Early childhood education (ECE) focuses on teaching students in preschool through fourth grade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that aspiring teachers who want to teach kindergarten or elementary school need to have bachelor's degrees, whereas those interested in teaching preschool only need associate's degrees. In Arkansas, completion of a state-approved teaching preparation program, which often includes one or more student teaching internships, is also required for teaching licensure. There are 22 schools that offer relevant degree programs in Arkansas. Below are short overviews of the 9 largest schools that offer programs that meet state requirements for licensure, unless otherwise stated.
Arkansas State University - Beebe
The Arkansas State University campus in Beebe offers several degree options through the College of Education and Human Development. The Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) program requires 63 credit hours and includes education core requirements in educational technology and math for teachers. The early childhood specialty includes courses in child development and a survey of early childhood. An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Early Childhood Education is also available. This program requires a total of 60 credit hours and includes courses in curriculum development, literacy, business administration and child development.
Two certificate programs are also available. Students can earn the Technical Certificate in Early Childhood Education by completing the necessary 42 credit hours. Required courses cover child guidance, first aid, math and science for early childhood, language arts and curriculum development. Completion of a capstone project is mandatory. The Certificate of Proficiency in Early Childhood Education requires 10 credit hours and includes a practicum in the field as well as courses in child development and exceptional children.
Arkansas State University - Main Campus
The main campus of Arkansas State University is located in Jonesboro and offers a number of bachelor's and master's degree programs in early childhood education. Students must complete 123 hours to obtain the Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) in Early Childhood Education. Classwork includes subjects like art, science and math for teachers, effective teaching strategies and music methods. Students must register for an internship in a local school as part of this degree program's graduation requirements. A BSE program in early childhood education with a focus on special education is also available and requires 138 credit hours.
Designed for educators, the Master of Science in Education (MSE) in Early Childhood Education program requires 33-36 hours of classwork. Classes cover topics such as administration and supervision of programs for young children, national teaching standards and emergent literacy from birth through primary grades. Students must also complete a practicum. This program does not lead to teaching licensure.
Similarly, the Master of Science (MS) in Early Childhood Services program does not qualify students for teacher certification. It is designed for people who work in agencies. Degree requirements include 30 hours in subjects like models of early childhood curriculum, developmental perspectives and leadership in early childhood and sources.
Arkansas Tech University
Arkansas Tech University in Russellville offers two undergraduate options for students interested in early childhood education. The associate's degree program is offered online and leads to the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Required courses include the study of child development, theories in early childhood education, curriculum development and nutrition. The general education courses for this program can be transferred to a bachelor's degree program in early childhood education.
The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education program is offered through the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. After completing all general education requirements, students complete core courses in education before taking part in internships. Graduates are eligible to sit for the required licensure examination offered through the Arkansas Department of Education.
Located in Searcy, Harding University offers a four-year program in early childhood education through the Cannon-Clary College of Education. The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Early Childhood Education program requires 128 credit hours. Students can expect to study education law and ethics, educational technology, classroom management, curriculum design and early childhood assessment. At least eight credit hours of Bible coursework must also be completed to earn the degree.
NorthWest Arkansas Community College
Located in Bentonville, this community college offers an Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) with an emphasis on preschool through fourth grade or early childhood education. The curriculum requires between 60 and 64 credit hours. Students can expect courses in English, fine arts, mathematics, science and the basics of education. In addition, required electives cover child development, psychology and the history of Arkansas.
Southern Arkansas University - Main Campus
This university in Magnolia offers a MSE in Early Childhood Education for those who have licensure for the state of Arkansas. The curriculum requires 36 credit hours. Students can expect courses in educational research, school law, current trends in education, language development and instructional planning. The Special Education PRAXIS and all other course must be complete before finishing the degree with a direct internship.
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas' Fort Smith campus offers an Associate in Applied Science in Early Childhood Education. The associate's degree program in this field calls for completion of 60 credit hours. The curriculum includes courses in child growth and guidance, communication, curriculum development, nutrition and literacy. A practicum and two field experiences are also required.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
The University of Arkansas' campus in Little Rock offers a bachelor's degree in early childhood education that leads to licensure. The curriculum requires a total of 128 credit hours. Students can expect to participate in five blocks of early childhood education courses, totaling 73 credit hours. Courses include the study of educational technology, early childhood music, literacy, early childhood assessment and mathematics. In addition, participants must complete several field experiences and internships to earn this degree.
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers two degree options for the study of early childhood education through the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. The bachelor's degree requires 125 credit hours that can be completed in four years. Students are expected to complete courses in communication, public school music, teaching social studies, children's literature and advanced composition. In addition, clinical and student teaching practicums are required.
This university also offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. This program is designed for licensed teachers who wish to gain a deeper understanding of this field. However, participants who have earned bachelor's degrees in other fields can choose a different track of this program as a means to gain licensure in early childhood education. Each track requires 36 credit hours. Students of both tracks must complete courses in literacy, teaching methods, behavior and child development.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Early Childhood Education Degree Programs||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)|
|Arkansas State University - Beebe||Two-year, public; fringe town|| Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT): Early Childhood Specialty,
Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Early Childhood Education,
Technical Certificate in Early Childhood Education,
Certificate of Proficiency in Early Childhood Education
|$3,480 in-state; $5,370 out-of-state*|
|Arkansas State University - Main Campus||Four-year, public; small city||Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) in Early Childhood Education,
BSE in Early Childhood Education: Special Education,
Master of Science in Education (MSE) in Early Childhood Education,
Master of Science (MS) in Early Childhood Services
|$8,050 in-state; $14,050 out-of-state*|
|Arkansas Tech University||Four-year, public; remote town|| Associate of Science (AS) in Early Childhood Education,
Bachelor of Science (BS) in Early Childhood Education
|$6,192 in-state; $11,352 out-of-state*|
|Harding University||Four-year, private not-for-profit; distant town||Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Birth to Kindergarten Education||$17,805*|
|NorthWest Arkansas Community College||Two-year, public; small city||Associate in Applied Science in Early Childhood Education||$3,208 in-district; $4,633 in-state; $4,708 out-of-state*|
|Southern Arkansas University Main Campus||Four-year, public; remote town||MSE in Special Education in P-4||$7,961 in-state; $11,531 out-of-state*|
|University of Arkansas - Fort Smith||Four-year, public; small city||AAS in Early Childhood Education||$5,062 in-state; $11,302 out-of-state*|
|University of Arkansas at Little Rock||Four-year, public; midsize city||BSE in Early Childhood Education||$7,624 in-state; $17,956 out-of-state*|
|University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff||Four-year, public; small city|| BS in Early Childhood Education,
M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education
|$6,538 in-state; $12,268 out-of-state*|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator.