Listed below are the 20 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 college. Many teaching professionals are going to graduate school now to gain more specialized knowledge in their field and make themselves more competitive in the job market. Master’s programs in early childhood education in particular train current professionals in how to run classrooms and day care centers for children from birth to about five or six years of age. Teachers who enjoy working with this demographic can benefit significantly from the advanced education a master’s program provides.
The 20 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education
Concordia University-St. Paul offers an impressive variety of education degrees, so it's no surprise that it also has one of the top online early childhood education graduate programs in the country. Indeed, this degree hits all the highlights: supremely affordable tuition, an expansive curriculum, and a research-based capstone. But Concordia goes even further to educate its future teachers by offering an opportunity to study abroad. If you take this option, you'll participate in on-campus work coupled with first-hand international experience. If your schedule doesn't allow for travel, take "The Diverse Classroom" instead. Here, you'll study "education in multicultural settings" - an eminently practical class for an increasingly diverse school system.
By offering in-state tuition regardless of your location, the University of North Dakota provides a cheap online master's degree in early childhood education that gives you plenty of value for your dollar. Incorporating both standard classes and practica, the degree seeks to contextualize young learners within four areas: community, culture, family, and gender. And if you're aiming for a career in administration, you'll also want to investigate the optional Director's Credential. Administered through the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership, offers a great way to bolster your leadership skills (and your resume) at just a slightly higher cost.
For an accredited online master's degree in early childhood education that includes an especially strong focus on first-hand experience, look to the University of West Alabama. The credit requirements for UWA's year-long M.Ed. divide almost equally between professional classes (19 credits) and teaching field courses (15 credits). Although you can direct most of your fieldwork, you will need to complete at least one field experience in a specific area: "Literature for Early Childhood Education." And like the other Alabama schools on this list, UWA's program will qualify you for a Class A Professional Educator Certificate.
Owing to its Lutheran tradition, Concordia University-Nebraska believes that educators should be servant-leaders who act behalf of each child's best interests while respecting her family and background. As such, students who earn this cheap master's in early childhood education online learn how to collaborate with students' families and other educators in a team-based environment. This emphasis on community goes even further in a required "Serving and Leading in Community and World" class, which explores education through Christian principles. Other classes touch on psychology, research, and curriculum creation, and more. Finally, a capstone course challenges you to create an education plan that addresses an important issue in the field.
At Albany State University, the accredited early childhood education online master's degree comes with a specific goal: Namely, to produce teachers who are culturally responsive, transformative, and technologically competent. All courses acknowledge these touchstones and incorporate evidence-based methodologies so you can best help your students. The degree also focuses on leadership, helping create "master teachers" who can succeed in administrative roles in various academic environments. On the practical front, this degree is also a great choice if you're looking for hands-on training. In fact, you'll earn half of your required credits just by completing a set of diverse and highly focused field experiences.
After enrolling in Stephen F. Austin State University's affordable master's in early childhood education online, you'll have to submit a detailed degree plan to your advisor. The school considers your plan a contract: You commit to serving young students, while the school commits to offering the courses you need to become a strong educator. You'll also have continual access to this advisor for advice or questions about your degree plan. Another benefit? All courses are entirely online, offered as part of half-term semesters during spring and fall to fit easily into working adults' busy schedules.
Like the other Alabama schools on this online master's degree in early childhood education ranking, USA's program will prepare you for a Class A Professional Early Childhood Education certification alongside your M.Ed. But this program differs from others on this list in that it requires students to complete a comprehensive exam at the end their studies, rather than a research project or other capstone. That doesn't mean you won't have an opportunity to brush up on your research skills, however. In addition to coursework in technology, diversity, and subject-specific instruction (e.g., math, English), you'll also take a required course in "Educational Research and Evaluation."
Another strong choice for residents of the Yellowhammer State, Alabama State University stands out on this early childhood education online master's degree ranking for its flexibility. Beyond letting you earn your M.Ed. fully online, the school also lets you choose one of three start dates each year and offers both a certification and a non-certification course of study. Plus, the curriculum incorporates an impressive breadth of subjects, introducing you to statistics, research, technology, and evaluation while also touching on softer skills, such as how to incorporate play into the classroom.
Alabama residents hoping to earn their Class A Professional Educator Certificate will appreciate the University of Alabama at Birmingham's top program. Not only does the school's affordable online early childhood education graduate program include all the prerequisites for licensure, but it also allows you to define your studies by focusing on a specific area of content (e.g., history, a foreign language, etc.). Keep in mind, however, that this hybrid program is best suited for Birmingham residents, as you'll need to visit campus for both occasional evening classes and flexible summer courses.
Like all the programs on this list, Jacksonville State University offers the chance to earn a top master's in early childhood education online at a low cost. But if you want to reduce your bottom line even further, you'll appreciate the school's impressive range of scholarships - especially those tailored to educators. And if you're a veteran or active-duty military, you can avail yourself of the school's robust military resources, which include tutoring, counseling, and additional military-specific scholarships. On the academic front, JSU offers some unique literacy-focused courses. Required classes such as "Enhancing Learning Through Children's Literature," for example, will help you explore less conventional methods of reaching your students.
Pennsylvania teachers will definitely want to check out Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Why? Because this cheap online master's degree in early childhood education offers an added certification in Early Childhood - which is a great way to boost your appeal to PA employers. Whether you pursue the certification or not, you'll find a well-regarded program that incorporates courses in specific subjects (e.g., math, literacy), addresses unique populations (e.g., exceptional learners), and helps expand your research skills. You'll even complete a research-based independent study project, which gives you the chance to explore a particular area of interest - and perhaps lay the groundwork for PhD-level study.
Northern Arizona University offers one of the most unique emphasis areas on this early childhood education online master's degree ranking: National Board Preparation. This exceptionally practical option not only prepares you for advanced certification, but it allows you to enroll in National Board coursework while you're simultaneously earning your M.Ed. This is a smart way to maximize your time and ready yourself for the rigorous National Board exam. But if National Board certification isn't your goal, don't worry: You can choose the Leadership or Teacher emphasis instead. But no matter your choice, you'll surely appreciate NAU's thoughtfully designed, NAEYC-recognized curriculum.
If you want to pursue Western Kentucky University's affordable online early childhood education graduate program, take note: only 80% of the courses are web-based. This means you will need to attend some in-person courses at one of the school's regional campuses. But if you can make that work with your schedule, this degree is well worth considering. One of its biggest selling points is its specializations, which enable you to augment your general coursework with a pedagogical or content focus specific to your career goals. Another appeal? The curriculum utilizes a forward-thinking, family-centric approach that views children in a holistic context in order to "promote independence and self-determination."
Between its comprehensive curriculum and required practicum, Northwestern State University M.Ed. program easily meets the standards set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). As a result, graduates can feel confident that they possess a reputable credential and the skills they need to succeed. Indeed, this affordable early childhood education online master's degree covers all the standard topics, plus more targeted subjects like ethics, contemporary education trends, and diversity. You'll also learn how to access and evaluate research, a skill you'll find particularly useful if you want to pursue PhD-level study. The degree concludes with your choice of a thesis project or "Action Research for School Improvement" course.
The M.Ed. at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro is an ideal choice if you want an online program that mirrors traditional on-campus experiences. For one, the same professors who teach classes on campus also act as online instructors. What's more, the program features synchronous virtual courses that require you to sign on at specific times and replicate the feeling of being in a classroom. As for the affordable master's in early childhood education online curriculum, you'll have your choice of two emphasis areas: Program Administration or Advanced Teaching Licensure. Note that the latter requires entrants to hold a valid teaching license.
Whether you want to attend an affordable online early childhood education graduate program full- or part-time, you'll find a schedule that fits your needs at Concordia University-Chicago. Although this flexible M.A. doesn't lead to licensure, it does prepare you for work in myriad academic settings. Indeed, the broad curriculum can lead to careers in private schools, community-based education programs, and other childcare professions. That's thanks to coursework that covers everything from helping diverse kinds of learners to working in multicultural environments and developing professional leadership skills. The degree culminates in a capstone in which you'll demonstrate your content mastery by completing a final project.
The University of Dayton's Department of Teacher Education earns accolades for its strong programs and even has an accreditation from the International Dyslexia Association. In other words, it's a great way for any aspiring teacher to earn an accredited master's in early childhood education online. And yet, it's also suitable for students seeking work outside the classroom. As an M.S.E. in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy, the program incorporates field experiences and courses that help build your leadership and managerial skills for a variety of careers. You'll even choose a "strand" in either Administration or Advocacy to help focus your studies.
The University of Colorado - Denver graduate program has plenty to recommend it. For starters, it boasts an impressive list of accreditations (including one from the Council for Exceptional Children) and a robust 200-hour fieldwork requirement. This cheap early childhood education online master's degree also incorporates three concentration options: Administration and Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, and Teaching and Learning. Not only do these targeted options bring additional focus to your degree, but they'll help you build specific skills that prepare you to meet your individual career goals. Lastly, you'll be happy to hear that the program is almost entirely online (except for a required summer seminar on campus).
At Saint Ambrose University, online learners have to sign on at specific times to attend synchronous classes. Students in this affordable online early childhood education graduate program also spend a week on campus in Davenport, Iowa, for a week-long Summer Institute. During this session, you'll visit SAU's Children's Campus, an early childhood program that employs project-based learning. But despite these time and travel obligations, program graduates regularly report that the two-year curriculum makes it easy to balance school with their other life commitments. Assisting in this effort is the curriculum's cohort-style delivery. This approach encourages you to foster connections with your classmates and teachers, so you don't have to look far for support whenever you need it.
If you're looking for a top online master's degree in early childhood education that includes plenty of hands-on work, you'll want to consider Georgia Southern University. This year-long program incorporates plenty of field experiences, so you can practice what you're learning in a real classroom. For example, the "Teaching Communication Across Cultures" provides specialized training by putting you to work with unique populations, including at-risk students and those in underserved communities. This commitment to meeting all learners' needs also manifests in the breadth of classes you'll take. There's even a required technology course in which you review the latest research and then design a tech-forward instruction plan.
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.
Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates
Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid
Admission and enrollment rates
Number of program options
Online Enrollment Score
Portion of learners taking at least one online course
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.
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.
For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer adolescent and early childhood development degrees online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.
*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
We also only considered institutions that have received accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Unfortunately, there are a limited number of graduate programs in early childhood education available online. Therefore, we could not compile a pool of options large enough to justify a complex ranking system in which we’d filter out schools based on a list of specific factors.
So instead, we ranked the programs solely according to their affordability. See below for the best cheap early childhood education online master’s degrees, ranked from most to least expensive.
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 top cheap master’s in early childhood education online!
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