20 Best Early Childhood Education Associates Degrees Online [2021 Guide]

If you’re looking for a career that may allow you to work with children and make a positive impact on their growth and developmental journey, an early childhood education associates degree online may be a good fit for you.

Early Childhood Education Associates Degrees

Obtaining an associates degree in early childhood education online may allow you to help infants, toddlers, and young children learn and develop cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills.

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You may also work with teachers and childcare directors to execute learning plans and prepare a safe learning environment for students, all while working with families to identify and address cognitive and behavioral opportunities for their children.

Online Associates in Early Childhood Education Degrees

Preschool Teacher teaching her young students

Associate degrees in early childhood education can help prepare you to work with youth, including infants, toddlers, and children under the age of 8, and help with their development across a wide range of learning needs.

A degree in early childhood education may also prepare you to support families by utilizing an awareness of family dynamics and the impact of social and cultural needs for each student.

The curriculum in an early childhood education associate degree program may cover basic principles of cognitive, social, and emotional development of children, and teach you how to set up learning environments and structure play to optimize student success.

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Earning your associate degree in early childhood education may help prepare you for positions including preschool teacher, teacher assistant, or daycare worker.

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers provide basic instruction to children, including numbers, shapes, and letters, plan curriculum, structure classroom set up, and ensure a safe learning environment for students.

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants support student learning by reviewing content with students one-on-one or in small groups, and support teachers with the execution of learning material. Teacher assistants may also be called educational assistants, teacher aides, or paraeducators.

Childcare Workers

Kindergarten teacher teaching her young student in a classroom

Childcare workers support the basic needs of children including nutritional, behavioral, and hygienic needs, provide supervision during play, and organize daytime activities. Childcare workers may also monitor progress related to behavioral, social, or emotional skills.

Earning an associates in early childhood education may enable you to work in a range of environments, from public or private schools to daycares or providing in-home care services for individual families. Positions may also be available in the areas of social services or recreation.

While an associate degree is an entry-level requirement for positions including preschool teacher, teacher assistant, and childcare worker, it may also prepare you for continued studies in a bachelor’s degree program. Earning a bachelor’s degree may increase your career advancement opportunities in the field of early childhood education.

Early Childhood Education Careers & Salaries

Early Childhood Education Careers & Salaries

An associate degree in early childhood education may provide you with the foundation needed to qualify for a career working with young children, including infants, toddlers, and adolescents under the age of 8.

As an early childhood educator, you may play a vital role in the social, emotional, and behavioral development of children by implementing principles related to childhood development, learning environments, and behavior management.

With an associate degree in early childhood education, you may find employment in public or private schools, daycare centers, preschools, or in client homes as a personal childcare provider or nanny. Common positions include preschool teacher, teacher assistant, and childcare worker.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in the field of early childhood education are predicted to experience growth over the next several years. This includes preschool teacher (2%), teacher assistant (4%), kindergarten and elementary teacher (4%), recreation worker (10%), and social and human service assistant (17%).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a number of different career opportunities in the field of early childhood education.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Special Education Teacher, Preschool $61,400
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher $60,660
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $49,160
Social and Human Service Assistant $35,960
Preschool Teacher $31,930
Teacher Assistant $28,900
Recreation Worker $28,440
Childcare Worker $25,460

If you’re interested in furthering your career in the field of early childhood education, an associate degree may be a great stepping-stone towards enrollment in a bachelor’s degree program, which may offer additional employment opportunities and increased earning potential.

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While some childhood educator positions may be obtained with an associate degree, certain employers may require a bachelor’s degree as an entry-level requirement for positions including special education teacher, kindergarten and elementary school teacher, and preschool and childcare center director. For higher level positions, you may be required to have at least an online masters in education.

Choosing an Online Early Childhood Education Associates Degree

Early Childhood Education Associates Degree student studying in a cafe

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing an early childhood online education degree program, including whether previously completed credits will count towards your degree, the opportunity to complete a practicum, and the ability to transfer into a bachelor’s degree down the road.

  • Transfer Credits: If you have taken previous college courses, completed credits may be accepted as transfer credits and count towards your degree in early childhood education. Acceptable transfer credits vary from school to school, so it is a good idea to understand if your credits transfer prior to enrolling in a specific school.
  • Practicum: Some early education degree programs may require you to complete a practical component as part of your studies. This may include spending time in a classroom setting exercising the knowledge and skills you learned in various courses. Practicums generally require you to attend a physical location.
  • Transfer to Bachelor’s Program: If you’re interested in obtaining a bachelor’s degree after completing your associates degree in early childhood education, you may want to consider programs that are accredited and offer credits that can be transferred into a bachelor program later on.

Research the accredited schools you’re interested in attending for information on their specific policies and practices, and to find out which program is the right fit for you.

Early Childhood Education Curriculum & Courses

Preschool Teacher with his students in class

An early childhood education associate degree online includes coursework that covers key principles related to the learning and development of infants, toddlers, and adolescents, and may include those listed below.

  • Curriculum and Instruction: Learn to develop lessons and assessments that are appropriate for developmental, cultural, and individual differences of students.
  • Child Development: Examine the stages of development and how they relate to appropriate educational theories and practices.
  • Early Childhood Behavior Management: Discover what age-appropriate behaviors include and how to manage difficult behaviors in the classroom.
  • Language Development: Learn the stages of language development in young children and how to help advance language skills.
  • Family Behavior and Dynamics: Understand the role that family dynamics play in childhood development, including the family’s role in primary socialization and learning.
  • Quality Care Environments: Discover best practices for setup and arrangement of learning spaces for young children.
  • Social and Emotional Growth: Examine methods to support children in the development of positive relationships and healthy emotional and social behaviors.
  • Children’s Play and Learning: Learn about the role that playtime has in childhood development, including how children learn to play.
  • Classroom Management: Discover different management styles and approaches for teachers to address diverse student learning needs.
  • Professional Responsibilities: Examine key professional and ethical standards related to childhood education, including the role of the family, student safety, and nutrition.

Coursework included in an associates in early childhood education program covers content that may prepare you for a career as a preschool teacher, teacher assistant, or childcare worker, and provided the foundational knowledge required to excel in this essential field.

Admissions Requirements

Each school offering an early childhood education associate degree online will have different admission requirements that must be met to be accepted into the program.

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They may include high school transcripts, access to the right tools, and college transcripts.

  • High school degree or GED and related transcripts: completing a high school or related certificate program is a requirement for most college programs.
  • Access to a computer with an internet connection: enrolling in an associate degree in early childhood education online will likely require you to have access to a stable internet connection and a reliable computer to complete coursework and meet course deadlines.
  • College transcripts: providing transcripts from previous courses that you’ve completed at a previous college will help the schools’ administration determine transfer credit opportunities, which may enable you to complete your degree in less time.

Additional admission requirements may exist at various schools. Research the requirements for schools you’re interested in attending to ensure you meet their criteria.

Accreditation

Early Childhood Education Associates Degrees Online Accreditation

Employers often verify that a degree listed on your resume was obtained from an accredited school during the hiring process, and the accreditation status of the program may play a key role in hiring decisions.

Regional accreditation means that programs and schools they are provided by have met a certain standard of academic quality. Credits obtained in programs that are regionally accredited are more easily transferred to other programs at different post-secondary institutions.

You can use the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s (CHEA) directory of regionally accredited organizations to find out whether the early childhood education programs you’re interested in attending are accredited.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

financial aid for Early Childhood Education Associates Degrees students

You may be eligible to obtain financial support to help fund your online degree in early childhood education in the form of federal, state, or private financial aid.

Federal and state aid are programs operated by respective levels of government and may be available in the form of loans or grants. Loans generally need to be repaid within a specific amount of time, while grants often do not require repayment once your degree is complete.

Similar to grants, scholarship funds that you receive to support the funding of your degree program do not need to be repaid. You can use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for financial aid when pursuing your associate degree in early childhood education.

What Can You Do With an Early Childhood Education Associates Degree?

Preschool teacher teaching her students in a classroom

An online associate degree in early childhood education may lead you to a rewarding career in public education, private education, childcare, social services, or recreation. Common career paths with an associate degree may include preschool teacher, teacher assistant, childcare worker, social and human service assistant, and recreation worker.

By transferring your associate degree credits into a bachelor’s degree program, additional opportunities may become available to you, including positions like kindergarten and elementary school teacher, special education teacher, or childcare center director.

How Much Does It Cost to Get an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education?

While tuition generally varies from school to school, you can expect to pay between $75 to $390 per credit hour when pursuing an associates in early childhood education online. Most associate’s degrees are between 60 to 66 credit hours.

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Factors that may impact the total cost of your associates degree in early childhood education online may include the state where the school is located, your state of residency, as well as any discretionary fees charged by the institution.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Early Childhood Education Associates Degree Online?

Early Childhood Education Associates Degrees student studying online

An online associate degree in early childhood education generally requires the completion of between 60 to 66 credits. Programs that offer a traditional 16 week attendance may be completed in 2 years with full-time study.

Completing credits on a modified schedule, such as year-round classes or when semesters operate on an 8 week schedule, instead of the traditional 16 weeks, may let you complete your degree in less time.

Alternatively, if you opt to enroll in part-time studies and take a lighter course load, it may take longer than 2 years to complete your degree.

Are There Any Affordable Online Early Childhood Education Associates Degrees?

Early Childhood Education Associates Degrees students studying in a library

Yes, there are affordable programs, with programs starting as low as $75 per credit hour. The location of the university and your state of residency may impact your tuition fees and the total cost for you to complete an associate degree in early childhood education.

Applying for financial aid, including federal or state grant programs or private scholarship funds, may help to further reduce the overall cost of your online associate degree.

Is an Early Childhood Education Associates Degree Worth it?

Preschool teacher happily teaching her students in class

Yes, an early childhood education associates degree is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth in education, training, and library occupations for the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Common early childhood education careers include preschool teacher, teacher assistant, childcare worker, social and human services assistant, and recreation worker.

If you enjoy working with children and are passionate about teaching and supporting the educational development of youth, then an associate degree in early childhood education may be a good fit.

Universities Offering Online Associate’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Brunswick Community College

Brunswick Community College campus

Brunswick Community College offers three Associate of Applied Science options for students seeking degrees in early childhood education: the early childhood education career entry option, the early childhood education non-licensure option and the birth-kindergarten (B-K) teaching licensure.

Each has its own curriculum, but all focus on effectively educating young children.

  • AAS in Early Childhood Education

Brunswick Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Casper College

Casper College campus

The Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education program at Casper College gives students firm foundations in general education. Many core courses are also taken in subjects pertaining to working with young children.

These include child development, child and infant first aid, infant and toddler care, children’s literature, and developmental psychology.

  • AA in Early Childhood Education

Casper College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Concordia University – Saint Paul

Concordia University St Paul campus

Students enrolled in Concordia University – Saint Paul’s Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education program will learn the skills and content knowledge teachers need to work with children from birth to third grade. Students also have the option of enrolling in accelerated programs in order to earn their degrees sooner.

  • AA in Early Childhood Education

CSP is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Eastern Wyoming College

Eastern Wyoming College campus

Eastern Wyoming College’s Associate of Arts in Education – Early Childhood program requires four semesters of online learning. Students will build foundations in child development and planning and administering early childhood educational programs.

The degree will allow students to continue their education or enter the workforce as aides or paraprofessionals.

  • AA in Education – Early Childhood

Eastern Wyoming College is accredited through the North Central Association – The Higher Learning Commission.

Florida Gateway College

Florida Gateway College campus

In Florida Gateway College’s Associate of Science in Education program, students can choose from three concentrations including educator preparation, elementary education, and early childhood education (ECE).

The ECE track helps students build strong foundations in early childhood knowledge and prepares them to enter FGC’s bachelor’s program in the same field.

  • AS in Early Childhood Education

Florida Gateway College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Gulf Coast State College

Gulf Coast State College campus

The Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education program at Gulf Coast State College teaches students about communication, the legal and professional responsibilities of early childcare, growth and development, and the learning environment.

Florida Childcare Professional Credential courses are part of the degree, and students get experience in actual classrooms.

  • AS in Early Childhood Education

Gulf Coast State College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Haywood Community College

Haywood Community College campus

Haywood Community College offers several Associate of Applied Science tracks for students interested in early childhood education.

Despite which track a student chooses, most of the courses focus on the physical and nutritional needs of children, child growth and development, communication with children and families, and care and guidance of children.

  • AAS in Early Childhood Education

Haywood Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University’s Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education program is flexible, affordable, and has CAEP accreditation. The curriculum is designed to teach students to meet the academic, social, behavioral, emotional, and spiritual needs of young children.

  • AA in Early Childhood Education

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Montgomery County Community College

Montgomery County Community College campus

Montgomery County Community College’s Education in the Early Years associate’s degree places emphasis on child development beginning at birth through fourth grade.

Students will learn to assess the appropriateness of literature for young children, communicate effectively with young children and their families, and identify typical and atypical milestones in child development.

  • AA in Early Childhood Education

Montgomery County Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Northeast Community College

Northeast Community College campus

Northeast Community College offers both Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Arts degrees in Early Childhood Education (ECE), but only the AA degree is offered online. It’s a 60 credit program that gives students everything needed to transfer, as well as firm foundations in ECE and human development.

  • AA in Early Childhood Education

Northeast Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Ohio State University

Ohio State University campus

The Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Development and Education program from Ohio State University prepares students to work with children and their families in many different settings. The degree leads to associate licensure in Pre-K education in Ohio and can help students get jobs in licensed childcare and preschool programs.

  • AA in Early Childhood Development and Education

Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Saint Francis University

Saint Francis University campus

Saint Francis University’s Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education program allows students to transfer credits from accredited colleges and is entirely online. It helps students prepare to earn their CDA certificates and allows them to enroll full-time or part-time.

Scholarships are offered through the school’s partnership with T.E.A.C.H. Scholarships.

  • AS in Early Childhood Education

Saint Francis University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College campus

Students enrolled in the early childhood education (ECE) associate’s program at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College will take a multitude of classes to help them learn to work with young children. In addition to classes on child development and ECE, students will also learn about infant CPR, first aid, and nutrition.

  • Associate’s in Early Childhood Education

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Spokane Falls Community College

Spokane Falls Community College campus

Spokane Falls Community College offers five tracks in its Associate in Applied Science – Early Childhood Education program, as well as an Associate of Arts degree in the field. Learning objectives in all programs focus on health, safety and nutrition, child growth and development, measuring child progress, and child interactions.

  • AAS in Early Childhood Education

SFCC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Stanly Community College

Stanly Community College campus

The Associate of Applied Science degree at Stanly Community College is accredited by the NAEYC. Students in the program should learn to create environments that are supportive and healthy for all children, support and empower all children and their families and utilize technology for the learning enhancement of young children.

  • AAS in Early Childhood Education

Stanly Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Truckee Meadows Community College

Truckee Meadows Community College campus

Students at Truckee Meadows Community College can choose between an Associate of Applied Science and an Associate of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education. Both programs share similar courses in their curricula.

Some of these include child guidance, professionalism and ethics, understanding children with delays and disabilities, and curriculum planning.

  • AA in Early Childhood Education
  • AAS in Early Childhood Education

Truckee Meadows Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

University of Alaska – Fairbanks

University of Alaska Fairbanks campus

University of Alaska – Fairbanks’s Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education program is a 60 credit program that teaches students to work with children prenatal through age eight. The program is flexible and affordable, and there are scholarships and other financial aid options available to help offset tuition costs.

  • AAS in Early Childhood Education

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati campus

University of Cincinnati is one of US’ top public research institutions by The National Science Foundations. Students in its Early Childhood Education program can choose between three areas of specific interest: learning to work with infants and toddlers, learning to work with preschoolers, or preparing to earn CDA certificates.

  • Associate’s in Early Childhood Education

UC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College campus

Students in Vance-Granville Community College’s early childhood education associate’s program will take coursework that adheres to NAEYC standards.

Graduates of the program should be able to develop and implement developmentally appropriate programs in early childhood settings that meet the cognitive, creative, physical and motor, and social and emotional needs of young children.

  • Associate’s in Early Childhood Education

Vance-Granville Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College campus

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College’s E-CHiLD program is an associate degree program for students interested in early childhood education. It blends community-based student teaching with online learning to provide students with hands-on experience in care-giving and teaching young children.

Students meet face-to-face virtually once weekly, and open teaching labs are available.

  • E-CHiLD

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Early Childhood Education Associates Degree Online

Early Childhood Education Associates Degrees student studying Online in a cafe

Pursuing an online associate degree in early childhood education may enable you to work in an essential field, supporting teachers in the execution of instructional material and connecting with families regarding the development of their child.

If you enjoy working with children and want to contribute to the cognitive, behavioral, and social development of infants, toddlers, and adolescents then a career in early childhood education may be right for you.

Choosing to obtain your associate degree in early childhood education may allow you the opportunity to transfer completed credits into a bachelor’s degree program to continue your education and provide career advancement opportunities in the field.

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Brenda Pyzik
WRITTEN BY
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda has a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda focuses on employment, business, and training and development.