Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education

Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special EducationInitial Program – Leads to Initial Teacher Licensure

Offered By: College of Education

Ranked No. 12

GCU ranked No. 12 among the top 2022 online master’s in elementary education programs in the U.S.1

Pursue Your MEd in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

Prepare to make a positive difference in the lives of those who require early childhood special education (ECSE) by earning your Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education at Grand Canyon University (GCU). 

This early childhood special education and early childhood education master’s degree program, which leads to initial teacher licensure, is designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-education field. With a master’s in early childhood education and early childhood special education, graduates can learn to transition to a career in education.

This master’s in early childhood special education online and evening degree is offered by the College of Education. Aspiring ECSE teachers closely examine instructional and assessment methodologies, as well as the psychological, emotional and developmental needs of young children. Candidates will explore field experience opportunities in both inclusive learning environments and special education birth to pre-K and K-3 environments. GCU candidates are trained to serve as effective advocates who positively influence children, families and communities in which they teach.

The ECSE curriculum is aligned with the standards of the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

GCU provides the convenience and flexibility of earning your early childhood education master’s degree online or in person in the evening. Through a combination of theoretical coursework and practical experiences, the online format allows working professionals to balance their career commitments while advancing their education. 

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Study Diverse Learning Methods with this Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education Master's Degree

Children with learning differences need extra support to reach their full potential. Graduates of this early childhood special education and early childhood education master’s degree program have the opportunity to learn to apply evidence-based pedagogical methods that support young learners as they develop crucial academic and life skills. Students earning a master’s in early childhood education and early childhood special education online degree will acquire the following core competencies:

  • Understand instructional methodologies for teaching children STEM subjects, including inquiry-based and hands-on learning activities with an eye toward differentiated learning outcomes
  • Use technology to support receptive and expressive language, early literacy development and communication methods
  • Use technology and research-based practices to assess, monitor and report on the progress of young children in light of their IFSPs and IEPs
  • Know how to teach foundational skills to develop proficient readers
  • Utilize community resources to advocate for children and their families

In addition, all students are required to complete practicum/field experiences and student teaching experiences in both general education and special education settings.

All states have established eligibility criteria for teachers, including educational and credentialing requirements. Students who graduate from an education degree program that leads to licensure are then eligible to obtain a state license to teach in any public or private school. 

This early childhood education and early childhood special education degree from GCU leads to dual certification in Arizona for the following certification options: 

  • Early childhood special education, birth through grade three 
  • Early childhood education, birth-age eight or grade three 

A non-licensure program still presents initial licensure content, rather than advanced content. Students who graduate from a non-licensure program may still be eligible to teach in limited settings, which may include certain charter, private or early learning school environments. Licensing requirements are different for each state, so be sure to check with the Board of Education in the state in which you will be teaching.

Students who are not interested in pursuing teaching licensure or who have already obtained their license through their bachelor’s may consider applying to GCU’s non-licensure Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education program, which can typically be completed in a shorter amount of time. 

Career Pathways for Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education Master’s Degree Graduates

Early childhood education and early childhood special education is the key for giving every child a solid foundation for lifelong success. This master’s in early childhood education and early childhood special education degree can prepare aspiring ECSE teachers to make a positive impact by working with children from birth through the third grade. Graduates may pursue the following teaching opportunities in public or private schools.

  • Preschool teacher
  • Postsecondary education teacher
  • Kindergarten teacher
  • Elementary school teacher
  • Teaching assistant

As a master’s degree graduate, you may perform tasks that include coordinating programs, developing curriculum, performing research, developing policies related to early childhood and special education, or advocating for young children with exceptionalities. You may be able to find a career in one of various industries that provide services to children, such as:

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Public and private schools
  • Early intervention programs
  • Government agencies
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Private practices

MEd in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education Degree FAQs 

If you’re considering pursuing an MEd in early childhood education and special education degree, you likely have many questions about the program, potential career paths and what to expect along the way. In this section, we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions to provide you with more information about this degree and to help you make informed decisions about your education and future career.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, kindergarten and elementary school teachers have a median annual wage of $61,350 as of May 20212 and special education teachers had a median annual wage of $61,820 in May 2021.3 

Earning your master’s in early childhood education and early childhood special education may be right for you if you have a passion for working with young children, helping them learn and develop and aspire to have a positive impact on their lives. Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for special education teachers and services is expected to increase due to disabilities being identified earlier and more children with exceptionalities enrolling into special education programs.4 

This MEd in early childhood education requires effort and dedication that may require additional skills and knowledge related to the unique needs of young children with exceptionalities.This may involve learning about assessment and intervention strategies, collaboration with families and other professionals, and the legal and ethical considerations related to special education. Therefore, while the program's difficulty level may vary from person to person, it can generally be considered a challenging degree program that requires a significant commitment of time and effort.

The master’s in early childhood special education online and evening degree program requires a total of 53 credits for completion. Most of the classes are six weeks in length. Fill out the form on this page to speak to a university counselor to better understand how long it takes to earn your master’s in early childhood education and early childhood special education.

If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.

1 Retrieved from Intelligent, Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Degree Programs in April 2023 

2 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers as of May 2021, retrieved on April 6, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as kindergarten and elementary school teachers. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates. 

 3  The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Special Education Teachers as of May 2021, retrieved on April 6, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as special education teachers. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates. 

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, Oct. 4). Special Education Teachers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved April 10, 2023. 

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 56
Online: 6 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
TUITION RATE:
Online: $605 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

Major:
56 credits
Degree Requirements:
56 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course begins by acquainting candidates with the GCU learning management system, while preparing them to be successful graduate-level students and future teachers. The course places primary focus on the fundamental basis of the field of early childhood education and early childhood special education, Birth to Age 5/Pre-K to K to Age 8/Grade 3, including historical and philosophical foundations, current practices, ethics, models of teaching, and application in early childhood education/early childhood special education settings. Additionally, professional preparation requirements and professional development opportunities in the field are explored. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates are introduced to the identifying characteristics of disabilities, including dyslexia, in children birth to age 8/Grade 3. Teacher candidates will be introduced to the components of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to understand the identification, data collection and referral process for special education. They will identify the risk factors and purpose of early intervention through understanding the characteristics of exceptional children, including dyslexia. Teacher candidates will survey the different types of family and service plans that are developed to support students with exceptionalities through collaboration with stakeholders.

Course Description

This course examines effective instructional planning specific to early childhood and early childhood special education. Students are introduced to the process of instructional planning from evaluating student needs to creating developmentally appropriate objectives, learning activities, including play-based learning interventions, and assessments aligned with state learning standards. Accommodation, modification, and differentiation of instruction and assessment to meet the various needs of learners with and without exceptionalities are examined in the context of early childhood and early childhood special education. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course explores the foundations of early language acquisition and literacy development for children Birth to Grade 3/Age 8. Teacher candidates focus on the essential components of oral language development and early literacy in the context of creating research-based instruction that is developmentally appropriate for the early childhood special education setting. In addition, teacher candidates explore assistive technology, including the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems, to enhance communication and learning. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates research theories and models of classroom management and consider the development and characteristics of young children with and without exceptionalities. The course emphasizes data collection, social/emotional development, and behavioral and crisis intervention, with a focus on evidence-based practices for creating safe, inclusive, respectful, challenging, and positive classroom environments. Candidates create a classroom management philosophy and plan and use student data to create a behavioral intervention plan (BIP). The practicum/field experiences for this course are in inclusive birth to Grade 3 settings. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Candidates examine the United States Constitution, and the constitution of the State of Arizona. From this foundational review, candidates will explore application of the United States Constitution and the constitution of the State of Arizona in educational contexts. Practicum/field experience hours: 3. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

In this course, teacher candidates examine the fundamentals of the legal, historical, and educational foundations of Structured English Immersion (SEI) and other instructional programs for English language learners. Theoretical principles of language acquisition and the role of culture in learning are examined. Methods of assessment are identified and analyzed. Teacher candidates identify strategies to promote English language development and improve student achievement. Through Universal Design for Learning they plan, deliver, and evaluate standards-based instruction for English language learners. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This course examines current special education laws and professional practices in the early childhood education setting. Emphasis is placed on Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), assessment, identification, and implementation of services. IFSP, IEP and 504 plans are discussed. Candidates also incorporate data-based decision making and utilization of assistive technology in instruction. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required. Prerequisite: ECS-500.

Course Description

This course explores components of typical and atypical literacy development for children Birth to Age 8/Grade 3. Coursework emphasizes research-based phonics development and the science of reading, including phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Teacher candidates focus on assessing developmental and other literacy concerns, including dyslexia, with an emphasis on intervention, remediation, and differentiation strategies to support literacy development in young children. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ECS-570 or ECE-501.

Course Description

This course provides teacher candidates with a robust view of assessment, evaluation, and reporting in early childhood education, including for early identification and developing IFSPs and IEPs for young children, Birth to Grade 3/Age 8. Data are used to assess, monitor, and report the progress of young children with and without exceptionalities. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive K-Grade 3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This course explores child growth and development, including developmental milestones that must be met with regards to physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. The course emphasizes health, safety, and nutrition with a focus on special health care needs for young children. The candidate will use data to analyze the development of the whole child and consider best practices for family involvement. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course examines historical foundations, theories, and models of child development, including family characteristics, diversity, multicultural factors, and community relationships. Teacher candidates identify community organizations that support children with exceptionalities and their families. Candidates also identify ways to use those resources to advocate for children and their families. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course examines cross-content instructional methodologies for teaching language arts, social studies, and the arts to children with and without exceptionalities. Candidates consider the developmental continuum of literacy instruction based on student data and individual needs. Emphasis is placed on creating project-based instruction that integrates language arts, social studies, and the arts. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive preschool-grade 3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates research instructional methodologies to include inquiry-based and hands-on learning for teaching children with and without exceptionalities with an emphasis on STEM content (science, technology, engineering, and math) instruction. Candidates use data to differentiate learning outcomes to meet the needs of individual students and develop a unit plan that incorporates all STEM components. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive K-3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates spend time in an inclusive birth-preschool setting observing and evaluating students with and without exceptionalities. Emphasis will be placed on developmentally appropriate instruction and classroom management, as well as partnering with families to promote development in young children. Practicum/field experience hours: 40. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: ECS-510 and ECS-590.

Course Description

Teacher candidates spend time in an inclusive Kindergarten to Grade 3 setting observing and evaluating students with and without exceptionalities. Practical application of the elements of reading and writing instruction are examined to inform assessment, intervention, and remediation. Teacher candidates select, adapt, and implement research-based instructional strategies and interventions to advance the learning for all students. Particular focus is placed on literacy intervention and remediation to support readers of varying ages and ability levels, including students with dyslexia. Emphasis will be placed on developmentally appropriate instruction, as well as partnering with families to promote development in young children. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive Kindergarten to Grade 3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 40. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: ECS-562 and ECS-575.

Course Description

Teacher candidates are engaged in substantial experiences with both early childhood and early childhood special education populations alongside appropriately certified mentors throughout this student teaching course that includes, but is not limited to, practical classroom experiences, research, analysis, and teaching to support the creation of a Student Teaching Evaluation of Performance (STEP) and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Performance Template. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: Successful completion of all courses in POS and content area; a 3.0 GPA; successful completion of NES or your state’s mandated content area exams; and approval and placement by College of Education Office of Clinical Practice. All paperwork for student teaching must be submitted by the due date the semester prior to student teaching.

Locations

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.