Early Childhood Studies

A Flexible Online Degree Program for Childcare Professionals

With changing federal government regulations requiring day care centers and Head Start programs to have teachers and directors with at least a bachelor’s degree, an Early Childhood Studies major is a necessity.

Whether you work in a daycare center or you’re planning to start your own childcare facility, a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Early Childhood Studies from Union Institute & University will give you the skills and understanding to work with young children (birth through age eight), their families, and their communities.

UI&U’s Early Childhood Studies program is designed so you can directly apply your on-the-job experience to your experience in the classroom.

Since classes are online, you don’t have to put your job on hold to finish your degree.


Careers for B.S. Graduates with an Early Childhood Studies Major

  • Preschool teacher
  • Kindergarten teacher
  • Childcare worker
  • Special education teacher
  • Teacher assistant or para-educator

Program Benefits

  • Curriculum is taught by field practitioners with advanced degrees.
  • You’ll be paired with an advisor who will guide you through the program.
  • Get individualized attention from distance learning staff who understand your academic and scheduling needs.
  • Earn college credits through CLEP, DSST, prior learning assessment, certified learning, and credits recommended by ACE through military training.
  • Apply up to 90 transferable college credits toward your degree.
  • Have the option to complete an accelerated degree.


  • Apply knowledge of young children’s development and needs from birth to age eight to create healthy, respectful, supportive, engaging, and challenging learning environments.
  • Identify ethical practices in engaging diverse families and communities through respectful, reciprocal relationships.
  • Select and apply developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate formal and informal modes of individual assessment.
  • Use assessment data to plan for individual children, groups and programs.
  • Identify a broad repertoire of developmentally appropriate instructional strategies and tools to promote positive outcomes for every child.
  • Design developmentally appropriate curriculum across content areas including academic subjects and environment settings.
  • Engage in and advocate for the early childhood professional community for the purpose of continuous learning and improvement.

Accelerated Degree Options

  • Attend on-ground or distance education classes that meet your schedule.
  • Classes meet weekly in 8-week sessions.
  • Transfer credits from other regionally accredited colleges and universities.
  • Request credit for knowledge gained outside the classroom through work or professional experience.
  • Successfully complete CLEP or DSST tests.
  • Apply college credits for training through certified learning.
  • Those who need only 30/32 upper-division credits in their degree plan finish in less than one year.


  • Early Childhood Administrator
  • Teacher as Practitioner*

*It’s important to note that the teacher concentration does not grant certification or licensure, but provides a sound pedagogical foundation for students who wish to apply for teacher certification in their respective states.

Early Childhood Administrator Concentration

Prerequisite: All ECS core course requirements must be met prior to starting the Early Childhood Administrator concentration. This concentration may assist graduates of the program with the requisite courses needed to apply for the director’s credential and/or to work as a director in an early learning program.

  • ECS 408 Administration & Supervision of Child Development Programs
  • ECS 415 Administrative Leadership in Early Childhood Programs
  • ECS 430 Multicultural Education and Administration

Teacher as Practitioner Concentration

All courses are variable 3 or 4 credits.

This degree program does not result in teacher certification or licensure. However, it will potentially provide you with many of the requisite courses needed to apply for teacher certification if you choose that path. Note: Teacher certification may be known as licensure or credentialing in other states.

  • EDU 317 Psychological & Sociological Foundations of Education
  • EDU 331 Foundations & Practices in Teaching Reading
  • EDU 334 Educational Assessment
  • EDU 336 Integrating Educational Technology across the Curriculum
  • EDU 497 Contemporary Issues in Education

Optional courses as electives (variable 3 or 4 cr.)

  • EDU 308 Recognition & Diagnosis of Reading Problems
  • ECS 419 Reading in Early Childhood Classroom: Instruction and Materials
  • EDU/ECS 450 Practicum in an Early Childhood Setting (variable 1 to 4 cr.)

Core Curriculum

General Education Courses

View a complete list of curriculum requirements.

With optional concentrations in Early Childhood Administrator or Teacher as Practitioner


The ECS major requires a foundation course in child growth and development. You may transfer a completed Foundations of Early Childhood or equivalent course. You may also have attained an associate’s degree in Early Childhood or have achieved the national Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or equivalent.

For students who need the foundation course, Union Institute & University offers ECS 230 Foundations of Child Growth & Development (variable 3 or 4 cr.).

Major Core Courses

The Early Childhood Studies program requires a minimum of 48 credits in the major.

4 credits unless otherwise noted.

  • ECS 310 Professional Ethics for Early Childhood Studies
  • ECS 320 Exceptional Children
  • ESC 406 Curriculum Development for Early Childhood Programs
  • ECS 409 Guiding & Counseling the Child
  • ECS 413 Observation, Assessment, and Evaluation of the Child

View Core Course descriptions.


All elective courses are 4 credits.

  • ECS 280 Infant & Toddler Programming
  • ECS 308 Understanding Health and Safety Issues in Young Children
  • ECS 315 Multicultural Issues in Early Childhood Education
  • ECS 326 Early Language & Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood
  • ECS 330 Effective Mechanisms for Working with Families, Communities & Organizations
  • ECS 410 Working with Interdisciplinary Teams in the Early Childhood Setting
  • ECS 414 Math, Science and Technology Integration in Pre-School Education

View Electives descriptions.

Culminating Graduation Requirements

  • ECS 498 Capstone Portfolio in Early Childhood Education (4 cr.)

This capstone course aligns university and early childhood studies major outcomes and competencies with national standards. It is based on the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Standards (birth through age eight), designed to prepare teachers and other professionals to work in early childhood education and care. In addition, students are introduced to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) core propositions that form the foundation for the teaching profession in promoting knowledge, skills, dispositions and beliefs that represent excellence in teacher preparation and practices. Further focus will be on the NBPTS Early Childhood Generalist Standards (ages three through eight). A professional portfolio representing a theoretical understanding and a demonstration of practical application through evidence-based documentation will be created.

Program Note: Additional elective learning may be accepted when appropriate to the major. Acceptable elective learning may include prior learning that meets program criteria for acceptance; general education courses (beyond those required by the program); courses offered through other majors following published syllabi. All additional electives must be endorsed by the program chair and documented in the approved degree plan prior to graduation.