News Brief - 3/19/09 Online University Now Offers Bachelor’s Degree Leading to Teacher Certification Western Governors University, www.wgu.edu, the only all-online teachers college to earn NCATE accreditation, is now enrolling students for its new B.A. in Early Childhood Education degree program. The program, which focuses on development and education of children from birth through third grade, provides a degree and certification path for individuals who are currently working with young children as well as those who wish to become teachers in daycare centers, preschools, and primary elementary school grades. Early Childhood Education is a growing career field—The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2016 the demand for preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers will increase by 26 percent and16 percent, respectively. This represents a net increase of 115,000 jobs. In addition, an increasing number of pre-kindergarten programs and institutions, including Head Start, are now requiring staff members to hold degrees and/or teaching certificates. Despite the growing need for degreed professionals in this field, online programs are rare, and WGU offers the only all-online bachelor’s degree program designed to prepare students for initial licensure as classroom teachers. For many individuals who are currently working in daycare centers and preschools, work schedules, family obligations, and finances make it difficult, if not impossible, to attend a conventional college or university to earn a degree. WGU provides these individuals—as well as those who want to start a career or change careers—an affordable, accessible, and practical way to meet their educational goals. WGU’s Teachers College is one of the nation’s largest teacher preparation schools, with students in all 50 states. Its unique competency-based model is ideal for working adults who have professional experience and prior education, allowing them to complete their degrees more quickly without compromising quality. Nonprofit WGU is affordable—tuition is roughly equivalent to that of a state college or university.