Early Childhood Education

What Is It?:

This program focuses on preparing teachers for preschool, kindergarten, and the early primary grades (one through three) of the elementary school. The early childhood educator helps young children with a range of abilities and special needs develop intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically. Graduates of the program qualify for the early childhood certificate with early childhood special education approval.

Students applying to the major must also provide evidence of having 50 hours of formal experience working with children or youth comparable to the age-level of students served in the program for which application is made.

Illinois law and Council on Teacher Education policy require that all candidates for admission to a teacher preparation program pass the Illinois Licensure Testing System Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) prior to admission.  Effective July 2012, the Illinois State Board of Education determined the ACT Plus Writing/SAT scores can be used in lieu of a passing score on the Test of Academic Proficiency (formerly known as the Illinois Test of Basic Skills). See information on the details.

For more information, please visit the College of Education.


A concentration area in one academic discipline selected from the categories of mathematics, science, social sciences, or humanities is required. No more than nine of the required eighteen hours may be taken at the 100 level. (Consult an education adviser for the list of approved disciplines.)

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • EPS 201—Foundation of Education
  • EPSY 236—Child Development in Education or PYSC 216—Child Psychology
  • HIST 171—U.S. History to 1877
  • HIST 172—U.S. History Since 1877

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period.

Possible Career Opportunities:

  • Child Care Provider
  • Nanny
  • Teacher
  • Teacher’s Aide

Common Career Titles Related to this Major:

(Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree)

  • Camp Counselor
  • Elementary School Teaching Assistant
  • Family Child Care Provider
  • Home Visitor
  • Infant Care Director
  • Infant Care Teacher
  • Nanny
  • Parent Educator
  • Pediatric Nurse
  • Preschool Director
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Public School Aide
  • Recreational Leader
  • School Age Teacher
  • Site Supervisor of Preschool/School Age Programs

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Epsilon Delta Professional Teaching Organization: informs and involves future teachers in the changing field of education.
    • Student Education Association: provides pre-professional educational development for future teachers.

Related Skills:

  • Acceptance of diversity
  • Caring and accepting attitude
  • Flexibility
  • Self-awareness
  • Skills in critical thinking
  • Strong interpersonal skills

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in Early Childhood Education, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Early Childhood Education.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Early Childhood Education.  These organizations include National Association for the Education of Young Children, Association for Childhood Education International, and Professional Association for Childhood Education.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in Early Childhood Education, visit Undergraduate Programs