Listed below are the 15 least expensive online master’s degrees in early childhood education. This selection of schools can help you make a smart decision about where to go to school. Many teaching professionals are going to graduate school now in order to gain more specialized knowledge in their field and make themselves more competitive in interviews. Master’s programs in early childhood education in particular expertly train current professionals in how to run classrooms and daycares for children from birth to five or six years of age – sometimes older. Teachers who enjoy working with this demographic can benefit significantly from the advanced education a master’s program provides.
What’s more, going to school online means that teachers can continue working, earn their degree at their own convenience, and in many cases save a lot of money. The list below is perfect evidence of this. With tuition rates ranging from around $23,000 down to a mere $8,800, these schools represent the most affordable in graduate education programs, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator database. We’ve organized them most to least expensive, and assigned public schools an approximate tuition rate (just for ranking purposes) based on the average of their in-state and out-of-state rates. However, it’s worthwhile to see what kinds of discounts these schools offer to online learners, as some public institutions will let all distance education students pay the in-state rate.
15. Portland State University
Online Masters in Early Childhood: Inclusive Ed and Curriculum & Instruction
Portland State University has a unique graduate-level program in early childhood education. Unlike some other schools, PSU allows students to further specialize in one of four areas: Constructivism in Early Childhood Education, Distributed Pathway, Early Childhood Special Education, and Infant Toddler Mental Health. The accessible program includes core classes in “Child Development in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education” and “Issues in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education.” Students also dedicate two classes to an action-oriented research project, using three credits to develop a proposal and another three credits to implement their plan. U.S. News considers PSU to have the 116th best graduate education program in the nation and rates it as the 8th most “up and coming” school. Not only that, but the university is incredibly budget-friendly, offering in-state students a top-notch education for less than $8,000 annually.
Tuition: $7,878/yr (In-state) $23,088/yr (Out-of-state)
14. University of Colorado – Denver
Online MA in Early Childhood Education
The University of Colorado Denver is a great choice for students who want to earn an online master’s degree in early childhood education. The Denver campus includes an entirely online school with a solid education department. UC offers 100% online degrees in curriculum and instruction and eLearning as well, plus a doctoral program in education. Ambitious students can also supplement their degree with a certificate in applied behavior, early literacy, health education, adolescent literacy, special education, or online teaching. In addition to online courses, students must also pass comprehensive exams and performance-based assessments, plus complete fieldwork. U.S. News currently ranks UC Denver as the 98th best general education school in the nation, plus the 78th best graduate education program with an online segment.
Tuition: $7,933/yr (In-state) $22,057/yr (Out-of-state)
13. East Tennessee State University
Online Early Childhood Education Graduate Program
Despite being high up on the list, East Tennessee State University still provides a cheap online master’s degree in early childhood education. In-state students can earn their degree for less than $7,500 a year, and even out-of-state tuition is within reach of the average budget. In fact, students residing outside of Tennessee can take advantage of a special “e-rate” to reduce their overall costs .The online program for this M.A. degree is cohort-based, allowing students to enjoy an unusually high level of classmate interaction despite learning long distance. Although the program is 100% online, applicants should note that they will need to attend one on-campus orientation session before officially beginning their studies. Forbes places ETSU 179th on its list of top Southern universities, while also ranking it the 242nd best research university.
Tuition: $7,249/yr (In-state) $22,561/yr (Out-of-state)
12. University of the Southwest
MSED Early Childhood Education Online
The University of the Southwest’s affordable online master’s degree in early childhood education is available entirely through distance education. The degree offers a concurrent curriculum that covers both professional aspects of ECE while also providing program members with licensure from birth to third grade. The highly organized major requires students to gain proficiency in eight essential areas of childhood education: health, safety, and nutrition; child growth, development, and learning; curriculum development and implementation; family and community collaboration, assessment and evaluation of programs; methods and materials; developmental practices; and professionalism. College Prowler statistics suggest that the University of the Southwest is great at student retention – only 9% of students transfer out over the course of their education.
11. SUNY University at Albany
Online MS in Early Childhood Education
The University at Albany is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, and draws students from all over the country each year. Its online master’s degree in early childhood education goes beyond the basic classes, also offering students the opportunity to earn professional certification. However, this feature is only available to regional learners with a valid NYS teaching certificate, and it does not provide students with the ability to become literary specialists. The childhood education specialization includes classes like “Classroom Literacy Instruction,” “Language Acquisition,” “Science for Children,” and even “Data-based Decision Making in Literacy Assessment.” Like some other schools on this list, Albany boasts a prestigious accreditation from the National Teacher Education Accreditation Council. U.S. News ranks Albany as the 51st best graduate education program in the nation, and also lists it as the 359th best university in the nation.
Tuition: $8,040/yr (In-state) $18,360/yr (Out-of-state)
10. University of North Dakota
Online Master of Science (MS) in Early Childhood Education (ECE)
Students looking for one of the best online master’s degrees in early childhood education shouldn’t overlook the University of North Dakota. The 32-credit program offers start dates three times a year, and most students can move through the entire degree in about two years. Although the program is entirely online, students won’t feel isolated while in school. Rather, they interact in a virtual classroom that enables collaborative discussions and group lessons. Just as in a traditional program, students must meet deadlines for assignments and pass regular exams in order to graduate. Multiple sources recognize UND’s quality; SuperScholar currently ranks it as a Top 25 “Smart Choice” for education schools, and U.S. News places it 168th on its selection of top national universities.
Tuition: $7,508/yr (In-state) $17,794/yr (Out-of-state)
9. Capella University
Online Master of Science in Education: Early Childhood Education Specialization
Capella University is a top online college with a wide assortment of degrees available to learners of all interests and education levels. This includes a diverse range of graduate programs, one of which is the online master’s degree in early childhood education. At just $436 per credit, students on a budget can get a lot of bang for their buck at this school. Capella’s entire education unit boasts accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, a clear indication that its curriculum meets rigorous academic standards. Students receive training in curriculum and instruction, learning and child development, and group learning. They practice critical thinking skills and learn to reflect on their experiences,, while also considering how they might teach young children to do the same. Capella reports student satisfaction ratings for most of its programs, and members of the education major post rave reviews: 93% say they are satisfied with their experience, while 87% consider the program relevant to their career goals.
8. Texas A&M University Commerce
Online MEd, MS – Early Childhood Education
Texas A&M University Commerce offers M.E.d. and M.S. options in early childhood education through its department of Curriculum and Instruction. Graduates of this program can find jobs in both public and private educational settings, as long as their career goals include working with young children. Defining “early childhood” as birth to fourth grade, Texas A&M helps students develop competencies in both the physiological and psychological development of learners in this age group. Classes allow students in this accredited online master’s degree in early childhood education program to study teaching strategies, leadership skills, and administration through courses such as “Literacy Development in the Early Years” and “Inquiry-Based Learning.” In order to graduate, all participants must pass a final comprehensive exam that covers all the core concepts of the curriculum. Forbes recognizes TAMUC as the 644th best school in the country overall, and assigns it significantly higher rankings on the regional and research universities lists.
Tuition: $6,583/yr (In-state) $17,203/yr (Out-of-state)
7. University of Wisconsin Stevens Point
Online Master’s Degree with ECE/ECSE Focus
The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point is just one of the many public campuses in the state. Though not the main campus, Stevens Point still provides students with access to many of the degree programs available elsewhere in Wisconsin through the distinguished “e-campus” system. This top online master’s degree in early childhood education provides members with a number of unique benefits, including the advantage of receiving instruction from some of the best teachers in the field. Although students enroll through Stevens Point, they have the opportunity to take classes at other UW schools as well, plus some private institutions. Conveniently, students can simply transfer their credits back to UWSP prior to graduation in order to fulfill all the degree requirements. The college scores high points in the areas that matter: 82% of students return after their first year, and 80% said they’d choose Stevens Point again, according to College Prowler.
Tuition: $7,577/yr (In-state) $15,150/yr (Out-of-state)
6. Valdosta State University
Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Early Childhood Education
Valdosta State University is a great choice for anyone who wants to earn a master’s degree in early childhood education online. Reputable faculty have designed the education program at VSU to build upon a solid undergraduate curriculum, and so applicants should feel confident in their academic foundations before considering the university. Advanced classes go beyond the teaching basics and cover research, assessment and evaluation, learning theories, law, and ethics in education. Graduates leave armed with the knowledge to create nurturing environments for young children that foster their social, emotional, mental, physical, and cultural needs. A rigorous program, students must maintain “B’s” or higher in all their classes in order to avoid deficiency points and risk expulsion. The most recent 2015 U.S. News rankings place VSU as the 75th best university in the South and the 34th best public school in the nation.
Tuition: $5,889/yr (In-state) $16,814/yr (Out-of-state)
5. University of West Alabama
Online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
The University of West Alabama considers its early childhood education program a “specialist” degree. This means that all students must complete field experience and research in order to receive a diploma. Program members who didn’t take a course in special education as an undergraduate must also complete a three credit hour survey course in this area as a general requirement. Other classes in the program include “Advanced Educational Research,” “Models of Exemplary Leadership in Education,” and “Advanced Educational Law.’ Other courses cover aspects of the teaching field, such as learning theory, language arts, curriculum and instruction, current trends and critical issues, and family and community dynamics. The degree is compatible with teacher certification, but operates based on Alabama regulations and so may not be appropriate for students outside the state. “FindTheBest” gives UWA a top 85/100 Smart Rating, Students will also find this online master’s degree in early childhood education even more affordable than the tuition suggests, as the school awards more than 150 academic scholarships each year to distinguished students.
Tuition: $7,660/yr (In-state) $14,170/yr (Out-of-state)
4. Kennesaw State University
Online Masters of Education in Early Childhood Education
Kennesaw State University offers an affordable online master’s degree in early childhood education that differs someone from other graduate-level options. The program specifically caters to current ECE teachers who hold a valid certification in their state. Those who meet the requirements can earn their M.E.d. online in just 13 months without having to take a hiatus from their teaching career. Teachers often choose Kennesaw because they have the opportunity to earn an additional certification during this time period, and can choose from specialties in reading, ESOL, gifted teaching, online teaching, teaching leadership, educational assessment, or leadership preservice. U.S. News currently ranks Kennesaw State nationally as the 100th best online graduate school in education, tied with six other universities.
Tuition: $5,818/yr (In-state) $15,898/yr (Out-of-state)
3. University of Phoenix
Online Master of Arts in Education/Early Childhood Education
Many online learners are familiar with the University of Phoenix, a large institution that touts a student population of nearly 300,000 at its virtual campus alone. Responding to a projected increase in demand for elementary school teachers, Phoenix now offers an Early Childhood Education specialization for aspiring instructors. Even applicants with no prior teaching experience are eligible for the program. Upon graduation, students are ready to work as licensed teachers for children from birth to eight years old. Despite the distance education format, the university still requires all online master’s degree in early childhood education students to complete field experiences and student-teaching internships. Advanced classes focus on the unique social and technological needs of young learners, while out-of-class opportunities encourage students to develop real-world skills. TopTenReviews gives Phoenix an 84% “verdict” score, noting its institutional features and wide campus network as its most appealing features.
2. Northcentral University
Early Childhood Education Master of Education Online
Northcentral University’s accredited online master’s degree in early childhood education offers a curriculum intensely focused on providing for a child’s health and wellbeing. Classes touch on all aspects of young learning and emphasize cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development. Master’s students gain practice creating instructional programs, managing busy classrooms, coordinating activities, and assessing learning potential. Students can take classes in an 8-week or 12-week format, and have the option to complete the program on a leisurely five-year schedule. The program is available anywhere in the world, and does not limit students to working in a specific state because it does not offer licensure. The Teacher Education Accreditation Council approved this M.E.d. program in 2013, and students enjoy that NCU maintains a 100% doctoral faculty standard.
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Brandman University’s online master’s degree in early childhood education expertly combines contemporary topics in leadership, instruction, and communications. As opposed to programs that actually train teachers how to lead elementary classrooms, this major is more suitable for advanced learners who want to apply to administrative positions. Some graduate students also apply to Brandman’s degree program because it allows them to work as professors in higher education, training aspiring elementary school teachers. The department designs its core curriculum around the tenants of leadership, research, democracy, global perspectives, curriculum design, ethics, and learning theory, encouraging students to keep an open mind and ask probing questions during the academic process. In addition to other top honors, Brandman boasts a high ranking from U.S. News for its graduate education programs, plus a 2014 Leadership 500 Excellence Award for its superior School of Extended Education.
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