Early childhood development is a crucial period of growth for everyone.According to Harvard University, a young child’s experiences can have lifelong impacts on learning, behavior and health. Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman takes the importance of ECD to a new level: Educating young children is the single most important investment for society. An early childhood educator will make lasting impacts on children for the rest of their lives. What is an Early Childhood Education degree?This master’s degree trains students to teach, administrate, and care for children aged zero to eight. An ECE degree furthers leadership and advocacy skills, while focusing on the psychological development of a child. An ECE degree can train you to become a teacher, administrator, or care giver in a pre-K through third grade setting.Most programs are between 30-40 credit hours, accounting for 10-12 classes of direct learning experience. Depending on the school, you might enroll as a full-time or part-time student. How much can I earn with an Early Childhood Education degree?With a master’s degree in ECE, kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn an average of $55,490 annually. Preschool teachers with the same education earn anywhere from $36,400 to $43,492, while preschool directors make an average of $45,000. Your earning potential rises if you become a teacher with a niche in special education. The median annual income for this career choice is $57,910.What is required for an Early Childhood Education degree?Any master’s program requires that you hold a bachelor’s degree. Many schools expect you to have hands early childhood experience already, either through undergraduate studies or work. Undergraduate GPA prerequisites range from 2.3 – 3.0. Roughly half the schools on our list require the GRE or MAT for admission consideration.Most programs integrate a practicum teaching component as a part of fieldwork experience, in addition to your online studies. If you are already teaching or working in a school, this could also apply. What are the best Early Childhood Education degrees?We have compiled a list of the 20 best schools for an online degree in Early Childhood Education. Our ranking system is first based on the quality of the program, as indicated by student engagement and faculty credentials. This score includes student to faculty ratio, graduation rates, and faculty experience and training. A degree is only as good as its future prospects, so our rating includes potential earnings for an early childhood educator. Our methodology also incorporates the number of online programs and courses offered, tuition price, and acceptance rates.Quite importantly, we also take into consideration student and alumni satisfaction in the program rankings. We know that early childhood educators deeply care about impacting the lives of young children, so we want to give you the best chance to explore your potential.University of ColoradoTuition in State/Out of State: $9,107/$25,259Program Web PageAcceptance75Earnings Potential75Online Presence75Online Program Quality94Retention59Student Satisfaction74Reputation98ProsSpecialist license or endorsement in Special Education available through extra coursework Field-based learning experience with 200-hour practicum requirementExtensive partnerships with urban schools in and around the Denver Metro areaConsOnline students are required to go to the Denver campus for 3-5 days each JuneOne year of experience working with children in a care or educational capacity requiredPartnerships with Colorado schools only100%OSR ScoreUC Denver offers an online Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education degree. This 30 or more credit hour program has three concentrations in either Administration and Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, or Teaching and Learning. Flexible course schedule allows 95 percent of students to work full-time while completing their degree.Arizona State UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $10,792/$27,372Program Web PageAcceptance80Earnings Potential78Online Presence100Online Program Quality88Retention62Student Satisfaction76Reputation85ProsNo education experience necessary“US News & World Report” ranks this as one of the best graduate schools in educationYou can pursue a profession as a teacher, social worker, psychologist, or school administratorConsUndergraduate 3.0 GPA requiredSchool will not assist you in out of state licensureMost practicum opportunities offered only in Arizona99%OSR ScoreThe Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College offers a Master of Education degree in Early Childhood Education. You have the option to take the M.Ed. program without certification (30 credit hours) or with Certification (45 credit hours). You can apply if you have a teaching certificate or not.University of North DakotaTuition in State/Out of State: $8,447/$20,047Program Web PageAcceptance75Earnings Potential70Online Presence78Online Program Quality81Retention61Student Satisfaction72Reputation100ProsPartnership with the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Education LeadershipCertification for future administrators in Childhood Education availableNo GRE requiredConsStudent’s responsibility to find an approved practicum siteYou need teacher certification or experience in the early childhood education fieldNo tuition discounts for in-state students99%OSR ScoreThe Online Master of Science in Early Childhood Education is a 32-credit program identical to the curriculum on campus. With a flexible start date, you can complete the courses at your own pace on either a more full-time or part-time schedule. Regardless of where you live, this M.S. degree helps you to apply what you are learning in your own community through a 60-hour classroom teaching practicum. Northern Arizona UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $11,059/$24,841Program Web PageAcceptance73Earnings Potential71Online Presence94Online Program Quality81Retention66Student Satisfaction79Reputation93ProsBoasts small class sizes and one-on-one instruction More variation with class options and electives than other schools on our listYou have up to six years to complete this programConsNational Board Prep requires at least three years of teaching experience and licenseYou may need to submit a comprehensive thesis for admissionYou must pass seven rigorous standards from teachers and national board98%OSR ScoreThis 30-credit master’s in Early Childhood Education specializes in Early Childhood Continuing Professional, Early Childhood Leadership, or Early Childhood National Board Certification Teacher (NBCT) Preparation. A teaching practicum may or may not be needed based on your concentration. Georgia Southern UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $6,356/$17,142Program Web PageAcceptance75Earnings Potential71Online Presence74Online Program Quality84Retention70Student Satisfaction79Reputation92ProsUS News & World Report ranked this program among the top 50 best online education degreesGRE or MAT not requiredFocuses on diversity in education with certificate in Curriculum and Pedagogy for Social JusticeConsYou can only apply for summer admissionOne of the most expensive programs on the list for out of state residentsNo formal practicum or student-teaching component to this program95%OSR ScoreGSU offers a fully online Master of Education in Elementary Education. This 36-credit M.Ed. can be completed in four or six semesters with optional field work.University of DaytonTuition in State/Out of State: $41,750/$41,750Program Web PageAcceptance78Earnings Potential80Online Presence72Online Program Quality84Retention75Student Satisfaction79Reputation94ProsThe M.S.E. is nationally ranked within UD’s Department of Teacher EducationGRE or MAT only required if you apply with an undergraduate GPA of less than 2.75 Emphasis on smaller classes sizes and more one-on-one instructor-student interactionConsProgram only for experienced professionals in the early childhood sectorApplicants must already hold licenses to teach Among highest in-state tuition on our list94%OSR ScoreTuition is identical for in-state and out-of-state students in the Master of Science in Education in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy. This fully online program prepares students to become leaders and advocates for children with concentrations in administration or advocacy. The M.S.E. is designed for administrators, supervisors, teachers, and leaders who work with young children and families.Liberty UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $21,310/$21,310Program Web PageAcceptance75Earnings Potential61Online Presence100Online Program Quality76Retention61Student Satisfaction84Reputation77ProsEight different start dates and no set login timesGRE or MAT not requiredStudents with elementary license eligible for endorsement in Early ChildhoodConsReligiously affiliated Christian universityNeed to take “Introduction to Graduate Writing” if undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0Some states may not recognize this program for licensure91%OSR ScoreLiberty University offers a completely online Master of Education in Teaching and Learning – Early Childhood degree. This 36 credit hour program boasts a comprehensive curriculum with the option of a teaching practicum. You can complete this degree in as little as two years and as much as five years.Concordia University--St. PaulTuition in State/Out of State: $21,750/$21,750Program Web PageAcceptance73Earnings Potential70Online Presence80Online Program Quality80Retention52Student Satisfaction71Reputation90ProsThis program offers the same tuition for in state and out of state students Graduate study abroad options95 percent of graduates receive job offers in first yearConsMinimum GPA of 3.0 in undergraduate studiesNeed to be working or volunteering regularly in the education sector with childrenIn state students do not get preferential treatment or discounts91%OSR ScoreThis Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education boasts one of the lowest tuitions for private colleges in Minnesota. This 33 credit course is designed for professional educators and practitioners. This fully online, flexible program offers a highly structured sequence of courses.University of Alabama--BirminghamTuition in State/Out of State: $8,328/$19,032Program Web PageAcceptance82Earnings Potential71Online Presence88Online Program Quality85Retention63Student Satisfaction82Reputation78ProsYou have five years to complete this degreeUAB assists with practicum placement You have an extensive cohort of advisorsConsMust have Alabama bachelor’s level professional educator certificate in Early ChildhoodGRE or MAT requiredMust attend one in person information session on campus89%OSR ScoreThe University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an online Master of Education degree in Early Childhood Education. This is a 31 to 34 credit course that emphasizes at least one-third of the courses be in field work for teaching. The University boasts that six out of eight of the 2017 Alabama Teachers of the Year are alumni of the UAB School of Education.University of Alabama--BirminghamTuition in State/Out of State: $8,328/$19,032Program Web PageAcceptance82Earnings Potential71Online Presence88Online Program Quality85Retention63Student Satisfaction82Reputation85ProsCareer opportunities such as administrators, specialists, teachers, or consultantsYou may apply for the TEACH grantOption to earn Birth Through Grade Three Inclusive Setting EndorsementConsNeed to hold a valid teaching license in Early ChildhoodMinimum undergraduate 3.0 GPA requiredMust complete degree within two years88%OSR ScoreThe school in Iowa offers a 33-credit online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. The online degree costs the same for both in state and out of state residents. Each class lasts eight weeks and you can take two or more courses per semester.Portland State UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $8,783/$26,130Program Web PageAcceptance73Earnings Potential71Online Presence75Online Program Quality77Retention59Student Satisfaction72Reputation84ProsStudy abroad options in Italy and other international locationsSummer intensive through the Helen Gordon Child Development CenterOptions in Constructivism, Infant-Toddler Mental health, or Early Childhood Special EducationConsYou must reside in Portland, Oregon for the summer intensiveNo discounts for in state studentsOne year of volunteer or work experience in early childhood or related programs required87%OSR ScoreThis Master of Education in Early Childhood Education focuses on Inclusive Education and Curriculum & Instruction. This fully online program is interdisciplinary between the Curriculum & Instruction department and the Special Education department. This master’s program is designed for both current teachers and non-teachers.West Chester University of PennsylvaniaTuition in State/Out of State: $10,111/$21,591Program Web PageAcceptance72Earnings Potential73Online Presence67Online Program Quality89Retention72Student Satisfaction75Reputation82ProsSpecial education courses are already built into the programOffers unique capstone course in early childhood research You do not need to visit campus at anytimeConsNeed to be a certified Level 1 teacher in Pennsylvania on the Advanced Teacher’s TrackDegree does not lead to Level 1 Certification You need to be cleared for your practicum before starting87%OSR ScoreWestchester University in Pennsylvania offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education degree. This 33-credit course through the College of Education and Social Work is 100% online. This flexible program can be completed full-time or part-time.Kennesaw State UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $6,347/$17,329Program Web PageAcceptance74Earnings Potential69Online Presence80Online Program Quality75Retention72Student Satisfaction77Reputation82ProsFeatures over six different specializations and endorsementsYou can choose a shorter, 13-month intensive option while you teachVoted #3 for online masters degrees in education by Early Childhood Online ReportConsTuition does not cover fees, books or materialsDegree may not meet certain state requirementsGRE necessary87%OSR ScoreKSU in Georgia offers a completely online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education program. This program is flexible if you would like to study on a more part time basis. You are a part of a cohort of students, making this online program more of a team collaboration than other programs on this list. Champlain CollegeTuition in State/Out of State: $39,818/$39,818Program Web PageAcceptance78Earnings Potential65Online Presence74Online Program Quality75Retention78Student Satisfaction74Reputation75Pros“Best Schools” ranked this as one of the top 10 online M.Ed. programsStudents are accepted year-round for summer, spring, or fall termsYou will have an individual advisorConsUnique project-based learning tailored to your interests and work environmentPrevious extensive education experience requiredYou must attend a 4-day residency at an annual NAEYC conference86%OSR ScoreThis fully online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education was one of the first colleges to offer this online program. You can complete the 36 credit master’s degree in full, or receive an 18 credit Graduate Certificate for half tuition. This degree can be taken full-time or part-time.Mercer UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $36,000/$36,000Program Web PageAcceptance81Earnings Potential68Online Presence67Online Program Quality82Retention74Student Satisfaction80Reputation87ProsYou graduate with a Level 4 certification in Early ChildhoodEarn endorsements in the areas of Autism, ESOL, Math, Reading, or ScienceEligible to upgrade to a master’s level 5 teacher in GeorgiaConsCertifications only apply if teaching in GeorgiaNeed to be a certified teacher to applyGRE or MAT required85%OSR ScoreMercer University’s College of Education offers a 30-credit Master of Education in Early Childhood. This degree is for currently certified educators in grades preK-5 and costs $14,370 for both in state and out of state residents. This 12-16 month fully online program allows you to work in the educational sector while studying. You can also meet with professors on campus in various locations, one-on-one, if choose.University of ToledoTuition in State/Out of State: $9,547/$18,885Program Web PageAcceptance76Earnings Potential66Online Presence76Online Program Quality81Retention68Student Satisfaction74Reputation79ProsMinimum undergraduate 2.7 GPA Scholarships offered upwards of $4000Several endorsements optionsConsCannot teach students above three-years-old in public schoolsProgram must be completed in two yearsExperience in elementary education does not apply84%OSR ScoreThis Ohio school offers a completely online Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education in the Judith Herb College of Education. This 36 credit curriculum is designed for preschool, childcare, and early learning educators and administrators.University of West AlabamaTuition in State/Out of State: $9,204/$16,818Program Web PageAcceptance64Earnings Potential63Online Presence85Online Program Quality70Retention67Student Satisfaction81Reputation76ProsYou may receive your Alabama teaching certification after graduatingUp to 80 percent of students receive financial aid, scholarships, and grantsAdvisors help place you in a teaching field experienceConsDegree will not help with teaching certification outside AlabamaMust hold an undergraduate professional teaching certificate in the same fieldNo part-time option84%OSR ScoreThe University of West Alabama offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. This is a 34 credit program and only takes one year to complete. This degree is for current educators or students with educational backgrounds looking to gain deeper experience in their field.Jacksonville State UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $8,166/$15,582Program Web PageAcceptance70Earnings Potential68Online Presence71Online Program Quality47Retention62Student Satisfaction78Reputation77ProsYou can become eligible for an Alabama Teacher Class A Certification Clinical experiences are built into the programSchool offers similar programs with different specialitiesConsYou must be a certified teacher to applyDegree is most applicable in Alabama if seeking additional certificationsOnly accepting fall admissions83%OSR ScoreJSU in Alabama offers a Master of Science in Early Childhood/Special Education. This fully online collaborative degree is designed for certified teachers interested in pre-K to third grade. In state and out of state students pay the same tuition for 30 credit-hours within the program.Biola UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $38,448/$38,448Program Web PageAcceptance77Earnings Potential74Online Presence69Online Program Quality41Retention67Student Satisfaction86Reputation75ProsApply for rolling admission in the summer, spring or fallYou can apply for California Child Development Permits after graduatingSeveral scholarship opportunitiesConsMinimum undergraduate 3.0 GPA requiredIf your GPA is lower than 3.5, GRE is requiredMust possess a Certificate of Clearance from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing82%OSR ScoreBiola University’s School of Education offers a fully online Master of Arts in Early Childhood. This 38-credit program can be completed in two to three years while teaching full time. It is designed for school teachers who want to further their skills and expertise. At the end of the program, you may decide to do a research project or write a thesis to finish your degree.Capella UniversityTuition in State/Out of State: $14,250/$14,250Program Web PageAcceptance73Earnings Potential56Online Presence67Online Program Quality41Retention40Student Satisfaction76Reputation77ProsScholarships in upwards of $3000 with federal grant optionsLicensure team will support you through teacher license application processGRE or MAT not required for admissionConsThere is no physical campusNot considered a competitive schoolSome states do not recognize this program to fulfill licensure requirement82%OSR ScoreCapella University offers a Master of Science in Education, with an Early Childhood Education Specialization. This program is 100 percent online, with six core courses, four specialization courses, and one practicum. For a total of 46 credits, this is program can be part-time or full-time. The price varies based upon your course load.