Study Early Childhood Education in Florida
Earning an undergraduate or a graduate college degree that prepares you for a career in early childhood education domain is not just a way to have a rewarding and fulfilling career, but it also offers some measure of job security. After all, education is a vital component of our society, and there will always be a need for educators.
Florida offers an additional benefit for early childhood education – as the fastest-growing state in the U.S., there will continue to be large numbers of school-aged children that need reliable and well-trained teachers to guide their academic, social, and emotional development. By getting your degree now, you will be prepared for a long career in this field.
Florida also offers a wide variety of colleges and universities that offer early childhood education programs. Below is a list of popular programs that will prepare you for your future career.
Early Childhood Education Programs in Florida
University of South Florida (USF)
The University of South Florida offers a wide selection of degrees and programs. But the school’s academic offerings aren’t the only thing that’s diverse. You will learn in an academic environment with students that represent nearly 150 nations from around the world. Additionally, 40 percent of USF’s student body are people of color. With so many experiences and perspectives, you will develop an appreciation for people unlike yourself.
USF is also one of the largest universities in Florida. There are over 50,000 students enrolled at USF in undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral programs. USF also has a comprehensive online learning platform that enables you to get an education in many different areas, all from the comfort of your own home.
Early Childhood Education Program
The University of South Florida’s Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Early Childhood Education is an ideal option if you already have a bachelor’s degree. This program requires that you complete 33 credit hours, which takes about two years of study.
While the program’s core studies are in curriculum and instruction, you must take 24 credits of early childhood education courses to graduate. These courses may include, but are not limited to:
- Diversity in Home and School
- Play and Learning
- Research Seminar: Issues and Trends in Early Childhood Education
- Cognition, Comprehension, and Content Area Reading: Remediation of Reading
- Professional Development for Student Learning
The Early Childhood Education program also requires that you take and pass a comprehensive exam to demonstrate mastery of the curriculum. Moreover, you can choose to specialize in one of four areas: reading, teacher leadership, positive behavior support, or interdisciplinary studies.
No matter which area of concentration you choose, you will explore current issues in early childhood education, particularly in the advocacy and social justice realms. This enables you to become an advocate for children and a change-maker for early childhood education.
Applying to this program requires that you complete the following steps:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in education or a closely related field.
- Submit a current curriculum vitae or resume that outlines your education, teaching experience, and other professional pursuits.
- Submit a personal statement, writing samples, and letters of recommendation, if requested.
- Interview with a faculty committee, if requested.
University of Central Florida (UCF)
Located in Orlando, the University of Central Florida boasts a central location in the state of Florida with easy access to many world famous recreational places, like the Atlantic Coast, Disney World and pristine white-sand beaches on the Gulf Coast of United States. Of course, going to UCF shouldn’t just depend on the recreational opportunities around. The school is a top-tier research university with modern facilities, which facilitate your growth and development as a higher education student.
UCF was founded in 1967, so it is a much newer institution than many other schools in the state. But, despite its young age, UCF has grown into one of the biggest universities in the nation. With around 70,000 students, UCF brings together people from all backgrounds and walks of life to create a diverse and supportive learning environment.
Early Childhood Education Program
The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development and Education from the University of Central Florida is offered by the School of Teacher Education. This four-year program includes research-based education and developmentally-appropriate practices to help you develop the skills you need to provide a rich learning environment for young children.
Over the course of your studies, you will explore many different topics in this field. For example, you will take classes in literacy, developing educational assessments, and child development. Additionally, you will take the following courses:
- Child Life: Psychosocial Care of Children in Health Settings
- Classroom Management and Guidance of Young Children
- Social and Emotional Development of Young Children
Additionally, you can choose from one of two specialty tracks. The first option is Pre-Kindergarten Through Third Grade Track which prepares you to teach primary grades in a public or private school setting. This is a certification option, so you will qualify for a teaching certificate in Florida upon graduation.
The second option is a non-certification Early childhood Development Track. This specialization focuses on working with children and their families in many different settings. You will learn about family systems, child development, and other critical topics throughout your classroom studies and during a semester-long practicum.
To apply to this program as a freshman, you must apply to become a student at UCF. To do so, you must submit the following:
- An online application for admission
- ACT or SAT Scores
- GED information or TOEFL/IELTS scores, as appropriate
- High school transcripts
- A $30 application fee
A personal essay is highly recommended, but it is not required for consideration for admission.
Eastern Florida State College
Eastern Florida State College isn’t just one school – there are four campuses in Eastern Florida that serve approximately 18,000 students. In addition to campuses in Cocoa, Melbourne, Palm Bay, and Titusville, you can study online through the school’s robust online learning platform. From technical training to associate’s degrees to undergraduate programs, Eastern Florida offers many avenues for you to gain an education.
Originally established in 1960 as Brevard Junior College, EFSC has grown into a public, co-ed four-year school recognized for its innovative programs and approach to education. In fact, EFSC was one of the first schools to offer an online associate’s degree program. The school also has agreements with other area schools – namely UCF – that allow its students to transfer credits seamlessly. EFSC students can even use facilities and services at other schools to enhance their educational pursuits.
Early Childhood Education Program
Eastern Florida State College offers an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education that helps you build foundational skills for pursuing entry-level positions or bachelor’s degree programs upon graduation. With articulation agreements with other schools, you can easily transfer your credits to a bachelor’s degree program to complete your studies.
This 60-credit program takes about two years to complete if you study full-time. The program can be completed in person, in a hybrid format, or online. Regardless of how you engage with the curriculum, you can choose from four specialty college credit certificates:
- Early Childhood Development
- Child Care Center Management Specialization
- Infant/Toddler Specialization
- Preschool Specialization
Additionally, the course of study aligns with the Florida Child Care Professional Credential (FCCPC) requirements. You will take various early childhood education courses while you’re in this program. This includes the following:
- Overview of Child Care Center Management
- Introduction to Language and Emergent Literacy
- Developing Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers
- Introduction to Exceptional Education
- Math and Science for Young Children
There is also a practicum experience that allows you to observe early childhood classroom settings.
Applying to this program as a freshman requires applying to EFSC and providing satisfactory scores from a Common Placement Test (e.g., ACT, SAT, PERT, or ACCUPLACER). Additionally, you must:
- Submit official high school transcripts
- Provide proof of residency
- Complete an orientation and meet with an academic advisor
Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU)
Florida Gulf Coast University is a very young school – it was established in 1991 as the 10th state university in Florida, but the first classes didn’t commence until 1997. However, since graduating its first class in 1998, FGCU has conferred more than 43,500 degrees to students at undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.
FGCU has 11 colleges and schools that offer dozens of degree programs. You can choose from more than 60 undergraduate degrees, 26 master’s degrees, and seven doctoral programs. The school also offers 18 certificate programs.
Living on campus at FGCU allows you to take advantage of living-learning communities. These communities consist of students who have the same major and live in the same residence hall. This enables you to build connections with classmates while furthering your study and appreciation of your major.
Early Childhood Education Program
At FGCU, you can complete a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education that prepares you to be a certified pre-kindergarten through third grade teacher. Additionally, you can earn several endorsements, including those in Reading, English for Speakers of Other Languages, and Prekindergarten/Disability.
This program combines extensive coursework with field experiences that allow you to connect what you learn in class with its application in a real-world environment. Some of the courses you will take include:
- Introduction to the Teaching Profession
- Learning Management in the Inclusive Classroom
- Creative and Affective Development
- Early Learning Literacy
- Methods, Curriculum & Instruction Effectiveness
All told, you must complete 120 credits of coursework to graduate. Full-time students can complete these requirements in about four years.
Before being admitted to the program, you must satisfy a variety of requirements. These include:
- Maintaining an overall GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale
- Passing all general education courses
- Passing all college-level skills courses
- Passing all prerequisite courses
- Passing all subsections of the FTCE general knowledge test
- Completing a background check
Work Opportunities in Florida
As noted in the introduction, Florida’s rapidly increasing population is likely to lead to the creation of many new job opportunities in the state’s schools. As a graduate of one of the programs listed above, you might even discover that you have your pick of career options.
With a degree in early childhood education, you can work with students as young as three years old and as old as third grade. Again, this gives you plenty of options for seeking employment after graduation. You might work in a private preschool as a teacher, or you might find a job in an after-school program for pre-kindergarten students working as an activities aide.
Of course, with higher education come more job opportunities. For example, if you choose the M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction outlined above, you might find an administrative job in a public school district in Florida. These positions are usually even more competitive than teaching positions, but they also pay more.
In other words, Florida has many possibilities for your future in early childhood education. You just have to align your studies with your career goals!