Earning an Online Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education

Earning an Online Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education

Everything you need to know about getting an online master's degree in early childhood education.

Overview of Early Childhood Education Online Master's Degree Program

Do you want to take on a leadership role in early childhood education? Earning an online master's degree in early childhood education helps you to do just that. Early childhood education teachers, administrators, instructional coordinators and program directors all work together shape the minds of children between the ages of three and eight. These are crucial years in child development, so you must be passionate about working with young children.

People pursue their early childhood education master's degree for a variety of reasons. Some people have been working as teacher assistants and know that their masters degree can help them earn a higher salary and gain more job responsibilities. Other people are looking to advance to an administrative position. Current teachers who want to update their theory and practice in early childhood education can also seek this online graduate degree.

Now is a great time to pursue this degree because there is expected to be a number of job openings as people currently employed in early childhood education administrative positions retire. Other openings will arise as more children become enrolled in private daycare centers and kindergartens, as opposed to those based out of a home, there has grown a need for more professionally trained early childhood educators.

Applying to an Online Master's Degree Program in Early Childhood Education

All online master's degree programs in early childhood education require students to have a bachelors degree. Your bachelor's degree does not need to be in education or teaching. However if you are applying to a program with that requires you to have teaching credentials, you must have some experience in the education field.

There is not a common application for online graduate school but there are general materials that most online master's degree programs in early childhood education will require. Along with your application, you will have to submit your undergraduate transcripts, personal statement, three to five letters of recommendation, and the required standardized test scores of either a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

How to Choose an Online Master's Degree Program in Early Childhood Education

There is no clear path to becoming an early childhood education administrator because education requirements vary by school and state. However, many states require early childhood education administrators to be licensed or earn a credential, such as the Child Development Associate credential (CDA) or the National Administration Credential. Many online master's degree programs teach students the information needed to earn their licensure or credentials. There are also some that do not, so if you need to get your license or credentials, make sure you choose a program that prepares you for this path.

Most online graduate school candidates in early childhood education have years of teaching experience and have their teaching certification. If you don’t have the experience, but are passionate about becoming an early childhood educator or administrator, you can still earn your online master's degree. Simply seek out a program that allows you to earn your certification while pursuing your degree.

Theory and practice are two important components to online master's degree programs in early childhood education. Most programs will focus on both aspects, but some may be more centered on theory, while others are more heavily weighted with practice. What type of program you choose depends on what career you plan on pursuing once you have earned your master's degree. For example, if you want to become an early childhood program director, you will need lots of theory to be able to create program policies. Administrators and teachers should seek programs that offer a greater amount of practice, as they are the ones who implement the policies created by program directors.

The type of online master's degree program you choose also depends on if you want to take your courses 100% online, or if you have the time to devote to a residency requirement. Some programs will require students to complete from one course up to a few semesters on campus. Other programs can be completed entirely online and are perfect for teachers who can not afford to take time off from their current teaching positions, or those whose school requires them to earn a graduate degree before a certain number of years after becoming employed.

What to Expect in an Early Childhood Education Master's Degree Program

One of the great things about earning your master's degree in early childhood education online is that it generally takes the same amount of time to complete as it would on campus. Students can usually complete their degree within two years depending on if they are attending graduate school full-time or part-time.

Early childhood education master's degree programs provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge on child development. They are then taught how to use this information to develop a curriculum and implement learning strategies. Communication skills are a critical component to this master's degree program because early childhood educators must form teacher-student and teacher-parent relationships.

The typical curriculum for an online early childhood education master's degree program includes general pedagogy and theories on childhood development. Some courses you might take include research methodology for observing children, development and learning in young children, current issues in early childhood, assessment of early childhood education, family and school partnerships, behavior and classroom management, etc.

Internships are an important aspect to most early childhood education master's degree programs, regardless of it they are taken online or not. An internship or observation hours are usually required because it gives the student the opportunity for hands-on practice in the field. This part of the program is especially helpful for those who do not have any prior teaching experience.

Many online programs offer a thesis or a non-thesis option to students. Typically students who choose a thesis option have an interest in performing research in early childhood education. If you choose to complete a thesis, you are not required to have your topic in mind at the start of the program. Instead, you should come up with a topic as you work your way through the program and start to decide which aspects of early childhood education interest you the most.

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