Early Childhood Education

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Early Childhood EducationAs an early childhood educator, you must support children's social, emotional, and intellectual development. At Wheelock, a leader in the early childhood education field, you will learn how to create learning environments that respond to children's interests and abilities. Our program coursework and field experiences prepare to work in highly diverse settings.

Students enter Wheelock's Early Childhood Education programs with the commitment to promoting a multi-racial and multicultural society, and leave with the skills necessary to accomplish that goal. They learn to partner with families and community leaders to ensure the success and inclusion of all children, and to collaborate with community agencies to work in concert with ECE professionals to provide well-rounded services needed by children and families.

Early Childhood Education at Wheelock

Wheelock is the only private higher education institution in Massachusetts to be accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education  (NCATE) and also dually recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Wheelock offers two Early Childhood Education graduate programs:

Master of Science in Early Childhood Education for Initial Licensure (PreK-2) - 34 credits

This program helps students develop and refine skills in curriculum design, observation and assessment, communication, collaboration, responding to diverse learning styles, and classroom management. The program emphasizes a commitment to working in a multi-racial and multicultural society, working partnership with families, fully integrating children with special needs into the learning environment, and collaboration with community members and agencies.

Students participate in two extensive practicum experiences. These total at least 200 hours in each practicum and encompass two semesters of student teaching experiences in early childhood settings: one in a kindergarten or a pre-kindergarten-level site and one in a grade 1-2 site. At least one of the practicum sites will include children with special needs. In some cases, students may use their current job as a placement opportunity.

This program can lead to Massachusetts Early Childhood Teacher of Students With or Without Disabilities Initial Licensure upon completion of the necessary state tests.

Master of Science in Care and Education in Early Childhood Settings (PreK-Kindergarten) - 30 credits

This program is designed for students who will work with young children (aged 2-8 years) in public, private, and parochial care and education settings as caregivers, classroom teachers, lead teachers, directors, and family liaison workers.

The Care and Education program has two different options: one for beginning early childhood education practitioners and one for experienced or continuing practitioners.

Beginning practitioners typically are students without an academic background in early education who want to pursue careers outside of a public school setting. At least one 300-hour placement in an appropriate setting is required, and you may choose to do an additional 100- to 300-hour practicum. Additionally, you can use your course experience to qualify for the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC) lead teacher credential.

Continuing practitioners are students who want to increase their knowledge of early childhood education and may have already obtained an initial teaching license or have an academic background in early education. Students who have their initial license and complete this program may use their coursework in to advance an initial teacher license to the Professional level after teaching for three years. Continuing students who have not obtained an initial license may want o pursue careers in early childhood outside of the public school system. Those student can individually tailor their program to meet their specific needs and interests.

Signature Courses

(for all Wheelock Early Childhood Education Programs)

Racial and Cultural Identities (EDU 505): This course is distinctly different from the offerings of other schools because its focus is on the self rather than the other. It requires participants to consider their own social identity in terms of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and citizenship.

Capstone Course (EDU 655/702): The Capstone Course requires that students prepare and present a portfolio of their learning to a committee of arts and sciences and education faculty members and practitioners.

Career Opportunities

Alumni of the Wheelock graduate programs in Early Childhood Education currently work in preschools, teach in kindergartens and primary schools, and serve as childcare administrators.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When can I enroll in these programs?
A: Students can enroll in the MS Care and Education program in the fall or summer semester. The preferred start time for MS Early Childhood Education program is the summer semester (June). This start term allows students to complete required coursework during the summer term and then begin a full-time internship in the fall. However, it is possible to begin in the fall semester. Those wishing to begin in the fall semester (September) will need to speak with a faculty member first. If allowed to enter in the fall, applicants should either have met with the Field Experience Office and arranged an internship for the fall, have received approval for a "self-placement," or recognize that they may not be able to do their internship until the following fall semester.

Q: Do I need to be a full-time student to participate in this program?
A: Students in the MS Care and Education program may be full- or part-time. Students in the MS Early Childhood Education program may begin their course work on a part-time basis, but must enroll full-time during semesters in which the two practica are completed. Full-timeMS Early Childhood Education students may complete the program in four semesters, and are strongly encouraged to begin in the summer. All students should meet with their advisors to develop a study plan, as there is a sequence of courses that must be maintained.

Q: Do I need experience working with children to qualify for admission to this program?
A: While preference is given to applicants who have experience working with children and families (especially in a group setting), previous experience is not required.

Q: What if I already have an initial license?
A: Students who already hold an initial license in Early Childhood Education, but do not have a master's degree are welcome to apply for our Master of Science in Care and Education in Early Childhood Settings.

Graduates of other bachelor's programs who have their initial license and are looking to gain professional licensure should contact a representative of Wheelock's Office of Graduate Admissions. Students in this category may qualify for one of our combined degree options.

Q: Do I have to interview for admission to the program?
A: No. But informational interviews to learn more about the program and its fit with your professional goals are encouraged. To schedule an interview with a faculty member, email the Office of Graduate Admissions at graduate@wheelock.edu.

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