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Early childhood education includes any program for children who are not old enough to start kindergarten. That includes formal preschool programs as well as educational programs run by daycare centers. Preschool teachers are also needed for home-based government intervention programs for at-risk children. If you’re interested in early childhood education as a career, there are plenty of programs that will allow you to get the degree you need quickly so you can start working sooner.

The search for an accelerated early childhood education degree isn’t too hard – many colleges and universities have developed online bachelor’s completion programs to help working adults in the field finish their BS, BSEd, or BA more quickly. But not all of them can be trusted; second-rate online schools with big advertising budgets can drown out the better options. For students who want a quality program, online and fast, Bachelor’s Degree Center has searched out every ECE accelerated program online that offers speed and credibility.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Accelerated Early Childhood Education Degree Programs

To find the early childhood education accelerated program options that allow students to get the highest quality, and fastest education degree in early childhood education, Bachelor’s Degree Center focused exclusively on regionally accredited colleges and universities. Only online programs with bachelor’s degree completion programs of 24 months or less made the cut.

Programs are ranked simply by the fastest possible time to completion, from shortest to longest.

1. Rochester College

A top early childhood education accelerated program, Rochester College’s BS in Early Childhood Education not only gives students preparation to work in the field, but also gain experience in everything from professional ethics to hands-on techniques. Despite the coursework having a focus on creativity, development, and skills, students will use their studies in combination with practice and theory in preparation for working with families and children and varieties of settings. It’s possible for students to complete this ECE accelerated program online in as little as 16 months.

Founded in 1959 by the Churches of Christ, Rochester College is a well-respected Christian liberal arts college in suburban Detroit, MI. According to U.S. World News and Report’s top regional colleges for the Midwest, Rochester gets high marks for its small online class sizes, which make it possible for students to receive quality one-on-one education. As it expands, Rochester College plans to elevate to a university by 2020, making its early childhood education fast track program part of a larger institution.

Fastest Time to Completion: 16 months

2. Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky’s online Child and Family Studies Online Degree is one of the best early childhood education accelerated programs in the nation. Not only will students have an opportunity to participate in a versatile program but they’ll also be able to develop a rewarding career. Also, they’ll build the necessary skills to create strong families and positively impact their communities. Students can select from several program options including a Bachelor’s in Child and Family Studies – Child Development Concentration, Certificate in Infant/Toddler Care and Education, and Certificate in Early Childhood Director. Students can complete the ECE fast track program online in just 18 months, since EKU accepts up to 90 transfer credits.

Eastern Kentucky University dates back to 1906, when it opened as a teacher training school, but the university has truly come into its own with its 21st-century online degree programs. EKU ranks among the top 30 Top Public Regional Universities in the South according to U.S. News and World Report, as well as one of the best online bachelor’s colleges in the nation. Short, 8-week terms and a generous transfer policy have helped make EKU one of the best online educators, with one of the fastest education degree programs, anywhere in America.

Fastest Time to Completion: 18 months

3. MidAmerica Nazarene University

MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Accelerated Elementary Education Unified program prepares students for certification in both Elementary and Special Education. Not only are these programs flexible, but they have a design specifically for working adults. Classes are available entirely online until students must receive their teaching experience. Students finishing their program will have certification in both SPED certification and elementary certification. For those who have a degree in another, it’s possible to take advantage of the licensure program. In doing so, students can complete their ECE accelerated program online and teach elementary age students in as few as 18 months.

MidAmerica Nazarene University was founded in 1966 as one of the eight Church of the Nazarene-affiliated liberal arts colleges spread across the US. Ranked among the top Regional Universities Midwest according to U.S. News and World Reports, MAU has earned a strong reputation for educational rigor and service learning. In addition, in recent years MidAmerica Nazarene has become one of the foremost names in online Christian education, including its early childhood education accelerated program.

Fastest Time to Completion: 18 months

4. Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College’s online Early Childhood Education accelerated program is designed for working adults who would like to launch or advance their careers without having to attend on-campus. When prospective students are on a mission to have a positive impact on the lives of children through education, ECE programs will help them achieve their goals. Students will acquire skills in promoting the healthy development of the emotional, intellectual, language, physical, and social skills of children. Diploma and Associate level degree program offerings include Child with Special Needs and Child Development. Students participating in this accelerated early childhood education degree program can finish in as little as 18 months.

Rasmussen College began in 1900 as a private, for-profit business school in Minnesota, focused on practical skills for young businessmen (and, eventually, women). Today, Rasmussen is the rare for-profit college to have earned regional accreditation, and has earned Gold standing in the CDA Credential and Council for Professional Recognition. Rasmussen strives to meet the diverse needs of the community with a dynamic curriculum, innovative programs, and general education skills, including its early childhood education fast track program.

Fastest Time to Completion: 18 months

5. Concordia University St. Paul

Concordia University St. Paul’s online BA in Child Development is an accelerated early childhood education degree that allows working adults to attend flexible classes on their schedule. The program emphasizes the National Association for the Education for Young Children’s standards. Therefore, those graduating will have prepared for articulating theories, defining developmental practices, creating inclusive learning environments, and more. Students must complete fieldwork in a licensed early childhood learning or child care center. In less than 24 months of accelerated 7-week terms, students can complete this 42-credit ECE accelerated program online.

Concordia University St. Paul is part of the renowned Concordia system, made up of nine top-ranked Lutheran colleges. Founded in 1893, Concordia St. Paul is widely recognized as one of the top regional universities in the Midwest, but they have especially become known (along with the rest of the Concordia colleges) for their exceptional online degree programs. Their online programs have allowed Concordia to not only meet the needs of nontraditional students in Minnesota, but across the US and the world. With that reach, they’re one of the fastest education degree programs anywhere.

Fastest Time to Completion: less than 24 months

6. Liberty University

Liberty University’s online BS in Early Childhood Education accelerated program lets students pursue their passion for teaching without giving up their teaching to go back to school, with limited disruptions to their daily life. Those seeking their degree will receive knowledge regarding early childhood development’s essential psychological milestones as well as the fundamentals of instruction. Those graduating can also continue their education to earn their master’s in teaching. In less than 24 months of fast 8-week terms, it’s possible for students to obtain their accelerated early childhood education degree. Students can even transfer in as much as 75% of their required courses to the ECE fast track program online.

Founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell, Liberty began in 1971 as a fairly conventional Christian college. Conventional, that is, until they discovered the power of online education at the turn of the century. Today, Liberty is one of the dominant institutions in online higher education, and their huge online division has made Liberty the largest Christian university in the world. A commitment to high-quality, convenient adult education includes one of the fastest education degree programs in the US. Liberty University’s School of Education receives its accreditation from the NCATE.

Fastest Time to Completion: less than 24 months

7. Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University’s online BS in Education Early Childhood Education accelerated program gives working adults in childcare the chance to for those who would like to earn their bachelor’s degree as they see fit. A certificate program in Early Childhood Education is also available for those who are pursuing their degree in Elementary Education. This ECE accelerated program online is specifically designed for busy working adults to finish in less than 24 months, thanks to a generous transfer program that accepts up to 75 credit toward the full 120.

Northern Arizona University began as a teacher training school in 1899, and the needs of Arizona’s teachers and prospective teachers have been at the center of their mission ever since. As a regional university, NAU is dedicated to outreach and getting to the most students possible, which is why Northern Arizona has also become a top-ranked online educator. Their student-centered curriculum focuses on integrity, diversity, and service – all values that are basic to early childhood education as well. That helps make NAU’s accelerated early childhood education degree one of the best in the Southwest.

Fastest Time to Completion: less than 24 months

8. Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University’s online BS in Early Childhood Education accelerated program prepares educators to work with students from birth through age eight when graduating; an optional certificate in Reading can also be added. Graduates will be able to demonstrate leadership in their profession, work with communities, families, and children. Some of the skills they’ll be developing include documenting, assessing, observing, and supporting children; building meaningful curriculum using content knowledge; promoting child learning and development; and using approaches that are developmentally effective. It’s possible to earn an Early Childhood Education BS in as few as 24 months with IWU’s ECE accelerated program online.

Indiana Wesleyan University began in 1920 in Marion, IN, replacing the normal school that had been purchased by the state to form Ball State University. Affiliated with the Wesleyan Church, IWU identifies as an evangelical Christian institution, but welcomes all students. IWU ranks #5 in Best Undergraduate Teaching, and as one of the top Regional Universities in the Midwest, according to U.S. World News and Report. The university’s values include developing a student’s character and ensuring they have a spirit-led education, whether on-campus, or in online programs like the early childhood education fast track program.

Fastest Time to Completion: 24 months

9. University of Toledo

University of Toledo’s online Bachelor of Early Childhood Education accelerated program means busy working adults who are presently holding their associate’s degree can begin studying immediately and complete their bachelor’s quickly. The non-licensure track combines the latest in practice methods, theory, and research to help students ensure children are thriving as part of an engaged community and individually. In as few as 24 months, students can complete their Early Childhood Education program and begin working.

The University of Toledo dates back to a private trade school opened in 1872, but that school quickly went under and was bought by the city, which resurrected it as a public technical college. With its mission firmly set on meeting the needs of Toledo and its people, UT developed into a comprehensive research university, and its particularly known today for its online professional programs. Their core values of student-centered research and scholarship, combined with diversity and accessibility, extend even to the fastest education degree in Ohio.

Fastest Time to Completion: 24 months

10. University of Washington

The University of Washington’s online BA in Early Care and Education makes it easier than ever for working teachers to earn an accelerated early childhood education degree. Busy working adults can enjoy the flexibility of completing classes online that are designed to fit their schedule. Advancing their career is possible with outcomes including Child Life Specialists, Early Learning Coaching, Education Research, and Family Support Specialists. It’s possible to achieve these educational goals in as few as 24 months through the university’s ECE accelerated program online.

The University of Washington was founded in 1861, when Seattle was a small city just beginning to develop, and stands as the state’s flagship public research university in the heart of one of the most dynamic and innovative metropolitan areas in the world. Ranked a top national university and best value by U.S. News, UW has been central to Seattle and the state of Washington’s development, educating a diverse student body into ethical global citizens and leaders. It’s never too early to start, and graduates of the early childhood education accelerated program bring those values into every preschool and Head Start they enter.

Fastest Time to Completion: 24 months

Is an Early Childhood Education Accelerated Program Harder than a Traditional Program?

If you’re looking for quick and easy online degrees, you might be disappointed to realize that early childhood education fast track programs require you to learn the same material as as a more conventional program – just faster. But if you are a quick and motivated learner, one of these programs could be a good fit for you.

Because the pace of an early childhood education fast track program is faster than a traditional program, the experience is more intense. There is no time to procrastinate.

The best early childhood education fast track programs allow some flexibility with scheduling and offer strong student support services to help if you need tutoring or other types of assistance. But they are only quick and easy online degrees if you are already a good student with outstanding study habits.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Accelerated Early Childhood Education Degree?

Even if you’re a super-fast learner, you’re probably not going to find any 6 month bachelor degrees. The fastest online degree completion programs usually run from 12 to 24 months.

At 24 months, you’re not necessarily cramming a 4-year degree into two years – most accelerated early childhood education programs will accept transfer credits to give you a head start – but the pace of an accelerated program might feel like it. A 12-month program is even more intense. Even if you can find a school offering 6-month bachelor degrees, it will be difficult to learn the material at such a fast pace.

The fastest online degree completion programs in early childhood education are self-paced. That means you can get your degree as quickly as you can complete the work. Realistically, it takes most students 12 to 24 months to complete one of these programs.

What’s the Fastest Way to Get a Degree Online in Early Childhood Education?

So what if I need a degree fast? What’s the fastest way to get a degree online in early childhood education? Good questions! There are a few ways to speed up the process of earning a degree online.

You can earn your early childhood education degree faster if you have already completed your general education courses and can find a school that will allow you to transfer those credits so that you won’t have to re-take those courses. You may also be able to test out of some of your general education courses. Most likely, you will have to pay a fee to take each test, but you will save both time and money by doing so since the test-taking fees are usually lower than the cost of tuition.

The fastest way to get a degree online is to look for schools with accelerated six or eight-week terms so you can complete courses quickly. Take as many courses each term as you think you can handle. This will allow you to progress through the program as quickly as possible at your own pace and start a highly rewarding career as a preschool teacher.

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