There are many incentives for teachers of young children to pursue a master’s in early childhood education online. While the median pay for preschool teachers is just $28,750 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are many advancement opportunities for those teachers willing to work towards an early childhood education master’s degree online. With such a degree, graduates can move into more supervisory roles such as early childhood curriculum developers, supervisors, and directors. The median annual wage for preschool and childcare center directors according to the BLS is $45,670, while the top ten percent of earners in the field make more than $86,870. An online master’s in early childhood education is also ideal for those professionals interested in opening their own preschools or childcare centers. Clearly, a master’s degree in this field can pay for itself in no time, but for the greatest return on investment, it’s important to look for an early childhood master’s degree online program that packs in the most value for your tuition dollar.

Ranking Methodology
Awards and Recognition (Related to Early Childhood Education)
• National Level – 2 points
• Regional Level – 1 point
20-Year Net ROI
• Above 500,000 – 5 points
• Above 400,000 – 4 points
• Above 300,000 – 3 points
• Above 200,000 – 2 points
• Above 100,000 – 1 point
Customization Options
• Content Customizations (e.g. Concentrations and Specializations) – 1 point
• Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid, Synchronous, etc.) – 1 Point
Innovative Programs and/or Teaching Methods in Early Childhood Education – 1 point
Internship Opportunities in Early Childhood Education – 1 point
Scholarship Opportunities in Early Childhood Education – 1 point
Related Student Organizations and Societies – 1 point
Wow Factor
• 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us

Best Value Colleges for a Master’s in Early Childhood Education Online 
In this ranking, we examine the 25 top value master’s in early childhood education online programs for 2017. Our editors searched the web for online programs offering early childhood degrees and compiled an initial pool of 65 schools. From there, we consulted PayScale.com to identify the 25 programs with the highest 20-year return on investment. Finally, we visited each program’s website to gather the information necessary to apply the methodology above and choose the top 25. In cases of a tie, the school with the lower tuition received the higher ranking.

#25 – Southern New Hampshire University

Online MEd in Early Childhood Education

Manchester, New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University online master's in early childhood education

Southern New Hampshire University’s master’s in early childhood education online program offers tracks for both licensed and non-licensed students.

Website
Points: 3
The master’s in early childhood education online program from Southern New Hampshire University includes two tracks: a 42-credit hour initial licensure track that includes two student teaching terms and a 39-credit hour endorsement track for certified teachers. Courses comprising the core curriculum for both programs include Family and Culture, Students with Exceptionalities, and Emerging and Early Literacy Development K-4. SNHU’s online master’s in early childhood education students take only two courses per 10-week term, but still complete the program within just 15 months.
Tuition & Fees: $18,810

#24 – Mercy College

Online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Dobbs Ferry, New York

Mercy College early childhood education master's degree online

Mercy College’s master’s in early childhood education online program includes optional add-on certifications.

Website
Points: 3
The master’s in early childhood education online program from Mercy College is designed to prepare students for New York State certification, enabling them to work with young children from birth to grade 2. This program is suitable for students seeking initial certification and those seeking an additional certification in early childhood. Both types of students will take courses such as Literacy Instruction: Birth-Grade 6, Critical Issues in American Education, and Language Development and Literacy Acquisition. Students enrolled in this early childhood education master’s degree online program may seek add-on certifications in childhood education and special education.
Tuition & Fees: $15,514

#23 – University of Toledo

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Toledo, Ohio

University of Toledo online master's in early childhood education

Master’s in early childhood education online students at the University of Toledo can choose to complete a culminating project or a thesis.

Website
Points: 3
The University of Toledo offers a master’s in early childhood education online program through the school’s Judith Herb College of Education. The comprehensive 36-credit hour program includes a 12-credit hour core comprised of courses in psychological foundations, research foundations, social foundations, and curriculum foundations. In addition, students enrolled in this online master’s in early childhood education program must complete 18 hours of specialty courses in early childhood education as well as a 6-credit hour culminating project or thesis.
Tuition & Fees: $14,721

#22 – Western Kentucky University

Online Master of Education in Teacher Leadership: Early Childhood Education

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Western Kentucky University early childhood education master's degree online

Western Kentucky University’s master’s in early childhood education online program requires some face-to-face components.

Website
Points: 3
Western Kentucky University offers a 36-credit hour master’s in early childhood education online comprised of two instructional components: an 18-credit hour professional education core and an 18-credit hour specialization core. Made available through the university’s School of Teacher Education, the program is mostly online, but does require some face-to-face courses. Kentucky residents applying to this online master’s in early childhood education program may be eligible for the Kentucky P-12 Professional Educator Rate, a special reduced tuition rate for the state’s teachers.
Tuition & Fees: $10,860

#21 – Youngstown State University

Online Master of Advanced Early Childhood Education

Youngstown, Ohio

Youngstown State University early childhood education master's degree online

The master’s in early childhood education online program from Valdosta State University requires that students complete an e-portfolio.

Website
Points: 3
Youngstown State University offers a 33-credit hour master’s in early childhood education program designed for working professionals. Enrolled students will study topics such as Psychology of Learning & Education, Current Social Issues in Early Childhood Education, Literacy/Phonics: Early Years, and Technology in Instructional Settings. Prior to graduation from this early childhood education master’s degree online program, all students must submit an e-portfolio. Some scholarships and assistantships are available for eligible students seeking financial aid.
Tuition & Fees: $8,690

#20 – Concordia University—St. Paul

Online Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Concordi University- St. Paul online master's in early childhood education

Concordia University–St. Paul’s master’s in early childhood education online follows a prescribed curriculum.

Website
Points: 3
Concordia University–St. Paul’s master’s in early childhood education online program is a non-licensure program that can be completed entirely online. The program follows a completely prescribed curriculum comprised of course titles such as Curriculum and Instruction/ECE, Play: Theory and Applications, Ethics for Educators, and Methods in EC Programming. This online master’s in early childhood education curriculum is aligned with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards for teacher preparation.
Tuition & Fees: $8,550

#19 – University of South Alabama

Online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Mobile, Alabama

University of South Alabama early childhood education master's degree online

University of South Alabama’s master’s in early childhood education online students have some content customization options.

Website
Points: 3
The 30-credit hour master’s in early childhood education online program from the University of South Alabama is offered through the school’s College of Education. In addition to required core courses such as Instructional Planning in the Elementary School, Trends and Practices in Teaching Reading, and Organization Patterns & Curriculum in ECE, students have the opportunity to customize their program by selecting 9 credit hours of elective courses. Prior to graduation, early childhood education master’s degree online students must pass a comprehensive end-of-program examination.
Tuition & Fees: $7,110

#18 – Kennesaw State University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Kennesaw, Georgia

Kennesaw State University online master's in early childhood education

Kennesaw State University offers an accelerated master’s in early childhood education online program.

Website
Points: 3
Kennesaw State University offers a 13-month master’s in early childhood education online program through the school’s Bagwell College of Education. Designed for working teachers, the curriculum is aligned with the public school calendar so that students can complete their coursework without compromising their classroom instruction. Core courses comprising this early childhood education master’s degree online include Diversity and Global Education; Teaching Number, Operations, and Algebraic Thinking; and Trends and Issues in Science for Early Childhood Education. A Montessori concentration is also available.
Tuition & Fees: $6,740

#17 – Valdosta State University

Online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Valdosta, Georgia

Valdosta State University online master's in early childhood education

Students in VSU’s master’s in early childhood education online program must meet a minimum GPA requirement.

Website
Points: 3
Valdosta State University offers a master’s in early childhood education online from the school’s Department of Early Childhood and Special Education. Enrolled students will study topics related to early childhood education including curriculum, educational assessments, ethics, educational environments, school-home connections, and early childhood research. Students applying to this early childhood education master’s degree online program must have a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field and an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75.
Tuition & Fees: $6,490

#16 – Mercer University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Macon, Georgia

Mercer University online master's in early childhood education

The master’s in early childhood education online program from Mercer University features endorsements in reading and ESOL.

Website
Points: 4
Mercer University offers a 30-semester hour master’s in early education online program through the school’s Tift College of Education. Enrolled students will study topics such as School Philosophy & Teacher Leadership, Reading Theory: Research & Best Practices in ECE Reading, and Contemporary Curriculum Practices in ECE. Mercer’s online master’s in early childhood education students may also seek endorsements in Reading or ESOL. Although the program can be completed entirely online, students may schedule face-to-face meetings with professors if they wish to do so.
Tuition & Fees: $15,204

#15 – Portland State University

Online Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education

Portland, Oregon

Portland State University early childhood education master's degree online

Portland State University’s master’s in early childhood education online students can choose from three types of capstone projects.

Website
Points: 4
Portland State University’s master’s in early childhood education online offering is technically an MEd in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. Designed for working teachers, the 30-credit hour program consists of 12-credit hours of core courses and 15-credit hours in the Early Childhood Education specialty, including topics such as Issues and Advocacy in ECE, Play in Early Childhood Education, and Emergent Literacy. This online master’s in early childhood education culminates with the student’s choice of an action research capstone, a thesis capstone, or a practitioner inquiry capstone.
Tuition & Fees: $14,100

#14 – State University of New York at Albany

Online Master of Science in Early Childhood Education

Albany, New York

State University of New York at Albany early childhood education master's degree online

The State University of New York at Albany offers a master’s in early childhood education online with an optional NY certification track.

Website
Points: 4
The State University of New York at Albany offers a master’s in early childhood education online offering with an optional NY certification track. The 30-hour program features a curriculum that is mostly prescribed, allowing students only one elective course. Some required course titles include Language Acquisition, Science for Children, and Teaching Mathematics in Elementary Schools. Online master’s in early childhood education students complete their coursework on a part-time basis and may take no more than two courses per semester.
Tuition & Fees: $12,477

#13 – Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Clarion, Pennsylvania

Clarion Univeristy of Pennsylvania online master's in early childhood education

Clarion University of Pennsylvania’s master’s in early childhood education online students can choose 6 credit hours of elective courses.

Website
Points: 4
The master’s in early childhood education online offering from Clarion University of Pennsylvania is a Master of Education with a concentration in early childhood education. The 30-credit hour program is comprised of a 12-credit hour education core, a 12-credit hour specialization component, and 6 credit hours of electives. Some required courses include Curriculum Development and Evaluation; The Healthy Infant, Toddler, & Young Child; and Leadership in ECH & Care. Prior to graduation, online master’s in early childhood education students must complete either a written comprehensive exam, a portfolio presentation, or a thesis defense.
Tuition & Fees: $12,222

#12 – Southwestern College

Online Master of Early Childhood Education

Winfield, Kansas

Southwestern College online master's in early childhood education

Southwestern College’s master’s in early childhood education online students must complete a capstone project and a field experience.

Website
Points: 4
Southwestern College offers a 33-credit hour master’s in early childhood education online program that is aligned with the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The prescribed curriculum features specialty course topics such as Advanced Child Development, Advanced Theory and Practice for Early Childhood Education, Classroom Management and Organization–Early Childhood Settings, and Professionalism in Early Childhood Education. Prior to graduation, online master’s in early childhood development students will also complete a field experience and capstone project.
Tuition & Fees: $9,495

#11 – Northern Arizona University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Flagstaff, Arizona

Northern Arizona University online master's in childhood education

Northern Arizona University offers a master’s in early childhood education online program with three available emphases.

Website
Points: 4
Northern Arizona University’s master’s in early childhood education online program features three emphasis areas: Early Childhood Teacher, Early Childhood Leadership, and Early Childhood National Board Preparation. This 30-credit hour program can be completed entirely online, but students may choose to pursue an optional internship or field experience. Core courses required for NAU’s early childhood education master’s degree online include Early Childhood Curriculum, Selected Topics in Early Childhood Education, and Development of Children’s Logical Concepts.
Tuition & Fees: $9,071

#10 – Georgia Southern University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Statesboro, Georgia

Georgia Southern University online master's in early childhood education

Georgia Southern University offers an accelerated master’s in early childhood education online program that can be completed in just one year.

Website
Points: 4
Georgia Southern University offers an accelerated 36-credit hour master’s in early childhood education online program that can be completed in just one year of study. The program’s curriculum includes specialty course topics such as Advanced Language Arts Methods, Learning Theories and Applications, Educational Research, and Cultural Issues: ESOL. GSU’s early childhood education master’s degree online students also have the opportunity to earn an ESOL endorsement or a Reading endorsement.
Tuition & Fees: $8,728

#9 – Stephen F. Austin State University

Online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education

Nacogdoches, Texas

Stephen F. Austin early childhood education master's degree online

Stephen F. Austin’s master’s in early childhood education online program requires a field experience.

Website
Points: 4
Stephen F. Austin State University offers a master’s in early childhood education online program through the school’s Perkins College of Education. The 36-credit hour program is designed to be completed in half-term formats, allowing students to study coursework during the fall and spring semesters. Enrolled students will study such topics as Environment for Young Children, Child-Centered Environments, ECH Theory and Practice, and Advocacy in Early Childhood. A fieldwork experience is also required for this early childhood education master’s degree online program.
Tuition & Fees: $6,310

#8 – New Mexico State University

Online Master of Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education

Las Cruces, New Mexico

New Mexico State University online master's in early childhood education

New Mexico State University’s master’s in early childhood education online program does not lead to licensure.

Website
Points: 4
New Mexico State University’s master’s in early childhood education online program is technically a Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education. The 33-credit hour program consists of a 15-credit hour Curriculum and Instruction core featuring courses such as Multicultural Education and Technology & Pedagogy, as well as an 18-credit hour Early Childhood core comprised of course titles such as History and Philosophy of Early Childhood Education and Working with Parents of Young Children. It is important to note that this online masters in early childhood education program does not lead to licensure.
Tuition & Fees: $4,941

#7 – Arizona State University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Tempe, Arizona

Arizona State University early childhood education master's degree online

Arizona State University offers a master’s in early childhood education online program with certification and options.

Website
Points: 5
Arizona State University offers a master’s in early childhood education online program through its Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. The program includes three offerings: a 45-credit hour MEd with Certification, a 36-credit hour MEd with Endorsement, and a 30-credit hour MEd. Some course titles comprising this online master’s in early childhood education curriculum include Child Guidance and Management: Child, Family, Community, and Culture; Emergent Literacy; and Appropriate Instructional Methodologies for Young Children.
Tuition & Fees: $11,304

#6 – Grand Canyon University

Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Phoenix, Arizona

Grand Canyon University master's of educational leadership online

Grand Canyon University offers both a licensure and non-licensure master’s in early childhood education online program.

Website
Points: 5
Grand Canyon University offers two master’s in early childhood education online programs—an initial teacher licensure program and an advanced teacher preparation program. The initial teacher licensure program is a 44-credit hour program featuring a prescribed curriculum consisting of courses such as Early Literacy Development, Introduction to the Exceptional Learner, and Foundations of Early Childhood. Early childhood education master’s degree online students who opt for the advanced teacher preparation program will study the same courses, but they are not required to fulfill the student teaching component required for the initial licensure program.
Tuition & Fees: $10,124

#5 – University of Houston

Online Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education

Houston, Texas

University of Houston master's in education online

The University of Houston’s master’s in early childhood education online program follows an entirely prescribed curriculum.

Website
Points: 5
The University of Houston offers a two-year, 30-credit hour master’s in early childhood education online program through the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. The entirely prescribed curriculum includes course titles such as Teaching Young Children, Introduction to Early Childhood Research, ECE: The Prekindergarten, and Functions of Play in EC. Online master’s in early childhood education students are also required to participate in two professional seminars and a culminating experience.
Tuition & Fees: $9,074

#4 – University of North Dakota

Online Master of Science in Early Childhood Education

Grand Forks, North Dakota

University of North Dakota online master's in early childhood education

The University of North Dakota offers a non-licensure master’s in early childhood education online.

Website
Points: 5
The University of North Dakota offers a 32-credit hour master’s in early childhood education online program designed to be completed over the course of two years. The curriculum is mostly prescribed, requiring students to take a 22-credit hour core consisting of courses such as Early Intervention for Children with Special Needs, Play Development and Early Childhood Education, and Early Literacy Development & Instruction. It is important to note that this particular early childhood education master’s degree online program does not lead to licensure.
Tuition & Fees: $8,461

#3 – University of Dayton

Online Master of Early Childhood Leadership & Advocacy

Dayton, Ohio

University of Dayton early childhood education master's degree online

The University of Dayton offers a master’s in early childhood education online program with an administration and an advocacy strand.

Website
Points: 6
The University of Dayton offers a master’s in early childhood education online program with two available strands: the early childhood administration strand and the early childhood advocacy strand. Each strand consists of 12 credit hours and must be combined with the master’s core and graduate leadership coursework. Some required courses include Educational Leadership, Leadership in Diverse Communities, and Philosophy of Education. Early childhood education master’s degree online students must also complete an internship in early childhood administration and advocacy prior to graduation.
Tuition & Fees: $15,764

#2 – University of Missouri

Online Master of Early Childhood Education

Columbia, Missouri

University of Missouri online master's in early childhood education

The University of Missouri offers a master’s in early childhood education online emphasis.

Website
Points: 6
The master’s in early childhood education online offering from the University of Missouri is actually a Master of Education in Learning, Teaching and Curriculum with an emphasis in early childhood education. The 33-credit hour program includes foundation courses such as Developmental Aspects of Human Learning and Technology to Enhance Learning, as well as required courses in early childhood education such as Advanced Early Childhood Curriculum and Introduction and Methods of Early Intervention. It is important to note that this early childhood education master’s degree online program does not lead to initial licensure or certification.
Tuition & Fees: $9,506

#1– University of Colorado—Denver

Online Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education

Denver, Colorado

University of Colorado-Denver early childhood education master's degree online

The University of Colorado–Denver offers master’s in early childhood education online programs in both hybrid and fully online formats.

Website
Points: 6
The University of Colorado–Denver offers a master’s in early childhood education with three available concentrations: Administration & Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion, and Teaching & Learning. The curriculum will vary depending upon which concentration the student chooses, but some core course titles include Curriculum in Early Childhood Education, Language and Literacy in Young Children, and Research in Schools. Although this early childhood education master’s degree online program can be completed entirely online, students do have the option to combine their online study with on-campus visits.
Tuition & Fees: $7,804

This concludes our ranking of the 25 top value master’s in early childhood education online programs for 2017.

CVO Staff
February 2017