The Early Childhood Education program is designed for professionals who are interested in and committed to working with young children (birth through 8 years). At least one year prior experience with young children outside of the home is an important requirement of this program. These field experiences can be in childcare centers, early intervention agencies, community preschools, or primary elementary (grades k - 2) settings, and must include working directly with young children. Field experiences help prospective ECE professionals understand the challenges and become more competent and confident working with young children. Prospective applicants who do not have field experiences can apply for and, if accepted, start the ECE program while working (or volunteering) in a setting with young children. However, the applicant must indicate where and when they are planning to begin his or her first field experience as part of the application process. The field experience must begin within the first semester of enrollment in the ECE program and continue for the duration of the ECE program at UCD. We may restrict course registration without documentation of ongoing field experience.
The Early Childhood Education program is available in two format options: on-campus and online. The online option is limited to Colorado residents living 60 or more miles from Denver. Our online program objective is to provide an opportunity for higher education in ECE and the Colorado ECSE Specialist license for prospective students outside the Denver metro area who have limited access to advanced academic work in ECE. The online format follows a cohort model - a new group of online students is admitted every other January and takes all classes together in the same sequence.
Students living in the Denver metropolitan area are eligible to partake of the on-campus option. If a prospective student has highly unusual circumstances that prevent them from being able to attend late afternoon or weekend classes on-campus, an exemption may be made for the online eligibility requirements. On-campus students are admitted each semester.
Graduation requirements include completion of recommended courses, performance-based assessments, fieldwork, practica, and a comprehensive examination. The 36 credit hour MA degree usually takes 2 - 3 years to complete.
Field experiences are a part of each course and provide an opportunity for the student to gain knowledge, abilities, and dispositions while interacting with children, families, program staff, and community agencies. Students in the ECE program complete 200 clock hours of fieldwork in conjunction with courses.
Students completing the Master's degree in ECE complete 3 credit hours (225 clock hours) of practicum focusing on a student's career aspirations. Typically students spend a minimum of 25 supervised practicum hours with each of three age groups (infant/toddler, preschool, and primary grade), depending on their background and life experiences.
If you are seeking employment as classroom teachers in kindergarten and primary grades you must fulfill the Colorado Department of Education requirements for licensure in addition to the ECE Master's degree; some preschool programs in public schools also require licensed teachers.
If you would like to work in or to direct a child care/preschool center you must fulfill the Colorado Department of Human Services requirements for employment as group leader or director in some preschool or child-care settings. Students completing the MA in ECE automatically meet these requirements.