2020-2021 Catalog

Early Childhood Education

  • Associate of Arts Degree (A.A.) (95 credits)
  • Bachelor of Science Degree (B.S.) (92 credits)
  • Total credits for Bachelor of Science (95+92 = 187 credits total)

Program Description

The mission of the Early Childhood Education Program is to graduate teacher candidates who demonstrate competency in professional knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values concerning: child development and the learning process; curriculum development and implementation; family and community relationships; assessment; and professionalism in order to effectively teach young children while involving the child’s family and community.

Successful completion of specific coursework in the early childhood program can lead to a Specialized Permissive Competency in Early Childhood Education for those seeking Elementary licensure in Montana. This program is accredited by the Montana Board of Public Education.

Career Opportunities

Candidates who graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education are qualified to teach in programs for young children including Early Head Start, Head Start, childcare centers, family childcare homes, and in public schools as paraprofessionals. A.A. graduates often continue on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education preparing them to be professionals in the early childhood education field in such positions as lead educator, director or manager, and adult educator or trainer.

After meeting specified requirements as outlined in the Education Department Student Handbook, candidates may enroll in the Early Childhood Teacher Education Program (ECTEP) for third and fourth year courses.

Student Learning Outcomes

Early Childhood Education Associate of Arts Degree and Bachelor of Science Degree candidates will demonstrate skills, dispositions and knowledge in relationship to the below listed National Association for the Education of Young Children Professional Standards for Preparing Early Childhood Practitioners. Bachelor of Science candidates will build upon the foundation of skills, dispositions and knowledge developed during participation in the Associate of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education.

Standard 1. Promoting Child Development and Learning. Candidates use their understanding of young children’s characteristics and needs, and multiple interacting influences on children’s development and learning, to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for all children.

Standard 2. Building Family and Community Relationships. Candidates know about, understand, and value the importance of complex characteristics of children’s families and communities. They use this understanding to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families, and to involve all families in their children’s development and learning.

Standard 3. Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families. Candidates know about and understand the goals, benefits, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence children’s development and learning.

Standard 4. Using Developmentally Effective Approaches to Connect with Children and Families. Candidates understand that teaching and learning with young children is a complex enterprise, and its details vary depending on children’s ages, characteristics, and the settings within which teaching and learning occur. They understand and use positive relationships and supportive interactions as foundation for their work with young children and families. Students know, understand, and use a wide variety of developmentally appropriate approaches, instructional strategies, and tools to connect with children and families and positively influence each child’s development and learning.

Standard 5. Using Content Knowledge to Build Meaningful Curriculum. Candidates use their knowledge of academic disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate experiences that promote positive development and learning for each and every young child. Candidates understand the importance of developmental domains and academic (or content) disciplines in an early childhood curriculum. They know the essential concepts, inquiry tools, and structure of content areas, including academic subjects, and can identify resources that deepen their understanding. Candidates use their own knowledge and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate meaningful, challenging curricula and promote comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for every young child.

Standard 6. Becoming a Professional. Candidates identify and conduct themselves as members of the early childhood profession. They know and use ethical guidelines and other professional standards related to early childhood practice. They are continuous, collaborative learners who demonstrate knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives on their work, making informed decisions that integrate knowledge from a variety of sources. They are informed advocates for sound educational practices and policies.


Students must submit to a multiple-level background check for this program.

Students must receive a "C" or better in all required education methods course while maintaining a 3.0 GPA in these courses and an overall GPA of 2.75 or higher to graduate from this program.