Best Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degrees

According to the Rauch Foundation, 85 percent of a child’s brain development occurs before the age of five.

Psychologists have proven the incredible importance of early childhood education. The years between birth to age eight lay the groundwork for a child’s entire life.

With a master’s degree in early childhood development or early childhood education, you can help ensure that children get a bright start in life during these critical early years.

What are the options for a graduate degree in early childhood development?

Graduate students have the option of pursuing a degree through a traditional on-campus program or an online program. While many schools provide outstanding academic opportunities through both formats, distance learning is ideal for professionals who plan to work full-time while attending school.

Are you looking to earn your undergraduate degree in early childhood development or early childhood education? Visit our ranking for the Best Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education.

How much can you earn with a master’s degree in early childhood development?

According to PayScale data, here are some of the most common titles for job candidates who hold an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education and what you can expect to make, on average, for each of them.

  • Elementary School Teacher: $46,082
  • Director (Preschool): $43,054
  • Special Education Teacher (Preschool, Kindergarten, or Elementary School): $43,963
  • Child Care Center Director: $52,851

What can I do with a degree in early childhood development?

Graduates with a master’s degree in early childhood education or development may work as a preschool teacher or child care assistant. Others may find a career as a child care or preschool administrator, postsecondary teacher for child development courses, or nonprofit program director.

What are the requirements for a master’s degree in early childhood development?

Many universities will require applicants to have a certain undergraduate GPA. Students with a GPA below the cutoff point (often 2.8 or 3.0) may be accepted on a provisional or conditional basis.

To graduate with a master’s degree, candidates may be required to complete a culminating experience, such as a written thesis, comprehensive exam, or summative portfolio. For a licensure program, students will typically need to complete a semester- or year-long practicum.

What are the best online master’s degrees in early childhood development?

This ranking was generated using data from the IPEDS database, PayScale, U.S. News & World Report, and individual college websites. We examine a variety of data points, such as expected early career salary for graduates, student satisfaction, financial aid availability, and academic standards of excellence.

We’ve featured Early Childhood Education degrees as well as similar degrees that can prepare you to work with young children, such as programs in social work, psychology, and child development.

While the titles for these degrees vary, any one of them can help you become a specialist and leader in working with children in educational, counseling, or child care settings.

1. University of Southern Mississippi

Overview

The University of Southern Mississippi is a research-driven university with a student body of more than 15,000. USM has been designated a Top Military School, reflecting the University’s commitment to active military members, veterans, and their families. A wealth of academic opportunities are available to students at USM, including over 200 master’s and doctoral degree programs. Many of these programs are available fully online, including the outstanding Master of Science in Child and Family Studies.

Program Features

This program is cohort-based, with new cohorts starting each fall. Once accepted, students will move as a group through a specific progression of courses. Most students finish the degree within two calendar years. Candidates for the M.S. in Child and Family Studies will take the following courses:

  • Theories in Child and Family Studies
  • Program Evaluation and Assessment
  • Individual and Family Life Cycle Development
  • Adulthood and Aging in the Family System

Notables

Students in the program will have two choices for their culminating experience: either a thesis or a practicum. Both the thesis track and the practicum track require a total of 37 credit hours. Graduates will be prepared to pursue professional opportunities as a therapeutic child care specialist, nonprofit program manager, substance abuse specialist, family program administrator, and more.

 

2. University of La Verne

Overview

Located about 35 miles east of Los Angeles, the University of La Verne is one of the leading private universities in the Western United States. La Verne is widely renowned for the community of over 200 dedicated scholar-teachers that make up the University’s faculty. These distinguished faculty members provide the intellectual leadership for the highly acclaimed Master of Science in Child Development program.

Program Features

While the coursework is offered fully online, the Child Development program incorporates hands-on, in-person classroom teaching experience. Graduates of this program can earn certification to teach in a California community college. The degree track requires 33 credit hours, including nine hours in core courses and 18 hours within the Child Development concentration. Required coursework for this concentration includes:

  • Language, Reading, and Concept Development
  • Studies in Attachment
  • Assessment in Early Childhood
  • Cognition and Brain Development

Notables

The highly selective Child Development program requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in Early Childhood coursework. Applicants are also encouraged to have experience working in early childhood settings. Once accepted, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA in order to graduate with this degree. All required coursework is available both online and through face-to-face instruction, and students are welcome to take any course in either format.


3. University at Albany, SUNY

Overview

Forbes routinely names University at Albany, SUNY to its list of “America’s Best Public Colleges.” In U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 rankings, the online programs from the University’s School of Education were once again ranked in the top 10 nationwide. These accolades showcase UAlbany’s commitment to academic excellence and student success. The M.S. in Early Childhood Education is an outstanding option for educators working with children from birth to age eight..

Program Features

The Early Childhood Education program requires 30 credit hours and can lead to professional teacher certification for birth through grade 2. To qualify for the program, students must already hold an initial teaching certification for early childhood education. Required coursework for M.S. candidates in this program includes:

  • Language Acquisition
  • Early Literacy Development, B-2
  • Strategic Intervention to Prevent Literacy Difficulties
  • Data-Based Decision Making in Literacy Assessment, Policy, and Practice

Notables

UAlbany’s Early Childhood Education degree track is offered both online and on campus. The online track is only available part-time: Distance learning students will take a maximum of two courses per semester. Residential students can enroll in this program part-time or full-time. UAlbany also offers a fully online program leading to a Master of Science in Childhood Education for grades 1 through 6.


4. University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Overview

The flagship university of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities offers outstanding academic opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition to Twin Cities, the University operates campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester. With extensive research undertakings and outreach initiatives, UMN Twin Cities is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning. The versatile Child and Adolescent Development program offers distinctive tracks for professionals working with children of all ages.

Program Features

The online M.A. in Applied Child and Adolescent Development requires a total of 32 credit hours. This curriculum offers three tracks: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Child Life, and Individualized Studies. For the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health track, required coursework includes:

  • Cognitive and Biological Development
  • Ethics and Professionalism in Applied Child and Adolescent Development
  • Development and Psychopathology in Early Childhood
  • Prevention and Intervention in Early Childhood: Practice

Notables

The Individualized Studies track allows students to customize a course of study to prepare them for a career in juvenile justice, child welfare, pediatric nursing, parent education, and more. Meanwhile, the Child Life track enables graduates to help children cope with the stress of illness, injury, disability, and hospitalization. Applicants to the Child and Adolescent Development program should have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.


5. Capella University

Overview

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Capella University is an innovative school that offers all of its degree programs fully online. Capella students can pursue degrees and certificates in business, health sciences, information technology, public service, education, and more. The renowned Master of Science in Psychology from Capella offers a specialization in Child and Adolescent Development.

Program Features

The Child and Adolescent Development program can prepare graduates to work in nonprofit organizations, family service agencies, government agencies, and other settings. This track includes four core courses and six specialization courses. Students in the program will complete coursework such as:

  • Quantitative Design and Analysis
  • Human Prenatal Development
  • Lifespan Development
  • Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology

Notables

Capella University offers two distinctive degree pathways. With the GuidedPath, students will take between one and three courses each semester, with weekly deadlines for assignments and discussion posts. Tuition for the GuidedPath is charged per credit hour. Alternatively, the FlexPath allows students to take an unlimited number of courses (up to two at a time simultaneously) during each 12-week billing session. The FlexPath option permits students to have more control over their graduation timeline. Tuition for the FlexPath is charged at a flat rate per quarter. Both options are available for the M.S. in Psychology.


6. University of Missouri

Overview

Established in 1839, the University of Missouri was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. Since then, Mizzou has remained a leader in higher education. The University is home to online programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level that have been ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Mizzou’s Department of Human Development and Family Science offers an exceptional master’s degree program for students who plan to work in correctional facilities, religious groups, nonprofit agencies, and similar settings.

Program Features

The program from Mizzou Online culminates in a Master of Arts in Human Development and Family Science with an emphasis in Youth Development. The program requires 36 total credit hours. Most students complete the program within two to three years. Core courses for this degree track include:

  • Adolescents and Their Families
  • Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation
  • Federal and State Policies That Impact Youth Development
  • Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research

Notables

This program is part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, a cooperative effort with participation from multiple universities. Depending on which university is teaching a class in a given semester, courses may have variable start and end dates. The estimated tuition cost for the M.A. in Human Development and Family Science is $20,340.


7. Kaplan University

Overview

Kaplan University offers online, blended, and in-person academic programs in an array of disciplines, including legal studies, nursing, social and behavioral sciences, business, and education. Over 180 programs are available in total, spanning across associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. First founded in 1938, Kaplan has built a reputation for offering highly accessible, career-centric education. Kaplan’s online program provides a gateway to professional opportunities in family service agencies, community organizations, and more.

Program Features

The Master of Science in Human Services is designed to help current professionals succeed in leadership positions in a variety of human service settings. Students in this program can pursue a concentration in either Family and Community Services or Organizational and Social Services. The curriculum includes 30 credit hours in major-specific courses and 15 credit hours within the student’s chosen concentration. This program offers courses such as the following:

  • Developing and Delivering Family Services
  • Research, Grant Writing, and Funding
  • Organizational Nonprofit Management
  • History, Multiculturalism, and Diversity in Human Services

Notables

The Human Services program incorporates both a required internship experience and a capstone research project. Kaplan also offers a fully online Master of Science in Psychology, with concentrations available in Addictions, General Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and Applied Behavior Analysis.


8. University of Nebraska Online

Overview

The University of Nebraska Online (NUO) is a collaborative effort from a number of institutions. Members include the University of Nebraska Omaha, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Kearney, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. These institutions, all excellent schools in their own right, work together to provide the comprehensive distance learning opportunities of NUO. Graduate students can pursue a fully online M.S. in Youth Development, presented by UNL in collaboration with NUO.

Program Features

The Youth Development program is designed to empower graduates to help children and adolescents grow into socially, emotionally, and cognitively strong adults. Students will examine the influence of governmental policies and cultural issues on youth and learn to impact youth outcomes through research, grant writing, fundraising, and more. Core courses for this degree track include:

  • Community Youth Development
  • Adolescents and Their Families
  • Administration and Program Management
  • Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation

Notables

NUO also offers degree programs leading to a Master of Science in International Family Studies, in Family and Consumer Sciences Education, in Human and Family Services Administration, and more. The University of Nebraska Online charges the same tuition rate for all students, regardless of in-state residency. As of the 2018 school year, the cost is $565 per credit hour.


9. Walden University

Overview

Offering programs at every level from certificates through doctorates, Walden University is a leader in distance education. The students of Walden represent all 50 states and more than 150 countries worldwide. Walden’s academic programs focus on promoting positive social change, with degrees available in counseling, criminal justice, public health, social work, public administration, education, and more. For socially conscious students, Walden offers a distinguished program in Early Childhood Public Policy and Advocacy.

Program Features

The Early Childhood Public Policy and Advocacy specialization is a track within the M.S. in Early Childhood Studies. Other available specializations include Administration Management and Leadership, Teaching Adults in the Early Childhood Field, and Teaching Diversity in Early Childhood Education. The Early Childhood Public Policy and Advocacy track requires 30 credit hours in courses such as:

  • Effective Programs and Practices
  • Issues and Trends in the Early Childhood Field
  • Communicating and Collaborating in the Early Childhood Field
  • Tools for Policymakers and Advocates

Notables

All candidates for the Early Childhood Public Policy and Advocacy degree will complete a three-credit capstone project. This culminating experience allows students to apply their knowledge and practical skills through a field project or by addressing a contemporary issue relating to their professional interests. Walden’s M.S. in Early Childhood Studies is accredited by NCATE.


10. University of South Florida

Overview

The University of South Florida serves more than 37,000 undergraduates and 10,000 graduate students in 14 academic colleges. The University has been ranked at number 68 among all public research universities nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. The College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at USF offers a number of excellent graduate programs for professionals working with children and adolescents.

Program Features

Through a fully online program, students at USF can earn a Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health (MSCABH). Four concentrations are available within this degree track: Developmental Disabilities, Research and Evaluation, Youth and Behavioral Health, and Leadership in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health. The four core courses that are required for all of these concentrations include:

  • Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health
  • Cultural Competency in Children's Mental Health
  • Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Policy
  • Evaluation and Research Methods in Community Health

Notables

This degree is available as a thesis track and as an applied (non-thesis) track. The thesis track requires six credit hours of research. The applied track requires six credit hours of field experience, during which students will work part-time in an agency or organization in a position relating to child or adolescent behavioral health.


11. Michigan State University

Overview

Founded in 1855, Michigan State University was the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions established throughout the country. Since then, MSU has further solidified its reputation as a pioneer of learning. Times Higher Education ranks MSU as one of the top 100 universities in the world. MSU’s extensive and well-respected online graduate programs include a Master of Arts in Youth Development.

Program Features

Unlike some other MSU graduate programs, the online M.A. in Youth Development is available only as a non-thesis track. After completing the program, graduates will be prepared to work in Boys and Girls Clubs, correctional facilities, faith-based organizations with youth programs, and similar settings. The curriculum for this degree is based on a 28-credit hour core, which features courses such as:

  • Contemporary Youth Issues
  • Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation
  • Youth in Cultural Contexts
  • Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research

Notables

This degree does not require a practicum experience. MSU also offers a fully online Master of Arts in Family Community Services. The Youth Development degree is presented through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, a collaboration that includes Michigan State University, Kansas State University, the University of Missouri, North Dakota State University, Texas Tech University, and the University of Nebraska.


12. Grand Canyon University

Overview

Grand Canyon University is the premier Christian university of Arizona. GCU has undergone extensive revitalization and expansion since 2009, both to its physical campuses in Phoenix and to its academic programs and online presence. The results of these efforts are impressive: GCU is now home to 21 NCAA Division I athletics teams, a number of celebrated outreach initiatives, and an array of highly respected online degree programs, including a Master of Science in Professional Counseling.

Program Features

The Professional Counseling program from GCU offers three emphasis areas: Marriage and Family Therapy, Trauma, and Childhood and Adolescence Disorders. The Childhood and Adolescence Disorders track aligns with the standards of the National Board for Certified Counselors. Graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue state licensure as a counselor. Coursework for this track includes:

  • Counseling Skills in the Helping Relationships
  • Spousal and Child Abuse, Crisis, and Trauma Counseling
  • Diagnostics, Assessment, and Treatment
  • Psychopathology and Treatment of Children and Adolescents

Notables

The Childhood and Adolescence Disorders specialization includes opportunities for supervised fieldwork through practicum and internship experiences. All coursework for the M.S. in Professional Counseling is available both online and through numerous campus locations. The face-to-face sections of these courses are typically scheduled during the evening to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.


13. Saint Joseph's University

Overview

Saint Joseph’s University ranks number 11 in U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Colleges in the North. While the main campus is located in western Philadelphia, numerous online degree tracks put SJU’s exceptional academic programs at the fingertips of students all over the country. Renowned for outstanding educational quality rooted in Jesuit philosophy, SJU offers several graduate degrees for students who plan to pursue a career working with children and adolescents.

Program Features

Students may enroll in a fully online program leading to an M.S. in Educational Leadership, or an M.S. in Special Education. The Special Education master’s degree is available with certification options for pre-kindergarten through grade 8 or for grades 7 through 12. Available coursework for the Special Education PK-8 track includes:

  • Theory and Instructional Practice: Students with High Incidence Disabilities
  • Diagnostic Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  • Research-based Models and Procedures: Literacy, Written and Oral Language, and Reading in the Content Areas
  • Families, Schools, and Communities: Communication and Collaboration

Notables

SJU also offers a number of fully online programs leading to graduate-level certificates and endorsements. Options include English as a Second Language Endorsement (K-12), Instructional Technology Specialist Certification, Special Education Certification (PK-8 or 7-12), Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Certification (PK-12), and more.


14. West Virginia University

Overview

With a Carnegie Classification as an R1 (Highest Research Activity) institution, West Virginia University is a hub of innovation and creativity. U.S. News & World Report ranks WVU among the top 100 public universities nationwide. The flexible Educational Psychology program at WVU offers a range of specialization options, so graduate students can customize their course of study to prepare them for their ideal career.

Program Features

The Master of Arts in Educational Psychology allows students to choose between a general track, a Program Evaluation and Research emphasis, and a Child Development and Family Studies emphasis. For the concentration in Child Development and Family Studies, students will complete 33 credit hours. Six of these credit hours must be earned through thesis research. Other requirements for this specialization include courses such as:

  • Socio-Emotional Development of Children
  • Comparative Study of Family
  • Theories of Child and Adolescent Development
  • Socialization Processes

Notables

The Child Development and Family Studies curriculum includes six credit hours of elective courses. Students may choose to take electives in a wide variety of topics, such as counseling and guidance, psychology, special education, sociology, social work, public administration, and more. Graduates of the program will be prepared for doctoral study, or to find careers in educational, clinical, or other applied settings.


15. Northcentral University

 

Overview

Northcentral University is an online university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business, health sciences, technology, marriage and family therapy, education, and psychology. The unique one-to-one learning model at Northcentral allows students to partner with a faculty member in every course. Through the graduate psychology programs at NCU, students gain invaluable experience by working closely with mentors who are experts in their fields.

Program Features

The online Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Developmental Psychology features an emphasis on ADHD as well as autism spectrum disorders. This is a 30-credit hour program. The degree track, which consists of 10 courses, is designed to be completed in 20 months (although students may take up to five years). Candidates for this degree will complete courses such as:

  • Prenatal and Early Childhood Development
  • Child and Adolescent Gender Development
  • Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
  • Ethics in Development Psychology

Notables

An optional 100-hour internship provides students with the opportunity to hone their professional skills. Students who don’t choose the internship will complete a different capstone project to demonstrate their mastery of learning outcomes. Northcentral offers weekly start dates, providing an extraordinary level of flexibility for working professionals. The psychology programs at NCU are non-licensure tracks.


16. University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Overview

Serving more than 20,000 students, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is one of the largest and most diverse universities in the Piedmont Triad. UNCG offers 74 master’s degrees and 32 doctoral degrees, many of which are available through the University’s renowned online programs. The degrees from UNCG’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies empower students to be successful as an early childhood teacher, program administrator, community college instructor, and more.

Program Features

The online program at UNCG culminates in a Master of Education in Birth through Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development. Students may choose from one of two concentrations: Early Childhood Leadership and Program Administration or Early Childhood Leadership and Advanced Teaching Licensure. Required coursework for students in both concentrations includes:

  • Inclusive Family-Centered Practices in Early Childhood
  • Screening and Assessment in Inclusive Early Childhood Services
  • Leadership and Mentoring in Educating Young Children
  • Advanced Curriculum in Early Childhood Education

Notables

While the curriculum is designed for professionals who continue working a full-time job while pursuing their degree, this program includes some synchronous class meetings when students will be required to sign on at designated times. These synchronous meetings are typically scheduled from 5:00 PM to 6:50 PM (Eastern time).


17. Ashford University

Overview

Founded in 1918 as a women’s junior college, Ashford University is now a thriving 21st-century institution for students from all backgrounds and walks of life. Focusing on equity, empowerment, and guidance, Ashford offers a student-centered environment that’s ideal for non-traditional learners. Ashford’s Master of Arts in Education program can enable teachers and education professionals to become leaders in a number of fields.

Program Features

The curriculum for the online M.A.Ed. features 24 credit hours in core coursework and 12 credit hours within the student’s chosen specialization. A variety of specialization tracks are available, including Child Development, Curriculum and Instruction, English Language Learners, Family and Community Services, Special Education, School Leadership in the 21st Century, Higher Education, and Early Childhood Education. The Early Childhood Education track includes the following courses:

  • Meeting Individual Student Needs With Technology
  • Creativity, Culture, and Global Contexts in Education Decision Making
  • Administration of Early Childhood Education
  • Family and Community Engagement

Notables

The courses in the program are based on a six-week format, and students typically take one class at a time. To graduate with the M.A.Ed., candidates must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program. Students at Ashford can take advantage of exceptional support services, including round-the-clock access to technical support.


18. Winthrop University

Overview

Winthrop University is ranked among the top 10 public universities in the South according to U.S. News & World Report. Washington Monthly also named Winthrop to its national list of “Best Bang for the Buck Colleges.” With a main campus in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the University serves roughly 6,000 students, including about 1,000 graduate students. The intensive and practical master’s degree programs at Winthrop include an M.S. in School Psychology, an M.Ed. in Counseling and Development, and a Master of Social Work.

Program Features

Winthrop’s Master of Social Work (MSW) is available both online and through face-to-face instruction. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Graduates of the program will be eligible to apply for state licensure. Required coursework for the MSW degree includes:

  • Social Work Foundation Review
  • Empowerment Practice Concepts
  • Advanced Practice: Micro Systems
  • Psychopathology and Empowerment Practice

Notables

Both the online and in-person formats offer two tracks: the 60-credit hour Traditional Program and the 39-credit hour Advanced Standing Program. The Advanced Standing Program is designed for students who earned their bachelor’s degree in social work. This track can be completed in as little as two years. The Traditional Program, for students who don’t hold an undergraduate degree in social work, can be completed in three years.


19. Indiana Wesleyan University

Overview

With strong ties to the Wesleyan Church, Indiana Wesleyan University offers a faith-based education for a wide variety of disciplines. The University has a main campus in Marion, Indiana, roughly 90 minutes northeast of Indianapolis. IWU is the largest member institution of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the largest private university in the state. The Master of Social Work at IWU is flexible enough to serve the needs of adult learners and non-traditional students.

Program Features

Students in the Master of Social Work program will gain a biblical perspective of social, economic, and environmental justice. Typically, candidates for this degree will take each required course one at a time in a designated sequence. The program incorporates extensive field placements and clinical experiences. Coursework for the degree includes:

  • Human Behavior and Social Environment
  • Mental Health and Psychopathology
  • Advanced Interpersonal Practice
  • Advanced Practice with Families and Groups

Notables

Applicants to the Advanced Standing track must have earned a CSWE-accredited undergraduate degree in social work. Standard Track applicants can hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, but should have an undergraduate GPA of 2.7 or higher. Applicants with a lower GPA may be accepted to the program on a probationary basis.


20. University of Northern Colorado

Overview

The University of Northern Colorado serves over 9,000 undergraduates and roughly 2,700 graduate students. The most popular graduate programs at UNC include those in music, education, special education, and educational leadership. Northern Colorado’s online graduate programs in education are ranked eighth nationwide by U.S. News & World Report.

Program Features

UNC’s Master of Arts in Special Education: Early Childhood is a 36-credit hour program. Students may take classes face-to-face at the main campus in Greeley, in a hybrid (blended) format at the Denver Center at Lowry, or entirely online. The program is available as an initial licensure track or as a non-licensure track. Coursework within the Early Childhood emphasis includes:

  • Assessment, IEP Development, and Instructional Planning
  • Typical and Atypical Early Child Development: Application to Early Childhood Special Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Research, Policy, and Advocacy in Early Childhood Special Education

Notables

The Master of Arts in Special Education is available in numerous other tracks, including Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Intervention Specialist, Generalist, Visual Impairment, and Gifted and Talented. All of these tracks are available online. The Colorado Commission on Higher Education has designated UNC’s School of Special Education as a Center of Excellence three times.


21. University of Colorado Denver

Overview

A vital part of the University of Colorado system, the University of Colorado Denver is an award-winning public research institution. The University offers 52 master’s degrees and 13 doctoral degrees. Many of these renowned academic tracks are available through CU Denver’s distance learning programs. Graduates of CU Denver’s Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education program will be prepared to work in educational settings, family support and home-based programs, child care agencies, and more.

Program Features

The coursework for the Early Childhood Education degree is available online and in-person. Students are welcome to mix and match the format of their courses depending on their schedule and preferences. Most students complete the degree in two to three years. Sample courses for the degree track include:

  • Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
  • Language and Literacy in Young Children
  • Research in Schools
  • Basic Statistics

Notables

Most courses for the online M.A. in Early Childhood Education will have no more than 25–30 students. The degree program offers an optional concentration in Early Childhood Special Education Specialist (birth to age eight). This concentration is available either as an initial licensure track or as an add-on endorsement for students who already hold a teaching license. Online students will need to visit Denver each summer for a three-day in-person seminar.


22. Stephen F. Austin State University

Overview

Serving nearly 13,000 students, Stephen F. Austin State University is a comprehensive independent university offering over 120 majors and areas of study. The University was established in 1923 and has grown into one of the most well-respected institutions in Texas. SFASU offers a range of education-related graduate programs through fully online tracks, including a Master of Education (Standard Elementary Program), an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, and an M.Ed. in Early Childhood.

Program Features

The curriculum for the M.Ed. in Early Childhood includes 36 credit hours. The program is designed for professionals who currently work in child care facilities, preschools, Head Start programs, and public school settings. Coursework for this degree will cover topics such as:

  • Child development
  • Curriculum and instructional strategies
  • Assessment
  • Leadership and research

Notables

The Early Childhood program has been recognized as one of the most affordable in the nation by AffordableColleges.com. The courses for this degree are taught in half-semester formats during the fall and spring terms. At the beginning of the program, students will work closely with an academic advisor to create a personalized course of study. Candidates typically complete this program within two years. Roughly 100 students are enrolled in the program each semester.


23. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Online

Overview

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has campuses in Chicago, New Orleans, southern California, and Washington, D.C. These campuses, together with online programs, serve a student body of roughly 4,300. Since its founding in 1979, TCSPP has won recognition for its commitment to innovation, service, and community. The M.A. in Psychology from TCSPP is versatile enough to suit any student’s career goals.

Program Features

A number of tracks are available within the Psychology graduate program. Options include Forensic Psychology, Public Health, Generalist, Social and Community Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Organizational Leadership, International Psychology, and Child and Adolescent. All of these tracks are available fully online. Coursework within the Child and Adolescent track may include:

  • Trauma and Crisis Intervention
  • Family Systems and Family Therapy
  • Evaluation and Treatment of the Juvenile Offender
  • Assessment and Treatment of Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders

Notables

The Master of Arts in Psychology is available on either a full-time or part-time basis. Part-time students can complete the degree track in less than two years. Full-time students can earn their degree in as little as 11 months. Students may pursue any of the available Psychology specializations as a graduate certificate. Certificate programs require only nine credit hours.


24. Southern New Hampshire University

Overview

Southern New Hampshire University enrolls over 3,000 on-campus students and more than 80,000 online students. Over 200 online degree programs are available at SNHU, all of which are focused on helping students develop career-ready skills. The highly respected Psychology program offers three choices for specialization: Forensic Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and Child and Developmental Psychology.

Program Features

Most SNHU students take two courses per 10-week term. By doing so, the Master of Science in Child and Developmental Psychology degree can be completed in 15 months. Although this program does not lead to any form of licensure, it prepares graduates for any career that supports the development of children and adolescents. Candidates for this degree may take courses such as:

  • Measurement and Assessment
  • Ethical Practice in Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuropsychology
  • Intervention Strategies

Notables

Another fully online program leads to an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (with available concentrations in Dyslexia and Language-Based Learning Disabilities, Educational Leadership, Reading, and more). Online students at SNHU will benefit from a broad array of resources and support services, including an online library, 24/7 technical support, and access to tutors. The GRE and GMAT are not required for students applying to SNHU graduate programs.


25. University of the Southwest

Overview

As a non-denominational institution, the University of the Southwest provides a Christian environment that welcomes students of diverse faiths and backgrounds. While the University’s traditional degree programs are offered through the main campus in Hobbs, New Mexico, USW also offers a limited but highly respected selection of online graduate programs. The distance learning opportunities at USW include programs leading to Master of Business Administration degrees and Master of Science in Education degrees.

Program Features

The M.S.Ed. from the University of the Southwest provides a number of specialization tracks, including School Counseling, Educational Administration, Educational Diagnostics, Mental Health Counseling, and more. The Mental Health Counseling track leads to state licensure. Required coursework for this specialization includes:

  • Learning and Human Development
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Child and Adolescent Counseling
  • Psycho-Educational Assessment

Notables

Certain states require licensure programs for counselors to include a minimum of 48 credit hours, while other states require a minimum of 60 credit hours. The University of the Southwest offers both a 48-credit hour track and a 60-credit hour track, so that online students can meet the requirements of the state where they plan to practice. Available electives within the Mental Health Counseling track include Play Therapy, Program Development and Management, Counseling Traumatized Clients, and Psychopharmacology.