For the student who is looking for a specialized education program with the potential to prepare them for rewarding career options, earning a master’s degree in early childhood education may be a wise academic choice. Early childhood education is vital for a child’s intellectual and social development. And, with the population of children ages 3 -5 is increasing, demand for qualified individuals who can teach this group is also projected to rise. Whether you are a current teaching professional who is interested in learning more about child development, or you are in the process of becoming one, early childhood education is a field with favorable job outlook[i].
One of the potential benefits to studying on campus is that it offers the most face-to-face interactions with peers, professors and classmates. Some students learn better in groups, finding it more motivating.
Being on campus may also bring opportunity to network, or participate in other aspects of college life, or even just take advantage of libraries and other facilities. On GradSchools.com, you are able to find accredited schools with Masters in early Childhood Education Programs by location; use the city, state or country tabs to yield results, especially if you have an area in mind. Compare the various curriculums, tuition, admission requirements and other vital information, and request information from each school directly from the site. Some of the choices might include MS in Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood/Elementary Education, MA in Early Childhood and M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education.
Keep in mind that for some jobs, a state issued certification or license may be required, and ensure that the program you choose will meet the criteria for the necessary accreditation[ii]. The appropriate credentials reflect the quality of your degree, and whether potential hiring managers will recognize it. A helpful database for up to date information and standards is the U.S. Department of Education[iii].
Deciding on the right early childhood education masters program may be challenging, given the array of programs. There are choices that may address each student’s goals. Here are a couple of things to consider as you browse through the directory and listings on the GradSchools.com site:
- Determine where your interests lie, whether you are looking for a program that is geared to a specific age group, such as preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school?
- Do you want to work with special needs, disabled, or gifted children?
- Are you drawn towards programs with a strong emphasis on psychology or counseling?
- Do you hold a Bachelor’s degree and aspire to assume a position of leadership or administration in the field?
Selecting a Campus Master’s Degree In Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Education degrees are likely to vary from school to school. The courses you enroll in and concentrations you focus on may serve to define your career path.
Campus Master of Arts in Early Childhood (MA) Some of these programs are designed to provide learners with a broad theoretical and practical background in both education and psychology. They may be geared towards equipping graduates with the tools and skills to work with infants, toddlers, young children in pre-K programs, and elementary. These programs may also provide the basis for the student who intends to pursue a Ph.D., or they might offer certification in Childhood Education with Special Education.
- Curriculum may include topics such as lesson plan development, classroom management, assessment, and technology. There can also be an observation component where the student is sent into the field as part of the course requirements
Campus M.Ed. Early Childhood Education: may prepare currently certified teachers with instructional strategies, education in psychology and current technology in order to teach children Pre-K to Grade 3. Some programs may offer coursework to prepare graduates to work with special needs children. Some programs are designed to extend the professional development of teachers, administrators, counselors and others who might want to specialize in early childhood education.
- Curriculum may include topics such as advanced studies in play and child development, literacy and young children, impact and management of home, school and community environments, methods of teaching, language, theories and foundations of educational leadership.
Campus Master of Science in Early Childhood Education (M.S.): Some of these programs are intended to enhance professional competence of the individual who is a teacher of young children
- Curriculum may involve integrated learning of the child from prenatal to age 8, curriculum, and areas of interest, child development theories, family development, research projects and on-site assessments.
Campus Master of Education-Early Childhood Education (M.Ed.) Specialization in Early Childhood Education Special Education: This type of program can teach educators how to help children with cognitive differences and/or delays or learning disabilities thrive and develop. This can involve children on the autism spectrum, exceptional children, other special needs, and family-centered support skills.
- Curriculum may include how to shape, deliver, and teach a program to students with mild, moderate, or severe learning disabilities.
Potential Career Paths For Masters In Early Childhood Education Graduates
While one may associate a degree in early childhood education with teaching in public or private school systems, there are different potential career paths for the graduate to choose from. Whether one is more interested in an administrative role or in education, some of these paths could include:
- Preschool Teachers: care for and educate children, usually ages 3 – 5, who have not yet entered Kindergarten[i]
- Childcare Workers: care for children when parents and other family members cannot, including basic needs, and homework, as required[iv]
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: prepare younger students for future schooling by teaching them basic subjects[ii]
- Elementary, Middle and High School Principles: responsibilities can include the management of school operations, including daily school activities, curricula, and overseeing staff[v]
- Preschool and Childcare Center Directors: direct and lead staff, oversee activities, prepare budgets, plans and their center’s programs[vi]
- Special Education Teachers: work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional or physical disabilities in adaptive ways[vii]
- Middle School Teachers: Educators, typically of grades 6 through 8, these professionals help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school[viii]
What are some of the latest career developments in Early Childhood Education?
- The job outlook for childcare workers is projected to increase at a rate of 14% from 2012 – 2022[iv]
- Better screening and identification of various disabilities in children are expected to increase the demand for special education services[ix]
- Workers with CDA (Child Development Associate) or CCP (Child Care Professional) credentials should have better prospects than those lacking these credentials[x]
Ready to pursue your Master’s in Early Childhood Education?
Likely if you are considering earning your master’s degree in Early childhood education, the fact that it is an evolving field with positive employment will be an important consideration. Whether you are drawn to working with infants, school children, gifted children, children with special needs, or taking on a more administrative and leadership role, one thing is certain: you do enjoy children, and have a strong desire to help them succeed and learn.
Begin searching through the campus-based early childhood education masters programs on GradSchools.com so you can find the one that satisfies your vocational and academic goals!
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm#tab-6 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm | [iii] ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search.aspx | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/childcare-workers.htm | [v] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/management/preschool-and-childcare-center-directors.htm | [vii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm | [viii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm | [ix] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-6 | [x] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm#tab-6