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Master of Arts in Education
Option in Early Childhood Education

Dr. Heather Horsley, Program Coordinator
Phone: 559.278.0119

The ONLY nationally accredited Early Childhood Education MA program in the state of California, recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)


The Master of Arts degree in Education with an option in Early Childhood Education offers specialized preparation for a wide variety of positions in educational settings with children from birth through the primary grades. The program is flexible and designed to meet the needs of candidates with different professional and educational backgrounds and varied career objectives.

What can I do with a Master's in ECE?

Our program is designed for Teacher Leaders and Program Leaders:

Teacher Leader: Primarily for those in infant/toddler, preschool, and TK-3 classroom settings

  • TK-Primary site/district teacher leader
  • Preschool site teacher leader
  • Infant/Toddler site teacher leader
  • ECE curriculum specialist
  • School readiness coordinator

Program Leader: For ECE professionals in various settings

  • ECE program administrator
  • Home visit coordinator
  • Parent program coordinator
  • Nonprofit or community-based organization leader
  • Community college instructor 

What are the admission requirements?

  • BA/BS degree
  • 2.75+ GPA
  • Fulfillment of Undergraduate Writing Competency (or equivalent)
  • 12 units early childhood education/child development units + 3 units supervised fieldwork (or equivalent) OR valid teaching credential
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose (personal statement)
  • Strongly recommended: Individual information session with coordinator (contact coordinator via email to set up an in-person or phone/virtual appointment)


What courses are required in the program?

All of our courses are offered in the evening to allow professionals to commute to campus. The program requirements include 30 units of required coursework:

LEE 171: Trends & Issues in Early Childhood Education

A comprehensive study of the field of early childhood education, including principles of early childhood education, parent relations, use of community resources, and organization of programs in early childhood education. 

LEE 232: Literacy in  Early Childhood Education

Examines development of oral and written language skills in young children. Explores theories, curricula and strategies for teaching language arts and beginning reading.

LEE 233: Curriculum & Assessment in  Early Childhood Education

Explores design of appropriate curriculum and assessment for young children. Course topics include standards, planning, project approach, integration of play, and materials; use of observation, rubrics, and portfolios to document development and learning; and organizing environments in early childhood settings, including infants through Grade 3.

LEE 235: Concept Development in Early Childhood Education

Explores how children develop conceptual understandings and is appropriate for professionals interested in gaining deeper insights to help them better interact with young children. The course will help professionals develop the ability to evaluate curricula and/or programs based on an understanding of cognitive development in young children. The course focuses on the work of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky.

LEE 250: Leadership in Early Childhood Education

Leadership in creating, improving and expanding ECE programs, resources and services in schools and community settings. Course topics include leadership roles, planning for positive educational change, partnerships, and networking to advocate for ECE and family-friendly policies at the local, state, national and international levels.

LEE 271: Diversity & Inclusion in Early Childhood Education

Examines understanding and responding to cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity and ways they affect personality, language, cognitive development, and socialization. Topics include creating inclusive learning environments and curriculum in early childhood education.

CI 285: Seminar in Advanced Educational Psychology

Designed to foster in-depth exploration of concepts in development, cognition, and learning situated within educational contexts. Children’s development and learning are examined within the context of school expectations, with an emphasis on the diversity among learners. This course is relevant to any graduate student with an interest in development and learning, particularly as they relate to schooling and other educational contexts.

LEE 241: Fieldwork in Early Childhood Education

Supervised ECE field experience including infant/toddlers, preschool, preprimary and/or primary grade children and their families in a variety of settings including schools, centers, home-based programs, agencies, organizations, etc.

ERE 220: Research in Education

Explores how to use different research methodologies to collect and interpret data and improve practice. **ERE 153: Educational Statistics is a pre-requisite for this course.

Project OR Comprehensive Examination + 3-unit Elective

Students can choose to do a project or take a comprehensive examination + 3-unit elective. This decision is usually made in collaboration with the program advisor. 

Research by past ECE Master's students!

ECE MA candidates can choose to do a project or take a comprehensive examination + 3-unit elective as their culminating activity for graduation.

Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential

The Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential Program offers advanced preparation to those who already hold a valid California elementary credential. It is an embedded program and is completely aligned with the Master's Program. Master’s candidates in the ECE Teacher Leader Specialization may use their coursework to fulfill requirements for the ECE Specialist Credential. Although it is embedded in the Master’s Program, it can also be completed separately. For the Specialist Credential without a Master's degree, a final project or comprehensive examination is not required.

In addition to a valid California teaching credential, the ECE Specialist Credential requires at least two years of teaching at two different levels of early childhood education. For candidates wishing to fulfill the fieldwork requirements for the Specialist Credential while they are in the program, program faculty can provide assistance.

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