The U.S. Department of Education reports that the United States ranks 25th in the world in early education enrollment for children, falling behind countries like Mexico, France, Italy, Slovenia, and Portugal. Statistics reveal that fewer than three in ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Multiple studies have documented that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.*

Online Education Degrees and Successful Young Students

In this climate of increased accountability for learning outcomes, school and district administrators are taking a closer look at the credentials of teachers who work directly with young children in grades preK– 12. Their goal is to better understand how teachers’ education and training relate to positive learning outcomes for young students.

As program director of early childhood education programs at The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University, Dr. Martha Cheney understands the correlation between a teacher’s education level and the quality of education young students receive. She works daily with college students who want to make a real difference in the lives of young children and families.

In her article, “Professionalizing the Early Childhood Field,” published on the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC®) website, Dr. Cheney said, “Gaining new skills in such important areas as collaboration, leadership, brain research, and language and literacy development can boost teacher effectiveness and lead to improved outcomes for young children and families.

“Of perhaps equal importance,” she continued, “the pursuit of the next degree level provides excellent modeling of a commitment to lifelong learning for colleagues, parents of children in your setting, and to the children themselves.”

Online Education Degree Programs in Childhood Education

Walden University, an NCATE-accredited institution with online degree programs, offers many opportunities for lifelong learning in the field of early childhood education. Walden’s Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership provides online graduate certificate programs for educators, master of arts in teaching degrees (MAT), master’s degrees, post-master’s education degrees, doctorate in education degrees, and online PhD in Education degrees that are informed by NAEYC standards for early childhood professional preparation. These programs include:

Early Childhood Graduate Certificate Programs

Update your skills and focus on your special area of interest with one of Walden’s early childhood certificate programs:

MS in Early Childhood Studies Degree Program

One of Walden’s seven master’s degree education programs, the MS in Early Childhood Studies, focuses on the knowledge and professional competencies that prepare you for leadership roles in and out of the classroom. Program graduate Teri Peasley emphasized, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use something I learned at Walden.”

Post-Master’s Early Childhood Degree Program

Walden’s EdS in Early Childhood program can prepare you to lead and advocate effectively within the dynamic early childhood landscape, fostering positive outcomes for young children and their families.

Doctoral Programs in Education

Walden’s Doctor of Education (EdD) and PhD in Education programs both offer a specialization in early childhood education so that you can pursue the highest level of expertise in your profession.

“By taking the necessary steps to advance their knowledge and skills, early childhood educators can advance professional development, enhance the profile of the entire profession, and improve public perceptions of those who work in the field,” Dr. Cheney concluded.

Position Yourself for Success in Early Childhood Education

Boost your effectiveness with an early childhood education degree as you prepare to fill a leadership role in advancing higher professional standards for early childhood educators.

Walden University, an accredited institution, has been serving the higher education needs of adult learners for 45 years. Today, more than 47,800 students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 150 countries are pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees or certificates online at Walden.

Explore Walden University's online college degrees in education and position yourself for success. Earn your education degree at a pace that fits your life and schedule.


* U.S. Department of Education, “Early Learning: America’s Middle Class Promise Begins Early,” on the Internet at http://www.ed.gov/early-learning (viewed online June 10, 2015).

Walden University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). This accreditation covers initial teacher preparation programs and advanced educator preparation programs. As a recognized standard of excellence in professional education for the preparation of teachers, administrators, and other preK–12 school professionals, NCATE accreditation ensures that the institution has met rigorous national standards set by the profession and members of the public. However, the accreditation does not include individual education courses offered to preK–12 educators for professional development, relicensure, or other purposes.

Walden offers both state-approved educator licensure programs as well as programs and courses that do not lead to licensure or endorsements. Prospective students must review their state licensure requirements prior to enrolling. For more information, please refer to www.WaldenU.edu/educlicensure.

Prospective Alabama students: Contact the Teacher Education and Certification Division of the Alabama State Department of Education at 1-334-242-9935 or www.alsde.edu to verify that these programs qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits.

Prospective Washington state students are advised to contact the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction at 1-360-725-6275 or prof.educ@k12.wa.us to determine whether Walden’s programs in the field of education are approved for teacher certification or endorsements in Washington state. Additionally, teachers are advised to contact their individual school district as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement.

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