Best Colleges for early Childhood Education in California

Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by

Are you interested in learning more about early childhood education degree programs in California, or the Child Development Ph.D. program? Continue to read about our exclusive article below that features the best colleges for early childhood education in California and will tell potential applicants all they need to know about getting an excellent education in this subject matter.

Early childhood education degree is one of the most sought after degrees in California. Programs that provide this type of degree are hard to find. If you are currently living in this state and thinking about pursuing a career in early childhood education degree program, it is best to be familiar with some of the best college offering this program.

Early childhood education is an important subject as this is the time children grow and learn. There is a big responsibility on the shoulders of those who teach these little ones. If you have a passion for children and you want to teach kids, then you should specialize in early childhood education. What Can You Do With an Early Childhood Education Degree?

You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on Best Colleges for early Childhood Education in California. Read on to learn more.

We at collegelearners .com have all the information that you need about Best Colleges for early Childhood Education in California.

I would recommend you save time and effort by visiting our website as soon as possible for the answer to Best Colleges for early Childhood Education in California.

Child Development Careers | BestColleges

There are many accredited education degree programs in California for teachers specializing in the development of young children from birth-8. California lies along the Pacific Coast as America’s third most extensive state and most populous state. The “Golden State” provides golden opportunities for new teachers. California school districts cater to over 6.2 million PreK-12 students. Due to low per capita funding, California ranks 49th in teacher-pupil ratio at 21:1. In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown stated that 30 percent of California’s students are undocumented or non-native English speakers. California employs 47,710 early childhood educators, which is the nation’s highest. Graduates can expect an annual average salary of $34,280, or $16,48 per hour. Set youth up for a lifetime of success by receiving your teacher training at one of the following accredited California universities.

California State University at Chico

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Created in 1887 as the California State Normal School, California State University at Chico has evolved into a comprehensive, public liberal arts institution with over 16,000 undergraduates and 1,100 post-graduates on its 119-acre rural campus in Butte County just 90 miles north of Sacramento. Named the nation’s 273rd best master’s institution for social mobility in Washington Monthly, CSU Chico is the 42nd top college and 9th best public school in the West according to U.S. News. The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences offers programs rooted in peer mentoring for majors from social work to economics and anthropology.

Bachelor of Arts in Child Development

At CSU Chico, the Bachelor of Arts in Child Development program supports students who wish to work directly with children and families in teaching, advocacy, or administrative capacities. Within the 120-unit curriculum, students fulfill California’s qualifications for Child Development Permit at the Site Supervisor level for childcare. Coursework delves into biology, human genetics, curriculum design, prenatal-infant development, early childhood education, familial relations, and sociology. Students benefit from working with preschoolers at the Associated Students Child Development Laboratory (ASCDL). Over 40 social service agencies are available for completing the 250-hour supervised internship requirement. There’s also a double major, Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and Child Development, offered. Students may qualify for the $1,200 Luella Hopton Madsen Scholarship.


  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


400 West First Street
Chico, CA 95929
(530) 898-5250
[email protected]

California State University Fresno

Kremen School of Education & Human Development

Nestled on a 388-acre urban campus in the San Joaquin Valley just 58 miles from Yosemite National Park, California State University Fresno is an award-winning public teaching institution with over 24,100 students studying in 108 fields of study. Noted as America’s 134th best public return on investment by PayScale, CSU Fresno is ranked the 52nd best college and 12th top public school in the West for the U.S. News survey. Since 1953, the accredited Kremen School of Education & Human Development has prepared educators for fostering human potential in diverse communities.

Master of Arts in Education – Early Childhood Education Option

As California’s only NAEYC accredited program, the Master of Arts in Education – Early Childhood Education Option develops teacher leaders for serving children from birth through third grade. The 30-unit program includes coursework on literacy, curriculum development, learning assessment, concept development, diversity, inclusion, and leadership. Students must complete a supervised ECE field practicum and capstone project or comprehensive exam. The on-campus Joyce M. Huggins Early Childhood Education Center allows M.A.Ed. students to work with toddlers from low-income families. Graduates can also provide literacy tutoring to elementary students in the Reading Laboratory. For admissions, a B.A./B.S. degree with valid teaching credentials and minimum 2.75 GPA are required. There’s also an Early Childhood Education Specialist program.


  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


5005 North Maple Avenue
Fresno, CA 93740
(559) 278-0238
[email protected]

California State University Fullerton

College of Education

Serving over 38,900 students, California State University Fullerton is the system’s second largest public, Hispanic-serving research institution conferring over 240 degrees from its main 236-acre urban campus in Orange County just 29 miles from Los Angeles. Honored as the 39th top college in America by the Social Mobility Index, CSU Fullerton is ranked the 37th best university and 7th top public school in the West by the U.S. News. The NCATE-accredited College of Education is also acclaimed for hosting the country’s 34th best online graduate teaching degrees.

M.S. in Education for Elementary Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Early Childhood Education

Aligned with CCTC license standards, the M.S. in Education for Elementary Curriculum and Instruction program builds 21st century skills for engaging students in interactive learning environments. Focus is placed on the 4 Cs: critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. Students can select the emphasis in Early Childhood Education to sharpen leadership abilities in agencies serving children from birth to 8. The 30-unit program uses a hybrid format of online and on-campus meetings in Fullerton. Part-time students devote five semesters to transforming into effective specialists in critical early schooling years. Campus sessions are conveniently in evenings, but student teaching takes place during daytime. Certificates can be added in Art, Computing, Reading, or Spanish Language and Culture.


  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


800 North State College Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831
(657) 278-4731
[email protected]

California State University Long Beach

College of Education

Founded in 1949 by post-WWII Governor Earl Warren, California State University Long Beach is the third largest public, state space-grant research institution with over 37,400 students studying on its beautiful 323-acre urban campus on the coastal tip of Los Angeles County. Ranked 92nd nationally in The Daily Beast, CSULB is named the West’s 32nd best regional college and 5th top public school by the U.S. News. Also acclaimed for the country’s 141st best speech-language pathology program, the College of Education is committed to excellence in building professional careers of educational service.

Master of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Education

CSULB offers a Master of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Education for teachers wishing to update their skills for developmentally appropriate teaching practices in diverse, inclusive classrooms from birth through third grade. Students apply theoretical perspectives to fostering learning in young children and building strong family relationships. The 30-unit program comes with a comprehensive exam, master’s thesis, or capstone project track. All students will take campus-based courses in qualitative research, teacher leadership, infant-toddler development, parental involvement, curriculum design, and assessment. CalTPA workshops can be added to fulfill multiple and single-subject credentialing requirements. ECE faculty have research interests ranging from special education to multiculturalism and technology. Students could qualify for the $3,000 Laura E. Settle Scholarship.


  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


1250 Bellflower Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90840
(562) 985-1156
[email protected]

California State University Los Angeles

Charter College of Education

Facing the San Gabriel Mountains, California State University Los Angeles is located on a 175-acre urban campus in the University Hills neighborhood just five miles from downtown to serve over 27,600 students as a comprehensive public land-grant institution. Listed among Time magazine’s top 100 colleges using White House criteria, Cal State LA is ranked the 63nd best college, 18th top public school, and 45th best university for veterans in the West by the U.S. News. The Charter College of Education (CCOE) is NCATE-accredited to enroll about eight percent of university enrollment in teacher preparation.

M.A. in Education in Early Childhood/Primary Education

With an emphasis on inclusive urban teaching, the M.A. in Education in Early Childhood/Primary Education program at Cal State LA prepares graduates to promote the optimal development of young children through eight years old. Students learn to serve the Greater Los Angeles area as Head Start directors, early education teachers, child welfare coordinators, principals, and community college instructors. The 45-unit program includes a comprehensive exam and applied capstone seminar. Coursework is delivered primarily on-site to build skills for working collaboratively with colleagues to achieve learning goals. For admission, having valid teaching credentials in California, two years of teaching experience, and a minimum 2.75 GPA is essential. There’s also an Ed.S. for Early Childhood Special Education.


  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
(323) 343-6163
[email protected]

California State University Northridge

Michael D. Eisner College of Education

First opened in 1958 as San Fernando Valley State College, California State University Northridge is a large public, master’s teaching institution enlightening over 41,500 students each year from its 353-acre suburban campus in Los Angeles near Granada Hills. Named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, CSUN is ranked the 70th best college and 24th top public school in the West by the U.S. News. Known for producing the most California teachers, the Michael D. Eisner College of Education is one of four colleges recognized by Carnegie for exemplary educator preparation.

M.A.Ed. in Educational Psychology/Early Childhood Education

Aligned with NAEYC standards, the M.A.Ed. in Educational Psychology/Early Childhood Education option at CSU Northridge is designed to promote an in-depth understanding of young children, families, and communities. Featuring convenient evening classes, the 30-unit cohort program blends contemporary theories with real-world research and classroom experience. Students gain fieldwork through the Early Childhood Education Partnerships for Excellence and the WestEd Bridging Cultures Project. If desired, teachers can add the 15-unit Infant-Toddler Mental Health Certificate to support emotional and cognitive development. There’s also a Post-Master’s Certificate in Parent-Child Consultation. Graduates can excel as early childhood teachers or administrators in PreK-3 educational settings. Admissions requires a 3.0 GPA or satisfactory GRE subject scores.


  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330
(818) 677-2529
[email protected]

California State University Stanislaus

College of Science

Headquartered on a 228-acre suburban campus in Turlock within California’s Central Valley just 14 miles from Modesto, California State University Stanislaus is an accredited, four-year public state institution focused on “Engaging, Empowering, and Transforming” over 9,200 students yearly. Ranked fifth nationally for upward mobility by National Public Radio, Stanislaus State is the West’s 57th best college and 15th top public university according to the U.S. News. Housed in the state-of-the-art Naraghi Hall, the College of Science has an intellectual community studying biology, chemistry, child development, computer science, cognitive studies, geology, mathematics, nursing, physics, and psychology.

Bachelor of Arts in Child Development

The Bachelor of Arts in Child Development program at CSU Stanislaus introduces students to the developmental theories that explain the physical-motor, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional changes associated with child growth. Students learn to apply these principles into protecting the education and welfare of children from birth to adolescence. The B.A. unlocks jobs in preschools, childcare centers, elementary schools, county education offices, social services, and more. The 37-credit major satisfies requirements for California’s Child Center Permit. Along with coursework in the Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, or Child Development Services emphases, students must complete a two-unit field internship. There’s also a Fast Track major available for those with an A.A. or A.S. degree in child development.


  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


One University Circle
Turlock, CA 95382
(209) 667-3386
[email protected]

Loyola Marymount University

School of Education

Established in 1911 after St. Vincent’s College, Loyola Marymount University is one of the West Coast’s largest private, co-educational Roman Catholic institutions with over 6,200 undergrad and 3,100 post-grad students enrolling on its 150-acre urban campus in Westside Los Angeles overlooking Marina Del Rey. Recognized for America’s 17th “Happiest Students” by Princeton Review, LMU is ranked the 3rd top college and 15th best value school in the West in the U.S. News survey. Featuring NCATE accreditation, the School of Education is also distinguished for the country’s 62nd best graduate teacher preparation.

M.A. in Early Childhood Education

Currently on hiatus, the M.A. in Early Childhood Education at LMU admits new cohorts for Fall semesters to transform students into early childhood teachers, policymakers, advocates, and program directors. The two-year program covers 32 units to deliver in-depth insights into the cognitive, social, physical, and emotional factors pertaining to youth development. Coursework will include developmental theory, infancy, early childhood, linguistics, curriculum design, learning assessment, research methods, and ECE administration. At least three fieldwork semesters are required for real-world classroom experience. The final summer sessions is devoted to a capstone master’s project. Loyola Marymount has a PLACE Corps program for students to serve in under-resourced LA Catholic schools.


  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


1 LMU Drive Suite 2100
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 258-8768
[email protected]

National University

Sanford College of Education

Boasting over 150,000 alumni in all 50 states, National University is California’s second largest private, non-profit higher education institution first established in 1971 on a main urban campus in La Jolla along the Pacific coastline. Each year, NU educates over 24,400 students either online or at 24 locations from California and Nevada to Florida. Acclaimed for America’s 114th best online bachelor’s programs by the U.S. News, NU was named a “Great College to Work For” in Chronicle of Higher Education. The Sanford College of Education ranks sixth nationally in awarding master’s degrees in education to minority groups.

Bachelor of Arts with Major in Early Childhood Education

NU’s Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (BAECE) program is constructed around the competency standards outlined by the Child Development Associate Council (CDA). Fulfilling California permit requirements, the 180-unit program trains students to design age-appropriate learning environments with adaptive curricula for children from zero to eight. Concentrations are available in Early Childhood Administration, Teacher Education, or Infant and Toddler. Courses will explore topics like early cognition, literacy development, diversity, nutrition, family relations, pedagogical play, special needs intervention, and lesson planning. Field experience is built within upper-division seminars. Although most courses are online, students can enroll at 14 California locations, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Bernardino. There’s also a Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Education.


  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


11255 N. Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037
(310) 662-2163
[email protected]

University of La Verne

College of Education and Organizational Leadership

Affiliated with the Church of the Brethern, the University of La Verne is a private, non-profit Christian institution founded in 1891 to educate around 2,700 students yearly from its 26-acre suburban campus in La Verne just 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles and 10 satellite locations. Given a C+ financial grade from Forbes magazine, ULV is ranked as America’s 160th best university and 130th top college for veterans with the 24th best online bachelor’s degrees by the U.S. News. The College of Education and Organizational Leadership has NCATE approval to prepare professional educators in flexible, interactive classes.

Child Development, B.S.

Available at the La Verne, Burbank, Irvine, Ontario, Oxnard, and Victorville campuses, the Child Development B.S. program grants a bachelor’s degree to students pursuing careers working with young children from birth through third grade. Students spend four years full-time studying the normal and abnormal development of children in relation to family, school, and community. The 52-credit major also has an accelerated option for adults 25+ who have an associate degree from an accredited community college. Students must pass courses in child psychology, parenting theory, toddler group care, literacy, cultural diversity, and early childhood assessment. Senior fieldwork is available at La Verne’s Child Development Center. Other placements have included Cecilia Solorio Elementary, Yorba Elementary, and Bonita Unified School District.


  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


1950 Third Street
La Verne, CA 91750
(909) 593-3511
[email protected]

Research from the NEA supports that children who receive high-quality early childhood education are less likely to drop out, require special needs services, and get arrested later. Preschool programs reap a 12 percent return on investment according to the Federal Reserve Bank. Proof of its effectiveness on long-term intellectual development has drawn an increasing demand in early childhood. Hiring of preschool teachers is expected to grow by 7 percent through 2024. Fulfill your teaching goals by pursuing these accredited education degree programs in California.

Best Colleges For Early Childhood Education In California

We have created a 2021 ranking of the best colleges in California that offer Early Childhood Ed degrees to help you find a school that fits your needs. Each school’s ranking is based on the compilation of our data from reliable government sources, student surveys, college graduate interviews, and editorial review. In addition, you can view our entire list of all 147 Early Childhood Ed schools located within California. We also provide reviews, facts, and questions and answers for schools on our site and offer you access to get valuable information from colleges and universities today.

Best Early Childhood Ed Colleges in California for 2021

1Santa Clara UniversitySanta Clara, CASanta Clara University Santa Clara University offers 1 Early Childhood Ed Degree program. It’s a medium sized private university in a mid sized city.Based on 20 ReviewsRead more: Santa Clara University Reviews
2Loyola Marymount UniversityLos Angeles, CALoyola Marymount University Loyola Marymount University offers 1 Early Childhood Ed Degree program. It’s a medium sized private university in a large city. In 2015, 11 students graduated in the study area of Early Childhood Ed with students earning 11 Master’s degrees.Based on 28 ReviewsRead more: Loyola Marymount University Reviews
3University of La VerneLa Verne, CAUniversity of La Verne University of La Verne offers 3 Early Childhood Ed Degree programs. It’s a medium sized private university in a large suburb. In 2015, 103 students graduated in the study area of Early Childhood Ed with students earning 71 Bachelor’s degrees, and 32 Master’s degrees.Based on 4 ReviewsRead more: University of La Verne Reviews
4San Diego State UniversitySan Diego, CASan Diego State University San Diego State University offers 4 Early Childhood Ed Degree programs. It’s a large public university in a large city. In 2015, 198 students graduated in the study area of Early Childhood Ed with students earning 143 Bachelor’s degrees, 34 Certificates degrees, and 21 Master’s degrees.Based on 44 ReviewsRead more: San Diego State University Reviews
5Saint Mary’s College of CaliforniaMoraga, CASaint Mary's College of California Saint Mary’s College of California offers 3 Early Childhood Ed Degree programs. It’s a medium sized private university in a outlying rural. In 2015, 8 students graduated in the study area of Early Childhood Ed with students earning 4 Master’s degrees, and 4 Certificates degrees.Based on 4 ReviewsRead more: Saint Mary’s College of California Reviews
6California Polytechnic State University-San Luis ObispoSan Luis Obispo, CACalifornia Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo offers 2 Early Childhood Ed Degree programs. It’s a large public university in a small suburb. In 2015, 68 students graduated in the study area of Early Childhood Ed with students earning 68 Bachelor’s degrees.Based on 68 ReviewsRead more: California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo Reviews
7California State University-FullertonFullerton, CACalifornia State University Fullerton Image by Jack Miller California State University-Fullerton offers 2 Early Childhood Ed Degree programs. It’s a large public university in a large suburb. In 2015, 417 students graduated in the study area of Early Childhood Ed with students earning 417 Bachelor’s degrees.Based on 44 ReviewsRead more: California State University-Fullerton Reviews
8Fresno Pacific UniversityFresno, CAFresno Pacific University Fresno Pacific University offers 4 Early Childhood Ed Degree programs. It’s a small private university in a large city. In 2015, 67 students graduated in the study area of Early Childhood Ed with students earning 67 Bachelor’s degrees.Based on 4 ReviewsRead more: Fresno Pacific University Reviews
9San Francisco State UniversitySan Francisco, CASan Francisco State University San Francisco State University offers 3 Early Childhood Ed Degree programs. It’s a large public university in a large city. In 2015, 113 students graduated in the study area of Early Childhood Ed with students earning 112 Bachelor’s degrees, and 1 Certificates degree.Based on 24 ReviewsRead more: San Francisco State University Reviews
10California State University-FresnoFresno, CACalifornia State University-Fresno California State University-Fresno offers 2 Early Childhood Ed Degree programs. It’s a large public university in a large city. In 2015, 71 students graduated in the study area of Early Childhood Ed with students earning 71 Bachelor’s degrees.Based on 12 ReviewsRead more: California State University-Fresno Reviews

Northcentral University The things that make us different also make us better. Northcentral University was founded to provide accessible, high-quality, online graduate degrees to working professionals. No physical residency requirements and weekly course starts to fit your schedule. Sponsored Link

List of all Early Childhood Ed Colleges in California

Filter: Degree Levels

  • Associate’s
  • Bachelor’s
  • Certificates
  • Doctoral
  • Master’s

Program Length

  • Less than 2 years (below associate)
  • At least 2 but less than 4 years
  • Four or more years

Control Type

  • Private for-profit
  • Private not-for-profit
  • Public
School LogoSchool NameAverage tuitionStudent Teacher RatioEnrolled Students
Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA5/514 : 18,680
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA5/513 : 19,392
University of La Verne La Verne, CA5/521 : 18,334
San Diego State University San Diego, CA2/531 : 134,254
Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga, CA5/510 : 14,030
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA3/523 : 120,944
California State University-Fullerton Fullerton, CA2/530 : 138,948
Fresno Pacific University Fresno, CA5/513 : 13,342
San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA2/528 : 130,256
California State University-Fresno Fresno, CA2/527 : 124,136
San Jose State University San Jose, CA2/531 : 132,773
Point Loma Nazarene University San Diego, CA5/518 : 13,663
Biola University La Mirada, CA5/519 : 16,227
Whittier College Whittier, CA5/512 : 12,187
California State University-Chico Chico, CA2/526 : 117,220
Mills College Oakland, CA5/510 : 11,397
Mount Saint Mary’s University Los Angeles, CA5/514 : 13,431
California State University-Northridge Northridge, CA2/532 : 141,548
California Baptist University Riverside, CA5/522 : 18,541
California State University-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA2/532 : 127,680
California State University-Sacramento Sacramento, CA2/531 : 130,284
California State University-San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA2/533 : 120,024
Pitzer College Claremont, CA5/512 : 11,067
Holy Names University Oakland, CA5/514 : 11,049
California State University-Stanislaus Turlock, CA2/525 : 19,282
School LogoSchool NameAverage tuitionStudent Teacher RatioEnrolled Students
Pacific Union College Angwin, CA5/517 : 11,555
California State University-Dominguez Hills Carson, CA2/531 : 114,635
National University La Jolla, CA3/530 : 117,488
Vanguard University of Southern California Costa Mesa, CA5/521 : 12,184
California State University-Bakersfield Bakersfield, CA2/529 : 19,228
Foothill College Los Altos Hills, CA1/547 : 115,448
MiraCosta College Oceanside, CA1/541 : 115,062
Saddleback College Mission Viejo, CA1/542 : 119,552
Diablo Valley College Pleasant Hill, CA1/543 : 119,694
Grossmont College El Cajon, CA1/545 : 118,159
Folsom Lake College Folsom, CA1/546 : 18,666
Orange Coast College Costa Mesa, CA1/553 : 122,140
Santa Barbara City College Santa Barbara, CA1/537 : 117,920
Las Positas College Livermore, CA1/544 : 18,912
El Camino Community College District Torrance, CA1/546 : 124,001
Santa Monica College Santa Monica, CA1/545 : 130,615
Irvine Valley College Irvine, CA1/545 : 113,183
Pasadena City College Pasadena, CA1/546 : 127,050
College of the Canyons Santa Clarita, CA1/548 : 118,437
Mt San Antonio College Walnut, CA1/545 : 128,991
Santiago Canyon College Orange, CA1/550 : 111,187
San Diego Mesa College San Diego, CA1/555 : 124,208
Moorpark College Moorpark, CA1/551 : 114,027
Los Angeles Valley College Valley Glen, CA1/556 : 118,838
Santa Ana College Santa Ana, CA1/567 : 129,808

early childhood education degree

Early childhood educators work with children, from infancy to grade school, sharing fundamental skills and knowledge.

Few occupations offer a greater opportunity to influence individuals and the world at large than jobs in education. Early childhood educators work with children, from infancy to grade school, sharing fundamental skills and knowledge in a number of areas: fine and gross motor skills, basic math, letters and reading, social studies, art and music. Teachers commit to a lifetime of learning, frequently participating in professional development, recertification procedures, and working with coworkers and parents to standardize and enhance learning opportunities for their students. Early childhood educators may work in public schools, private schools, pre-schools and learning centers, or day care facilities. Entry-level requirements for employment typically include a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Explore our rankings of 25 top schools below, which offer everything from an essential early childhood education degree to accelerated dual-degree bachelor’s/master’s programs to combination degrees in early childhood and special education.

Top 10 Best Early Childhood Education Degrees

1University of GeorgiaAthens, GA
2Arizona State UniversityTempe, AZ
3New York UniversityNew York, NY
4Florida Gulf Coast UniversityFort Meyers, FL
5Mercer UniversityMacon, GA
6Indiana University-BloomingtonBloomington, IN
7University of FloridaGainesville, FL
8Kennesaw State UniversityKennesaw, GA
9University of Central FloridaOrlando, FL
10Georgia Gwinnett CollegeLawrenceville, GA

child development phd programs california

Doctorate in Early Childhood Education: Overview

A PhD in early childhood education program teaches how to design and improve educational support systems for pre-kindergarten children. Courses will initially cover topics in child development so that you may better understand students’ educational needs. At the same time, classes may explore effective ways to conduct and analyze research. Then, during your dissertation, you could combine these skills and knowledge to complete your own research in the hopes of advancing early childhood education as a field.

Popular Doctorate Programs in Early Childhood Education

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
School of EducationMills CollegePhD
Doctor of Education – Early Childhood EducationNorthcentral UniversityN/A
PhD in Education – Early Childhood Leadership & AdvocacyWalden UniversityN/A

Potential PhD in Early Childhood Education Courses

Early childhood education doctoral programs are designed to prepare students to take young children’s emotional, social, physical, and cognitive abilities into consideration inside the classroom. However unlike bachelors and masters degrees in the field, doctorate in early childhood education programs focus less on teaching and more on taking a leadership role. Therefore, classes cover how to design curriculum and enforce policy that could positively affect students from birth until kindergarten. Courses could include some of the following.

  • Social & Emotional Child Development
  • Family Learning

Child Psychology PhD Programs Guide

Earning a Ph.D. vs. a Psy.D.

All practicing psychologists must hold a doctorate — either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. The former degree emphasizes research, while the latter prepares students for clinical practice. Both types of child psychology graduate programs can lead to a career as a practicing psychologist, but only the Ph.D. qualifies graduates to teach or conduct research at the college level. Ideal for therapists, social workers, and other master’s degree-holders, a Psy.D. qualifies graduates to obtain licensure as a clinical psychologist.

Students typically complete either type of program in 4-7 years, including the 1-2 years required to earn a master’s degree. Ph.D. programs are often smaller and more competitive than Psy.D. programs. Ph.D. students often work as teaching or research assistants in exchange for financial aid, and Ph.D. programs typically include rigorous research methods coursework and a dissertation comprising original research. Psy.D. programs, on the other hand, may require a dissertation or a capstone project, in which students apply research to practical clinical situations.

Typical Admission Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE scores

Time to Completion:
4-7 years

Average Salary:

More information on Child psychology degrees

Why Get a Ph.D. in Child Psychology?

Earning a doctorate in child psychology can lead to a career as a clinical psychologist. Graduates often enjoy the professional and personal benefits listed below.

  • Clinical practice offers opportunities to help children and families cope with emotional and psychological challenges.
  • Psychology professors teach and research exciting and relevant topics.
  • Child psychology experts can make a significant impact by speaking or writing about their research or clinical practice.
  • Positively impacting the lives of patients, clients, and students can be highly rewarding.
  • Professionals can find fulfillment by designing therapies and interventions that help children.


  • Kent
  • Department Of Psychological Sciences
  • Graduate Programs
  • Training Areas
  • Clinical PhD Program
  • Clinical Child Psychology


The field of Clinical Child Psychology is devoted to understanding basic processes of change, in particular, how biological and experiential factors cause children’s social, emotional, and cognitive functioning to change as they grow older. The field grew out of an interest in understanding how childhood experiences can shape subsequent development. The area of child and adolescent psychology is rapidly growing. The demand for child clinical, developmental, and pediatric (child-health) psychologists to fill clinical, teaching, and research positions is growing. This is an opportune time to gain expertise in this field.

Faculty in or affiliated with the Clinical Child area work together to train students.  Graduate students can obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Child Psychology; however, students in the clinical training program can work with either a Clinical Child or Psychological Sciences faculty member. Students in the latter group (i.e., Psychological Sciences faculty member), must choose a Clinical Child faculty member to serve as their liaison within the clinical program. Our specialization’s research focus is interdisciplinary and students are expected to gain a thorough understanding in both normative and atypical development.

Faculty research in the child and adolescent psychology area at Kent State has three central foci:

  • Developmental Psychopathology
  • Ecological and Cultural Influences on Child Development
  • Pediatric (Child-Health) Psychology


Coursework in the Clinical Child Specialization. Coursework is designed to provide students with foundational knowledge in the field of clinical psychology as well as in the areas of child development and clinical child/pediatric psychology. Consequently, students complete the course requirements for the clinical training program, including courses that focus specifically on clinical child psychology (developmental psychopathology, intellectual and achievement testing, child psychotherapy, pediatric psychology).

  • During the first two years, students take graduate courses that cover developmental (cognitive development) and/or clinical child research (developmental psychopathology, child psychotherapy, pediatric psychology). In addition, the student gains expertise in ethnic minority and cultural issues in development and adaptation as well as in both statistics and research methods.
  • Students seeking to further develop their quantitative skills have the opportunity to participate in our Department’s strong quantitative psychology minor

Research Training. Research training is designed to develop students into highly skilled clinical child scientists. Graduate students are actively involved in research throughout their training. Across faculty members there is a strong track-record of extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

  • Several ongoing research collaborations exist among faculty in the Clinical Child and Psychological Sciences programs. Many faculty and students also have active research collaborations with other faculty and staff at local community agencies and hospitals (e.g. Akron Children’s Hospital , Allergy and Immunology Department, Department of Adolescent Medicine, Neurodevelopmental Science Center, Healthy Active Living Program [a transdisciplinary weight management clinic], Sickle Cell Program and Primary Care practices),  Akron Public Schools, Upward Bound, Community Youth Organizations, Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence, MetroHealth Medical Center) as well as universities around the country  (e.g. University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Georgia Tech University, Brown Medical School, and UCLA) . These collaborations provide opportunities for students to get involved in research and develop a network of professional relationships. Faculty are involved in research with diverse populations, including Black and Latino individuals and families and youth from a low-income background.
  • Graduate students are actively involved in research with faculty including the opportunity to publish peer-reviewed manuscripts and present at regional, national, and international conferences. Students are actively encouraged to develop their own research program and attend national and international research conferences where they can develop a network of professional relationships that is likely to help when applying for internships, post-doctoral training and academic/clinical positions.  Examples of conferences where faculty and students present are:  American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, National Multicultural Conference and Summit, Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Society for Pediatric Psychology, Society for Research in Child Development, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Society for Research on Adolescence, National Latinx Psychological Association).

Clinical Training: Through Years 2 to 5 in the program, students have the opportunity to gain experience in evidence-based treatment (e.g. Coping CAT/CAT Project, Habit Reversal Training, Exposure with Response Prevention, Behavioral Parent Training) and participate in a number of clinical practica, both within the department and in the community. A brief overview of these experiences is provided below:

  • 2nd year: General (child/adult) practicum in the Psychological Clinic. Most students seek practicum training with only children and families during their second-year; however, in consultation with their mentor and clinical supervisor, students may be permitted to work with adult clients if this provides the student with the best opportunity to achieve their short- and long-term career goals. Most students will also work with children and families within Dr. Flessner’s child anxiety and related disorder specialty clinic, providing students with an opportunity to work with children presenting with anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, tic disorders, and/or body-focused repetitive behaviors (i.e., hair pulling, skin picking).  
  • 3rd year: Child/family practicum within the Psychological Clinic. This practicum includes assessment and intervention with children, adolescents, and their families. Some students also have the opportunity to participate in a partial assessment placement at the Lawrence School or similar assessment-focused externships.
  • 4th year: Clinical placement (externship), approximately 15-20 hours/week, in a setting specialized in the assessment and treatment of children and families (e.g. mental health center, medical/pediatric setting). 
  • 5th year: Students prepare for and apply to clinical internship. Clinically, students may engage in a second year of clinical placement (externship), teaching, awarded fellowships, or some combination of these experiences. 

Teaching. Students are encouraged to become involved in undergraduate teaching. During the beginning of the 3rd year, students are enrolled in a teaching seminar and, with the supervision of a faculty member, teach one or several undergraduate courses (e.g. child psychology, social and personality development, cognitive development, adolescent psychology)


Clinical Child Faculty

Dr. Christopher A. Flessner – Risk factors implicated in the onset, course, and treatment of child obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (e.g., OCD, body-focused repetitive behaviors [BFRBs]) and tic disorders. Pediatric food allergies and behavioral intervention designed to increase adherence to safety practices.

Dr. Josefina Grau – Parent-child relationships and children’s social and emotional development, with an emphasis on cultural and contextual factors. Focus on Latina families and the influences of cultural orientation.

Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett – Culturally-relevant anxiety interventions, the acting white accusation and ethnic racial identity,  mobile applications for minorities in community settings.

Dr. Amy Sato – Pediatric (child-health) psychology, with an emphasis on pediatric obesity and the development of novel weight management interventions. Focus on the influences of family and stress as well as adolescents from lower-income backgrounds.

Psychological Sciences Faculty

Dr. William Merriman – Language acquisition and metacognition in young children.

Dr. Clarissa Thompson – Investigates ways children learn, develop strategies to solve problems, generalize knowledge to novel contexts, and remember information.

Faculty with Related Interests

Dr. Yossi Ben-Porath (Assessment): MMPI-2 and MMPI-A applications in a variety of settings (clinical, correctional, forensic, and pre-employment screening) and computerized adaptive testing with the MMPI instruments.

Dr. Jeffrey Ciesla (Adult psychopathology) – The processes and course of depressive disorders.

Dr. Douglas Delahanty (Health): Psychobiological predictors and correlates of PTSD in child trauma victims.

Dr. Maria Zaragoza (Cognitive): Factors that affect young children’s eyewitness memory.


  • Faculty and students have access to recently renovated lab space in the department.
  • The research labs at KSU include state of the art equipment (e.g., observational, Podcasting), software (e.g., Direct RT, Mplus), and technology for delivering interventions.
  • Faculty and graduate students actively collaborate with professionals at Akron Children’s Hospital and other local hospitals.  Physicians from local hospitals also can serve on thesis and doctoral committees.
  • Several faculty work with large-scale existing data sets including the NICHD Child Care Study.
Recent Clinical Child Ph.D.’s
  • Meghan Barlow, Ph.D.  Psychologist, Rocky River, OH
  • Elle Brennan, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow, Mayo Clinic
  • Patricia Castellanos, Ph.D. – Senior Clinical Psychologist, Director of Psychology Training, Primary Care Behavioral Health, Hennepin County Medical Center
  • Katy Darling, Ph.D. –  Postdoctoral Fellow, Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • Nicole Dempster, Ph.D. – Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Robert Dempster, Ph.D. – Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Petra Duran, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics – Psychology Section, Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital
  • Amy Fahrenkamp, Ph.D. –  Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic 
  • Shanna Guilfoyle, Ph.D. –  Assistant Professor, Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center
  • Bryan Karazsia, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, College of Wooster
  • Tracy Love Masterson, Ph.D. –  Associate Professor, John Carroll University
  • Andrea Mata, Ph.D. –  Assistant Professor, Findlay University
  • Marsheena Murray, Ph.D. –  Psychologist, MetroHealth Medical Center
  • Elizabeth Ruzicka, Ph.D. –  Postdoctoral Fellow, Colorado Children’s Hospital
  • Erin Smith, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Susquehana University
  • Lauren Wood, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado
  • Stephanie Silberman, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Clinical Child Psychologist at Albany Medical Center

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *