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Early Childhood Education at WGU

Girl points out alphabet

Are You Looking to Get a Degree in Early Childhood Education?

While WGU doesn’t currently offer a degree in early childhood education, there are other degree options available to you that can help support your career path. You can pursue another similar educational degree at WGU that will give you the credentials, skills, and background you need to pursue your dream job in early childhood education. There are several similar degrees that will prepare you for a role in early childhood education by giving you a strong foundation to build from, in addition to setting you up for career advancement in the future. Learn more about the degrees you can pursue at WGU if you’re looking for a career or degree in early childhood education.

Pathways to Early Childhood Education Careers

Currently, LinkedIn features listings for over 16,000 early childhood education positions across the United States, which require a strong educational background from applicants. But keep in mind that many early childhood education careers may require a different kind of degree and a specific license, depending on which state you’re in. State licensure is a key component in determining what degree you need for your career path, so it’s important to check with your state’s education board to determine the kind of license you’ll need and the education requirements associated with that license. Once you have that information, you can pursue a career path in early childhood education with a different degree.


Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education

This degree program sets you up for licensure with eight core courses designed to prepare you for unique educational experiences and help you become a better teacher. These bachelor's degree courses focus on important topics such as social and emotional learning, technology, and diversity inclusion in the classroom. Additionally, you’ll get to use augmented reality experiences that will allow you to practice your work before you enter the classroom. You’ll also get preclinical experience to ensure you’re ready to lead your very own class.

In most states, an elementary education degree qualifies you to teach kindergarten through sixth grade, and many states accept preschool teachers with an elementary education degree. If you’re interested in working in private preschool or daycare settings, this degree could be a great fit if it works with your state licensing board.

Some of the curriculum in this degree program include:

  • Educational foundations
  • Psychology and development
  • Community of care
  • Diverse learners
  • Physical science
  • Inclusive classrooms

Bachelor of Arts, Special Education

This degree not only prepares you to become a licensed teacher; it also gives you the skills you need to work with students who have a wide range of mild to moderate disabilities and learning needs. You’ll learn unique learning techniques and strategies to help them thrive and how to advocate for your students. In addition to coursework and assessments, you’ll get preclinical experience with observation hours and in-classroom experience with a demonstration teaching component hosted by an experienced teacher and directed by a clinical supervisor.

This degree program also prepares you to meet teacher certification requirements in select states and special education licensure in states that don’t require dual elementary-ed and special-ed licensure. People who enjoy working with young children may also enjoy special education teaching.

Some of the curriculum in this degree program include:

  • Special education teaching
  • Special education assessment
  • Instructional teaching strategies
  • Professional, ethical, and legal practices
  • Collaborating with partners
  • Pedagogy
  • Effective teaching practices

B.A. Elementary & Special Education

If your goal is to make an impact on students, classrooms and your community, this is the degree for you. WGU’s special education degree prepares you to teach students with a range of mild to moderate disabilities and learning needs, giving you skills to connect to diverse learners and helping them thrive. The program features eight professional core courses, along with demonstration teaching opportunities that give you classroom experience. Upon completion, you’ll be prepared to obtain teaching certification in both special education (K–12) and elementary education in states that offer dual teaching licensure.

This degree program is designed to give you a variety of options upon graduation. For example, you’ll be able to work in a variety of school settings, including inclusionary K–12 classrooms, self-contained classrooms, or resource rooms. You may also serve as a teacher of record (K–8) and teach all basic subjects in an elementary school classroom. This degree offers multiple options for working with students and children in need.

Some of the courses in this degree program include:

  • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Practices for Special Education
  • Behavioral Support Strategies for K-12 Learners with Mild to Moderate Exceptionalities
  • Assessment in Special Education
  • Collaborating with Partners for Student Success
  • Considerations for Instructional Planning for Learners with Mild to Moderate Exceptionalities
  • Elementary Disciplinary Literacy

Master of Arts Teaching, Elementary Education

If you already have your bachelor’s degree in a non-teaching field and you’re ready to take your career in a different direction, this master's degree does exactly that. WGU’s master’s in elementary education is designed to help you change careers, get an additional license, pursue your passion for education, and make a difference for diverse students and communities. You’ll learn how to run your own classroom and connect with different types of learners in a way that helps them increase their understanding and growth. Plus, it prepares you for certification in every state, so you can become licensed no matter where you live.

Some of the courses in this degree program include:

  • Foundations of teaching
  • Instructional planning and presentation
  • Elementary education methods
  • Effective teaching practices
  • Research

Master of Arts Teaching, Special Education

Special education students need special teachers who are well-trained and invested in their success—and that’s what this master's degree helps you become. Through coursework, assessments, and clinical experiences, this degree sets you up for success by preparing you for special education certification. And if you have your bachelor’s degree but no teaching license? This program will work for you, too, preparing you to become a licensed teacher in special education master's degree and giving you all the tools you need to lead your own classroom.

This degree program is cross-categorical and guides you in teaching K–12 students with mild to moderate disabilities and learning needs. You’ll gain expertise in instructional design, IEP development, and behavioral management, giving you the opportunity to work in a variety of school settings.

Some of the courses in this degree program include:

  • Educational psychology and human development
  • Schools as communities of care
  • Essential practices for supporting diverse learners
  • Creating and managing engaging learning environments
  • Management strategies for academic and social behavior
  • Assessment and evaluation procedures for special education
Preschool students with blocks

$31,930

is the average annual salary for early childhood education teachers.

Teacher helping young student with math

$65,470

is the average annual salary for elementary school teachers.

Careers in Early Childhood Education

There are many different educational pathways that you can take to pursue a career in early childhood education. Because this career depends on strong foundational tools of educating, the ability to relate to children and support their method of learning, and the mental and emotional skills to be a leader of a busy classroom, there are many degree options that can school you in these methods. Pursuing alternate degree paths, such as a bachelor in elementary or special education, can give you the background you need for a variety of jobs in child education. It’s important to understand the licensure requirements in your state, so you ensure that you are pursuing a degree program that will lead to appropriate licensure in your state.

What Does a Public Preschool Teacher Do?

A public preschool teacher leads classes of children aged six and under, teaching them skills such as language, problem solving, and even social interaction. They’re in charge of creating lesson plans and teaching strategies to support student learning, and communicate with their parents to ensure they’re getting the most out of their education.

What Does a Daycare Worker Do?

Daycare workers are often in charge of infants and toddlers who are too young to enter preschool but require care during the day while their parents are at work. While they encourage play time and social participation, along with basic skills, daycare workers can also help prepare young children for preschool and the next step on their educational path.

What Does a Kindergarten Teacher Do?

A kindergarten teacher builds on the skills that students learned in preschool and prepares them for first grade. This includes the addition of reading and math to their lesson plan, while strengthening language and social skills. They also create lesson plans and work with parents to collaborate on their child’s educational needs.

What Does a Nanny Do?

The duties of a nanny may vary depending on the family, as some require live-in help, while others keep a traditional 9 to 5 schedule. Nannies are often in charge of preparing meals, doing housework and general childcare, which can include helping with homework. A nanny may also take children on educational adventures and provide them with other experiences that can support their development.

What Does a Special Education Teacher Do?

Special education teachers work with students who have learning, emotional, mental, or physical disabilities. Special education teachers are required to tailor lesson plans to meet the needs of each individual student, teaching them basic skills and evaluating their development.

What Does a Private Preschool/Daycare Owner Do?

Owners of preschools or private daycares are tasked with hiring, training, and scheduling childcare professionals, in addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the facility. This can mean communicating with parents, handling accounting, managing overall needs of childcare professionals and the children they’re caring for, and more.

Kids eating at table

2%

career growth is expected by 2029 for early childhood education teachers, while 4% career growth is expected in elementary school teaching careers.

Why choose WGU?

If you want to make an impact in education and on student’s lives, WGU is a great way to set yourself up for success. Why? Because:

  • We offer low, flat-rate tuition, so you're charged the same amount per six-month term, regardless of the number of courses you take.
  • We offer competency-based education, so you can use your knowledge to your advantage and accelerate your program to graduate faster—which also saves you money.
  • We offer scholarships and financial aid to help with our already affordable tuition, making college education accessible for even more students.
  • The coursework in our education programs is career-focused, so the skills you learn are meaningful and will translate directly to your work post graduation.

They're Prepared

95% said that their WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs

95% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.

They're Top Candidates

96% said they would hire another WGU graduate

96% of employers said they would hire another WGU graduate.

They Wow

98% of employers said WGU graduates meet or exceed expectations

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.

Source: 2020 Harris Poll survey of 300 employers

Which Degree Should You Choose?

Elementary Education – B.A.

An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary...

An online teacher certification program for...

An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 60% of grads earned this degree within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this program often include:

  • Aspiring elementary school teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This elementary education degree program includes courses in the foundations of teacher education, instructional planning and presentation, assessment, and classroom management. Core teacher education courses focus on diversity, disciplinary literacy, elementary education methods, and pedagogy. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This online teaching degree program helps you to be eligible for teaching certification in any of the 50 states.

Special Education (Mild to Moderate) – B.A.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching degree and teacher...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring K–12 special education teacher. Leads to your teaching license in states that offer a single teaching license in K–12 special education.

This special education bachelor's degree program will help you prepare for an exciting future helping exceptional students. If your state requires—or if you're interested in—dual licensure in both elementary education and K–12 special education, consider the B.A. Special Education (K–12) program.

  • Time: 62% of grads finish similar online teaching degree programs within 3½ years.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this special education degree program often include:

  • Aspiring special ed teachers who currently lack a teaching license.
  • Substitute teachers.
  • Career-changers.
  • School paraprofessionals.
  • Others who feel the call to teach.

This online degree program includes coursework and assessments tailor-made for future teachers who are committed to working with students who have mild to moderate learning exceptionalities. It offers deep engagement in serving special education students and leads to your K–12 special education license in states that do not require dual elementary-ed and special-ed licensure. It also includes a preclinical experience with face-to-face observation hours and a Demonstration Teaching component hosted by an experienced teacher and directed by a clinical supervisor.

Compare B.A. Special Education (K–12)

Special Education and Elementary Education (Dual Licensure) – B.A.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching degree and teacher...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring K–12 special education teachers. Leads to dual licensure—elementary education teaching license and special education teaching license.

(Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.) If your state offers a single K–12 special education teaching license and you are interested in focusing on teaching students with mild to moderate exceptionalities, consider the B.A. Special Education (Mild to Moderate) online teaching degree. 

  • Time: 62% of grads earned this degree within 3½ years.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this online teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring special ed teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This special education teaching online degree program prepares you to teach students with mild-to-moderate disabilities, with courses in the foundations of teaching, instructional planning and presentation, assessment, and classroom management. Core elementary and special education courses focus on diversity, disciplinary literacy, elementary education methods, and special education topics such as law, assessment, and behavioral management. This program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. Compare B.A. Special Education (Mild to Moderate)

 

Teaching, Elementary Education – M.A.

An online master's of arts in education degree and teacher...

An online master's of arts in education degree...

An online master's of arts in education degree and teacher certification program for aspiring elementary school teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field.

Leads to a teaching license. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 67% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this master's of arts in education degree program often include:

  • Aspiring elementary teachers who currently hold a bachelor's degree but lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This online teacher's degree includes courses in the foundations of teaching, mathematics content, instructional planning and presentation, elementary education methods, and effective teaching practices. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

Teaching, Special Education (K–12) – M.A.

An online master's degree for current or aspiring teachers...

An online master's degree for current or aspiring...

An online master's degree for current or aspiring teachers looking to further their careers with a focus on K–12 special education.

  • Time: 67% of grads finish similar programs in 18 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Coursework in this program covers the following areas of study:

  • Educational psychology and human development
  • Schools as communities of care
  • Essential practices for supporting diverse learners
  • Creating and managing engaging learning environments
  • Special education practices
  • Management strategies for academic and social behavior
  • Assessment and evaluation procedures for special education
  • Disciplinary literacy
  • Special education methods
  • Using educational technology for teaching and learning

Find a rewarding career teaching students with diverse challenges and special learning abilities with this teaching master's degree.

Frequently Asked Questions About an Early Childhood Education Career

There are a variety of jobs you can get with an early childhood education degree, such as nanny, childcare worker, or even a preschool or kindergarten teacher. But you don’t need this degree to attain those roles—there are other degree options that can put you on the same career path.

Early childhood education is a great career, especially if you love children, want to help support their educational path, and make a difference in the community. There are numerous roles in early childhood education that can help you achieve these goals.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ECD teachers earn an average annual salary of $31,930. Meanwhile, elementary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $65,470.

An early childhood education degree is a good option if you want to work with preschool or kindergarten-aged children and become an active part of their development. However, there are other degrees you can pursue that will support those career paths, and set you up for career advancement in the future. Research the licensure requirements in your state to see what kind of degree program will be the best fit for your desired career.