Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood

credits 33 (min.) | cost/credit $340 | completion as few as 2 years | next start August 23

Prepare for career opportunities in early childhood settings by completing your bachelor's degree online. Through Northwestern’s Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education program, you will gain knowledge in child development, assessment, behavior and current policy and be prepared to create meaningful learning experiences for every young child. Build on what you already know and become better equipped to address student needs and collaborate with co-teachers, parents, and peers. Take relevant courses and apply new strategies immediately in your teaching environment.

The B.A. Early Childhood program will qualify you for early childhood education roles (including paraprofessional and lead teacher positions) in a variety of settings, including:

  • Head Start programs
  • Child care centers
  • Child development homes
  • Infant/toddler and preschool programs
  • Before- and after-school early childhood programs (birth through age 8)
  • Regional and state and education agencies (AEAs, IAAEYC)

100% online. 8-week courses. New opportunities.

Earning your degree doesn't have to cost you time away from your other responsibilities. Northwestern College's online Bachelors in Early Childhood Education allows you to log into classes and complete your coursework whenever it's most convenient for you. Take one 8-week class at a time and balance your work, school and life schedule. 

Educators with an early childhood degree are also highly employable. Research shows that teachers with more education offer higher quality programs with more positive child outcomes. Northwestern's affordable bachelor's degree program will provide opportunities for employment, job changes and promotion.

Financial aid opportunities

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship

Educators pursuing a bachelor’s in early childhood may be eligible for a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship. The scholarship program provides the early childhood workforce with educational opportunities. This comprehensive scholarship includes a significant portion of tuition and textbook costs, travel/Internet stipends, and paid time away from work. The majority of your bachelor’s degree could be funded through this program. For information and how to apply, visit the T.E.A.C.H. website or download the T.E.A.C.H Booklet.

Child Care WAGE$ Program

Child Care WAGE$ ® IOWA (WAGE$) is a salary supplement program offered by the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC). As with T.E.A.C.H. IOWA, WAGE$ is a licensed program of the Child Care Services Association. WAGE$ offers salary supplements (also called stipends) to the early care and education workforce based on an individual's level of formal education and commitment to a program. With a bachelor's degree in early childhood, you may qualify for a higher WAGE$ level ($2900 annually compared to $1800 with an associate's degree). For more information visit the WAGE$ website. View the map of qualifying Iowa counties to determine your eligibility for this program. 


Students in online programs may be eligible for federal and/or state financial aid. To determine your eligibility and award amount:

  1. Complete your FAFSA online using Northwestern's institutional code: 001883
  2. Upon acceptance into an online program, you will complete Northwestern's financial aid request form, and our financial aid specialist will help you with your financial plan. 

Program requirements | seamless transfer

Incoming students must have an associate's (AA, AS) degree or higher and may easily transfer earned credits toward the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program. 

Your previous hard work matters, that's why at Northwestern your associate's  (AA or AS) degree fulfills the Northwestern's undergraduate education core. You will explore how your own faith interacts with your role as an early childhood educator by taking a religion course, Christian Story, or you may transfer in an equivalent course. 
Contact an enrollment counselor to see exactly how your previous courses will transfer.

Take courses that help you grow as an educator. Apply what you learn immediately to improve programming and student learning! The early childhood core courses (33 credits) are listed below. Practicum experience and clinical practice are tailored to your schedule and may be partially completed in your own early childhood workplace.

Early Childhood courses (33 credits)

ECE 305 - Child Observation and Assessment
In this course, participants will learn how to implement a system of ongoing child assessment that is systematic, comprehensive and feasible in order to make sure that children make the progress necessary to be ready for kindergarten. Participants will first understand the importance of and strategies for planning and preparing for an effective system of ongoing child assessment. Participants will learn about and practice using four methods of effective ongoing assessment to inform their teaching and improve children's learning. This course will also provide information and implementation opportunities for individualizing ongoing assessment strategies for children who are dual language learners and children with special needs. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program. (3 credits)
ECE 310 - Resiliency and Wellness for Educators
The purpose of this course is to teach you how to be a resilient educator. Resilience is the ability to survive and thrive. It is not only about your ability to positively adapt in the face of adverse or challenging circumstances (that is, survive), but it is also about learning the positive skills, strategies, and routines that enable you to live a happy, fulfilling, and successful life (in other words, thrive). This course will help give you the permission to take care of yourself in order to optimize your effectiveness as an early childhood educator. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program. (3 credits)
ECE 320 - Positive Behavioral Support for Young Children I
This course utilizes evidence-based strategies for promoting social and emotional development and preventing and addressing challenging behaviors in preschool-aged children. Through course readings, discussions, activities, and related experiences, participants will learn about a variety of these research-based practices. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program. (3 credits)
ECE 325 - Positive Behavioral Support for Young Children II
This course utilizes evidence-based strategies for promoting social andemotional development and preventing and addressing challenging behaviors inpreschool-aged children. Through course readings, discussions, activities,and related experiences, participants will learn about a variety of theseresearch-based practices. Prerequisite: ECE320. (3 credits)
ECE 330 - Supporting Language and Literacy Development in Preschool
This course is designed with two key learning objectives in mind. First, this course will increase learners' knowledge about how children's language and literacy skills develop between ages 3 to 5 and the ways in which these skills lay a foundation for later reading success. Second, learners will be introduced to key practices that promote explicit and systematic instruction. Learners will also participate in field-based assignments where they apply this learning in their own settings. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program. (3 credits)
ECE 340 - Highly Individualized Teaching & Learning
This course covers evidence-based research and practices for fostering the social emotional, cognitive, and motor development of young children with varying needs and abilities in inclusive settings. Students learn to individualize instructional strategies, design learning environments with appropriate accommodations and adaptions, and understand IEPs and IFSPs. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program. (3 credits)
ECE 400 - Supporting Dual Language Learners
This course focuses on the language, reading, writing, and communicationdevelopment of children who are dual language learners (DLLs), agesbirth-to-five years. Connections are made between assessment and instructionthat promote early language and literacy learning for children who are DLLs.Emphasis throughout the course is placed on fostering language and literacylearning by building on the family and community connections of youngchildren who are DLLs. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts inEarly Childhood program. (3 credits)
ECE 420 - Engaging Interactions and Environments
This course will increase learners' skill in creating effective classroom environments and interactions by providing rich opportunities to learn about and see examples from other classrooms. Learners will also complete field-based assignments where they apply this learning in their own settings and receive feedback focused on ensuring they can enact the practices they are learning about. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program. (3 credits)
ECE 425WI - Children’s Health and Well-Being
This course explores topics related to health and well-being and focuses onteaching practices, classroom activities, partnerships with families, andprogram policies to ensure that all children are healthy and ready to learn.Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhoodprogram. (3 credits) (Writing intensive)
ECE 430 - Learning with Digital Media
Although infants and very young children do not learn from digital mediasuch as television and media, there is evidence that preschool-aged childrencan. Young children can learn basic literacy skills, mathematics skills, anddevelop interest in science from engaging with digital media. Instructionalpractices can enhance learning from media. Specifically, young children'slearning is enhanced when adults co-view or co-engage with young children inways that foster sustained attention to aspects of media that are intendedto promote learning. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts inEarly Childhood program. (3 credits)
ECE 450 - The Early Childhood Professional Portfolio
No course description available.

Northwestern education core courses (4 credits)

Accepted as transfer credits or taken at Northwestern
BTS 150 - Christian Story I
This course presents an overview of and orientation to the Bible, focusing on its content, character, role in the Christian faith, and covenant themes of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. This course begins the development of theological thinking for academic study in the liberal arts and equips students for the task of integrating faith and learning in their academic work. Students should complete this course by the end of their second semester. (4 credits) Note: Does not count toward a religion major or minor.

Elective courses

Accepted as transfer credits from an associate's degree.
The following online courses are also available for students who need to reach a total of 124 credits.
ECE 228 - Young Children's Literature
Young Children's Literature provides an opportunity to study the history of children's literature and its uses in the classroom. This course provides an introduction to the criteria and selection of children's literature for infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children. Various genres are reviewed, and ideas for curriculum integration are explored. A study of illustrations and authors is included. (3 credits)
EDU 229 - Intro to Early Childhood
This course examines both the typical and atypical growth and development ofchildren ages birth through grade three in the areas of cognition, languagedevelopment, physical motor, social-emotional, mental health and adaptivebehavior. Candidates will learn how these areas impact development andlearning in the first years of life and will use this knowledge to plan,develop, implement and evaluate integrated learning experiences for home,center and school environments based on knowledge of the child, the family,and the community. Candidates will also use relevant national and stateprofessional standards for designing content and informing and improvingpractices for children and their families. (3 credits; alternate years,consult department) Note: This course requires 25 hours of field experience.
ECE335 - Cognition & General Knowledge
This course covers evidence-based instructional practices that promote mathand science learning in the early childhood classroom. This course includesan overview of young children's use of logic and reasoning. Prerequisite: Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood program. (3 credits)
EDU240 - Integrating Arts in the Elementary Classroom
This course is designed to provide basic skills for integrating music,theatre, art, and physical education in the elementary school classroom aswell as strategies for cooperative opportunities with the specializedteachers. We will concentrate on effective teaching strategies, whichinclude planning, implementing, and evaluating the teaching process. Coursecontent will include practicing teaching techniques and learning pedagogyrelated to the integration of these specials in the elementary classroom.Prerequisite: EDU326. (3 credits)

Total credits: 124

124 credits are required to graduate with a bachelor's degree, which includes the total associate and bachelor credits combined.
Minimum credits from Northwestern: 30

Helping children reach their potential

As a working single mother, it wasn't an any easy choice to go back to school, but Renata persevered and achieved her goals with the help of outstanding NWC instructors.

Renata 's story