Early childhood development education online degree programs are offered at the associate, bachelor's and master's levels. All online programs offer coursework that is comparable to on-campus programs. Associate degree programs prepare students for entry-level positions in child care centers, while bachelor's degree candidates earn teaching certification and complete coursework on identifying children with special needs. For individuals who are already working in the field, an online master's degree program in early childhood development will provide coursework for those seeking administrative or supervisory roles. Some programs have in-person requirements in the form of faculty-supervised internships.
Associate Degree Programs
Online early childhood development associate degree programs provide the basic knowledge and pedagogy skills to create fun learning environments for children up to five years old. Graduates of associate degree programs are qualified for entry-level positions in child care centers, preschools, non-profit organizations and community education programs.
An online associate degree curriculum typically includes courses in literature, math, science, social studies and child development. In addition to general education requirements, distance learning students also complete faculty-supervised internships and courses that cover:
- Activities planning
- Health, nutrition and safety
- Teaching special needs students
- Social behavior
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Bachelor's Degree Programs
Online students pursuing a bachelor's degree in early childhood development are trained to assess and identify special needs in infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Bachelor's degree programs in early childhood development education are typically geared toward students who hold an associate degree in the field, and provide either a teaching certification and non-certification track.
Coursework in an online bachelor's degree program covers early childhood foundation theories and perspectives, curriculum design and activities. Online students also complete practicum and seminar courses. Aspiring early childhood educators typically study the following:
- Children at risk
- Community, family and school relations
- Group management
- Interpersonal relationships
- Early intervention planning and assessment
Master's Degree Programs
Online master's degree programs are tailored toward active educators desiring consultation, administration and supervision roles in programs for young children. Early childhood development graduate programs emphasize design and delivery of child educational services, as well as addressing practical teaching approaches for children with disabilities.
Online graduate students take extensive coursework in family relations, child development and education. Distance learning programs include courses in early literacy development, early childhood curriculum and behavior management, as well as the following classes:
- Instructional technology
- Curriculum leadership
- Working with families
- Advanced early childhood assessment
Online Learning Details
Accessing a program's online syllabus, lectures and assignments requires hardware and software that meet minimum standards. Distance learners follow the same faculty-led curriculum as campus-based students; however, instructional activities and interactions are delivered through virtual discussion boards and e-mail. Online learners typically work independently and interact with peers and faculty through real-time chats and conferences.
Degree programs in early child development prepare students for work in child care centers, preschools, non-profit organizations and community education programs. Many of these programs are available online, though some require students to participate in faculty-supervised internships.