Early Childhood Education (M.S.Ed.)


The rewards of working with children from birth through age 8 are unlimited, and our M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education makes each interaction even more impactful. Our degree strengthens and broadens the preparation of teachers and other professionals who work with young children. Our program is perfect for preschool teachers, elementary school (K-2) teachers, child care administrators, family services workers, parent-educators, family child care providers, intervention specialists and more.

The early childhood education program is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Gateways to Opportunity. Candidates who meet the Professional Educator Licensure (PEL) requirements through our program will automatically be eligible to receive the Gateways to Opportunity Level 5 Early Childhood Education (ECE) credential.

You'll need to submit:

  • Your application to the Graduate School.
  • Official transcripts (your undergraduate GPA must be 2.75 or higher) and test scores.
  • A career goals statement.
  • Letters of recommendation.

If you also pursue the Professional Educator License with Early Childhood Education Endorsement, you also need a passing score report for the Test of Academic Proficiency (or a qualifying ACT with writing score or the SAT).

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During our program of study, you will:

  • Apply your understanding of young children's needs and charateristics to create healthy, respectful, supportive and hallenging environments.
  • Create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families.
  • Use effective assessment strategies responsibly and in partership with families and other professionals to support children' development and learning.
  • Integrate your understanding of developmentally appropriate practices and evidence-based approaches to design and
    implement lesson plans.
  • Conduct yourself professionally and ethically as a member of the early childhood profession.

Although our courses in Early Childhood Education are offered primarily in DeKalb every semester (fall, spring and summer), limited coursework is available at our other regional sites. You can take courses at any NIU campus that suits your scheduling and geographic needs.

You can substitute your life experience for part or all of your pre-student teaching clinical experiences and student teaching if you meet these four conditions:

  • Full-time employment in the grade level and discipline for which you are seeking licensure and for an appropriate length of time, as determined by program faculty.
  • Documentation that your life experience was a single, continuous experience monitored and/or evaluated at a satisfactory level of performance.
  • Letter of recommendation from the school administrator.
  • Written recommendation from the NIU licensure program supervisor that your performance in the experience was equivalent to or greater than that expected of a candidate successfully completing the traditional student teaching or clinical experience.

Programs of study must include a minimum of 32 semester hours depending on the Early Childhood tack selected (Licensure, Non-licensure). Candidates elect either the licensure or non-licensure track.

Please refer to the graduate catalog for detailed course requirements.