Early Childhood Studies
Learn to respond to the unique learning needs of diverse young children
The B.S. in Early Childhood Studies will give you the skills you need to become an effective early childhood educator and leader in the field. As new practitioners, you will have the opportunity for long-range positive outcomes for the child, the family, the community, and the world.
Make an impact working with children birth through age eight
Get 800+ hours of field experience
Join a caring network of early childhood professionals
Already Have a Bachelor’s Degree?
WOU offers three flexible pathways for students interested in the teaching profession.
M.A. In Teaching
In our M.A. in Teaching Program, you will earn your preliminary teaching license, including one single subject endorsement, in two years. This program is mostly online with the exception of two face-to-face Saturday classes each term with your cohort. Cohorts begin every Fall and Winter with applications due in late Spring for Fall and mid-Fall for Winter. The Elementary (multiple subjects) endorsement is not available in this program.
M.S. In Special Education
Our Flexible Special Education program can help you earn your Special Education license and/or endorsement in under two years. The program is offered in a cohort model and you will meet with your instructors and cohort “virtually.” All classes are online. A new cohort begins every Fall. The priority application deadline is April 1st. Completed applications received after the priority deadline may be considered until the cohort is full.
Years 1 & 2
Foundational coursework will familiarize you with the major principles of early childhood education, the physical needs of young children, inclusive practices, and how to interpret data and apply theory.
In your third year, you will take higher level courses in content areas instruction and select higher level elective courses related to your specific interests in the Early Childhood Studies Program.
Your final year, also known as the “professional education core” is all about synthesizing knowledge and skills and putting into practice what you’ve learned throughout your course of study. You will move through your last three terms as a part of a cohort (group of Early Childhood Studies Seniors).
Flexible Field Placements
Work full-time and get your degree
Most classes can be taken fully or partially online
94% of our students transfer from community colleges
Where this degree can take you
This degree prepares you to succeed in the world of early intervention / early childhood special education, inclusive early childhood education classrooms, preschool programming, infant and toddler care, home visiting, and family child care programs. The early childhood studies degree could also lay a foundation for advanced degrees in education, social work, counseling, and other related fields.
Possible job titles
- Childcare Center Director
- Early Childhood Education Specialist
- Family Advocate
- Home Visitor
- Instructional Aide
- Inclusive Preschool Teacher
- Inclusive Infant and Toddler Teacher
- Early Intervention (birth to 3 yr old)
- Early Childhood Special Education (3-5 yr old)
The early childhood faculty members are amazing! They supported me every step of the way. With their work they taught me to become a better educator, advocate for my students, and further my education in a master program.
Through student teaching and the classes I took, Western prepared me for my future in teaching. I plan on using what I learned during this school year as a teacher assistant, and when I become a teacher in the future and have my own classroom.
The early childhood studies program was a wonderful opportunity! I built lasting relationships with the faculty and students. I felt supported and challenged throughout the program which has helped me at Family Building Blocks.
I loved the early childhood program at Western Oregon because I feel that it really helped prepare me for a job after college, and actually gave me an advantage over some other candidates. When I was hired at the Oregon Child Development Coalition, the director herself told me during our first meeting that she was very impressed with my resume and excited that I had attended Western.
Answers to common questions about the B.S. in Early Childhood Studies
Why doesn’t the ECS degree come with a teaching license?
We have designed this program to be optimized for people who are most interested in working with children birth through four years old in settings that do not require a teaching license or who plan to obtain a license elsewhere (for example, through a master’s degree).
By not offering a license, we are able to focus coursework to emphasize the learning needs of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and early school aged children by removing coursework that is required to meet licensing requirements.
What if I want a teaching license and specialized training in early childhood?
You should enroll in the Early Childhood/Elementary Teacher Licensure Program at WOU and add an Early Childhood Certificate or an Infant Toddler Certificate.
Are classes on campus or online?
We offer courses hybrid (every other week face-to-face classes and every other week online), evening (beginning at 5 pm and meeting once a week), super intensives (meeting Friday evening and all day Saturday three times in a 10 week term with no online components), and traditional classes (offered every week in person).
Keep in mind some general education courses at WOU may be on-campus only.
Can I count my job towards the 60 hours of volunteer experience?
Yes, if you are currently working with children from birth through eight years old.
What do you mean by “apply for the program” in your junior year?
As you approach your final three terms in Early Childhood Studies (so when you are a junior), you will complete the program application. The application involves submitting faculty recommendations and letters of documentation from your experiences, answering some questions, and writing a short essay. After applying, you’ll be ready to move confidently into your final three terms in our “Early Childhood Senior Cohort.”
What is the “Early Childhood Senior Cohort?”
The Early Childhood Senior Cohort is a group of ECS students moving through their last 3 terms as a group. Their classes are reserved for them; they take all of their courses as a group for three terms in a row. The last three terms of an education program can be challenging as students juggle courses, clinical placement, and preparations for entering the field as professionals. The community built within the cohort system has been invaluable to our former ECS grads.
More ways to study early childhood at WOU
B.A.S. in Early Childhood Studies
This option is designed for students who have an associate’s degree in early childhood or a related field. The B.A.S. is fewer credits than the B.S. and can be completed in as little as two years.
M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education
The M.S.Ed. option is for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree and want specialized training in early childhood education.
Early Childhood Minor
The minor is designed for students who are not pursuing teacher licensure but still seek a career working with young children.
Early Childhood Education Certificate
This certificate is for students pursuing teacher licensure. Completers of the certificate are eligible to have the Specialization in Early Childhood Education added to their teaching license.
Infant and Toddler Certificate
This certificate enables students from a variety of majors to have intensive training in caring for and supporting the healthy development of infants, toddlers, and their families.