Best Early Childhood Education Programs: List of Top Schools

Read on to learn about the top schools that offer early childhood education programs. Get university rankings, location info and degree options, so you can compare and contrast your education options.

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School Information

Below, you can read about a pair of top schools that offer early childhood education programs. Early childhood educators focus on infants, preschoolers and children in pre-kindergarten (pre-K) through third grade. The early childhood education programs at these two schools both award a bachelor's degree, though University of Texas at Austin also offers master's and doctoral degree programs in early childhood education that emphasize educational theory or leadership. After reviewing profiles for the following two schools, check out the list of additional options for early childhood education training.

Top Schools with Early Childhood Education Programs

1. Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN

In 2010, Vanderbilt University was ranked 17th among the top values in U.S. private colleges according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance. U.S. News & World Report ranked Vanderbilt as the best education school in the country in 2011.

Peabody College, which merged with Vanderbilt in 1979, offers an early childhood education major in its bachelor's program. The curriculum begins with field observation and participation in classrooms in local schools, agencies and Peabody College's experimental programs. Students are required to complete a second major in child studies, which may add courses beyond the 120 hours needed for the primary major.

In addition to study abroad programs offered by the university, Peabody students have the opportunity to spend their junior year in the U.K. at Cambridge University's Homerton College. The early childhood education program's teacher internship requirement can also be partly satisfied by a summer semester in Cambridge.

2. The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin (UT) was ranked 25th among America's best values in public colleges by Kiplinger's Personal Finance in 2010. UT also tied as the second best education school in the country by U.S. News & World Report in 2011. The UT Elementary School offers tuition-free pre-K through fifth grade education that admits students through a lottery system.

Undergraduate degrees for early childhood-6th grade are divided into a generalist option or a bilingual generalist option. The College of Education's Department of Curriculum and Instruction offers an interdisciplinary program that leads to a Master of Arts, Master of Education or Doctor of Philosophy in Early Childhood Education. The program, which focuses on child development and research methodology, as well as early childhood education issues, is considered preparation for careers in public elementary schools, childcare centers and preschools. Available to doctoral students are specialized courses, such as inquiry in play, thinking as social construction and childhood education theory.

Good Schools with Early Childhood Education Programs

School Name Distinction Location
Arizona State University Bachelor of Arts in Education (BAE) prepares graduates for both early childhood and early childhood special ed certifications Tempe, AZ
Boston University All students in early childhood programs spend a semester working in the Early Childhood Learning Lab located on campus Boston, MA
Florida State University Students are paired with a mentor for the entirety of their junior year Tallahassee, FL
New York University The core curriculum at NYU meets the 30-point liberal arts concentration needed to be a certified teacher in New York State New York, NY
Purdue University Graduates of early childhood program are prepared for licensure in generalist and exceptional needs categories West Lafayette, IN
The University of Texas at Austin First-year Interest Groups (FIGs) enable cohorts of up to 25 students to take 2-4 classes together Austin, TX
University of Georgia Bachelor of Science in Education (BSEd) in early childhood education prepares graduates to work with students up through the 5th grade Athens, GA
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Applicants to the Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education must demonstrate 50 hours of formal experience with children in that age range Champaign, IL
Vanderbilt University Education is the largest undergraduate degree program at Vanderbilt, and the Peabody School is one of the top ranked schools in external funding for education research Nashville, TN
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