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Best Early Childhood Education (ECE) Bachelor’s Degrees Online in 2024

Best Early Childhood Education (ECE) Bachelor’s Degrees Online in 2024

Earning an early childhood education bachelor’s degree sets you up to positively influence the hearts and minds of the youngest students. This page reveals the best programs for earning an online bachelor’s degree in ECE.

Earning an early childhood education bachelor’s degree online is equally rewarding and challenging. ECE bachelor’s graduates can look forward to a wide range of job options and a great level of job security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS the demand for preschool teachers is anticipated to surge by 15% between 2021 and 2031, outpacing the average growth across professions. You can expect that many of those positions will be available for those who earn ECE degrees. This guide helps potential students discover student-centric colleges offering online programs and services, allowing them to personalize their college journey.

Top Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education for 2024

We have ranked the top schools below. Our Rankings Data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES.) Click the About the Ranking link below for more information about our methodology.


    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2024 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
    1. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.
    • For degree-specific pages, ex: Psychology degrees, we list the current number of online programs available at that school for that degree type, as self-reported by the schools.


    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: January of 2024

  • Fayetteville, NC
    Public $

    Fayetteville State University offers a birth through kindergarten teaching degree that qualifies students for a North Carolina teaching license. The program covers learning and child development, curriculum development, and childcare for young children. Students also learn to utilize integrative technologies in the classroom and daycare centers. While the coursework is completed online, student teaching must be completed in person.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science, Birth through Kindergarten Teaching

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: 4 years
    • Cost: $264.22 per credit
    • Mode: Hybrid
    • Accreditation: National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • Virginia Beach, VA
    Private not-for-profit $$$

    Those looking to become early childhood educators should consider this program. Regent’s curriculum covers childhood learning and development, as well as how to add Christian principles to education. Classes also cover education administration, giving students a look at many careers in education besides teaching. The program is fully online and offers various scholarships, though students are not eligible for teacher licensure.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: 4 years
    • Cost: $395 per credit
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  • Marshall, MN
    Public $

    One of the shortest early childhood education degrees is offered at SMSU. Students can graduate in as little as two years while still learning the teaching and learning principles needed to succeed as an early childhood educator or administrator. While all classes take place online, field experience must be completed in person at an early childhood school; field experience is required for teaching licensure in Minnesota.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education

    • Credits: 120
    • Length: 2-4
    • Cost: $305 per credit
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board
  • La Grande, OR
    Public $
  • Mount Olive, NC
    Private not-for-profit $$$$
  • Parkville, MO
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Lynchburg, VA
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Lakewood, CO
    Private not-for-profit $$$$
  • Concord, NH
    Public $
  • Greensboro, NC
    Public $
  • Minot, ND
    Public $
  • Ames, IA
    Public $
  • Mayville, ND
    Public $
  • Dillon, MT
    Public $
  • Miami, FL
    Public $
  • Wichita, KS
    Public $
  • Muncie, IN
    Public $
  • Winona, MN
    Public $
  • Colorado Springs, CO
    Public $
  • Jacksonville, FL
    Public $
  • Marion, IN
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Whitewater, WI
    Public $
  • Niceville, FL
    Public $
  • Seattle, WA
    Public $$
  • Chicago, IL
    Private not-for-profit $$

Spotlight on Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education

When you begin choosing the best online ECE bachelor’s degree program for your needs, there is plenty to consider. While each school’s goals, outcomes, and courses vary, the focus of this degree is to give graduates the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to teach young kids and assess their progress. The intended outcome is to find gainful employment in institutions that help facilitate this goal. The most important aspect of your program will be accreditation. Choosing a school with regional accreditation ensures your education meets the high standards required in the profession. 

The three reputable early childhood education bachelor’s degree online programs listed below are among the best we have found.

University of Cincinnati

Description of program: This 100% online program offers students the ability to advance their educational experience. Designed to build on an associate degree, the University of Cincinnati’s Bachelor of Science in early childhood education (birth – age 5) program enables students to leverage their education and skills to build careers in childcare facilities, Head Start programs, family childcare programs, and more. Students receive one-on-one support through a dedicated academic advisor and a student success coordinator.

  • Cost of program for two years: $27,860
  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission; The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Eastern University

Description of program: The online BS in early childhood education PK-4 program at Eastern University is 100% online and self-paced. Depending on whether you have an associate degree, the 60-credit program takes 2-4 years to complete. Courses include foundations of education, introduction to special education, assessment and evaluation, and many others, while enabling the integration of Christian faith and education in the curriculum.

  • Cost of program (For two years): $5,000-$15,000
  • Location: St. Davids, Pennsylvania
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Grand Canyon University

Description of program: The forward-thinking Bachelor of Science (BS) in early childhood education degree program at Grand Canyon University prepares teachers for the classroom of tomorrow. It enables graduates to teach children from birth through grade three. The program covers instructional methods, teaching and assessment approaches, early childhood development theories, and the influence of diversity on families and cultures. The program includes embedded practicum experiences and requires two student teaching placements

  • Cost of program (For two years): $27,300
  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Inside Coursework for ECE Bachelor’s Degrees Online

Although the contents of each program may vary, various courses are standard for students pursuing early childhood education bachelor’s degrees online. This is because some aspects of teaching younger kids are almost universal in the U.S. While there is a great deal of variety in terms of how and when material is taught, there is less variability in terms of what is taught. Here’s a list of some of the top courses for those pursuing online ECE bachelor’s degrees.

  • Introduction to Early Childhood Education

    This course is a common staple in early childhood education for bachelor’s degrees because it teaches students the tenets and most common concepts of ECE. It also enables students understand early childhood development better and create the best, most ethical practices for teaching young children. One common component of this class is observing small children in the classroom setting to better develop your teaching strategies. 

  • Family, School, and Community

    This standard course trains students how to develop and maintain strong connections with parents, guardians, family members, professionals, and other key players and offers methods to encourage them to be engaged in a child’s education. It also teaches the importance of establishing these connections in terms of providing students with quality education. Students in this course get the opportunity to explore various approaches to activism and family engagement and how to manage and develop resources. 

  • Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education

    To be effective as a teacher of young students, you must know how to properly build curricula and instruct your students. This course trains students on how to generate classroom layouts that are developmentally appropriate for students. It also helps them create lesson plans, instructional materials, educational play, and other learning activities. This course is essential for anyone who wants to instruct younger kids in any capacity.

  • Early Literacy, Language, and Communication

    Another vital course for early childhood education majors is early literacy, language, and communication. Younger kids are still learning and developing their literacy, language, and communication skills. Therefore, this course shows students how to investigate and analyze younger children’s communication methods by focusing on the fundamentals of language, literacy, and communication skills development. It also covers age-appropriate practices to help students develop and promote literacy and efficient use of language for communication purposes. 

  • Social and Emotional Learning

    Social and emotional learning is an essential course for ECE majors because it enables teachers to help with their student’s social and emotional development during their most impressionable years. This course explores the role social and emotional learning plays in early childhood education. Students learn the skills that enable them to help children self-regulate and become emotionally resilient. Students also learn how to promote healthy social relationships among students while also helping to facilitate a classroom environment that includes healthy social and emotional learning. 

Cost of Earning Your Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Degree Online

Depending on what school you attend and your own personal finances, the cost of earning an early childhood education bachelor’s degree online can be anywhere from reasonable to expensive. Your personal costs largely depend on the type of school you’re attending, the specifics of the program, and how much financial aid and funding you are receiving. We created the following chart to give prospective students an idea of how much they will be paying to earn their degree.

SchoolCost Per CreditNumber of Credits
Northwestern College$35067
Indiana Wesleyan University$39566
Florida International University$235 in-state and $648 out-of-state120
University of Washington$231180
Charter Oak State College$329120

How to Pay for an Online Early Childhood Education (ECE) Degree

Paying for your early childhood education bachelor’s degree online doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By applying for grants and scholarships, you can substantially lighten your financial burden. If you are searching for the best options for financial aid, scholarships, and grants when earning an ECE bachelor’s degree online, here is a list of a few of our top picks.

  • TEACH Grants

    Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, or TEACH Grants, are federal student grants offered to those who agree to complete a teaching service obligation within a specified timeframe. The teaching obligation must be fulfilled in low-income areas. Those who fail to meet the obligation will have these grants turned into loans that they will have to pay back. These grants provide students with up to $4000 per year.

  • Teacher.org

    Teacher.org offers a wide array of scholarships and grants for those interested in earning degrees, enabling them to enter the teaching sector. The site is a database that includes various types of funding options for anyone who chooses the path of teaching. It includes links and applications to everything from general funding options, such as FAFSA, to many more specified opportunities, such as the Edwyna Wheadon Training Scholarship Fund, the James Madison Graduate Fellowship, and more.

  • State-Specific Grants for Education

    In addition to the various federal funding options, there is also an array of state-specific grants for education majors. For instance, New York offers the Albert Shanker Grant Program, Nevada offers the TEACH Early Childhood® NEVADA Scholarship, California provides the Golden State Teaching Grant Program, Michigan offers the MI Future Educator Fellowship, Massachusetts provides the Massachusetts Professional Development Grant for Educators, Nebraska offers the Attracting Excellence to Teaching Program, and Louisiana offers the Louisiana Geaux Teach Program.

  • Local and Community Foundations

    Many local and community foundations offer scholarships for future educators. These opportunities are often less well-known and may require some research to find. Here are a few examples:

What Can You Do with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in ECE?

Whether you attend a public or private school to pursue your early childhood education bachelor’s degree online, once you graduate, you will have various job opportunities. Still, the quality of the job, pay rate, and benefits offered depend on many factors, including the type of environment you work in, geographical location of where you work, and other credentials you’ve earned. Here is a list of three different career paths you can take with an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

  • Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher

    Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are tasked with duties such as creating lesson plans and daily class schedules while also tracking student progress. Unlike more advanced grades, kindergarten and elementary students always require a high level of supervision. They also require consistent redirection and may need extra effort to ensure they stay engaged with class materials. Additionally, elementary teachers teach most subjects outside of electives, such as art, music, and gym. Elementary teachers are often responsible for de-escalating student conflicts and teaching them suitable ways to manage their emotions. The median salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers in 2021 was $61,350.

  • Special Education Teacher

    Special education teachers work with students living with various mental, emotional, physical, and learning disabilities. A significant part of being a special education teacher is creating customized lesson plans based on each student’s unique needs. These plans are called individualized educational programs, or IEPs. Special ed teachers must keep careful track of the student’s engagement and progress to assess their plans’ effectiveness and change them as needed. Special education teachers must get feedback from student’s parents, other teachers, and school administrators to ensure the IEPs genuinely address the child’s learning challenges. Special education teachers earned a national median salary of $61,820 in 2021.

  • Education Director

    Education directors have the responsibility of employing their organizational skills as a means of overseeing all managerial duties involved with operating and maintaining a childcare center. They are also the first point of contact for parents and other parties with questions or concerns about the facility. Those who take this role are expected to have superior communication skills that will facilitate a collaborative, efficient, and safe learning environment. Daily duties may include everything from generating budgets and schedules to hiring, terminating, and supervising employees. They may also be responsible for helping teachers create curriculum, establishing academic standards, and monitoring and maintaining school inventory.

FAQs About Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Here are five of the most pressing questions about early childhood education bachelor’s degree online programs, according to our readers.

  • Are online bachelor’s degree programs in early childhood education fully online?

    Although some schools offer hybrid programs, there are plenty of early childhood education programs available fully online. However, many of those programs do not offer licensure or may require additional steps to attain the certification required to become gainfully employed. Therefore, students may need to choose hybrid programs, complete internships or externships, or find other methods of gaining hands-on experience to acquire the careers they are seeking. In order to avoid confusion, make sure you fully understand what the program offers.

  • What accreditation should I look for in an online bachelor’s in ECE program?

    When it comes to early childhood education bachelor’s degree online programs, accreditation is key. It dictates whether your credits are transferable and may even enable or prevent you from taking on specific teaching jobs. Here is a list of the most common national and regional accreditations to look for when choosing an online ECE degree:

    • Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment (APPLE)
    • American Montessori Society (AMS)
    • Association of Christian Schools International
    • Council on Accreditation (COA)
    • National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC)
    • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation
    • National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)
    • National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)
    • Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities – Commission on Elementary Schools
    • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
    • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • What does the admissions process look like for this degree?

    Expect the admissions process steps to look somewhat like the following:

    • Submitting high school transcripts (for those with diplomas or GEDs)
    • Submitting SAT/ACT scores
    • Those with college experience are required to have a minimum GPA that varies based on the program and institution. 
    • Completing the application
    • Submitting transcripts
    • Submitting personal statements
    • Applying for financial aid
    • Enrolling in courses
  • How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education online?

    Depending on your level of education, earning an online early childhood bachelor’s degree can take from two-four years. It’s not uncommon for students to transfer from one school after earning an associate degree to earn their bachelor’s degrees at four-year institutions. In those cases, they can earn their bachelor’s degrees in two years. However, accelerated programs can be completed in as little as 16 months. Those who go to school part-time can expect to double the stated time frames.

  • What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their bachelor’s degree in ECE?

    Online students getting their bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education can access virtual classrooms where they interact with professors and classmates, just like in person. Online libraries and resources help with research, and academic advisors guide them through course choices and scheduling through email, chat, and face-to-face video conferencing. Online learning platforms often offer tutoring and study groups, and robust discussion forums foster networking. Overall, a wide range of virtual tools ensures that online learners in early childhood education receive the guidance and assistance they need to succeed academically and professionally.

More Education Degrees to Explore

Are you still undecided which bachelor’s degree in education you are going to choose. Check out these other education degree options: