Associate's Degree Programs in Early Childhood Education

Learn about associate's degree programs in early childhood education. Get information on educational prerequisites and program coursework, and explore career options and certification info.

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Essential Information

While most elementary school teachers are required to earn at least a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree in early childhood education can still prepare graduates for entry-level careers working in childcare facilities and preschools. These programs provide students with foundational training in working with young children and their families. Students are taught curriculum development, child safety, child development and many other topics. Programs often provide students the opportunity to specialize in areas such as sociology, special education and teaching non-native English speaking children. Students interested in teaching at public or private schools are prepared to transition to a bachelor's degree program in early childhood education.

Educational Prerequisites

Associate degree programs in early childhood education are available at many 2-year community colleges, as well as many online universities. Applicants are required to possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. High school coursework in child development is helpful but infrequently required.

Program Coursework

Coursework in early childhood education associate degree programs teach students to work with children at a highly vulnerable and impressionable age. Students learn theory and practical skills through courses such as the following:

  • Fundamentals of early childhood education
  • Child growth and development
  • Child psychology
  • Health, safety and nutrition in early childhood education
  • Children with special needs
  • Child observation and assessment
  • Literacy development in early childhood education
  • Curriculum development in early childhood education

Popular Career Options

Graduates of associate degree programs in early childhood education are prepared for a variety of careers working with children, though many teaching positions require further education. Popular career options include the following:

  • Private childcare provider
  • Preschool teacher's aide
  • Kindergarten teacher's aide
  • Day care center manager
  • Head Start teacher

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Advanced education is available at multiple levels in early childhood education, including programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Early childhood educators are required to hold licensure or certification whether they work in childcare centers or schools; however, private childcare providers working with small numbers of children are not always required to be certified. Requirements for certification vary widely by age level and state. Typically, certification requires a background check, proof of immunizations and a training component.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

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  • School locations:
    • Idaho (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boise State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework, Diploma
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Curriculum and Instruction
      • ESL Teaching
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Elementary
        • Teaching, Young Children
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
  • School locations:
    • Montana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at The University of Montana include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
        • Teaching, High School
        • Teaching, Young Children
      • Teaching Assistant
  • School locations:
    • Vermont (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Champlain College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Elementary
        • Teaching, High School
        • Teaching, Junior High
        • Teaching, Young Children
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Indiana University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Elementary
        • Teaching, High School
        • Teaching, Young Children
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Southern Indiana include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Elementary
        • Teaching, High School
        • Teaching, Young Children
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
  • School locations:
    • Kentucky (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Western Kentucky University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Curriculum and Instruction
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • Library Science and Related Professions
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Elementary
        • Teaching, High School
        • Teaching, Junior High
        • Teaching, Young Children
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
  • School locations:
    • Wisconsin (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Milwaukee Area Technical College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Young Children
  • School locations:
    • Connecticut (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Goodwin College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Young Children
      • Teaching Assistant
  • School locations:
    • Idaho (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brigham Young University include:
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
        • Teaching, Elementary
        • Teaching, Young Children
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas

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