Early Childhood Education

For more than a century, the University of Northern Iowa has educated teachers of young children. Today, the Early Childhood Education division of the Curriculum & Instruction Department continues to prepare graduates for education leadership roles in Iowa, the United States, and around the world. UNI undergraduate early childhood education majors for teaching infants to third grade with an emphasis on inclusive education.

Career opportunities

The Early Childhood Education program prepares students to teach in current and future classrooms that include children in regular education, those in special education, and those who are culturally and linguistically diverse. Possible careers include child care center director, prekindergarten teacher, elementary teacher (K-3rd grade), infant and toddler teacher, or special education teacher for young children with mild to moderate disabilities.

Undergraduate major

Pre-school students using clipboards in tall grass.Multiple teaching opportunities

Beginning in their sophomore (second) year, students observe master teachers and participate in classrooms with children of diverse backgrounds and abilities in highly regarded early childhood programs including:

Hands-on learning and classroom experiences

Students have a variety of opportunities to gain the knowledge, skills and professional attitudes to become outstanding teachers, including:

  • Experiencing 100 hours working with young children in classrooms before the student teaching semester.

  • Developing materials for an integrative STEM learning center that engages young children in active experimentation.

  • Studying an infant or toddler and designing and planning learning experiences for that child.

  • Using the curriculum resources in the model early childhood classroom at the Regents Center for Early Developmental Education.

"All faculty are willing to help you get the best education available. We have opportunities to be in Early Childhood classrooms... to really get in there and work with the children." -ECE student

Excellence in leadership

Students are encouraged to participate in the UNI Student Association for the Education of Young Children to gain leadership experiences. Faculty members provided strong leadership in developing Iowa's licensing requirements for early childhood education. The division also sponsored several statewide Early Childhood Education Summits for educators and others involved in Iowa's early childhood teacher preparation.

Learn more

Visit the UNI catalog for the early childhood education B.A. requirements.  A four-year Plan of Study is also available in the catalog.

Undergraduate minor

A minor is also available for those who want to major in elementary education and earn an endorsement (103) in teaching pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.  Students declaring the early childhood education minor gain additional field experiences and many hands-on learning experiences

Graduate program

The online Early Childhood Education master's degree program provides educational professionals with the theory and practice to become leaders in the field of Early Childhood Education. Learn different curricula, issues, trends, teaching methods, research, and leadership roles.  Visit our Continuing Education webpage for next steps, including the program schedule, FAQs and application directions.

The next cohort is tentatively planned for Fall 2021.  To receive notification of when the application is available for the next cohort, please fill out an interest form on the Continuing Education webpage.

Contact Continuing Education at 800-648-3864 or Distance@uni.edu for assistance. Additional resources are also available from the UNI Graduate College.  

Learn more about the MAE program