If helping young kids is your passion, you’ve likely already found your way into early childhood education. All those days spent babysitting the neighborhood kids and playing school instilled in you the ambitious goal of shaping young minds.

Now it’s time to build out your career, and an online Early Childhood Education (ECE) associate of arts degree program is the next step for you. Before you fill out applications and sign up for classes, it’s important to know what you’re really signing up for with an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education. For instance, how long does it take to get an associate degree? What does the program entail? Start your research here for this specialized degree.

What Is an AA Degree in Early Childhood Education?

An AA in ECE is an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education. It is a two-year degree that provides students with the foundation necessary to work with children from birth to eight years old in an early childhood education environment. According to education site Learn.org, “An Associate of Arts degree program in early childhood education focuses on teaching students to understand child behavior in order to develop activities for children. Students who earn associate degrees in early childhood education must complete a variety of major courses, general education classes, and electives.” The combination of understanding how children grow, learn and develop and apply that information to learning activities will prepare you to enter the field of early childhood education. 

How Long Does It Take to Earn an AA in ECE Online?

An online early childhood education associate of arts degree program typically takes about two years to complete, notes BestColleges. However, the length of time it takes to finish the program may vary depending on the school you attend, how many classes you take at a time, and your own schedule. For instance, some students who pursue an online early childhood education AA degree choose to take a part-time course load so they can continue working while they earn their degree. Some students choose a college that has accelerated programs available. Accelerated programs allow you to complete your degree at your own pace*. No matter which route you choose, you will receive the quality education you need to pursue a career in early childhood education.

How Many Credits Does It Take to Earn an AA in ECE Online?

In general, to earn an associate degree, you need to complete at least 60 semester credit hours (90 quarter hours), but this number may increase depending on your specific major. For example, to earn an online Early Childhood Education Associate of Arts degree at the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC), you will need to complete a total of 67 credit hours. Of those, 40 will be general education courses, 24 will be major credit requirements, and 6 will be electives. In this program, three credits from the core may also satisfy general education requirements. At UAGC, you have the potential to transfer up to 49 approved credits from community college, other previous college coursework, or life experience like military service or job training.

Can I Transfer My AA Credits to a Bachelor’s Degree?

Although the process can be complicated and will vary from school to school, you may be able to transfer some of your AA credits to a bachelor’s degree program. Based on academic information from PrepScholar, the number of credits that will transfer depends on the school you choose to attend and the specific requirements. You’ll need to be sure to speak with an admissions counselor at the school you’re interested in transferring to in order to get the most accurate information.

In general, students who have completed an online early childhood education associate degree program will have fulfilled most or all of the lower-level general education requirements at their new school, asserts PrepScholar. If transfer credits are allowed at your new institution, this means you’ll be able to focus on upper-level coursework in your major right away. And since many students complete their AA degree in two years or less, transferring can be a great way to save time and money on your way to a bachelor’s degree.

So, if you’re thinking about transferring from your AA program to a four-year school, do your research and speak with an admissions advisor to learn more about how your credits will transfer. With careful planning, you can make the transition smoothly and efficiently.

Is an AA Degree in Early Childhood Education Worth It?

Depending on your goals and interests, an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education is absolutely worth it if you:

  • Are interested in early childhood education
  • Enjoy helping kids
  • Want to help shape young minds
  • Want a foundational degree
  • Are potentially interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree
  • Are looking for a career in a daycare, preschool, or other early childhood education setting

In other words, an AA in ECE is definitely worth the investment if you value options. Not only will the degree set you up for success, but it will give you the option of pursuing other education such as a certificate or bachelor’s degree, while setting you up for a career in the field you love.

An online degree from the University of Arizona Global Campus does not lead to immediate teacher licensure in any state. If you want to become a classroom teacher, contact your state's education authorities before enrolling at the University of Arizona Global Campus to determine what state-specific requirements you must complete before obtaining your teacher's license.



Certain degree programs may not be available in all states. 

*UAGC does not currently offer any accelerated programs.

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