Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations - NIU - College of Education

M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education


Program Overview 

The major in Early Childhood Education offers focused study to strengthen and broaden the professional preparation of teachers and other professionals who work with young children from birth through 8 years. In addition to the basic requirements, coursework will be determined on the basis of the individual student’s undergraduate preparation, experience, and professional goals. NIU Early Childhood Education program is recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and accredited by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Optional Concentration

Students pursuing this M.S.Ed. may also choose coursework to meet Early Childhood Illinois professional educator license (PEL) requirements to teach children from birth through Grade 2 in Illinois public schools.

Students may also elect course work to fulfill special education approval requirements for teaching children with disabilities and special needs from birth through age 6 in Illinois public schools. Advisors evaluate students’ prior coursework, professional experience, and previous credentials to determine individual programs leading to professional educator license with early childhood endorsement and/or early childhood special education approval.


Courses in Early Childhood Education are offered primarily in DeKalb every semester (fall, spring and summer). Limited coursework is available at our other off-campus locations, which can include Naperville. Students are free to take courses at any NIU campus that suits their scheduling and geographic needs. 


All applicants must submit:

  • A completed admissions application to the Graduate School. A complete graduate application includes a completed application, payment of application fee, official transcripts, required test scores, career goals statement, and letters of recommendation.
  • Official transcripts (undergraduate GPA must be 2.75 or higher)

If you also pursue the Professional Educator License with Early Childhood Education Endorsement, you also need,

  • State mandatory test: Passing Score Report of the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) or a qualifying ACT with writing score or the SAT.

You can find information and a study guide for this test at If you choose this option, you must contact the program advisor to make sure all of the correct paperwork is filed.

Candidates pursuing this M.S.Ed. can obtain the State of Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL) with Early Childhood Education Endorsement (eligible to teach children from birth through Grade 2 in Illinois public schools). Candidates may also select coursework to fulfill Early Childhood Special Education approval requirements (eligible to teach children with disabilities from 3 through 6 years of age in Illinois public schools) and/or English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement requirements

Advisors evaluate students’ prior course work, professional experience, and previous credentials to determine individual programs leading to professional educator license with Early Childhood Education endorsement and/or any additional endorsement.

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
  • Elementary School Teacher (Pre-K – Grade 2)
  • 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.

How do I apply?

Read about admission requirements above, then apply through the Graduate School.