teacher in classroom smiling at students

Master’s of Early Childhood Education

computer icon for 4 week courses

4-week Courses

Start sooner and finish faster with our innovative course design.

calendar icon for year round enrollment

Year-Round Enrollment

Our admissions team reviews applications year-round.

graduation cap icon for alumni community

230K+ Alumni Worldwide

Become a member of NU’s global community.

Home » Programs » Master’s of Early Childhood Education

Raise Your Hand if You’re Ready to Make a Difference in Student Success

Are you an early childhood educator ready to become a difference maker working with young learners? If you’d like to deepen your knowledge and expand your role in building a foundation for educational settings where young students can thrive, National University’s Master of Early Childhood Education degree is designed to help you become an agent of change.

Our program is designed to prepare you to become a director, leader, advocate, and/or to work in the field of higher education to prepare early childhood teachers. Through deep reflection on current issues, research, and trends in the field, you’ll have an opportunity to explore the complex history and unique role of early educators.

NU’s curriculum is taught by faculty who hold terminal degrees in early childhood education and are dedicated to sharing their expertise, passion, and strong belief in supporting student success. Throughout the program, you’ll engage in opportunities, based upon Universal Design for Learning (UDL) theory, to gain the skills and knowledge to advance and advocate for the field of early childhood education.

WASC logo

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

AAQEP logo

Course Details

Requirements for the Major

  • 10 courses; 45 quarter units

Explore research literature on inspired and effective teaching to inform development of personalized teaching growth plan. Select two inquiry questions to explore during the specializations of choice. Create digital portfolio for program. Required first course in program.

PrerequisiteATP 600, or MAE 610

Examines the critical role of the early childhood teacher leader. Analysis of beliefs and ethics on quality care. Explore history of social policy on the field of early childhood. Develop plan to support professional growth as an ECE Leader. Addresses NAEYC Advanced Standard 6: Growing as a professional.

PrerequisiteATP 600, or MAE 610

Focuses on current issues in early childhood education and implications for the field. Conduct a literature review and develop a research agenda.

PrerequisiteATP 600, or MAE 610

Focus is on current research in early childhood learning and development. Deepen understanding of young children thinking skills. Examine impact on curriculum and the educational community from multiple perspectives.

PrerequisiteATP 600, or MAE 610

Focus on research based effective teaching strategies for young children. Examines opportunities for integrating curriculum across content areas. Close attention paid to balancing standards and Developmentally Appropriate Practice.

Prerequisite: ATP 600, or MAE 610

Examines interpersonal communication skills required for early childhood teachers and leaders. Examines strategies for enhancing parent-professional partnerships, consultation skills and issues relating to interactive teaming and the larger community.

Prerequisite: ATP 600, or MAE 610

Emphasis on variations in child development, identification of disabilities and the implications of cultural and linguistic diversity. Examines inclusive early childhood programs, strategies for adaptions and accommodations to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of all children who are at-risk or have special needs.

PrerequisiteATP 600, or MAE 610

Focus on adult learning theories and principles of personal leadership to meet the specific needs of ECE leaders. Foundational knowledge and best practices for working with diverse learners in various capacities covered. Particular attention paid to the different roles and responsibilities for effectively facilitating adult learners in the field of ECE.

PrerequisiteATP 600, or MAE 610

Examines a variety of strategies to advocate for and advance the Early Childhood Education profession. Includes grant writing skills, awareness of public policy issues, and effective political action strategies.

PrerequisiteStudents must complete all major core and specialization courses prior to enrolling in the capstone course.

Provide evidence of increasing depth of knowledge in instruction, assessment, and digital learning skills for research, curriculum design and professional growth by selecting and defending artifacts produced throughout the program. Grading is H, S, U only. Course is eligible for In Progress (IP) grade.

Degree and Course Requirements

To receive a Master of Early Childhood Education students must complete 45 quarter units of graduate work. ATP 600 and ATP 699 must be taken at National University. A total of 4.5 quarter units of graduate credit may be granted for equivalent graduate work completed, as it applies to this degree and if the units were not used in earning another advanced degree.

NU’s curriculum is designed to prepare you to be a passionate agent of change in the field. You’ll have the opportunity to choose your own area of interest to explore in depth throughout your studies.

Our program also follows the guidelines of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), a community of nearly 60,000 members committed to delivering on the promise of high-quality early learning. NU’s MA in Early Childhood Education also meets the requirements for the CA Child Development Directors Permit, so you’ll be set for success when you graduate.

Additionally, you should know NU’s program can be completed in as few as 10 months, so you can become an agent of change in early childhood education in less than a year.

National University’s MA in Early Childhood Education is designed to empower you to point your career in a number of directions. You can follow a teaching path and make a difference in the classroom, or you can pursue a leadership role to help shape policy at the supervisor level. You might also choose to work in social work or human services, where there are myriad opportunities in state agencies, hospitals, residential care facilities for the disabled, and at mental healthcare providers. Of course, you may also choose to pay it forward by teaching early childhood development at a community college or four-year university.

Just a few of the job titles our MA in Early Childhood Education can prepare you for include:

  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Early Childhood Teacher
  • Director of Early Childhood Education
  • Preschool Director

Based upon job postings reviewed in November 2021, some of the companies hiring early childhood education professionals include:

  • EducationCrossing
  • University of Phoenix
  • AlphaBEST Education
  • Bright Horizons
  • AdventHealth Central Texas
  • Sylvan Learning

* SOURCE: Emsi Labor Analyst- Report. Emsi research company homepage at https://www.economicmodeling.com/company/ (Report viewed: May 2, 2022. DISCLAIMER: The data provided is for Informational purposes only. Emsi data and analysis utilizes government sources to provide insights on industries, demographics, employers, in-demand skills, and more to align academic programs with labor market opportunities. Cited projections may not reflect local or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Current and prospective students should use this data with other available economic data to inform their educational decisions.

Program Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of National University’s MA in Early Childhood Education, you’ll understand how to:

  • Evaluate effective early childhood practice using critical thinking skills, active self-reflection, and professional standards
  • Examine the impact of evidence-based practices and policies on children, family, schools, and community
  • Demonstrate effective leadership skills to promote and advance the field of early childhood education for children, families, educators, and community

Hear From Our Faculty

Watch this video to hear Professor Lori Piowlski discuss how early childhood education is at a crossroads and that agents of change are needed in the field who can come in and take charge.

Professor Lori Piowlski, Chair, Teacher Education Department

“Education shifts, and the shifts happen quickly. We can’t all rely on our own learned experiences to continue to understand what what’s best for students now. We need to be looking forward.”

-Chair, Teacher Education Department, Professor


Enrolling in a university is a big decision. That’s why our dedicated admissions team is here to guide you through the admissions process and help you find the right program for you and your career goals.

To that end, we’ve simplified and streamlined our application process, so you can get enrolled in your program right away. Because we accept and review applications year round, you can begin class as soon as next month, depending on your program and location of choice.

Learn more about undergraduate, graduate, military, and international student admissions, plus admissions information for transfer students. You can also learn more about our tuition rates and financial aid opportunities.

To speak with our admissions team, call (855) 355-6288 or request information and an advisor will contact you shortly. If you’re ready to apply, simply start your application today.

Man in a button-down shirt smiles at a young boy in glasses who also wears a backpack
Our course structure is built to make earning your degree accessible and achievable, one month at a time, so you can start sooner and finish faster.

Why Choose National University

  • Four-Week Courses
  • 190+ Degree Programs
  • Online or On-Site
  • Year-Round Enrollment
  • Military Friendly

We’re proud to be a Veteran-founded, San Diego-based nonprofit. Since 1971, our mission has been to provide accessible, achievable higher education to adult learners. Today, we educate students from across the U.S. and around the globe, with over 230,000 alumni worldwide.

Francisco R., Class of 2016 headshot

“National University has impacted my career. You can immediately apply what you learn in class to your business.”

-Francisco R., Class of 2016

A mother sits on a couch with a laptop and smiles at her toddler-aged son, who is looking forward.
We know your life may not happen on a 9-5 schedule, so we offer courses online or on-site at locations across California.
white scholarship oppotunities icon

The Key Grant Scholarship

Do you qualify for a needs-based scholarship? Learn more about the NU Key Grant Scholarship and other scholarship opportunities to unlock the door to your dreams!

Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.