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early childhood education

associate's degree

next program start date

january 04, 2021

finish in as few as

18 months

learning includes

  • online
  • campus support and resources
  • field experience
  • flex choice®

our online early childhood education (ece) associate’s degree program allows you to gain the knowledge and skills that are needed to make a positive difference in the lives of young children as an early childhood educator in as few as 18 months—or 15 months if you’re transferring in cda credential credits. through career-focused curriculum and practical, relevant opportunities in your early childhood education classes online, you can impact children’s lives by promoting the healthy development of physical, social, emotional, intellectual and language skills. our ece programs do not prepare students for licensed teaching positions in any public school setting, but students will have the opportunity to help shape the futures of young children from birth to age eight in a child care and non-public school setting or leadership role. our ece associate's degree prepares you to meet the academic requirements for the cda credential application after the second quarter. once you are done with your courses, you must still have your experience hours and portfolio complete, pass the verification visit and then the exam. already earned your cda credential? request a cda course waiver for up to 12 credits.

you can choose one of two specializations—special needs and child development—to enhance your skills in a particular area of interest. both program paths place an emphasis on working with english language learners and include courses on dual language development. the child development specialization has an emphasis on infant and toddler development, while the special needs specialization has an emphasis on inclusive practices. to further your training and gain relevant, real-world experience, you may also have the opportunity to choose between two tracks: field experience or exploration (based on the state in which you live). our field experience track provides hands-on classroom training and is only available for students in fl, ks, mn, nd and wi—students in all other states must take the fully online exploration track which provides practical application through video, case studies and authentic assessments.

request more information about this associate's degree

after this credential

what will i be prepared to do when i’m done?

advance your education

rasmussen college’s ladder curriculum allows you to easily transfer your early childhood education associate's degree credits toward an ece bachelor's degree—an average of 93 credits, which is equal to $24,180 in tuition savings.3

be a positive influence

our early childhood education courses give you the knowledge and skills you need to create a positive and thriving learning environment for your children and their families.

pursue potential job growth

according to the bureau of labor statistics (bls), the projected job growth potential between 2018 and 2028 for preschool teachers, except special education, is 7%. an early childhood education degree online from rasmussen college can help set you up for success in this growing field.

take the next step—talk to us!

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request more information about our early childhood education program

fill out the form to receive information about:
  • program details and applying for classes 
  • financial aid and fafsa (for those who qualify)
  • customized support services
  • detailed program plan

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what skills will i gain?

promote inclusive environments

special needs specialization

develop strategies for promoting and supporting an inclusive environment and explore how to support young children with special needs and english language learners in the early childhood setting.

effective education techniques

special needs specialization

use your knowledge and skills from our coursework to create customized curriculum and education techniques to effectively help students with special needs develop their mental, emotional and physical capabilities.

infant and toddler development

child development specialization

understand the importance of creating environments for infant/toddler group care which fosters optimum social/emotional, physical and cognitive development.

language learning and support

child development specialization

use your knowledge and skills to help infant, toddler, preschool and school-aged english language learners acquire language and literacy, as well as working with families to support children's home languages.

transferable skills

both specializations

you’ll also develop the soft skills you will transfer into your role. core courses develop your skills in critical thinking, communication, digital fluency, information literacy, diversity and teamwork, and ethics and professional responsibility. specifically, you'll further your diversity and teamwork skills as you explore diverse family dynamics and how building relationships and collaborating with families successfully supports each child's growth and development. grow your digital fluency by utilizing appropriate technological tools to share information with families and colleagues about ece best practices. learn more about transferable skills.

female childhood education teacher and young children
make a lasting impression on a child’s life by gaining the necessary skills to create a safe learning environment.

sample courses

what types of classes will i take?

    early childhood education curriculum and instruction

    • eec 1202
    • online
    • 4 credits

    includes student reflection upon cumulative learning from the early childhood education program. students will critically analyze, reflect and problem solve experiences in the field of early childhood. students will identify specialization-specific knowledge to inform best practices.

    advocating for children with special needs

    • special needs specialization
    • eec 2403
    • online
    • 4 credits

    explore current trends, resources and advocacy on behalf of young children with special needs. examines the role of early childhood educators in supporting and advocating for young children with special needs and their families.

    the exceptional child

    • child development specialization
    • eex 2010
    • online
    • 4 credits

    explores the benefits of inclusion in the early childhood setting. develops an understanding of exceptional development. identifies the parties relevant to exceptional development and their roles as resources in support of the child and their families.

24 courses to complete

90 credit hours

estimate your tuition

estimate your tuition

rasmussen college is committed to making education more affordable for all students. our tuition estimating tool can help you visualize the cost of your degree and see what savings opportunities are available to help you achieve it.

estimate your tuition

estimate your tuition

additional ways to save

while we aim to reduce your tuition through our own scholarships, military tuition grants, credit transfer policies, and other ways to help you save on your education—we encourage you to seek outside scholarships as well.

you can also receive course waivers if you have earned specific professional credentials:

florida child care professionals credential (fccpc)
florida early childhood professional credential (ecpc)
florida child care apprenticeship credential (ccac) 

wisconsin infant and toddler credential
wisconsin preschool credential
wisconsin administration credential
wisconsin leadership credential

aim4excellence director credential
cda credential awarded by the council for professional recognition

for more information, please view the school of education waivers from the course waiver section in the course catalog.

mn t.e.a.c.h. early childhood scholarship program

t.e.a.c.h. early childhood® minnesota is a scholarship program that helps early childhood and school-age care providers increase their levels of education, compensation and commitment to the field by earning college credits and degrees.

wi t.e.a.c.h. early childhood scholarship program

t.e.a.c.h. early childhood® wisconsin provides higher education scholarships to professionals who work in regulated early childhood and school-age care settings.

fl t.e.a.c.h. early childhood scholarship program

t.e.a.c.h. early childhood® florida  provides scholarships for early childhood teachers and facility/family home directors to work toward earning an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree in early childhood education, a florida staff credential, a director credential, a national cda assessment or credential renewals.

il gateways scholarship program

the gateways scholarship program will pay a portion of tuition for eligible professionals working in early care and education or school-age programs who want to earn college credit, credentials or degrees.

as an entitled institution, rasmussen has aligned coursework to the il gateways credentials. more information on the il gateways credentials can be found here.

Credential Entitled College


what should i know before i enroll?

entrance requirements

there's no application fee and you can get started sooner with 8 start dates throughout the year.

entrance requirements at the rasmussen college school of education vary depending on the program. we do not require enrolling students to submit standardized test scores; however, every entrant must have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent.

talk to an admissions advisor

transfer student

we believe in giving credit where it’s due. prospective students who hold a current cda credential may be eligible to waive or transfer up to 12 credits into this early childhood education program. talk to an admissions advisor today or explore our transfer policy page to review our seamless credit policies designed to maximize credits, potentially save money and expedite graduation.

visit our transfer policy page

help paying for college

higher education should be a manageable investment. talk to an admissions advisor and learn how these programs can make it more affordable with flex choice® learning options, loans and grants, scholarship opportunities and corporate and military discounts.

learn more about flex choice

class locations

where can i find an online early childhood education program near me?

at rasmussen college, we want our courses to be available on your schedule, not the other way around. select programs are available for enrollment through a specific campus and nationally online, but students complete the courses online and are able to utilize online and on-campus support and resources. see below to find out where you can find an online early childhood education program near you.

  • online
  • florida
  • illinois*
  • kansas
  • minnesota
  • north dakota
  • wisconsin
  1. completion time is dependent on transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.
  2. bureau of labor statistics, u.s. department of labor, occupational outlook handbook, [career information accessed may 1, 2020] employment conditions in your area may vary.
  3. the average number of transfer credits will vary by student. tuition savings information displayed here is based on the credit transfer data of incoming students who enrolled in the rasmussen college early childhood education bachelor's program in 2019.
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