Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood
+ Teaching Licensure

credits 67  |  completion 2.5 years - 3 years  |  next start July 1

Earn your teaching degree online to teach early childhood classrooms

Through Northwestern’s Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education + licensure program, you will be equipped to teach students from PK to third grade. Gain knowledge in child development, teaching methods, assessment, behavior and current policy to create meaningful learning experiences for every young child. Aligned with Iowa teaching license requirements, Northwestern offers one of the only online, flexible pathways to an early childhood teaching license with a Birth through Grade Three, Inclusive Setting endorsement. Inclusive settings are general education classrooms that support all learners, including students with diverse and special-needs. 

Iowa and other states have a early childhood teacher shortage. Northwestern's affordable teaching degree program provides opportunities for new employment, job changes and promotion while empowering educators to make a difference in their students' lives. 
Earning your early childhood teaching degree opens teaching and leadership opportunities in a variety of settings, including:

  • Elementary schools
  • Preschool programs
  • Head Start programs
  • Child care centers
  • Child development homes
  • Regional and state and education agencies (AEAs, IAAEYC)

100% online. 8-week courses. Flexible delivery and pace.

Northwestern's online program is designed for working professionals, allowing you to log into classes and complete your coursework each week when it's most convenient for you. Take one 8-week class at a time and balance work, school and life responsibilities. Courses with required field experience and student teaching offer meaningful hands-on teaching preparation. All coursework is offered on line with field experience hours and student teaching arranged in schools near the student. With flexible pace options, complete your coursework each week when it's most convenient for you. Take one 8-week class at a time and balance your work, school and life schedule. 

With flexible pace options, you can complete your teaching degree in two and a half to three years.* Interested students can begin their program in any Fall, Spring or Summer semester. 
*Your enrollment counselor will help determine any additional transfer credits from your associate (AA, AS, AAS) or bachelor's degree.

Financial aid and scholarships

Educators pursuing a bachelor’s in early childhood may be eligible for a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship. The scholarship program provides the early childhood workforce with educational opportunities. This comprehensive scholarship includes a significant portion of tuition and textbook costs, travel/Internet stipends, and paid time away from work. The majority of your bachelor’s degree could be funded through this program. For information and how to apply, visit the  T.E.A.C.H. website or download the T.E.A.C.H Booklet.

Child Care WAGE$ ® IOWA (WAGE$) is a salary supplement program offered by the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC). As with T.E.A.C.H. IOWA, WAGE$ is a licensed program of the Child Care Services Association. WAGE$ offers salary supplements to the early care and education workforce based on an individual's level of formal education and commitment to a program. With a bachelor's degree in early childhood, you may qualify for a higher WAGE$ level ($2900 annually compared to $1800 with an associate's degree). For more information visit the  WAGE$ website


Students in online programs may be eligible for federal and/or state financial aid. To determine your eligibility and award amount:

  1. Complete your  FAFSA online using Northwestern's institutional code: 001883
  2. Upon acceptance into an online program, you will complete Northwestern's financial aid request form, and our financial aid specialist will help you with your financial plan. 

Program requirements | seamless transfer

Incoming students must have an associate's (AA, AS, AAS) degree or higher and may easily transfer earned credits toward the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program. 

After completing 12 credits in the B.A. Early Childhood program, students will apply to the education department and licensure program track.

Professional core (21 credits)

EDU 229 - Introduction to Early Childhood (includes field experience)
(3 credits; alternate years, consult department)This course examines both the typical and atypical growth and development of children ages birth through grade three in the areas of cognition, language development, physical motor, social-emotional, mental health and adaptive behavior. Candidates will learn how these areas impact development and learning in the first years of life and will use this knowledge to plan, develop, implement and evaluate integrated learning experiences for home, center and school environments based on knowledge of the child, the family, and the community. Candidates will also use relevant national and state professional standards for designing content and informing and improving practices for children and their families. Note: This course includes field experience.
EDU 230 - Organization & Administration of Early Childhood Programs (includes field experience)
(3 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course examines the principles of administration and operation of programs for children ages birth through grade three and their families, including program development, supervision, staff evaluation, and continuing improvement of programs and services. Candidates will understand the significance of lifelong learning by participating in professional activities relevant to early childhood education, special education and early intervention. Candidates are required to complete pre-student teaching experiences in at least three settings that offer early childhood education. Note: This course includes field experience.
EDU 240 - Integrating the Arts in the Elementary Classroom
(3 credits) This course is designed to provide basic skills for integrating music, theatre, art, and physical education in the elementary school classroom as well as strategies for cooperative opportunities with the specialized teachers. We will concentrate on effective teaching strategies, which include planning, implementing, and evaluating the teaching process. Course content will include practicing teaching techniques and learning pedagogy related to the integration of these specials in the elementary classroom.
EDU 300 - Characteristics of Young Children with Diverse Needs (includes field experience)
(3 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course will examine the nature of child growth and development for children ages birth through grade three in the areas of language development, social-emotional, aesthetics, cognition and adaptive behavior and how these impact development in the first years of life. Candidates will demonstrate a range of appropriate assessment and evaluation strategies to support the strengths, interests and needs of students with a range of abilities and disabilities. Candidates are required to complete a pre-student teaching experience working in at least three settings that offer early childhood education and with students that reflect diverse family systems and other differentiating factors, like urban/rural, socioeconomic status, and cultural/linguistic diversity. Note: This course includes field experience.
EDU 301 - Methods of Working with Young Children with Diverse Needs (includes field experience)
(3 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course examines the central concepts, structures and tools used to develop meaningful learning progressions for individuals with exceptionalities ages birth through grade three. Candidates will develop, implement and evaluate individualized plans (IFSPs and IEPs) and utilize a range of appropriate assessment and evaluation strategies to support individual strengths, interests and needs. By the end of the course, candidates will be able to design curricula, assessments and intervention strategies that align with learner and program goals. Candidates will also understand the role of families in the assessment process and assist them in identifying resources, priorities and concerns in relation to the child's development. Note: This course includes field experience.
EDU 317 - Collaborative Partnerships with Parents and the Community
(3 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course examines how successful early childhood education depends upon reciprocal and respectful partnerships with families, communities, and agencies. Candidates will understand the theories and dynamic roles within and between families, schools, and communities and how to create a community of support for children and families through interagency collaboration. Candidates will learn how to collaborate with supervisors, mentors, and colleagues to enhance professional growth within and across disciplines to inform practice and to advocate for developmentally and individually appropriate practice. Utilizing collaborative partnerships, candidates will learn how to create safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning environments that engage learners in meaningful activities and interactions. Candidates will engage in intentional practices that value diversity and demonstrate understanding in how language, culture, and family background can impact development. In addition, candidates will learn to recognize how children are best understood in the context of family and how linguistic diversity, biological and environmental factors, and family strengths can influence development and learning at all stages of life.
EDU 340 - Human Relations (includes diversity experience)
No course description available.

Licensure requirements (25 credits)

ECE 328 - STEM Methods for Young Children w/Practicum (includes 10 hr. practicum)
(3 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course Integrates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts, strategies, learning experiences, and instruction for young children, with a focus on activating children's innate curiosity, modeling habits of the mind, and fostering students' belief in their ability to learn. Students will explore creative problem-solving, inquiry based learning, and critical thinking. The course will focus on curriculum, instruction and assessment that are developmentally appropriate for young children. (10 hour practicum)
ECE 425WI - Children’s Health & Well Being
(3 credits) (Writing intensive) This course explores topics related to health and well-being and focuses on teaching practices, classroom activities, partnerships with families, and program policies to ensure that all children are healthy and ready to learn. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program.
ECE 323 - Methods of Early Numeracy w/Practicum (includes 10 hr. practicum)
(3 credits; alternate years, consult department) Candidates will learn how to support children's numeracy learning by developing age-appropriate content, numeracy-rich environments, technology, and scaffolded learning experiences. Additionally, participants will develop learning experiences that incorporate classification, data analysis, spatial sense, measurement, number and operations, patterns and relationships, and estimation. Emphasis will be on developing an integrated math curriculum which includes play-based learning and child-centered choices. (10 hour practicum)
PSY 221SS - Developmental Psychology: Childhood
(4 credits ) (NWCore option under Self and Society) This course explores the development of the child from the prenatal period into adolescence. Children's physical, cognitive, emotional, personality, social, moral and faith development is examined. Psychological research methods for studying children are covered.
ECE 326 - Methods of Teaching Reading & Language Arts for Young Children (includes 10 hr. practicum)
(3 credits) A foundational course for the teaching of reading at the pre-primary and primary school levels. Candidates will understand and utilize materials, lesson design, methods, technology, assessment, and procedures to teach reading and language arts. Emphasis will be on lesson plan development, methodologies, and assessment for instruction in the areas of early childhood reading and language arts. Additionally, candidates will explore various educational psychology paradigms; this course emphasizes the use of learning principles related to creating and adapting instruction. The importance of aligning learning objectives and creating valid assessments will also be discussed. To inform future planning, candidates will learn how to systematically monitor and evaluate progress. Developmentally appropriate practice and interdisciplinary instruction will be explored. (10 hour practicum)
ECE 329 - Methods of Teaching Social Sciences for Young Children (includes 10 hr. practicum)
(3 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course focuses on the methodologies for teaching young children's social studies, including the relevance of history and geography, the study of people, and children's roles as world citizens. Based on research and current pedagogy, candidates will devise developmentally appropriate learning experiences, technology, and assessments for young children. This class emphasizes the knowledge and skills children require as they identify and solve problems, perceive diversity and inequality, and promote positive relationships. (10 hour practicum)
ECE 228 - Young Children’s Literature
(3 credits) Young Children's Literature provides an opportunity to study the history of children's literature and its uses in the classroom. This course provides an introduction to the criteria and selection of children's literature for infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children. Various genres are reviewed, and ideas for curriculum integration are explored. A study of illustrations and authors is included.
ECE 320 - Positive Behavioral Supports for Young Children
(3 credits) This course utilizes evidence-based strategies for promoting social and emotional development and preventing and addressing challenging behaviors in preschool-aged children. Through course readings, discussions, activities, and related experiences, participants will learn about a variety of these research-based practices. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program.

Student teaching & seminar (17 credits)

EDU 429 - Birth through Grade Three Inclusive Settings Student Teaching (14 weeks)
(4-8 credits) This experience will include the observation, engagement and instruction of a multi-categorical elementary resource program for children from birth to grade three while under the supervision of a licensed, qualified teacher. During this practicum, candidates are required to complete supervised student teaching experiences in two different settings, which can include registered child development homes, home visiting programs, state-accredited child care centers, or classrooms that include both children with and without disabilities in two of three age levels: infant and toddler, preprimary and primary. Using the knowledge, skills and dispositions in planning, instruction, assessment and professionalism learned and assessed throughout the education program, candidates will be able to schedule, evaluate, collaborate, write IEPs and IFSPs, and develop strategies to address special needs of children. Candidates are expected to model "Teacher as Servant" throughout the experience by serving God and society in diverse classroom settings. Prerequisites: KIN104 or current First Aid and infant child CPR certification. Note: Graded on a pass/no pass basis.
ECE 450SR - The Early Childhood Professional Portfolio
(3 credits) In this course, students will produce a professional portfolio, a culmination of the knowledge from the required ECE courses in the BAEC major. The portfolio will address professional standards, ethical standards, and a faith reflection. Prerequisites: ECE305, ECE310, ECE320, ECE325, ECE330, ECE340, ECE400, ECE420, ECE425 and ECE430.

Northwestern education core courses (4 credits)

Accepted as transfer credits or taken at Northwestern
BTS 150 - Christian Story I
(4 credits) This course presents an overview of and orientation to the Bible, focusing on its content, character, role in the Christian faith, and covenant themes of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. This course begins the development of theological thinking for academic study in the liberal arts and equips students for the task of integrating faith and learning in their academic work. Students should complete this course by the end of their second term. Note: Does not count toward a religion major or minor.

Additional requirement

First Aid/CPR certification

Total credits: 124

124 credits are required to graduate with a bachelor's degree, which includes the total associate and bachelor credits combined.
Minimum credits from Northwestern: 30


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Helping children reach their potential

As a working single mother, it wasn't an any easy choice to go back to school, but Renata persevered and achieved her goals with the help of outstanding NWC instructors.

Renata's story

Michelle Zirkel, B.A. Early Childhood

Professional growth for new opportunities

Working as a long-term substitute teacher, Michelle was able to immediately apply what she was learning in her online classes to teaching and inspiring her own students.

Michelle's story