If you want to help children develop lifelong skills during their most formative years, a master’s in early childhood education can qualify you to do so in a professional capacity. Usually focused on teaching students in pre-K through third grade, this advanced degree trains teachers to foster a productive learning environment and help children reach crucial developmental milestones. The M.Ed. is a popular choice for teachers who want to develop a specific educational focus, advance their careers, and increase their earning potential. To meet the needs of working professionals, many schools offer their M.Ed. program online.
The M.Ed. credential is intended for those who want to pursue a career in teaching. Many schools encourage applicants to have professional experience working with children before applying to their program. Students who earn their M.Ed. can work in public or private schools, generally teaching children up to third grade. They can also run childhood education programs and manage daycares or preschools.
Below, we’ve ranked the top online M.Ed. programs in the United States. Critically, each school on our list offers a rigorous curriculum at an affordable price. Affordability is a key concern for many prospective online students, and each college we’ve covered is committed to providing a robust education without forcing students into debt. If you want to obtain an M.Ed degree, and value the flexibility inherent in the online format, be sure to take a look at these top programs.
Texas A&M University – Commerce
|Value Score 8.90||
Texas A&M University-Commerce, founded in 1889, is located just northeast of Dallas, Texas. The mid-sized university focuses on providing students flexible and affordable learning options while they benefit from the cache of earning a degree from the prestigious Texas A&M University system.
The master’s in early childhood education degree is one of about 20 master’s degrees that Texas A&M University-Commerce offers completely online. Students interested in earning an early childhood education master’s degree online will work directly with their advisor or department to design a program of study. The program has several options for students who already hold a teaching certificate and those who do not; depending on their previous studies, students can choose to pursue either a master of education (MEd), a master of arts (MA), or a master of science (MS) in early childhood education.
Albany State University
|Value Score 8.68||
Albany State is a historically black higher education institution located in southeast Georgia. A liberal arts university, ASU offers a well-rounded curriculum that puts “students first.” ASU is known for its education programs; the school’s online master’s in early childhood education program prepares students for T-5 certification.
To enroll, students must have earned an undergraduate degree in early childhood education from an accredited institution. If they do not have this undergraduate degree, students will need to augment their online master’s degree in early childhood education with undergraduate courses. Students complete their program through RamNet, ASU’s online learning management system. The online master’s in early childhood education program places a strong emphasis on leadership, preparing students for administrative roles in all fields of education.
University of West Alabama
|Value Score 8.13||
UWA, located in Livingston, Alabama, has a strong focus on online learning. While some 2,200 students are enrolled at the school’s west central Alabama campus, over 2,800 learners take classes online. UWA offers a master’s in early childhood education online which most students complete in about 18 months.
UWA’s online terms are eight weeks long, and the school offers five online terms per year. To enroll in the program, prospective students must hold a bachelor’s level Professional Educator Certificate. UWA also offers an online master’s degree in early childhood education for students who hold a non-teaching undergraduate degree or who want to switch teaching areas. The Alternative Class A Program offers the majority of courses online, though students do have to complete field experiences and an internship in an approved Alabama school.
Georgia Southern University
|Value Score 8.11||
As the largest center of higher education in Atlanta, Georgia Southern serves over 20,000 students through both traditional and online education programs. Designated a Carnegie Doctoral-Research university, GSU prides itself on extending learning beyond the classroom through research opportunities and internship programs. US News & World Report ranked GSU’s College of Education among the top 75 online graduate education programs in the nation.
Through the College of Education, students can pursue a master’s in early childhood education online. The fully online program can be completed in one year, since the program offers courses in the fall, spring, and summer. The online master’s in early childhood education program is designed for students who already hold a Professional Level 4 Certificate, or equivalent, and who want to learn developmentally appropriate practices for grades Pre-K through 5th grade.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
|Value Score 7.99||
Located in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Northwestern State is a part of the state’s flagship University of Louisiana system. Through the eNSU online learning platform, the school offers several options for earning a master’s in early childhood education online. NSU is the only school in Louisiana to offer an online MEd in early childhood education, which can be completed by those who already hold a teacher certification.
Prospective students who do not yet have certification may be interested in the online MA in teaching early childhood education program. The fully online early childhood education master’s program prepares students to work with children in Pre-K through 3rd grade. NSU is a top choice for students seeking online master’s degrees due to its affordability and flexibility. The university offers flat rate tuition for online courses, and online-only students never have to pay out-of-state fees.
Stephen F Austin State University
|Value Score 7.83||
Located in East Texas in the town of Nacogdoches, Stephen F. Austin State University was founded in 1923 and serves nearly 13,000 students. Students looking for flexible education options can pursue more than 20 different online degree programs through SFA ONLINE. SFA offers the option to earn your early childhood education master’s degree online through its MEd standard elementary program.
The program offers three options based on a student’s certification level and learning goals. Current elementary school teachers will have a specific course of study, while students who earned a non-teaching undergraduate degree will have the choice to pursue two different options; either certification in early childhood through grade 6 or certification in grades 4 through 8. Students pursuing their master’s in early childhood education online through SFA will have access to robust support services, including an online writing lab center and collaborative web conferencing.
University of North Dakota
|Value Score 7.80||
UND in Grand Forks serves students from all 50 states and 85 countries. The school boasts a highly competitive Division I athletic program, and UND was ranked as the U.S.’s #1 fittest college campus by Rodale. Graduate students make up nearly 20% of UND’s student population. For students interested in flexible graduate education programs, UND offers an online early childhood education MS degree, geared toward professional teachers.
Online master’s in early childhood education students take courses through a virtual classroom and must complete a teaching practicum. In partnership with the McCormick Center for early childhood leadership, the program also has special online courses for students interested in becoming early childhood administrators, which count towards the master’s degree course requirements.
University of Colorado Denver – Anschutz Medical Campus
|Value Score 7.27||
UC Denver‘s Anschultz Medical Campus awards more graduate degrees than any other public institution of higher education in the state. The school offers an online master’s degree in early childhood education that is perfect for students in search of flexibility; approximately 95% of the program’s students work full time while completing their degree. Through the program, students earn an MA in early childhood education.
CUD’s School of Education and Development is the largest in the state, and online education master’s degree courses are taught by the same distinguished faculty who teach on campus. CUD’s program consistently scores high on student satisfaction, thanks in part to reasonable online class sizes that are capped at 25-30 students. Online students typically complete their degree in two to three years, and they are expected to attend a live, three-day seminar in Denver each summer.
University of South Alabama
|Value Score 7.03||
Located in Mobile, Alabama, USA
has been providing individualized attention to student education since 1963, with its focus on small class sizes and hands-on research opportunities. The university is a state leader in educating teachers; the school has taught more than 18,000 teachers and administrators, including 85% of Mobile’s public school teachers. USA students have 24/7 access to degree programs and over 450 courses through USAOnline.
Designed for students who already hold the Class B Early Childhood Education Certificate, USA’s online master’s in early childhood education can be completed in 30 hours. The program combines courses on research and evaluation and curriculum and teaching for a robust, thorough course of study. After they’ve completed their master’s in early childhood education online, students are eligible for the Class A Professional Early Childhood Education certificate, preparing them to work with Pre-K through 3rd grade.
Jacksonville State University
|Value Score 6.74||
Located in Jacksonville, Alabama, Jacksonville State dubs itself “the friendliest university in the South.” The school lives up to its motto by creating a learning-centered environment with small classes, comprehensive financial aid, and a focus on cultivating personal development. JSU’s online programs are taught by the same faculty that teaches on campus, and each program also boasts the same national and regional accreditations as the traditional programs.
JSU offers a master’s in early childhood education online for students who already hold a bachelor’s or teacher certification. Earning JSU’s MS in early childhood Education will prepare students to work with children in Pre-K through 3rd grade. Online courses are taught through the Blackboard platform. JSU also offers an MS in early childhood special education.
Concordia University – Saint Paul
|Value Score 6.56||
Founded in 1863 as a Christian liberal arts university, Concordia University St. Paul offers career-focused degrees to students in search of a tight-knit community, both on campus and online. Located in St. Paul, Minnesota, the school has a strong focus on online learning, with transfer-friendly policies to make earning online degrees affordable and flexible.
Concordia University St. Paul’s online early childhood education master’s is for students who are currently employed or volunteer in the area of education with children. Through the program, students earn an MA in education with an early childhood education emphasis. The accelerated program format is ideal for students who want to earn their degree quickly; each course is just seven weeks long. The program does not grant licensure.
Northern Arizona University
|Value Score 6.24||
With its flagship campus in Flagstaff, Arizona, NAU offers its nearly 30,000 students 91 undergraduate degree programs and 60 graduate degree programs to choose from. The school is committed to promoting sustainability and diversity on campus, and it’s a top choice for Native American students.
NAU offers an online early childhood education master’s degree through the College of Education’s Department of Teaching and Learning. Students pursuing the degree can choose from three emphasises: teaching, leadership, or national board certification. The program is designed for practicing teachers who wish to further develop their skills working with primary-school- and preschool-aged children. The degree prepares students for careers as preschool teachers, curriculum specialists, school administrators, and other related roles within the field of education. To earn the degree, students must complete at least 30 hours of coursework; field experiences and internships are optional.
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
|Value Score 5.86||
Located in the larger Philadelphia area, WCUPA is the largest public institution of higher learning belonging to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The school offers its students more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degrees. WCU is committed to meeting the growing need for flexible education options for students; enrollment in WCU’s distance education programs (including fully online and hybrid programs) increased by nearly 40% in the past year.
Among the school’s online offerings is an MEd in early childhood education. Students choose between two tracks when they enroll in the program: the accomplished teachers track or the administrators track. Students pursuing the accomplished teachers track must have already obtained a Pennsylvania Instructional I Teaching Certificate; students in the administrators track do not need certification.
University of the Southwest
|Value Score 4.99||
University of the Southwest is a private Christian university located in Hobbs, New Mexico. Founded in 1962, the school prides itself on instilling students with a servant leadership philosophy, supporting them on the path to creating positive change in themselves and others. That philosophy can certainly be found in the school’s online master’s degree program in early childhood education.
The fully online program allows students to earn an MS in early childhood education, preparing them to work with children from birth to grade 3. The program can also be pursued concurrently with a licensure plan that leads to a birth-grade 3 teaching license. While all courses can be completed online, students have the option to complete the practicum requirements in their communities. USW provides a host of support resources to online students, including online tutoring, writing help, and a faculty chair mentor.
Concordia University – Chicago
|Value Score 4.48||
Founded in 1864, Concordia University Chicago provides students the opportunity to pursue graduate and undergraduate degrees in traditional, cohort, or online formats. Concordia’s online degree programs are very popular among students; the school’s “global classroom” serves students from 37 states and 26 countries.
Concordia’s online MA in early childhood education is intended for students who have had at least two years of experience working with young children. The program does not lead to licensure, and most students complete the program in one to two years. Concordia may be a smart choice for budget-wise students. The school is an entitled institution of Gateways to Opportunity, an Illinois Professional Development System that offers partial scholarships to eligible practitioners in early childhood education programs. Notably, students are not required to take the GRE to apply to the program.
Southern New Hampshire University
|Value Score 3.76||
At SNHU, it’s all about providing an unparalleled online learning experience for students; the university has over 60,000 students enrolled in its online programs. In addition to its robust online learning system, SNHU also serves students at its main campus in Manchester, NH, and its regional centers in Portsmouth and Brunswick, ME. SNHU boasts some of the lowest tuition rates in the nation for its career-focused degree programs. Students can choose from over 200 online undergraduate and graduate degrees, an online master’s in early childhood education being one of them.
The program prepares students for Pre-K through 3rd grade licensure in New Hampshire, though SNHU offers a special track for already licensed teachers. Students can take two courses per each 10-week term, meaning the degree can be completed in as few as 15 months. Students can take advantage of rolling admission to start their course of study during any of SNHU five yearly terms.
|Value Score 3.23||
Mercy College serves the greater New York City region with more than 90 degree programs, an intimate campus feel, and small class sizes — more than 90% of classes have less than 30 students. In addition to its Dobbs Ferry campus, Mercy College also has campuses in Manhattan, Bronx, and Yorktown Heights.
Mercy offers 40 programs of study online, and the school’s online programs are consistently recognized for their high quality by outlets like U.S. News & World Report and Barron’s. Students interested in an online master’s of early childhood education can enroll in Mercy’s online program for an MS degree in early childhood education. The program prepares students for certification that allows them to work with children from birth to 2nd grade. Students, however, can combine the degree with additional certifications, including grade 1-6 and students with disabilities certifications.
|Value Score 2.36||
Located in downtown Chicago, Erikson Institute is an independent institution of higher learning that focuses exclusively on educating, serving, and leading in the area of early childhood. In addition to its academic programs and research initiatives, Erikson Institute also provides direct assistance to families through its team of psychologists, therapists, pediatricians, and social workers.
Erikson offers an MS in early childhood education that can be completed online. The 28-month program was designed specifically for early childhood educators who have at least three years of experience in the field. Formatted as a structured cohort program, students learn alongside and collaborate with their peers. Even though it’s an online program, students are expected to contribute to online discussions and interact with one another. Erikson also offers students the chance to enhance their degree with a bilingual/ESL specialization.
Pacific Oaks College
|Value Score 2.31||
Pacific Oaks, with main campuses in Pasadena and San Jose, California, focuses exclusively on adult and non-traditional learners. The average student is 38 years old. POC makes it easy for non-traditional learners to pursue higher degrees by offering up to 30 academic credits for life experience. POC offers an MA in early childhood education online for students who do have some practical experience working with young children.
Typically, the degree takes a year to complete on a full-time basis, or two years if students are working toward the degree on a part-time basis. The program does have some fieldwork requirements, though they may be completed locally with approval. POC’s cultured-centered approach to education emphasizes the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equality. POC’s approach is evident in its unique, progressive course offerings for this program, such as the impact of privilege and oppression in early childhood education settings.