Hero Image The 20 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education in 2021

The 20 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education in 2021

Are you ready to find your fit?

People who want jobs as early childhood educators have a special responsibility in society. They take on the sometimes rewarding, sometimes frustrating task of getting young people interested in education and preparing them for many more years of schooling.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job opportunities for kindergarten or elementary school teachers are projected to grow by about 4% from 2019 to 2029, and there is very much a need for people to help shape the next generation.

If you’re interested in Early Childhood Education, you might be wondering how to go about getting a job in the field. A bachelor’s degree in child development or education can help. Think you don’t have time to go back to school? Don’t worry! Thanks to the increasing use of technology on college campuses, it is now possible to earn a bachelor’s degree entirely online. For more general information regarding best value online education programs visit our ranking of the best online colleges.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Have Questions About Early Childhood Education Bachelor's Degrees? We Have Answers.

  • Why become an early childhood educator?

    Many people are attracted to the field of early childhood education in hopes of helping to shape the lives of young children. If your passion is helping to educate and mold children during early childhood, this degree path could be a good fit for you. With a degree in early childhood education, you can become a preschool teacher, teaching assistant, child care worker, or special education teacher.

  • What is the average salary for a teacher in early childhood education?

    The average salary for a preschool teacher in early childhood education is about $31,930, according to BLS. The average wage for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is about $60,660 per year. .

  • How much does it cost to get a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education?

    The cost of a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education depends heavily on where you choose to go to school, what degree plan you choose to pursue, and other factors. It can cost anywhere from about $9,000 to $20,000 or more per academic year to obtain this degree. If you’re looking for an affordable option, consider the schools on our list of cheap early childhood education online degree programs.

  • Methodology: Here’s How We Rank Schools

    At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs.

    We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%

    You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

The Top 10 Cheap Online Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

1. National UniversityLa Jolla, CA
2. South Dakota State UniversityBrookings, SD
3. University of Cincinnati Blue Ash, OH
4. Brandman UniversityIrvine, CA
5. Central Methodist UniversityFayette, MO
6. Granite State CollegeConcord, NH
7. Fayetteville State UniversityFayetteville, NC
8. Mayville State UniversityMayville, ND
9. University of Montana WesternDillon, MT
10. Wilmington UniversityNew Castle, DE

Degree Requirements

If you’re looking to get into an early childhood degree program, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED and will likely need an SAT score of at least 1340, though it will depend on the program. 

To graduate with your online degree in this field, you’ll likely need a 2.0 GPA or higher in some or all of your classes. Some programs will require you to have a much higher GPA score to remain in the program, however, so it’s important to know what the actual degree requirements are before enrolling in a program.

As part of your final semesters of the program, you’ll likely have to participate in a student-teacher program and complete a practicum as part of your degree requirements, both of which will require you to have hands-on experience in the classroom. Generally, you will have to obtain about 120 credit hours in both general education and degree-specific classes before you can graduate with a degree in early childhood education, though the credit requirements can vary based on the program and other factors.

Courses in an Early Childhood Education Degree Program

Childhood Development
Child development teaches you about the development of children from prenatal to age 8. These courses will cover typical and atypical behavior and development of the brain, emotions, or social skills in children. You’ll also learn developmental theory and how it can be applied in your role as an educator.
Kindergarten Education
This course focuses on teaching undergraduate students about activities and issues specifically pertaining to kindergarten-aged children.
Students in this course will learn how and what to teach children in their role as an educator. You’ll learn teaching strategies, how to build these strategies, and the best ways to engage children to learn with lesson plans. You’ll also learn to set goals for your students as well as how to navigate diversity in the classroom.
Inclusion and Diverse Learning
In this course, you can expect to learn theories and practices around diversity in early childhood classrooms. You’ll also learn the issues children of diverse backgrounds face when they’re in an early childhood classroom setting.

Career Path for an Early Childhood Education Degree

If you pursue a degree in childhood education, there are several career trajectories you can pursue, including preschool teacher, kindergarten teacher, or childcare worker. If you want to seek a higher paying position, you’ll most likely have to pursue an advanced degree. With an early childhood education bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a master of education (MEd) degree with a focus in early childhood education. 

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Early Childhood Education Students

  • Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship: This scholarship goes toward West Virginia undergraduate students. To qualify, you must agree to work in the West Virginia school system for two years for each year you receive the scholarship.
    • Amount: Up to $10,000
    • Deadline: Applications submitted by January are prioritize
  • STEM Teacher Scholarships: If you’re pursuing an undergraduate or graduate education degree to teach in a STEM field, consider applying for the AFCEA Educational Foundation scholarship.
    • Amount: $2,500-$5,000
    • Deadline: May
  • American Montessori Society Teacher Education Scholarships: If you’re a student and you plan to one day become a Montessori teacher, you may want to apply for a teaching scholarship offered by the American Montessori Society (AMS). 
    • Award Amount: Varies
    • Deadline: May

The Top 20 Cheap Online Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

  1. National University

    La Jolla, CA



    The highest-ranking university on our list offers a unique option for candidates interested in both theory and practice. One of the most unique features of National University's top online BA in Early Childhood Education is that it puts a relatively large weight on classroom learning rather than job training. As such, students receive a thorough education in topics that range from early cognition and nutrition to STEM pedagogy and trauma. Degree candidates can even choose from three specialized tracks: Early Childhood Administration, Infant and Toddler, and Teaching Education. Even so, all program participants must complete one academic seminar/field experience before graduating.

  2. South Dakota State University

    Brookings, SD



    South Dakota State University makes it easy for aspiring grade K-3 educators to gain the credentials they need. Faculty within the CAEP-accredited education department have worked to align the ECE degree with NAEYC student learning outcomes to maximize program effectiveness. This means that degree candidates get a hefty dose of hands-on training. In addition to teaching in the university's own early learning center, ECE majors also complete work experiences in kindergarten or primary school environments (up to Grade 3) in their local area. With all that practical knowledge under their belt, it's no surprise that graduates of SDSU's accredited early childhood education bachelor' degree online readily find work throughout the SD, MN, and IA school districts.

  3. University of Cincinnati

    Blue Ash, OH



    This NCATE-accredited online early childhood education program is available entirely at a distance, making it one of our ranking's more convenient options. Better yet, UC's program earned recognition as an exemplary model for distance learners. Although there are likely many reasons for its success, the program's supportive atmosphere and individualized approach go a long way with online students. Program participants enjoy access to personal advisors and can discuss their personalized degree plan over the phone at any time. The result is an impressive track record among graduates, who frequently continue to pursue careers as program administrators, preschool teachers, consultants, and infant/toddler specialists.

  4. Brandman University

    Irvine, CA



    Ideal for West Coast residents, Brandman's online BA in Early Childhood Education offers classes over the web and through several satellite campuses in California and Washington. The curriculum provides nearly all the lower and upper division courses that ECE majors need; applicants only need 12 transferable baccalaureate-level credits to qualify for admission. Once accepted, you'll launch into a powerful degree plan that will take you from novice to expert in no time. The first few semesters focus on education fundamentals to prepare students for more advanced classes in pedagogical theory and practice - like "The Intentional, Reflective Teacher," for example. Throughout the program, you'll also complete two teaching practicums and take a final capstone course in decision-making.

  5. Central Methodist University

    Fayette, MO



    Central Methodist University's selective ECE program is available to both first-time undergraduates and current childcare professionals. Taking a balanced approach, CMU develops each student's individual abilities by complementing online courses like "Organization & Administration of Early Childhood Programs" with subject-specific teaching practicums. And as you near the end of this affordable online early childhood education degree, you'll have the option to complete a final student-teaching semester to fine-tune your skills and solidify your readiness for the job market. Many degree candidates also use their last semester to get a jumpstart on Missouri's teaching certification process.

  6. Granite State College

    Concord, NH



    If you're a New Hampshire resident who currently works an early learning setting and wants to boost your credentials, you're in luck. Granite State College offers a top online early childhood education degree that is designed to do exactly that. By emphasizing fieldwork experience, this teaching licensure program prepares ECE majors for work in kindergarten to 3rd-grade classrooms at public schools across the state. In addition to acquiring relevant training (with guidance from highly skilled mentors, of course) you'll also take online courses that explore the theory behind the practice, including topics like brain research and creative pedagogical methods.

  7. Fayetteville State University

    Fayetteville, NC



    In most preschools and elementary classrooms, in addition to the main teacher, there are often many staff members on hand to assist the students in a variety of ways. These other jobs (the non-teaching roles) are the focus of Fayetteville State University's cheap online early childhood education degree. Through this fully online BS program, teaching assistants and other classroom aides can acquire an advanced certification that will give their resume a valuable boost. The curriculum even requires ECE majors to declare a minor in sociology or psychology to maximize the value of their degree. At the end of their four years, graduates will have received a highly-relevant, career-oriented education that they can leverage into positions ranging from nursery school assistants to after-school program supervisor.

  8. Mayville State University

    Mayville, ND



    Though Mayville State has been conferring degrees for over a century, its cheap online early childhood education program is a fairly recent addition to its list of majors. The university's decision to create an ECE degree reflects its sensitivity to economic conditions - and its recognition of the need for qualified, degree-holding educators. To meet this need, the CAEP-accredited curriculum adheres to all licensing requirements for the state of North Dakota, and possibly other states as well. What's more, MSU offers a readily affordable tuition rate (it's even one of the cheapest on this list!) to ensure that financial limitations don't stand in the way of producing the high-quality, well-prepared educators that this country needs.

  9. University of Montana Western

    Dillon, MT



    Montana Western's Education Department is a well-regarded, NCATE-accredited nationally training center for rural educators. With an eye on the future but feet firmly planted in reality, UMW works to make its teaching degree as accessible as possible to students around the state. Indeed, this university offers one of the best online early childhood education programs for busy students in the Northern Midwest. The degree combines online courses with convenient face-to-face meetings at a number of campuses in the Montana University System, thus extending its reach to all corners of the state. Plus, most traditional classes utilize "block scheduling," which condenses a week's worth of material into a single three-hour session.

  10. Wilmington University

    New Castle, DE



    Though Wilmington University's College of Education offers four distinct BS degrees, students who seek careers in the ECE sector should probably choose the Education Studies program. Majors may then select a concentration in Early Education Studies, which features a set of highly-focused courses on the unique educational needs of infants, preschoolers, and kindergartners. And though this top online early childhood education program does not result in state licensure or certification, degree recipients still acquire extensive classroom experience before graduating. From young ESL preschoolers to exceptional early literacy skills, WU imparts the skills that ECE majors need to succeed in a variety of instructional and childcare roles in the private sector.

Methodology: Here’s How We Rank Schools

At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs. 

We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.

You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page

Amanda Push picture

Amanda Push


Amanda Push is a freelance writer who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Grad School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, and others. Her writing has also been featured at TheSimpleDollar.com, Interest.com, MyMove.com, and Safety.com.

Get prepared for your next steps

Use articles and resources to uncover answers to common questions, get guidance on your goals, and learn about applying to schools.

The Impact of HBCUs and How to Support Them

The Impact of HBCUs and How to Support Them

June 10, 2021   |   Lena Borrelli

Historically Black colleges and universities, commonly known as HBCUs, are an incredibly important part of the higher education system in the United States. These schools, which of the nation’s colleges...

Guide to Higher Education as an Undocumented Student

Guide to Higher Education as an Undocumented Student

June 1, 2021   |   Lena Borrelli

It can be tough to narrow down higher education options after graduation for most students. There are state and private college options, trade schools, and community colleges to choose from, and each option offers a different price point, a different trajectory, and a different path. These choices become even more difficult when there are other […]

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.