department. The early childhood associate degree program has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This five-semester program requires 67 credit hours. Students can expect courses in child development, educational technology, psychology, communication and nutrition. A capstone practicum must be completed to earn this degree. An early childhood certificate is also available. This 16-credit hour program includes courses in child guidance, creative activities, child development and writing.

Cape Fear Community College

There are three early childhood education programs available at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington. The associate's degree program requires around 73 credit hours, and students can expect courses in child guidance, nutrition, sociology and curriculum planning. In addition, students must complete a capstone practicum and several lab experiences.

The early childhood associate diploma program requires 45 credit hours. Participants of this program must also complete a capstone practicum and multiple lab experiences. Courses include expository writing, psychology, creative activities and child development. The certificate program is comprised of 16 credit hours, including courses in psychology, child guidance and health.

Central Piedmont Community College

With six campuses in and around Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College is the largest of its kind in North Carolina. The NAEYC approves the 74-credit early childhood education associate's degree program, which focuses on teaching children from birth to middle childhood. Students learn effective techniques for working with young children and become proficient at forging strong partnerships with families. Coursework in literacy, child development, sociology and educational activities familiarizes students with how children grow physically, emotionally, socially, cognitively and creatively. Aspiring teachers also complete two practicum experiences, spending nine hours per week in a setting with a qualified teacher to prepare for careers in childcare, preschool or elementary school settings.

Individuals seeking a career in early childhood education who do not want to take a complete program with general education requirements can pursue a certificate in early childhood education. All students complete a practicum and take courses in education, child development, activities and literacy. Students also choose a specialization in infant and toddler, early childhood or school-age education; they also might choose to concentrate on administration. These programs are 17-18 credits, depending on the specialization.

Fayetteville Technical Community College

Located in Fayetteville, this community college offers an Associate in Applied Science in Early Childhood Education that requires 72 credit hours. During the first two semesters, students must complete courses in computer science, communication, writing, sociology and child development. Later in the program, students are expected to complete courses in public speaking, creative activities and educational technology. A capstone practicum is also required.

Forsyth Technical Community College

Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem offers an associate's degree, diploma and four certificates in early childhood education. The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) program requires 71 credit hours, including courses in child development, interpersonal communication, child guidance and literacy. A practicum must be completed to earn the degree. The diploma program includes similar courses but requires only 46 credit hours.

The four certificate programs in early childhood education have separate specialties. Each program requires 16 credit hours. The administration certificate program includes courses in communication and administration, while the early childhood focus includes courses in child development and guidance. The early intervention certificate program focuses on program policy, communication and child development. Finally, the infant and toddler program includes courses in nutrition, communication and early childhood education for infants and toddlers.

Guilford Technical Community College

Located in Jamestown, Guilford Technical Community College offers several program options for students interested in this field. The AAS in Early Childhood Education program requires 72 credit hours and includes several co-op work experiences and seminars, as well as a capstone practicum. Students can expect to study child development, educational technology, literacy and professional research.

This community college also offers a diploma program that can be completed during the day or evening. Both options require 44 credit hours and include courses in communication, nutrition, expository writing and child development. Either program can be completed in eight terms.

The early childhood education certificate program can be completed in four terms and requires 16 credit hours. Participants can expect to study child development, safety and child guidance. The early childhood administration certificate requires the same amount of time but includes courses in early childhood administration and development. The early childhood school-age certificate includes 17 credit hours with courses in exploration activities, educational technology, school-age development and literacy. Finally, the infant-toddler care certificate program's curriculum includes 16 credit hours made up of courses in child development, community and nutrition.

Pitt Community College

Pitt Community College in Winterville offers a two-year associate's degree in early childhood education. Participants must complete a number of developmental and general education courses before completing required major courses. These include the study of child development, creative activities, health, exploration activities, educational technology and language. Students must also complete an early childhood capstone practicum. In addition, students can choose to study infant and toddler education, school-age development or sociology as part of this curriculum.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The oldest state university in the United States, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill opened its doors in 1795. Students can participate in a Bachelor of Arts in Education - Child Development and Family Studies. This 121-credit program combines general education, child development and teaching courses with internship experiences. One practical experience occurs in an infant or toddler setting, and the other takes place in a preschool or kindergarten setting. Participants spend the final semester student teaching on a full-time basis in both preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Students must also choose a 12-credit specialization in either infant and child development or community resource facilitation and development.

Students seeking a more advanced degree program can apply for the Master of Arts in Education - Early Childhood, Intervention and Literacy. This 30-credit master's degree program focuses on educational research to determine effective curriculum and intervention strategies. Research courses teach students to consider cultural and familial influences while creating the best learning environment for children of all backgrounds and educational capabilities. A thesis is mandatory, but every program of study is individualized; advisers help students create a program to best fits their objectives and interests.

Those holding a master's degree in early childhood education might be interested in continuing their studies in order to teach at the university level or become a leader in research. The Ph.D. in Education offered through the University of North Carolina offers areas of study in early childhood, intervention and literacy. Students take courses on a full-time basis during the first two years and then complete a dissertation. The curriculum includes core education and research courses, as well as an individualized timeline and course sequence that is decided upon by the student and a committee of five faculty members.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a birth through kindergarten (B-K) licensure concentration. To earn this degree, students must complete a total of 122 semester hours. This program is available on campus and online. Available courses include the study of human development, close relationships, the development of school-age children, issues in parenting and family studies. In addition, students need to complete a B-K teaching practicum.

Several graduate programs are also available. The Master of Science (MS) program requires a thesis and 38 credit hours of coursework. Core content includes the advanced study of family theory, human development and family studies. Two professional seminars are also required. A Master of Education (M.Ed.) program is also available online. This 37-credit hour program requires courses in educational research, inclusive B-K services, family-centered practices and teaching methods. Completion of an internship in inclusive early childhood education is necessary to earn the degree.

A Doctor of Philosophy program is also offered through the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. This multidisciplinary program requires a minimum of 89 credit hours. Students can expect courses in family theory, human development and college teaching. The curriculum does allow for 27 credit hours to be dedicated to a specialization, which could include the study of early childhood education. A dissertation is required to earn this terminal degree.

Wake Technical Community College

Located in Raleigh, Wake Technical Community College offers a number of early childhood programs and certificates. The AAS program requires between 72 and 74 credit hours. Participants can expect to study child development, active play, sociology, early childhood administration and educational technology. A capstone practicum must be completed to earn the degree.

In addition, a 44-credit hour diploma program is available. Students must complete courses in basic PC literacy, expository writing, argument-based research, child guidance and psychology.

Finally, there are five certificate programs available through Wake Technical Community College. Each program requires 18 credit hours. Students can choose to focus on family childcare, infant and toddler care, school-age education, early childhood education or early childhood education. Each program includes a variety of courses, such as child development, toddler education, classroom management and school-age administration.

Career Requirements

In North Carolina, the credentials required of early childhood educators vary by position. For example, lead teachers at child care centers need to earn the North Carolina Early Childhood Credential, while elementary school teachers must obtain professional educator's licensure through the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Short overviews of the ten largest schools that provide early childhood education programs can be found below. Also included is a comparison table that highlights individual school offerings and tuition information.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Early Childhood Degree Programs Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Two-year, public; small city Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Early Childhood Associate,
Early Childhood Certificate
$2.419 in-state; $8,563 out-of-state*
Cape Fear Community College Two-year, public; midsize city AAS in Early Childhood Education,
Early Childhood Associate Diploma,
Early Childhood Associate Certificate
$2,654 in-state; $8,798 out-of-state*
Central Piedmont Community College Two-year, public; large city AAS in Early Childhood Education,
Early Childhood Education Certificate
$2,664 in-state; $8,808 out-of-state*
Fayetteville Technical Community College Two-year, public; midsize city AAS in Early Childhood Education $2,394 in-state; $8,538 out-of-state*
Forsyth Technical Community College Two-year, public; midsize city AAS in Early Childhood Education,
Early Childhood Education Diploma,
Early Childhood Education Certificate - Administration,
Early Childhood Education Certificate - Early Childhood,
Early Childhood Education Certificate - Early Intervention,
Early Childhood Education Certificate - Infant and Toddler
$2,025 in-state; $6,631 out-of-state*
Guilford Technical Community College Two-year, public; midsize suburb AAS in Early Childhood Education,
Early Childhood Education Diploma,
Early Childhood Certificate,
Early Childhood Administration Certificate,
Early Childhood School-Age Certificate,
Infant-Toddler Care Certificate
$2,064 in-district; $2,208 in-state; $7,056 out-of-state*
Pitt Community College Two-year, public; midsize suburb AAS in Early Childhood Education $2,317 in-state; $8,376 out-of-state*
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Four-year, public; small city Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Education - Child Development and Family Studies,
Master of Arts (MA) in Education - Early Childhood, Intervention and Literacy,
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education - Early Childhood, Intervention and Literacy
$8,591 in-state; $33,673 out-of-state*
University of North Carolina at Greensboro Four-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science (BS) in Human Development and Family Studies with a Birth through Kindergarten (B-K) Licensure concentration,
Master of Science (MS) in Human Development and Family Studies,
Master of Education (M.Ed.) Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development,
Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies
$6,745 in-state; $21,607 out-of-state*
Wake Technical Community College Two-year, public; large suburb AAS in Early Childhood Education,
Early Childhood Diploma,
Early Childhood Administrator Certificate,
Early Childhood/CDA Certificate,
School-Age Certificate,
Family Child Care Certificate,
Infant/Toddler Care/CDA Certificate
$2,768 in-state; $8,912 out-of-state*

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator.

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