Child development professionals have the privilege—and responsibility—of ensuring that every child can live up to their full potential.
But becoming an effective educator or advocate for children requires years of advanced study and practice. In this ranking, we've detailed 25 graduate programs that will prepare you to become the most outstanding child development professional you can be.
What are the options for a master’s degree in child development?
As you start to investigate your academic options, you’ll find that there is no shortage of excellent graduate programs in child development.
To help you find the program that’s right for you, you’ll need to consider some important questions: What aspect of child development do you want to focus on? Do you need a program that will lead to a specific certification? Do you want to earn your degree on campus or online?
If your schedule or location makes it difficult to participate in a traditional degree program, then you’re an excellent candidate for distance education. Take a look at our ranking of the Best Online Master’s in Child Development Degrees for more information.
What can you do with a master’s degree in child development?
A graduate degree in this area could qualify you to work as a classroom teacher, curriculum specialist, family advocate, early intervention specialist, preschool director, or community college instructor.
How much can you earn with a master’s degree in child development?
Because child development is such a broad field, the amount you’ll earn after graduation will depend largely on the aspect of child development in which you choose to specialize. Here are some of the most common job titles for child development graduates and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, their average salaries:
- Kindergarten or elementary school teacher: $56,900 per year
- Preschool or childcare center director: $46,890 per year
- Instructional coordinator: $63,750 per year
- Special education teacher: $58,980 per year
What are the requirements for a master’s degree in child development?
The requirements of a child development degree will depend on a specific program’s focus. Many graduate degrees are designed for early childhood classroom teachers. These programs will often require fieldwork and clinical experiences in prekindergarten, kindergarten, or primary grades classrooms.
Other programs have a more research-oriented focus and may prepare graduates to pursue doctoral study. A program with an academic or research focus will typically include a thesis requirement.
Still other programs may emphasize social justice, policymaking, and advocacy. Students in one of these programs may complete an internship or action research project as their capstone experience.
What are the best master’s degrees in child development?
For this ranking, we looked at Child Development master’s degrees as well as degrees in the closely related field of Early Childhood Education. We’ve examined data from the IPEDS database, PayScale, and U.S. News & World Report.
To determine which graduate programs rank among the best of the best, we look at institutional reputation, student return on investment, tuition cost, and student satisfaction. We also perform a metadata analysis, which examines how each university fared in relevant rankings from other publications.
Thanks to this methodology, we’re able to compile a comprehensive list of the very best graduate programs for child development and early childhood professionals.
1. Mercer University
Although it is no longer formally affiliated with the Georgia Baptists that established it, Mercer University is still strongly rooted in its founding principles of intellectual and religious freedom. Mercer has three campuses—Macon, Atlanta, and Savannah—and three more Regional Academic Centers around the state. The celebrated Master of Arts in Teaching for Early Childhood Education at Mercer leads to initial certification for prekindergarten through fifth grade.
The M.A.T. degree is suitable for recent college graduates with a non-education bachelor’s degree. It is also ideal for mid-career professionals transitioning into education, and education paraprofessionals who do not have a full teaching license. Coursework for this degree will include:
- Planning and Organizing Instruction in Early Childhood Education
- Child Development and Learning
- Creative Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education
- Social Studies in a Multicultural World for Early Childhood Education
Classes are held one evening per week at both the Mercer Atlanta Campus and the Henry County Regional Academic Center. The required field experiences for this degree take place during the business day. Each course is offered in a 16-week format. Students may enroll in this program on a full-time or part-time basis. Mercer also offers a Master of Education for Early Childhood Education, which is intended for licensed teachers.
2. Brenau University
Brenau University serves approximately 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students on campuses in Gainesville, Augusta, Norcross, and Fairburn, Georgia, as well as a new campus in Jacksonville, Florida. With a student-faculty ratio of 11 to 1, the small community of Brenau allows each student to develop strong professional relationships with the University’s outstanding faculty members. The acclaimed School of Education at Brenau offers a wide range of teacher education programs, all of them anchored in a conceptual framework of leadership, research, and service.
Brenau’s program leads to a Master of Arts in Teaching for Early Childhood Education and initial teaching licensure. The degree track requires between 54 and 57 credit hours, depending on the clinical experience that a student chooses. Candidates will select either nine credit hours of student teaching or 12 hours in an internship. Required coursework to earn this M.A.T. includes:
- Instructional Practices and Assessment
- Computer Literacy in Education
- Methods of Educational Research
- Fine Arts Integration for Teachers
The nine-credit hour student teaching experience will be completed in a single semester. The 12 credit hours for the internship may be earned over the course of several semesters. All teaching candidates will complete field experiences with students in three levels: prekindergarten through kindergarten, grades one through three, and grades four through five.
3. Southern New Hampshire University
With roughly 3,000 on-campus students and more than 90,000 online students, Southern New Hampshire University is a thriving institution of higher learning. In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked SNHU as the Most Innovative University in the North. SNHU offers a unique, intensive graduate program in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education.
This M.Ed. program is a dual certification track, leading to New Hampshire licensure in both Early Childhood Education (prekindergarten through grade three) and Early Childhood Special Education (birth through age eight). The degree track features a total of 44 weeks of clinical experience. The curriculum requires 36 credit hours, including classes such as:
- Classroom and Behavior Management in Early Childhood Education
- Theoretical Foundations in Early Childhood Education
- Intervention in Literacy
- Early Childhood Mathematics
This program does not require students to submit scores for the GRE or the GMAT as part of the application process. The degree and dual certification can be earned in as little as 15 months. Qualifying students in this program may be eligible for up to $20,000 in grants and scholarships. Additional graduate options at SNHU include an M.S. in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and an M.Ed. in Educational Studies.
4. The University of Toledo
The University of Toledo is a public metropolitan research university that was established in 1872 and became a member of the Ohio state university system in 1967. Today, UT serves more than 23,000 students in over 300 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The prestigious Judith Herb College of Education offers a full complement of graduate programs, including degrees in Higher Education, Gifted Education, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education.
The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from UT focuses on the latest in theory, research, and practice for teaching students in prekindergarten through grade three. This program requires 36 total credit hours, including 12 credit hours in a College of Education core, 18 credit hours within the Early Childhood Education specialization, and six credit hours in a culminating activity. Available coursework for Early Childhood Education students includes:
- Curriculum Design for Infants and Toddlers
- Developmental and Classroom Assessment
- Teacher/Parent-Child Relations
- Meaning and Development of Play Behavior
Students must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.7 or above to qualify for admission. This program is available 100 percent online. While the standard M.Ed. program is designed for practicing teachers, UT also offers a Licensure and Master’s Program (LAMP) in Early Childhood Education that leads to initial teaching certification.
5. Grand Canyon University
Founded in 1949, Grand Canyon University has grown into Arizona's premier private Christian university. Thanks to extensive revitalization efforts in the past several years, GCU is home to new laboratories, libraries, student support centers, and recreational facilities. The College of Education at GCU has more than six decades of experience in preparing outstanding policymakers, administrators, and educators.
GCU offers a program leading to a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education as well as initial teaching licensure for kindergarten through grade three. This program requires two separate eight-week student teaching experiences: one in a prekindergarten through kindergarten setting, and one in a kindergarten through grade three setting. The curriculum features 44 credit hours, including the following core classes:
- English Language Teaching Foundations and Methods
- Child Guidance, Management, and the Environment
- Introduction to the Exceptional Learner
- Developmental and Functional Assessment: Birth to Age Eight
The Master of Education program is offered through evening classes, which are intended to accommodate the schedules of working professionals. Courses are offered at numerous campus locations, including the main campus in Phoenix. Students should check with a University Counselor for campus availability during a given term. This degree is also available through a fully online track.
6. Biola University
Biola University, located in La Mirada, southern California, enrolls roughly 4,000 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students. U.S. News & World Report ranks Biola as a top-tier national university, making Biola one of only three schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities to have earned this distinction. Established in 2007, the School of Education at Biola serves roughly 200 graduate students pursuing Master of Arts in Teaching degrees and Master of Arts in Education degrees.
One of Biola’s acclaimed programs culminates in an M.A.T. with a Concentration in Early Childhood. Graduates of the program can apply for a Child Development Permit from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The degree track requires 14 credit hours of core coursework, 15 credit hours within the Early Childhood concentration, and one credit hour in a capstone experience. Coursework within the Early Childhood concentration includes:
- Childhood Development: Birth through Adolescence
- School/Family/Community Partnerships in Early Childhood Urban Settings
- Classroom Management in Early Childhood Settings
- Observation and Assessment of Young Children
To qualify for admission to this program, students must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. Applicants are also required to submit two letters of recommendation (one Pastor Recommendation and one Character/Employer/Academic Recommendation) and two short essays (a Christian Testimony Essay and a Vocational Objective Essay).
7. Pacific Oaks College
First established in 1958, Pacific Oaks College continues to be guided by four core principles: respect, diversity, social justice, and inclusion. These tenets are central to the College's Quaker philosophy. Pacific Oaks offers a number of programs for graduate students interested in early childhood education and child development. Options include an M.A. in Human Development with a concentration in Early Childhood Education and Development and an M.A. in Early Childhood Education (available as a general track, with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Change, or with a concentration in Trauma Studies).
The M.A. in Human Development: Early Childhood Education and Development is available through the Pasadena campus and the San Jose campus. Students can also earn this degree entirely online. Available coursework for graduate students at Pacific Oaks includes:
- Advanced Studies in Diversity and Anti-Bias Issues
- Public Policy and Its Impact on Children and Families
- Creating Responsive Communities for All Families
- Family Violence and Child Abuse
The Early Childhood Education and Development program is intended for students who have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a closely related field, or who have experience working with children. Part-time students will complete this degree in four years, while full-time students can earn their degree in two years.
8. Northern Arizona University
Located in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona University has been committed to fostering a dynamic, student-centered environment for more than 100 years. In 2017, Business Insider ranked Flagstaff as the third best college town in the nation. NAU is Arizona’s only university to offer professional education programs accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education requires a minimum of 30 credit hours. Students will take at least 12 credit hours in core requirements, and between 16 and 18 credit hours within their chosen concentration. Options for the concentration include Early Childhood Teacher (which is designed for in-service teachers), Early Childhood Leadership, and Early Childhood National Board Preparation. Candidates for this degree may take classes such as:
- Development Of Children's Logical Concepts
- Patterns and Variations of Child Development
- Advanced Methods in Early Childhood Special Education for Children Birth to Five
- History of American Education
The M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education is available through the Flagstaff and Yuma campuses, as well as fully online. Students applying to this program must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. NAU’s Early Childhood Education program is nationally recognized by the National Association for the Education for Young Children (NAEYC).
9. California University of Pennsylvania
Offering more than 50 graduate programs, California University of Pennsylvania is a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Cal U is located on a 294-acre campus, 35 miles south of Pittsburgh. The Princeton Review has ranked Cal U as one of the best schools in the Northeast for 13 consecutive years. This reputation for top-tier academics extends to Cal U’s numerous teacher training programs.
The Elementary Education program at Cal U focuses on preparing graduates to work with children from prekindergarten through grade four. This program is available as a degree-only track, which leads to a Master of Education, and as a certification track, which leads to both an M.Ed. degree and initial teaching licensure. More than half of the classes for this M.Ed. degree are offered in an online format. Coursework for the degree may include:
- Leadership and Management in Early Childhood
- Introduction to Behavior Analysis
- Special Education Foundations and Collaboration
- Evidence-Based Practices for Pre-K-Grade Eight Inclusion
Cal U also offers an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education, both as a degree-only track and as a track leading to initial teaching certification. Both options are available only through online programs. Other online graduate programs at Cal U include an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership: Educational Studies, an M.Ed. in STEM Education, and an M.Ed. in Technology Education.
10. University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado includes four campuses: Boulder, Colorado Springs, the Anschutz Medical Campus, and Denver. CU Denver’s School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) is the largest graduate school of education in Colorado. SEHD is home to a number of internationally influential research centers as well as a variety of top-ranked undergraduate and graduate programs in education.
The Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education from SEHD is offered both on campus and online. Three concentrations are available: Administration and Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, and Teaching and Learning. Most candidates for this degree take between one and three classes per semester. In the Diversity and Inclusion concentration, students may take courses such as:
- Working with Families and Communities
- Medical and Physiological Aspects of Development
- Early Intervention Strategies
- Screening and Assessment of Young Children
To qualify for this program, students must have at least one year of experience working with children. While this degree can prepare students to become classroom teachers in public schools, graduates will also be qualified to work in child care programs, private preschools or kindergartens, early intervention programs, or family support programs. Each year, CU Denver grants over $30 million in scholarships and grant packages to its students.
11. Erikson Institute
Serving as a hub of research, community outreach, and professional training, the Erikson Institute is a national leader in early childhood and child development. The Institute collaborates with numerous outside agencies, such as the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, to provide public services to young children and their families. For educators and advocates, the Institute offers a range of outstanding professional development opportunities and graduate degree programs.
Erikson offers a rigorous and intensive program leading to a Master of Science in Child Development. The degree track requires between 38 and 49 credit hours, depending on the specialization that a student chooses. Available specializations include administration, child life, special needs, children’s law and policy, and more. For all specializations, the following coursework will be required:
- Social and Historical Perspectives on Early Care and Education
- Human Development: Psychosocial Development in Infancy and Childhood
- Physical Growth and Development
- Development of Cognition, Language, and Play
This degree program admits students in August and January of each year. Seventy-five percent of students in this program receive scholarships and grants, which can significantly lower the cost of attendance. The Erikson Institute is the first institution in the country to offer a dual degree program leading to an M.S. in Child Development and a Master of Jurisprudence in Children’s Law and Policy. This dual degree program requires 56 credit hours.
12. University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Center for World University Rankings places the University of Alabama at Birmingham among the top 0.6 percent of all universities worldwide. This ranking is based on UAB’s number of publications, the impact of its research, and other factors that reflect the University’s international influence. UAB is home to a number of programs ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, including graduate degrees in nursing, business, and education.
UAB offers a traditional Master of Education degree in Early Childhood and in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. The traditional program, which requires students to hold a valid Alabama teaching license, leads to Class A certification. The Early Childhood and Elementary Education degree requires between 30 and 33 credit hours. Available coursework for this degree includes:
- Critical Pedagogy Advocacy and Collaboration
- Studying the Child in School
- Programs, Policies, and Curriculum in ESL
- Dyslexia Research, Education, and Advocacy
An alternative Master of Education program leading to initial licensure for Elementary Education is also available. The alternative program requires between 49 and 58 credit hours. For students who wish to pursue a Class AA certification, UAB offers an Educational Specialist program for Early Childhood Education or Elementary Education.
13. Concordia University Chicago
Concordia University Chicago is a private institution serving roughly 3,500 graduate and doctoral students. The 39 innovative graduate programs at Concordia-Chicago include a wide range of specializations within education, including educational technology, curriculum and instruction, and TESOL. Students of Concordia-Chicago can enroll in a master's degree program in Early Childhood Education that is well-suited to classroom teachers as well as administrators, public policy and advocacy specialists, and scholars.
Concordia-Chicago offers a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education that is offered both on campus in River Forest, Illinois and fully online. The degree track requires a minimum of 30 credit hours, and takes either 12 months or 24 months to complete (depending on whether students enroll full-time or part-time). Candidates pursuing this degree will take the following courses:
- Child Development and Ethics in Early Childhood Education
- Early Childhood Curriculum and Content, Ages Three through Five
- Developmentally Effective Instruction for Diverse Learners
- Professional Leadership and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education
All candidates for this degree will be required to complete a master’s capstone experience. This experience is embedded in the required Practicum and Research in Early Childhood Education course. The Early Childhood Education program at Concordia-Chicago has achieved National Recognition by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This distinction is granted only to the nation’s top graduate programs in this field.
14. Albany State University
Established in 1903, Albany State University continues to build on its historical commitment to embracing diversity and expanding access to higher education for underserved and underrepresented populations. Albany State, located in the southwest region of Georgia, has a student body of roughly 2,500. The University is home to numerous highly regarded undergraduate and graduate programs in business, health, and education.
Successful graduates of the M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education program will be master teachers, and they will also be poised to take on administrative roles in early childhood education. This program leads to T-5 certification for prekindergarten through fifth grade. Candidates for this degree may choose to take classes such as:
- Theories, Design, and Program Development
- Creative Expression in Early Childhood Education
- Trends and Issues in Early Childhood Education
- Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Education
This degree track is intended for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education or a closely related field. Applicants to this program must have satisfactory scores on either the GRE or the Miller Analogies Test. In addition to the Early Childhood Education program, Albany State also offers graduate programs in Health and Physical Education, Science Education, and Special Education.
15. Stephen F. Austin State University
The 417-acre campus of Stephen F. Austin State University is located in Nacogdoches, just over two hours northeast of Houston. Founded in 1923, SFA now serves a student body of almost 13,000. The Early Childhood Education graduate program at SFA is designed to help students strengthen their teaching practices and develop specialized competency in organizing programs for young children and their families.
Offered through the James I. Perkins College of Education and the Department of Elementary Education, this program culminates in a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. Coursework for this degree focuses specifically on the challenges faced by professionals working with children from birth through age eight. Available graduate-level coursework at SFA includes:
- Language and Literacy in Early Childhood
- Assessment in Early Childhood
- Early Childhood Creativity and Social Learning
- Leaders and Advocates in Early Childhood
Students applying to the Early Childhood Education program must have a GPA of 2.8 or above on the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework, or a GPA of 2.75 or above for all undergraduate coursework. This program is available both on campus and through a fully online track. A thesis is optional for the Master of Education degree.
16. University of Dayton
The University of Dayton is a Catholic, Marianist institution that is ranked as a “best value” school by the Princeton Review, Kiplinger’s, and Money Magazine. Several programs in Dayton’s Department of Teacher Education have been recognized as being among the best in the country by the National Council on Teacher Quality. One of the department’s unique graduate programs is specially designed for experienced program administrators, supervisors, teacher leaders, and other early childhood professionals.
Dayton’s program culminates in a Master of Science in Education for Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy. All of the coursework for this degree is offered online, while many courses are also offered in a traditional on-campus format. Students will choose a concentration in either Early Childhood Leadership or Early Childhood Advocacy. Regardless of their chosen concentration, all students will take the following courses:
- Supervision and Professional Development
- Leadership in Diverse Communities
- Models of Teaching
- Philosophy of Education
The University of Dayton also offers a Master of Science in Education for Transdisciplinary Early Childhood Education. This program can lead to Ohio licensure in both Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Intervention Specialist. Students may choose to pursue the Transdisciplinary Early Childhood Education program as a degree-only, non-certification track. Dayton also offers an M.S.Ed. in Technology-Enhanced Learning and in Leadership in Educational Systems.
17. Missouri State University
Emphasizing ethical leadership, cultural competence, and community engagement, Missouri State University is a comprehensive public institution with a mission in public affairs. With more than 26,000 students enrolled in the four-campus Missouri State system, MSU is the state’s second-largest university. The highly ranked Department of Childhood Education and Family Studies offers graduate programs in Child Life Studies, Early Childhood Special Education, and Early Childhood and Family Development.
The flexible nature of the Early Childhood and Family Development program allows students to take just one course per semester, spacing their degree requirements out over several years. Alternatively, students can choose a more intensive pathway and earn their degree in just three semesters. Coursework for this degree may include:
- Inquiry in Early Childhood and Family Development
- Advanced Human Development Studies
- Programming and Policy Issues for Early Childhood Settings
- Administration of Programs for Children and Families
Applicants to this program should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. Students with a lower GPA will be required to submit GRE scores. In addition to innovative coursework, this program offers numerous opportunities for learning outside of the classroom: Degree candidates are encouraged to participate in workshops, professional organizations, and research projects.
18. University of South Alabama
As one of the leading institutions in the Gulf Coast region, the University of South Alabama serves a dynamic community of more than 15,500 students. South is home to nine colleges and schools, offering over 100 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. Teachers of children in preschool through third grade can find an advanced program of study through South’s Early Childhood Education degree.
The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education requires a minimum of 30 credit hours. For students who already hold a Class B Professional Early Childhood Certificate, this program leads to a Class A Professional Early Childhood Education Certificate. Candidates for this degree have the option of completing a thesis. Coursework may include:
- Organizational Patterns and Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
- Literacy and Language Development in Elementary Schools
- Instructional Planning in Elementary Schools
- Microcomputing Systems in Education
South also offers an alternative M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education, which leads to initial teaching certification. The alternative program requires at least 42 credit hours, including six credit hours in a clinical field experience. Additional graduate options at South include an M.Ed. in Educational Administration and an M.Ed. in Special Education (available as both a traditional track and as an alternative track for initial licensure).
19. University at Albany, SUNY
Home to more than 150 academic programs, 250 student organizations, and 1,000 study abroad opportunities, the University at Albany, SUNY is a premier public research institution in New York’s Capital Region. The campus of UAlbany is ranked among the top 10 most beautiful public colleges in the U.S., according to the website Thrillist. UAlbany’s comprehensive academic programs are presented by nine different schools and colleges, including the prestigious School of Education.
UAlbany’s Master of Science in Early Childhood Education is offered on campus and fully online. Students with an initial teaching license can earn New York professional certification through this track. The program is also available as a degree-only, non-certification track. Both options require 30 credit hours. Coursework for all Early Childhood Education students includes:
- Strategic Intervention to Prevent Literacy Difficulties
- Early Literacy Development, Birth through Grade Two
- Data-Based Decision Making in Literacy Assessment, Policy, and Practice
- Teaching Mathematics in the Elementary School
Graduate students at UAlbany can also pursue an M.S. in Literacy (with concentrations in Birth through Grade Six, Grades Five through 12, and Birth through Grade 12), which leads to a professional teaching certificate plus certification in Literacy. An M.S. in Reading, which does not lead to any certification, is also available.
20. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
For more than 130 years, Northwestern State University of Louisiana has offered exceptional programs in teacher education. The historic main campus of NSU is located on a hill overlooking the river port city of Natchitoches, with satellite campuses in Shreveport, Alexandria, and Fort Polk. The Early Childhood Education program at NSU combines the University’s rich heritage as a teachers college with cutting-edge pedagogical theory and practice.
The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education at NSU is the only program of its kind in the state of Louisiana. This degree is designed to help certified, practicing educators elevate their teaching practice. The curriculum for this degree features the following required courses:
- Positive Relationships with Children, Families, and Communities
- Curriculum Development for School Improvement
- Educational Research and Evaluation
- Curriculum and Spaces for Infants and Toddlers
In addition to a valid teaching license, applicants will be required to submit two letters of recommendation. This degree features a practicum experience that addresses the standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NSU also offers programs leading to an M.Ed. in Educational Technology Leadership, an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction.
21. University of South Florida
U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of South Florida among the top 70 public research institutions nationwide. The University’s diverse community of over 50,000 students represents more than 145 countries. USF offers a number of highly acclaimed programs in education, including a versatile Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. This degree offers concentrations in College Student Affairs, Educational Studies, Instructional Technology, Measurement and Evaluation, Early Childhood Education, and more.
Within the Early Childhood Education major for the M.Ed., students can choose to specialize in Reading, Teacher Leadership, Positive Behavior Support, or Interdisciplinary. All of these tracks require a minimum of 33 credit hours, including a nine-credit hour core and 15 credit hours within the student’s chosen specialization. For the Positive Behavior Support specialization, the following courses are required:
- Intensive Individualized Positive Behavior Support
- Consultation and Collaboration
- School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
- Addressing Behavior Challenges in Young Children
This degree is designed for students who earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education or a closely related field. Candidates are expected to pass a comprehensive exam at the end of their program. This track does not lead to teaching licensure or certification.
22. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota is a land-grant university serving over 16,000 graduate and professional students. The Institute of Child Development at UMN is home to the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School, one of the longest-running schools of its kind in the nation. Every student in an early childhood education program will student teach at the Lab School, which serves as a living laboratory for early childhood curriculum development.
The M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education leads to an initial Minnesota teaching license for children birth through third grade. This degree track requires between 57 and 61 credit hours. In addition to completing extensive field experiences, degree candidates will take courses such as:
- Social and Philosophical Foundations of Early Childhood Education
- Learning, Cognition, and Assessment
- Education of Preschool Children With Disabilities: Methods and Materials
- Facilitating Social and Emotional Learning in Early Childhood Education
The Early Childhood Education program at UMN has a 100 percent job placement rate within one year of graduation. This degree track is open only to students who do not have any prior teaching certification. Licensed teachers who are looking to add an early childhood education certificate can pursue one of UMN’s additional licensure programs. These programs require between 27 and 35 credit hours, and do not lead to a master’s degree.
23. University of La Verne
In Washington Monthly’s “Best Bang for the Buck” ranking, the University of La Verne was named to second place among California private institutions. La Verne has also received numerous accolades from U.S. News & World Report for academic excellence at the undergraduate and graduate level. The NCATE-accredited LaFetra College of Education at La Verne presents a wide range of regionally acclaimed programs in teacher, administrator, and counselor training.
La Verne offers a Master of Science in Child Development. This degree program is available both fully online and on the La Verne main campus. The curriculum requires nine credit hours in core education courses, 18 credit hours within the Child Development concentration, three credit hours in electives, and three credit hours in a culminating activity for a total of 33 credit hours. Courses within the Child Development concentration include:
- Language, Reading, and Concept Development
- Studies in Attachment
- Assessment in Early Childhood
- Cognition and Brain Development
This program is unique in that it prepares students to teach adults at the community college level. In addition to serving as a part-time or adjunct professor at two- or four-year institutions, graduates will be qualified to work in leadership positions in public or private educational agencies.
24. Mercy College
The community of Mercy College includes roughly 9,500 students and over 200 full-time professors. Mercy's faculty includes Fulbright Scholars, national best-selling authors, and renowned experts with the highest degree available in their field. Mercy offers undergraduate and graduate programs through five esteemed schools: Business, Health and Natural Sciences, Liberal Arts, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Education.
The Early Childhood Education program at Mercy College requires 39 credit hours and leads to a Master of Science degree. Each class for this degree integrates a 10-hour fieldwork observation experience. The required Clinical Experience is a semester-long student teaching placement. Coursework for the degree includes:
- Educational Foundations from Diverse Perspectives
- Foundations of Education for Students with Disabilities
- Teaching English as a Second Language
- Working with Parents and Families in Early Childhood and Childhood Education
The standard track for this program leads to New York State initial teaching certification in Early Childhood Education for birth through grade two. Students may also choose a dual certification track for Early Childhood and Childhood Education (for grades one through six) or a triple certification track for Early Childhood, Childhood Education, and Students with Disabilities. Dual and triple certification tracks will require additional coursework and field experiences beyond the standard 39-credit hour curriculum.
25. University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota offers over 200 fields of study to its nearly 15,000 students. The campus of UND is located in the vibrant college town of Grand Forks, on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota. The flexible Early Childhood Education program at UND allows students to take their courses online, on campus, or through a combination of the two formats.
Full-time students can earn the Master of Science in Early Childhood Education in 18 months, while part-time students taking two courses per semester will finish in 24 months. The degree is available as a thesis track, requiring a minimum of 30 credit hours, or as a non-thesis track, requiring a minimum of 32 credit hours. Required coursework for both tracks includes:
- Play in Development and Early Childhood Education
- Curricular Foundations in Early Childhood Education
- Language Development and Cognition in Children
- Collaborative Relationships: Home, School, and Community
Applicants to this program should hold a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, child development, elementary education, or a related field. A minimum GPA of 2.75 for all undergraduate coursework, or a minimum GPA of 3.0 for upper division undergraduate coursework, is required. Students in the non-thesis track must complete a written independent study or scholarly project as their capstone experience.