Early Childhood Education Associate Degree

Associate of Applied Science

The Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education provides students with knowledge, skills, and abilities associated with guiding the social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive development of children from birth to age ten in a variety of educational and childcare settings. The program establishes a foundation of first-and second-year coursework that:

  • Permits students to prepare to seek a baccalaureate degree in early childhood education. Students with this educational goal should select course requirements within their planned four-year major field of study as identified by the college or university to which they plan to transfer.
  • Allows for increased marketability for direct entry into the workforce in an entry-level position with an early childhood education provider.
  • Affords those currently employed by early childhood education providers with professional growth opportunities to take advantage of the benefits associated with attainment of formal credentials associated with the profession.

An Affordable Early Childhood Education Associates Program in Pa.

General Education Goals

In alignment with the general education goals of the college, upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Accurately and appropriately use verbal and written language to explain, discuss, facilitate, and comprehend the exchange of relevant knowledge, which includes information technology, critical thinking, and information literacy.
  • Employ a range of approaches for analysis, evaluation, and problem-solving that includes the ability to express informed opinions about artistic works, fluently and accurately use computational methods and mathematical reasoning to solve problems and analyze data, and apply scientific approaches to explain physical phenomena.
  • Express an appreciation of multiculturalism, promotion of a culture of respect for others, and recognition of differing ideas or opinions.
  • Exhibit adherence to principles of ethical behavior and organizational codes of conduct, the exercise of good judgement, and the assumption of personal responsibility for one’s actions and choices.

Early Childhood Education Program-Specific Goals

At the conclusion of this program, students will successfully be able to:

  • Exhibit professional knowledge of the physical, emotional, social, language, and cognitive development of typical and atypical early learners.
  • Identify and apply major theories and concepts associated with early learning.
  • Develop performance skills in concepts and methods associated with curriculum planning, instructional design, and lesson delivery that foster enthusiasm for learning.
  • Promote positive relationships between children and adults to encourage each child’s sense of individual worth and belonging as part of a community.
  • Demonstrate ability to construct and implement a variety of formal and informal approaches of assessing learning and development in early learners.
  • Build skills for eliciting effective reciprocal communications between teachers, early learners, and the families and communities of young children with sensitivity to the cultural contexts in which children are developing.

What can you do with an Early Childhood Education Associate Degree in PA?

An Associate of Applied Science Degree in Early Childhood Education prepares students to serve in a number of roles serving children from birth through age ten and is designated as “Level B” on Pennsylvania’s Early Care and Educator Career Pathway. Career opportunities include assistant teacher, paraprofessional (teacher’s aide), group supervisor, school-aged childcare, and community organization staff. Additionally, graduates are eligible to own and operate a home child care program or serve as a lead teacher in certain settings. The program establishes a foundation that permits students to prepare for a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. It also allows for increased marketability for direct entry into the workforce in an entry-level position with an early childhood education provider, and affords those currently employed by early childhood education providers with professional growth opportunities to take advantage of the benefits associated with attainment of formal credentials associated with the profession.

Child Development Associate Credential (CDA)

The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential is the most widely recognized credential in the Early Childhood Education field and is awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition. To earn a CDA, students must have a high school diploma, complete 120 hours of professional education, complete 480 hours of work experience within the last three years at a licensed early childhood facility, compile a professional portfolio, pass the CDA exam, and have a satisfactory verification visit. Students at NPRC can choose a CDA age level for Infant-Toddler or Preschool. This program offers a stackable credential and regardless of the path to receive the CDA, it transfers directly into NPRC’s Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education.

Portions of NPRC’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) curriculum aligns with requirements for the Child Development Associate (CDA) Professional Portfolio. Two courses, each earning three academic credits, include assessments and outcomes that help students prepare to meet CDA requirements:

  • ECE 110: Introduction to Early Childhood Education (offered Fall only)
  • ECE 118: Family Involvement and Collaboration (offered Spring only)

A third ECE program course, of the student’s choice, is selected to fulfill their required 120-hours of professional education. The following courses are recommended options and contain content to help students prepare for the CDA exam:

  • ECE 120: Instructional and Classroom Design for Early Childhood Curricula
  • ECE 216: Social and Emotional Growth of Infants and Toddlers (offered Fall only)
  • ECE 230: Child Development: Birth to Age 5 (offered Spring of even calendar years)
  • ECE 232: Child Development: Ages 5-10 (offered Fall of even calendar years)
  • ECE 233: Infant Physical and Cognitive Development: Birth to 12 Months (offered Spring of even calendar years)
  • ECE 234: Toddler Physical and Cognitive Development: 12 to 36 Months (offered Fall of even calendar years)

Students who successfully complete these three required courses will be prepared to take the CDA exam and complete their verification visit.

Completion of the credit-bearing CDA coursework satisfies nine academic credits toward the Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education. Students who complete any three ECE courses may be awarded 120-hours in the Pennsylvania Professional Development Registry (the statewide Early Childhood Education Workforce Registry).