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School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver

School of Education and Human Development

MA, Early Childhood Education


Do you have a passion for education at the early stages of development (birth to eight)? Are you interested in working in a public school, child care program, private preschool or kindergartens, an early intervention program or a family support program? The early childhood education degree path is designed to prepare you with knowledge, skills and substantive support to meet the needs of young children and their families within our rapidly changing and diverse society.

Your classes are available in two formats (on-campus and online). Your coursework will include fascinating topics such as child growth and development, approaches to young children's learning, curriculum and program development, family-centered practice, culturally-responsive teaching in multicultural and multilingual settings, measurement and evaluation and research as it applies to early childhood education.

The program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

You will study with tremendous faculty who will connect you to the latest knowledge and practices emerging in early childhood education.

For additional information, contact us at or 303-315-6351.

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 CU Denver. 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 a viable option for prospective students living outside the Denver Metro Area who wish to purse higher education in ECE and the Colorado ECSE Specialist license but have limited access to in-person advanced work in ECE. It is also an excellent option for those living within the Denver Metro Area who need the online format due to work or family obligations or those who prefer the flexible schedule and individual time management offered in the online format. All classes are fully online; however, online students are required to come to Denver for a three to five day summer seminar each June to meet students and faculty face-to-face and attend student advising sessions.

Graduation requirements include completion of recommended courses, performance-based assessments, fieldwork, practica and a comprehensive examination. The 36 credit hour MA degree usually takes two to three 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.


Most ECE program classes are offered only once per calendar year. Courses are equally distributed between summer, fall, and spring terms. Average size is 25 to 30 student per class with students taking 1 to 3 courses per semester.

Classes are listed in approximate order of when they will be taken by students. Students must complete a program plan with an advisor prior to registration for classes. This can be done once admitted through our group orientation sessions held each semester or by individual appointment with a faculty member.

Course List






This program has continuing education​ master's level classes that build on one another and can be considered a pathway toward certificates and degrees. Classes are taught by expert faculty and influential members of our community.​


The professional roles our Early Childhood Education graduates assume include:
Lead teacher
Director of a child care center
Mentor teacher
Education coordinator
Early childhood professional development specialist
Resource and referral staff
Home visitor
Instructor at a community college

CU Denver School of Education &
Human Development

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