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Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Studies


Envision yourself making a difference in the lives of young children in your community and their families? COE's Early Childhood Studies program prepares you to obtain the State of Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL) with Early Childhood Education Endorsement (teach children from birth through Grade 2 in Illinois public schools) and Early Childhood Special Education approval (teach children with disabilities from 3 through 6 years of age in Illinois public schools).

You will participate in projects, field experiences and assignments that mirror the work of early childhood educators across the entire birth-to-Grade 2 continuum. NIU’s high-quality program is recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and accredited by the Illinois State Board of Education. 

In addition, you are eligible for the Early Care and Education (ECE) Credential (Level 5 – bachelor’s degree) as well as the Infant Toddler Credential (Level 5 – bachelor’s degree) upon graduation. These credentials are necessary for employment in early care and education settings that have sought or are seeking accreditation with the State of Illinois’ Quality Rating and Improvement System called ExceleRate.


Many students extend their education by earning an additional endorsement in English as a Second Language (ESL) to teach children effectively whose primary language is not English.

What are some interesting classes I might take?

  • Play Development of the Young Child
  • Literature for the Young Child
  • Democracy in the Early Childhood Classroom
  • Working with and Supporting Families of Young Children with Disabilities and Special Needs.

What can I do with this degree?

  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher (Elementary Education PEL no longer includes kindergarten)
  • Elementary School Teacher (Pre-K – 2nd grade)
  • Child Care Administrator/Director
  • Family Services Worker
  • Parent Educator
  • Resource and Referral Specialist
  • Family Child Care Provider
  • Intervention Specialists
  • Candidates also have a strong background for moving into the process to become a Developmental Therapist (meet needs of young children in home settings who have developmental delays and/or disabilities, or who are at-risk of developing delays and/or disabilities), administered by the Department of Human Services. 

Most graduates work in the public schools as teachers in preschool through early elementary grade classrooms. Some have moved into administrative positions, direct programs in private or community-based settings, or work in home-based parent education programs.


Any student who has completed the admission requirements is eligible to apply to the major in early childhood studies. See the following requirements.

  1. Overall cumulative GPA of at least 2.50, or higher.
  2. State mandatory test: Passing Score Report of the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) or a qualifying ACT with writing score (composite score of 22, and 19 on the English/writing portion if taken prior to 9/1/15, or writing score of 16 if taken after between 9/1/15 and 9/9/16 or 6 if taken after 9/10/16).
  3. Two letters of recommendation
  4. Unofficial copy of university transcript
  5. Pre-requisite courses (please see the academic advisors to receive more information)
  6. Proof of freedom from the communicable disease tuberculosis (TB)
  7. List of extra-curricular activities 


The Early Childhood Studies program offers student teaching scholarships every year. In the last two years, 10 early childhood students received student teaching scholarships. Early Childhood Studies students might also be eligible for scholarships through the Gateways to Opportunity and College of Education scholarships.

What's the next step?

Request more information or apply!