What is an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education?

An online associate degree in early childhood education can prepare you to work in the childcare field and help maintain a professional edge over the competition. An associate degree in early childhood education will provide you with the basics of child learning and development and the instructional strategies needed to help young children grow. This associate in early childhood education is 67 credits and can help prepare you to transfer to a bachelor-level program to further your ECE education.

Accelerated 5- to 6-week courses
Transfer up to 49 approved credits
1 course at a time
$0 Application Fee

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Learn more about how to get started in your degree program.

Degree Completion Journey

Break into the world of childcare and build a foundation of success when you embark on your associate degree. Your coursework will focus on important topics in early childhood education, such as development, learning assessment, special learners, and instructional strategy.


Freshman Year

  • In this foundational course, students explore the principles necessary for achieving personal and career success. GEN 101 serves as a road map, guiding students as they begin their academic journey. Through self-discovery, surveying available resources, connecting with UAGC groups, and engaging with Career Services, students learn the essential skills of planning and goal setting. Students apply their personal strengths, skills, and lifelong learning strategies to develop essential career competencies. By making these meaningful connections students gain a deeper understanding of how their education relates to their desired career path.  Congratulations on embarking on this college journey filled with growth, exploration, and endless possibilities! This course is not available for non-degree seeking students and is not available as an elective.

  • This course offers an overview of digital fluency as it applies to personal, academic, financial, and professional success. Students will analyze the impact of digital technology on personal, social, and diversity issues and will develop digital skills that will assist in achieving academic, personal, and career goals. An overview of digital media is introduced with practical strategies for application in personal and professional life.

  • ENG 121 is designed to introduce students to the standards of writing in both academic and professional settings. The class will operate by first introducing, and then allowing students to practice, several written communication skills. Throughout, we will work to understand writing as a process, one that is strengthened through critical thinking, deepened by research, and built on a foundation of professional standards. Students will articulate a sense of their own skills and goals, and engage in collaborative conversations with peers and their instructor so as to be able to express their ideas more effectively. During the course, students will use the writing process to scrutinize their own perspectives while challenging them to embrace a wider conversation.

  • Learn and use key, practical skills that are applicable at home, at work, and in all UAGC courses! As UAGC students progress in their academic journey, strategies for personal, professional, and academic success continue to develop. This introductory course takes a two-pronged approach to setting students on a path to success. It merges fundamental informational literacy concepts with essential resources and skills that prepare students for college and career. Students learn how to identify, locate, evaluate, apply, and acknowledge information obtained through UAGC Library databases and internet search engines. By applying the research process, students sharpen critical thinking skills and learn to use information ethically. The final project is a practical and relevant opportunity for students to apply their learning in personally, professionally, and academically meaningful ways.

  • In this course, students will develop and expand their research and writing skills to communicate ideas in informed, ethical, and persuasive written documents intended for a range of audiences across a range of situations and contexts. Students will receive instruction and practice in synthesis and analysis, bolstering their written communication skills with a thorough understanding of academic research while honing critical thinking skills and effective work habits. Through writing well-structured, logical, and effective academic essays, students will explore tools and develop topics in a way that is meaningful to academic and professional lives. Prerequisite: Successful completion of ENG 121 or equivalent with a grade of “C-” or better.

  • A survey course providing an overview of art history and the principles of visual art, exploring the various contextual factors and purposes of art. Students are encouraged to discover personal interests through their own research on movements, themes, and individual artists. It focuses primarily on Western art and Western art movements but there are some places where students can incorporate art from other cultures. By the end of the class, students have gained confidence in their ability to look at, identify, and understand Western artworks.

  • This course provides an overview of the field of early childhood education including history, philosophy, advocacy, public policy, issues, trends, and careers. 

  • This course surveys American history from 1877 to the present. Emphasis is placed on the multifaceted experiences within American society; political, economic, intercultural, and social trends; and the impact of the United States in world affairs. Prerequisite: ENG 122 or successful completion of the Written Communication Competency II requirement.

  • This course is a study of correct and incorrect reasoning involved in everyday activities. The fundamentals of language and argument, deductive and inductive reasoning and other aspects of practical reasoning are examined. 

  • This course is designed to aid students in understanding the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. Verbal and nonverbal communication patterns among people in personal, social, academic, and professional settings will be examined, within and between cultures, including both face-to-face and technologically mediated channels.  The nature of these interactions will be evaluated using contemporary communication theory. The course will enable students to identify their interpersonal communication skills and behaviors and to more critically evaluate their own oral communication and that of others. The primary goals of the course are to improve the quality of students’ communication in their personal and professional relationships, to enhance students’ experience and. confidence with oral communication, and increase awareness of the importance of interpersonal communication that is inclusive and equitable.


Sophomore Year

  • In this course, learners deepen their understanding of the importance of natural resources to mankind. Students explore physical, biological, and ecological principles, examine how human alterations affect the environment, and reflect on the controversies surrounding various approaches to addressing environmental problems and the steps some communities have taken to address these challenges.

  • Introduction to Child Development examines the principles of child development from birth to age eight. Students will discuss the major developmental stages, domains, and milestones of child development. Students will also analyze how developmental stages, domains of development, and knowledge of theories support developmentally appropriate practices. Using their knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices, students will describe environments that nurture the physical, socio-emotional, language and cognitive growth of every child. Students will conduct observations to plan developmentally appropriate instruction that supports children’s individual needs. Finally, students will explore the importance of family involvement in supporting growth and development of young learners.

  • This course examines and evaluates theories and arguments concerning ethics and moral reasoning from a philosophical perspective. By engaging with historical and contemporary sources, students will analyze theories about the meaning, nature, and justification of ethical concepts; determine and assess how different forms of moral reasoning apply to contemporary moral issues; become more reflective and informed about their own moral beliefs; and develop their capacity for critical practical reasoning.

  • In this course students will explore a wider range of Algebra topics beyond the introductory level. Topics will include polynomials, functions, rational expressions, systems of equations and inequalities, operations with radicals, and quadratic equations. Emphasis will be placed on developing an awareness of the use of mathematics as it exists in the world today.

  • In this course students will study atypical development. Students will differentiate between genetic and environmental factors that impact development. Students will also examine contemporary issues and trends related to children with exceptionalities. In addition students will analyze strategies for professionals and families that best support children with high incidence disabilities. Finally, students will summarize evidence based best practices for meeting the needs of diverse learners in inclusive settings. 

  • Introduction to Curriculum and Instruction for the Early Childhood Classroom lays the foundation for creating a meaningful curriculum for young learners.  The course focuses on examining the role of early childhood educators in creating, implementing, and assessing curriculum. Learners will evaluate teaching strategies for supporting instruction, apply state and professional standards to curriculum and learning activities, and plan culturally relevant learning opportunities that embrace diversity, inclusivity, equity, and children’s interests. Additionally, learners will design activities for facilitating developmentally appropriately curriculum.

  • Introduction to Early Childhood Behavior Management will address age-appropriate behavioral expectations and the learning environment as a tool for promoting positive and prosocial behavior. Current research and theory related to managing young children’s behavior and strategies for communicating with and involving diverse families to support positive behavioral outcomes will be examined. Learners will apply knowledge of observing, collecting data, and recording children’s behavior to support and address behavioral challenges in the classroom and develop strategies for responding to challenging behavior.

  • This course provides information related to standards and best practices that promote children’s health and overall well-being. It investigates sound nutritional practices and safe learning environments. This course involves information for developing sound health and safety procedures for learning environments of young children. Students will explore resources to make recommendations to families which support the health, nutrition, and safety of young children.

  • This course explores strategies and techniques to support the success of language and culturally diverse students. The values, customs, and communication styles of cultural groups and their implication for teaching are considered. Research-based instructional approaches to developing English learner literacy will be examined.

  • Professional Responsibilities in the Early Childhood Environment examines key topics related to ensuring high-quality early learning environments by examining what it means to be an early childhood professional. In this course, students will describe the professional standards and ethical behaviors necessary to maintain a high-quality learning environment. Students will also analyze the concept of professionalism within the context of early childhood education and examine administrative practices for running well maintained early childhood facilities. Additionally, students evaluate the importance of professional development, reflective practice, and lifelong learning for early childhood professionals. Finally, students develop a plan to foster advocacy in the field of early childhood education and care.



Program Requirements
Credit Breakdowns
General Education
Major Credit Requirements
Total Credits

To earn your associate degree in early childhood education at the University of Arizona Global Campus, you must complete 67 credits. A total of 18 credits must be completed at UAGC to meet the residency requirement. You may be able to transfer up to 49 approved credits from community colleges, other previous college coursework, or other life experiences such as military service or job training toward your degree.

Upon completion of your associate degree at UAGC, you can transfer your credits toward any one of the bachelor’s degree programs at UAGC.

*In this program, 3 credits from the core may also satisfy General Education requirements.

Special Terms and Conditions

Certification and Licensure Terms and Conditions

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. The University of Arizona Global Campus graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a state-by-state basis that will include one or more of the following: student teaching or practicum experience, additional coursework, additional testing, or, if the state requires a specific type of degree to seek alternative certification, earning an additional degree. None of the University of Arizona Global Campus online education programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), a requirement for certification in some states. Other factors, such as a student's criminal history, may prevent an applicant from obtaining licensure or employment in this field of study. All prospective students are advised to visit the Education Resource Organizations Directory (EROD) and to contact the licensing body of the state where they are licensed or intend to obtain licensure to verify that these courses qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits in that state before enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state's policies and procedures relating to licensure as those policies are subject to change.

“The Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential™ is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE), and it is a key steppingstone on the path of career advancement in ECE. The CDA® is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early childhood professionals toward becoming qualified educators of young children” (Council for Professional Recognition, 2021, para. 1). The CDA® is administered by the Council for Professional Recognition, not by the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC). Throughout your UAGC coursework in ECE201, ECE203, ECE 205, ECE 207, and ECE214 content related to the eight CDA® subject areas is embedded in your weekly discussions, assignments, journals, interactives and quizzes. Additionally, some of your coursework can be used to complete your CDA® Professional Portfolio should you choose to pursue obtaining your CDA®.

The University of Arizona Global Campus is a partner of the Council for Professional Recognition. Coursework for students enrolled in the AA in Early Childhood Education program at the University of Arizona Global Campus may satisfy the 120 hours of education in the eight CDA® Subject Areas and will provide a jumpstart on completing the components necessary for the CDA® Professional Portfolio. Additional steps beyond UAGC coursework will be needed to obtain your CDA®. The Council for Professional Recognition, not the University of Arizona Global Campus, is responsible for awarding the CDA®. For more information about the required steps for the CDA® please visit https://www.cdacouncil.org/en/.

Alabama Students Education Preparation: State authorization to provide a program related to the preparation of teachers or other P-12 school/system personnel does not indicate eligibility for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate. Applicants who complete an educator preparation program at a non-Alabama institution must apply for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate through the Alabama Certificate Reciprocity Approach. Current requirements may be found at www.alsde.edu.

Hawaii Students: An education degree offered through the University of Arizona Global Campus does not lead to teacher licensure in the state of Hawaii. In Hawaii, an alternative route to certification is not available.

Kentucky Residents: Please be advised that although the College of Education at the University of Arizona Global Campus offers a variety of programs aimed at preparing potential educators in diverse settings, our K-12 educator preparation programs are NOT accredited in Kentucky by the Education Professional Standards Board and are NOT recognized for initial, additional, or renewal of certification or salary enhancement (rank change) for K-12 educators in Kentucky. For more information, please visit the Education Professional Standards Board’s website at http://www.epsb.ky.gov/mod/page/view.php?id=220.

Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.

Quality Matters Certification

The Online Teaching Support Certification recognizes programs that require all online faculty to undergo training in best practices for online course delivery, provide faculty with ongoing pedagogical support, encourage faculty professional development to increase their knowledge and skill in online teaching, emphasize instructor availability and feedback to learners, and collect and use feedback from learners to improve online teaching. Learn More

The Online Learner Support Certification recognizes programs that provide all the critical student and academic services needed for learner success and use learner feedback to continuously improve those services.

Careers in Early Childhood Education

The field of early childhood education offers a variety of potential job opportunities. When you complete your undergraduate degree in early childhood education, you will have what you need to begin a career in which a breadth of knowledge in the field is a must. An Associate’s degree in early childhood education could be your key to any of these occupations:

  • Teacher Aide
  • Educational Assistant
  • Childcare Worker
  • Tutor


The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education is not CAEP**, TEAC or NCATE accredited, which is a requirement for certification in some states, and successful completion of the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education by itself does not lead to certification or licensure in any state. Other factors, such as a student’s criminal history, may prevent an applicant from obtaining licensure or employment in this field of study. All prospective students are advised to visit the Education Resource Organizations Directory (EROD) and to contact the licensing body of the state where they are licensed or intend to obtain licensure to verify that these courses qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits in that state prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the states’ policies and procedures relating to licensure as those policies are subject to change.


** The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is the resulting entity from the merger of the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Teacher working with young child teacher working with young child

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