The Early Childhood Education and Care program offers a combination of classroom instruction and supervised, hands-on experience that will prepare you for direct entry into the early childhood education and care field. Earn a position as a child care director, assistant director, preschool teacher, child care teacher, infant-toddler caregiver, head start teacher, elementary or special education aide and before or after school teacher.
Specialized courses are available for early childhood professionals, teachers, caregivers, parents and prospective parents who want to enhance their knowledge and expertise about early childhood and curriculum development. The program may also be a valuable course of study for students planning to work with young children in other disciplines such as education, health, social work and recreation.
Determine Your Path
Gain knowledge and skills that enables you to provide education and care for infants, toddlers, preschool-aged and school-aged children.
Attend a college that will prepare you for direct entry into your field of choice. At COD, you'll discover:
- Dedicated instructors with years of professional experience.
- Instruction utilizing our state-of-the-art facilities.
- Courses specifically aligned with the requirements needed for you to receive a variety of Gateways Credentials, which are awarded and recognized by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Bureau of Child Care and Development as levels of professional achievement.
- Affordable classes to help you achieve success without creating overwhelming debt or draining your savings account.
- Small class sizes to ensure you receive personalized attention.
Watch a video to learn more about the Early Childhood Education and Care program.
Early Childhood Administration
The Early Childhood Administration Associate in Applied Science degree prepares students for employment in the management of early childhood and school-age programs.
Early Childhood Education and Care
The Early Childhood Education and Care Associate in Applied Science degree prepares students to enter the early childhood education and early childhood field.
Early Childhood Education and Care
Students who complete the Early Childhood Education and Care certificate will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to be an assistant teacher in a variety of early childhood programs.
Early Childhood Education and Care Advanced
Students pursuing the Early Childhood Education and Care certificate will enhance the knowledge, skills, and experiences acquired in the Early Childhood Education and Care Assistant Teacher Certificate to more effectively work with children from birth to age eight.
Early Childhood Center Administrator
Completion of the Early Childhood Education and Care Administrator certificate, with either an AAS Degree in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) or completion of 64 semester hours of credit from an accredited college or university.
Family Child Care Provider
Students choose the Family Child Care Provider certificate to gain specific knowledge and skills in this early childhood specialty.
Infant, Toddler and 2-Year-Old Child Care
Students choose the Infant, Toddler and Two-Year Old Child Care certificate to gain specific knowledge and skills in this early childhood specialty.
Multicultural Education and Care for the Young Child
Students choose the Multicultural Education and Care for the Young Child certificate to gain specific knowledge and skills working with diverse populations of children.
School-Age Child Care
Students choose the School-Age Child Care certificate to gain specific knowledge and skills in this early childhood specialty.
As a result of the federally funded Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) scholarship program, administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), students who worked in child care or early childhood education can attend COD at no cost and earn a degree or credential in early childhood education.
ECACE scholarships are only available for undergraduate students for an academic year, including summer. After other financial aid is received, ECACE scholarships can cover up to the full cost of attendance including tuition, fees, books and supplies. Students interested in the ECACE scholarship program must complete a FAFSA application to be considered.
For more information on other scholarships, including scholarships offered by College of DuPage, visit cod.edu/scholarships.
"My Honors courses allowed me to gain a better connection with my peers and professors as they were smaller classes than normal." - Destiny BelzeyDestiny's COD Story
"I passionately believe that all children are capable of learning when you focus on their abilities. COD provided me with a platform to be able to share this pedagogy with my peers, professors, mentors and the children who I was fortunate enough to have taught." - Jacqueline BjesJacqueline's COD Story
"The class sizes were large enough to invite collaborative learning but small enough to be personal and inviting.” - Elsa MooreElsa's COD Story
"College of DuPage found me my career and it’s done the same for so many others. Every single class that I took at COD was quality, and I felt very ready to enter my final two years of college once I earned my associate degree." - Lisa BuchholzLisa's COD Story
Get Started Today
The first step to getting started in early childhood education and care is to apply for admission.
Academic and Career Pathways give you a roadmap to achieving your career goals. Follow a pathway based on your degree that outlines which classes you need to take and when so you graduate on time or move on to the next phase in your career.
- Early Childhood Administration, Associate in Applied Science
- Early Childhood Education and Care, Associate in Applied Science
- Early Childhood Advanced Assistant Teacher, Certificate
- Early Childhood Assistant Teacher, Certificate
- Early Childhood Education and Care Administrator, Certificate
- Family Child Care Provider, Certificate
- Infant, Toddler and Two-Year Old Child Care, Certificate
- Multicultural Education and Care for the Young Child, Certificate
- School-Age Child Care, Certificate
Early Childhood Education and Care Associate in Applied Science program graduates will:
- Create healthy, respectful, supportive and challenging learning environments for children birth through age 8 based on understanding of child development and individual characteristics and needs.
- Explain how to involve families and communities in young children’s learning based on an understanding of diverse characteristics and engaging them in respectful, reciprocal relationships.
- Examine the goals, benefits and uses of a variety of formal and informal developmentally appropriate assessment tools that could be used in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence children’s development.
- Implement a variety of developmentally appropriate approaches, strategies, and tools to connect with children and families and positively influence children’s development and learning.
- Develop meaningful and challenging developmentally appropriate experiences in all content areas that promotes comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for each child.
- Demonstrate the multiple roles of an early childhood professional including, but not limited to: advocacy, adhering to professional code of conduct, professional dispositions, and reflective practice.
- Apply knowledge, skills and professional dispositions when observing and/or participating with young children in at least two of the three early childhood age groups (birth-3, 3-5, 5-8) and in a variety of childcare settings.
College of DuPage has several early childhood education and care transfer agreements in place with four-year colleges and universities to save you time, money and make the transfer process easier.
Many of these agreements with other colleges and universities have specific course requirements and a pre-determined course plan that needs to be followed to be eligible to transfer. Contact a program faculty member or academic advisor to learn more as course requirements vary by institution.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to your frequently asked questions regarding the Early Childhood Education and Care program.
Jobs for Early Childhood Education and Care degree and certificate graduates are available in a variety of childcare centers, in public school preschools as assistants, at park districts and other facilities working with children in various capacities. Educational credentials that you have earned and places of employment will determine the position.
*If you are seeking employment in a school district for early childhood education, grades pre K-2, you will want to look into transfer options at COD as you will need to attend a four-year college to obtain your degree and Professional Educator License (PEL), You can find more information on state licensure through the Illinois State Board of Education.
The Early Childhood Education and Care program will prepare you to enter the early childhood education and care field. Our certificates and degrees equip students with the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes to appropriately work with infants, toddlers, preschool and school-age children.
The program is an entitled institution through Gateways to Opportunity. Gateways awards state recognized credentials, which will make you more marketable when applying for jobs in this field. As an entitled institution, the successful completion of a certificate or degree in early childhood from COD makes you eligible to apply for a variety of Gateways Leveled Credentials.
Hiring guidelines will vary depending on your place of employment. You will all need to meet the minimum requirements, for teachers, assistant teachers, and directors, listed in Subpart D of the DCFS Licensing requirements.
To be considered for a job in early childhood education, you must also meet the following requirements: updated medical form (with proof of all required immunizations), cleared fingerprint background check, physical exam stating that your physical and mental health do not interfere with child care responsibilities and evidence that you meet all of the additional ‘General Requirements for Personnel’ found in section 407.100 of the DCFS Licensing Requirements.
All of the courses will require you to complete field observations and/or lab experiences. Field observations are completed outside of classroom time in a licensed childcare facility.
Since you will be in community childcare centers and in contact with children, you will be evaluated in a variety of ways throughout the program to ensure adherence to program requirements and policies, developmentally appropriate practice, as well as adherence to DCFS licensing standards and the NAEYC ethical code of conduct.