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 that permits students to prepare for 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. The program 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.

An Affordable Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education in Pa.

General Education Goals

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

  • Communicate accurately and appropriately using verbal and written language to explain, discuss, and facilitate the exchange of relevant knowledge using information technology, critical thinking, and information literacy.
  • Demonstrate reasoning through a range of approaches for analysis, evaluation, and problem-solving that includes fluent and accurate use of computational methods and mathematical approaches to solve problems and analyze data, application of scientific approaches to explain physical phenomena, and expression of informed opinions about artistic or philosophical works.
  • Explore and analyze respect for diversity through exposure to differing ideas, opinions, experiences, and worldviews.
  • Exhibit professionalism through adherence to principles of ethical behavior and organizational codes of conduct while assuming responsibility and accountability for one’s actions.

Early Childhood Education Program-Specific Goals

Upon successful completion of the program, students should be able to:

  • Analyze physical, cognitive, language, and social-emotional development of typical and atypical children;
  • Identify and apply major theories and concepts associated with developmentally appropriate practices in teaching, learning, and quality care at the early childhood level;
  • Develop performance skills in concepts and methods associated with curriculum planning, instructional design, lesson delivery, assessment, and classroom environment; and
  • Promote positive relationships and effective communication strategies between children, families, and early learning professionals while acknowledging sensitivity to the cultural contexts in which children are developing.

What can I do with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education 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 the 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 earn a high school diploma, earn a GED, or be enrolled as a junior or senior in a high school career and technical program in early childhood education; 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, Preschool, Family Child Care, or Home Visitor. This program offers a stackable, portable 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
  • ECE 232: Child Development
  • ECE 234: Physical and Cognitive Development of Infants and Toddlers

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 40 hours for each successfully completed course, or up to 120hours, in the Pennsylvania Professional Development Registry (the statewide Early Childhood Education Workforce Registry).