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

Early childhood education programs are designed to train teachers to work with children eight years of age and younger. Discover how long a master's program in this field takes to complete and learn about program options.

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Duration of ECE Master's Degree Programs

A typical master's degree program takes two years to complete, but here we discuss some of the various ways this timeframe may vary for students in master's degree programs for early childhood education. Early childhood education master's programs vary in length depending upon the actual program chosen and the number of credit hours needed to fulfill degree requirements, but traditional 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 or if a student chooses additional specialty areas of study.

Other Program Options

It may be possible to earn a master's degree in early childhood education in less than two years by entering an accelerated program. Students may start courses at the beginning of the summer and continue their studies through the following summer. Many accelerated programs offer a selection of online courses, making it easier for students to complete a larger number of courses more quickly.

Some institutions offer combined bachelor's and master's programs. These accelerated programs allow students to complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years, rather than six. Students in these programs typically need to attend full-time and may even have to meet strict standards, such as minimum GPA requirement by the end of their sophomore year in order to be eligible for acceptance.

Another option for earning a master's degree is to enroll in an online or hybrid program. 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. Hybrid programs offer coursework through a combination of on-campus and online classes. In some cases, such programs may take somewhat less time to complete than the standard two-year timeframe.

ECE Master's Degree Program Overview

Regardless of program length, early childhood education master's programs are designed to prepare certified teachers and other applicants interested in entering the field to work with children who are eight years old and younger. Master's degree programs may offer different tracks that focus on various areas of teaching and specific age groups, such as early childhood special education. Most programs require students to complete 30-36 semester hours of coursework. Students may also participate in seminars and/or research in the field, as well as complete comprehensive examinations prior to graduation.

Common course topics include:

  • Development of literacy
  • Incorporating play
  • Education research
  • Human development
  • Family development

Although a master's degree in early childhood education usually takes two years to complete, it may take longer for part-time students or possibly shorter for students in accelerated programs or online programs.

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