Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education Degree Online

If you want to explore a career in education that allows you to make a difference and work with children, our online Early Childhood Education Associate Degree can help you prepare to take the first steps toward the career you want. Through accredited, flexible, online classes you can earn a degree while taking the next steps toward becoming a preschool teacher from home, on your schedule. 

  • Our Early Childhood Education Degree online can prepare students for entry-level jobs such as preschool teacher, teacher's aide, and child care professional.  
  • College-level early childhood classes cover fundamental topics including how to promote language, literacy, and social skills development for preschoolers and young children.
  • Apply what you learn with hands-on training by completing observation hours and practical application in a licensed childcare center through four required field experience modules. 
  • Penn Foster is an official partner of Bright Horizon Family Solutions and Learning Care Group. 
  • Our online programs are flexible enough for you to finish them at a pace that works for you, based on how much time you can dedicate to your coursework each week.
Self Paced

Save up to $500 Ends 7/30/2024

First Semester


$1,899 Save $500


$69/month, Start for as low as $20

1-800-471-3232 (9AM - 9PM ET)

What You Will Learn

  1. How to plan, evaluate, and design curriculum appropriate for the education of young children.
  2. How to apply best practices, observation, and assessment to enhance learning and development.
  3. How to use the power of play to meet established early childhood curriculum goals.
  4. How to work with children with special needs, including recognizing important developmental milestones.
Full Program Goal & Outcomes

Early Childhood Education Outcomes

Preschool Teacher







Our Early Childhood Education Degree Program can help prepare graduates to take the first steps toward working in both private and public childcare centers as a preschool teacher, teacher's assistant, or special education aide. Our graduates have gone to find rewarding jobs at early education facilities like Wee Care Child Care, Tynee Tots, Kinder College, and Bright Horizons.

State Licensing Requirements

State licensing requirements vary for early childhood education professionals. Penn Foster College recommends that you check with the licensing agency in your state for specific requirements. This program is intended to provide the education required for entry level employment or career advancement in a daycare or childcare setting. Your state will have specific regulations that specify whether or not the courses in the program would meet any continuing education requirements. This program is not intended to meet or satisfy teacher certification requirements established by any state department of education. Educators are advised to contact their employer as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement. This is particularly important for residents of CT.

A background check may be required for employment in child day care centers and schools.

Please review your state board requirements that are applicable to your field of study. State boards may impose a variety of different requirements. This is particularly important for residents of Missouri and South Carolina.

Penn Foster's Early Childhood Education Associate Degree program fulfills the 120 hour educational requirement for those interested in earning their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. For more information about CDA Credential requirements, click here.

Early Childhood Education Degree Online Curriculum

  • 4 semesters
  • 4 field experience options
  • 63 credits

Estimated completion time per semester:

  • Fast track = 4 months
  • Average time = 10 months

With Penn Foster, you can learn at whatever pace works best for you. Some learners will be more comfortable moving faster, and dedicating more time, and the fast track estimate will apply to them. The average track will apply to most learners who can dedicate a few hours per week to completing their coursework. The estimated completion times per semester are based on completion times for learners enrolled in this program from November 2020 - October 2021, excluding withdrawals.

Our Early Childhood Education Degree online will cover the foundational concepts that are used by ECE teachers every day — including how to make lesson plans and promote language, literacy, and preschool social skills development. Your online education classes include: 

  • Health, Safety, and Nutrition for the Young Child
  • Curriculum for Early Childhood Education
  • Working with Children with Special Needs
  • Guidance in Early Childhood Education


Non-US residents: This is a United States-based institution with course materials that are geared toward US job and labor standards. Learners from outside of the US may find that some information and materials will differ from the current standards of their country. Please note, the materials for this program are in English and use the Imperial unit of measurement, not the metric system.


Due to externship requirements and other factors, students outside of the United States are not eligible to enroll in this program at this time.

Show Full Curriculum
early childhood educator playing with student

Early Childhood Education Field Experience

As part of earning your early childhood education degree online, you'll gain hands-on experience and apply what you've learned each semester in a field experience requirement. You will gain practical experience by completing observation hours and practical application in a licensed childcare center near you. Your field experience in semester four will consist of 300 hours, which is a minimum of 45 hours in each age group: infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Penn Foster does not assist students in finding a site to complete their field experience. However, through our partnerships, you may be able to be placed in a Bright Horizons center or Learning Care Group near you for the externship portion of the program.

Students can complete each of the field experience requirements at the same approved facility or find a new site each semester.

Early Childhood Success Stories

Penn Foster’s Early Childhood Education Degree online can help prepare you for the first step in your childcare career. This program has helped recent graduates find new jobs or start their own businesses while learning at their own pace. Learn more about Penn Foster graduates' experiences and how Penn Foster worked for them. 
View Student Success Stories
quote icon

Demetria P.

Penn Foster Graduate, 2021

“It was an awesome program, and the flexibility is something that is needed in today’s fast-moving world.”

Looking for training in early childhood education for your workers?

Penn Foster currently works with hundreds of leading employers to meet their unique organizational needs.
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Early Childhood Education Degree Online Tuition

Take the first steps toward a new career with our Early Childhood Education Degree online. Simply choose from one of our low-cost customized payment plans below and get started today!   

Option 1: Pay semester in full

Save up to $500 Ends 7/30/2024

First Semester1


$1,899 Save $500

  • Best price. Best value.
  • Pay the full cost today
  • No monthly payments
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Option 2: Monthly Auto Pay Plan

First Semester1


  • Pay $69 per month
  • Start for $20 down
  • All major credit and debit cards accepted
Enroll Now

Option 3: Monthly Mail Pay Plan

First semester1


  • Pay $69 per month
  • Start for $39 down
  • Mail your payments
Enroll Now

California residents please click here for Required California Disclosures.

Need more info or ready to enroll?

Looking for more information on transfer credits, military benefits, or our refund policy? Find this information and more about tuition and enrollment here.

Tuition & Payment Options

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Our Proven Early Childhood Education Learning Model

Empowering students to reach their professional goals


  • Start anytime
  • No exam due dates
  • Self-paced


  • Digital study guides
  • Self-check quizzes
  • Webinars and discussion boards


  • 24/7 access to online resources
  • Online student community
  • Dedicated Learner Center


  • Expert faculty
  • Robust learning resources
  • Dedicated student services

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Early Childhood Education Degree Online FAQs

What will I teach as an ECE teacher?

Early childhood education professionals most often teach children younger than five years old. You’ll teach students basic skills such as identifying colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. You’ll organize activities that allow children to learn about the world around them. Most ECE graduates work as preschool teachers, teaching assistants, childcare workers, and special education teachers.

What is the average salary for a teacher in early childhood education?

The average salary for early childhood education teachers can vary based on experience, the state in which you work, and the environment you work in. The national average salary in 2021 for preschool teachers was $30,210 per year.* Salary and hourly wages for teachers can also be determined based on whether or not the school they work for is a private or public institution.

Is early childhood education right for me?

Teachers in early childhood education work closely with young children and their parents to develop language, literacy, and other necessary skills. Effective teachers are patient, compassionate, creative, and have developed written and verbal communication skills. If this sounds like you, becoming an ECE teacher could be a great career path!

Can I teach elementary school with a degree in early childhood education?

Generally, an Early Childhood Associate Degree prepares graduates for work in preschools, daycares, or other facilities with a classroom setting. Though requirements can vary slightly based on your state and whether you’re seeking employment in public or private education, most elementary school teachers are required to attain at least a bachelor’s degree and pass state exams.

Where else can I teach with an Early Childhood Education Degree?

Besides preschools, you can teach in public and private daycares, childcare centers, and schools as a teaching assistant or special education support staff. Additionally, early education teachers also work in social services or as a home-based provider, such as a nanny.

Are early childhood education teachers in demand?

Skilled educators are important to a child’s short and long-term intellectual growth and well-being, so the need for early education teachers is projected to grow about 15% by 2031, adding around 63,100 new jobs.*