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Early Childhood Education and Teaching


Early childhood education and teaching programs prepare people to work in schools and preschools.

In early childhood education and teaching programs students learn the principles of teaching young children up to the third grade level. They also learn to direct and operate child care centers.

Early childhood education and teaching programs include topics such as:

Some early education programs allow students to focus on a specific subject area such as language arts.


Many colleges and universities offer bachelor degree programs in early childhood education. In general, a bachelor's degree takes about four years of full-time study.

Many universities offer graduate degrees in early childhood education and teaching. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.

One-year certificate and two-year associate degree programs in early childhood education and teaching are designed to prepare people to work with preschool children or as teacher aides in schools. Many community colleges offer one- and two-year programs in early childhood education.

Some 2-year educational aide programs allow students to specialize in classroom aide, bilingual/bicultural aide, students with disabilities, and vocational-technical education.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Some programs require you to complete an admissions process separate from their general undergraduate admissions process. In such a case, you typically apply to the program after your freshman or sophomore year.

Program admissions vary. However, for all programs, you need good grades. You also usually need to complete some combination of the following requirements:

Depending on the program, you may first need to complete introductory education courses before you can apply to the teacher education program. Some schools require that students pass reading, computation, and writing skill tests. In some states, a criminal records check and child abuse registry clearance are required before beginning student teaching.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree and good grades. You also need to submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation.

You should major in education or a related field, such as child psychology. If you don't, you should take as many early childhood education courses as possible.

Additional requirements at many schools include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

Programs also include methods classes in the following areas:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

The core courses are often either a more thorough or more directed study of issues and topics that are introduced in undergraduate courses for this program. You also take courses in research methodology and statistics to prepare you to do independent research.

Most programs require you to complete a student teaching practicum, which is a hands-on opportunity to apply what you've learned in any of a variety of early childhood education settings. You might teach in a childcare center located on your college campus. Or, you might teach at a nursery school, running craft time for four-year-olds. Whatever the setting, you benefit from the direct supervision and guidance of an experienced early childhood educator.

Also, in some programs, you get the opportunity to take a pre-practicum course. This gives you some field experience before you are given the full responsibility of teaching a course. You would work closely with a teacher and supervisor, observing and assisting in classroom and teaching activities.

Things to Know

You need to be licensed to teach in public schools. All states require you to have at least a bachelor's degree and a certain amount of supervised practice-teaching experience. Some states also require that you have a master's degree.

Part of the licensure requirements of many states includes one or more tests such as the Praxis exams. You will likely take the Praxis II subject assessment in early childhood education. You may also take the Praxis III, which tests your knowledge of general education theories and teaching methodology.

Some programs offer part-time study options so that you can continue to work while you're in school.


East Side Area

Big Bend Community College

Central Washington University

Walla Walla Community College

Walla Walla Community College (Clarkston)

Wenatchee Valley College

Wenatchee Valley College (Omak Campus)

King-Snohomish Area

Antioch University

Bellevue College

Central Washington University - Des Moines

City University of Seattle

Edmonds Community College

Everett Community College

Green River College

Highline College

Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Montessori Center for Teacher Education

Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest

Montessori Institute for Teacher Education at Spring Valley

North Seattle College

Renton Technical College

Seattle Pacific University

Shoreline Community College

University of Washington - Seattle

Kitsap Area

Brandman University - Bremerton

Olympic College

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Gonzaga University

Spokane Falls Community College

Whitworth University

Tacoma Area

Bates Technical College (South Campus)

Clover Park Technical College

Pacific Lutheran University

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom

Pierce College Puyallup

Tacoma Community College

Tri-Cities Area

Columbia Basin College

Vancouver Area

Clark College

Washington State University - Vancouver

West Side Area

Bellingham Technical College

Centralia College

Grays Harbor College

Lower Columbia College

Northwest Indian College

Peninsula College

Saint Martin's University

Skagit Valley College

South Puget Sound Community College

Western Washington University

Whatcom Community College

Yakima Area

Central Washington University - Yakima

Heritage University

Yakima Valley College