New scholarship covers your entire education!

ECE students can apply for the new Early Learning Equity Scholarship and get all of their costs covered!

What you can earn


2-3 years

Credits earned




Time commitment

Full-time or Part-time

Upcoming deadline

July 15, 2024

Transforming early childhood education

The online Early Care & Education (ECE) program centers young children, families, and communities through interdisciplinary coursework and practice-based learning rooted in equity, diversity and inclusion.

Students join ECE for the flexibility and affordability, gaining a full UW education while living and working in their own community.  And our instructors and staff provide each student with dedicated support and coaching.

If you are committed to transforming the early childhood education field, we invite you to join our next cohort of change-makers.

After graduation

ECE equips you with the skills, knowledge, and experiences that will elevate your strengths and talents to excel in your career development. Graduates in this program continue their professional development in current or new roles and transition into leadership positions. These positions include lead teachers, coaches, and program directors in non-profit community-based settings and early learning sites.

  • Preschool teaching
  • Early childhood administration
  • Children’s museums educator and communications
  • Early learning assessment
  • Early learning coach and specialist
  • Early education policy and advocacy
  • Education research
  • Family & community support

The ECE program can also serve as a pathway for graduates interested in K-8 education, health related fields, child life specialist, social work, psychology, or other fields related to children’s learning, development and well being.

  • Want to become a K-8 teacher? Although ECE graduates do not earn a teaching certificate, it is a great foundation for one of our teacher preparation programs.
  • Aiming to earn your master's degree? After earning your bachelor’s degree through ECE, we offer a wide array of graduate-level programs that support your career goals.

Let's connect

We're so excited that you're thinking about joining our undergrad program! Join our mailing list to learn about upcoming information sessions, deadlines, scholarships and more!

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Prefer a one-on-one experience? Prospective students can schedule an admissions advising appointment.


    The ECE program is offered entirely online, which means you can log in anytime and from anywhere to complete coursework before weekly deadlines. We use an online learning management system to host course materials and interactions with your peers and professors. While most learning occurs asynchronously, you’ll enjoy some real-time collaboration opportunities.

    To earn your B.A. in Early Care & Education, you'll need to complete all required ECE courses along with any remaining general education courses and electives. The program’s duration varies based on the amount of college credits you’ve previously earned. Full-time students typically graduate in about two years, while part-time students usually graduate in about three years.

    Technical requirements: You will need access to reliable high-speed internet, webcam, microphone, and a device capable of capturing video and audio, like a smartphone. The program may require additional software that UW offers at low or no cost, with tutorials provided.

    Once you enroll, your academic adviser will review any transfer credits and help you create a personalized graduation plan to complete your degree, which may include general education and elective courses. The sample graduation plans outline the required ECE courses only and do not include general education or other graduation requirements.

    The following list includes required ECE courses.

    ECE 201: Introduction to Early Care & Education

    Explores current and historical themes, research, and programs in the field of early care and education, offering students the opportunity to explore their own professional identities.

    ECE 220: Equity in Early Care & Education I

    Drawing upon the history of multicultural education, social justice education, culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies, critical perspectives in early childhood education, and anti-bias education, this course supports professionals serving young children and families to develop skills needed to engage in equitable practices.

    ECE 221: Equity in Early Care & Education II

    Builds on foundations of critical pedagogy, social justice education, and culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies. Focuses on the intersections of identity (e.g., class, dis/ability, and gender), self, systems of power and privilege, and working with young children. Designed to better understand how art and children's texts can be used as tools for equity.

    ECE 222: Equity in Early Care & Education III

    Builds on foundations of critical pedagogy, social justice education, and culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies. Focuses on the intersections of identity (e.g., race, ethnicity, language, and sexual identity), self, systems of power and privilege, and working with young children. Designed to better understand how art and children's texts can be used as tools for equity.

    ECE 322: Engaging Interactions and Environments

    Instructionally Supportive Interactions: Importance of equitable high-quality early childhood education. Specific types of environments and responsive instructional interactions that support children's thinking, language, and problem-solving. First of a two-part series.

    ECE 323: Engaging Interactions and Environments

    Social and Emotional Support and Well-Organized Classrooms: Focus on importance of equitable high quality early childhood education and specific types of environments and responsive instructional interactions that support children's social, emotional and self-regulatory skills. Second of a two-part series.

    ECE 401: Introduction to Research in Early Care and Education

    Focuses on the kinds of knowledge, ways of knowing and modes of inquiry relevant to early care and education. Through identifying and reviewing substantive research in their areas of interest, students locate ideas for inquiry within the research literature in early care and education.

    ECE 402: Social Policy in Early Care and Education

    Seeks to deepen understanding of contemporary social issues and problems that impact families and young children. Discusses legislation and other policies from a local, national and global perspective. Explores the complex web of social, private, and governmental organization that impact families and young children.

    ECE 419: Family and Community Engagement

    Focuses on the key role that family and community contexts play in supporting development, as well as the key role early childhood programs can play in promoting family engagement. Participants examine interdisciplinary principles on how best to support a developing child's primary relationships through family engagement, and responsiveness to differences between families.

    ECE 450: Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators

    Helps identify individual strengths, set professional goals, and practice necessary professional skills, such as job-searching, networking, and developing oral and written proficiency.

    ECE: 456 Senior Project

    Synthesizes and demonstrates learning across the ECE major. Brings together research, theory and hands-on practice in service learning in order to highlight overall degree competencies and promote development of a professional portfolio.

    ECFS 301: Early Childhood Curriculum

    Focuses on developmental foundations and theoretical and researched-based models of early childhood curriculum. Studies approaches to designing, organizing and implementing early learning programs. Studies curricular content for supporting children's learning and development in physical development; social and emotional development; approaches to learning; cognition; and language and early literacy.

    ECFS 311

    Teaching From the Inside Out: Being a Resilient Educator: Equips students with skills and strategies to optimize their effectiveness as early childhood educators. Students learn how to be as healthy as possible, possess the confidence to manage stressful situations, connect effectively with others and focus on the positive aspects of life.

    ECFS 312: Positive Behavior Support in Early Childhood

    Addresses the significance of social and emotional development in the early years. Discusses the adoption of models and evidence-based practice strategies that focus on promoting social-emotional development, providing support for children's appropriate behavior and preventing challenging behavior. Examines how adult resiliency and wellness relate to improved early care and teaching.

    ECFS 400: Child Observation & Assessment

    Focuses on observation and methods used to study and understand young children in the context of families and society. Develops skills to understand children's behavior in learning environments. Examines approaches to and purposes for assessment and documentation of children's development and learning. Explores approaches to assessing early learning environments.

    ECFS 410: Laying the Foundation for Reading

    Supporting Language & Literacy Development in Preschool: Increases knowledge about language and literacy developments between ages 3 to 5 and the ways in which these developments are critical precursors to the emergence of and success with formal reading skills, and to build participants' use of evidence-based language and literacy practices within the preschool classroom.

    ECFS 411: Fostering the Development of Young Children’s Mathematics & Science Knowledge & Skills

    Increases knowledge about cognitive developments between ages 3 to 5 and ways in which these developments are critical precursors to emergence and success with later content and skills in mathematics and science. Learn to design and implement effective instructional practices and interactions with children that support their learning and development.

    EDPSY 305 Applied Child Development & Learning

    Examination of the latest research on brain development in early childhood and the application of this knowledge in the creation of learning environments that promote physical, language, cognitive, social and emotional development. The roles of family, classroom and community provide context to build relationships that support each child's development.

    EDSPE 304: Disability & Ableism in Education

    overs the topics of disability and ableism specifically focused on educational contexts.

    EDPSY 406: Learning & Teaching in Our Changing World

    Human learning in the educational setting. Cognition, development, learning, motivation, affective processes and socialization. Emphasis on skills in influencing classroom learning and discipline.

    IECMH 432: Introductions in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

    Provides a survey of infant and early childhood development, including prenatal and neonatal factors, and social/societal influences, using an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion informed framework. Emphasizes how risk and protective factors can impact social emotional, physical, and cognitive growth. Includes research based principles and approaches to supporting families and caregivers of young children.

    We believe early childhood professionals learn by applying knowledge through action, observation and reflection. ECE students take part in Community Based Learning (CBL), a place-based education, centering learning in the physical environment, local culture, history, language, and with the people of a community.

    You will have many opportunities to integrate your classroom experience into your CBL Experience. You will build on your cultural and contextual knowledge of children’s learning through real-world opportunities to apply your knowledge and skills in early learning settings.

    Our students participate in two types of experiential learning:

    • Community-Based Learning Experience: Weekly time spent engaging with young children through your work or volunteering in an early learning setting is required for many courses.
    • Applied assignments: Examples of applied assignments include videos of your practice, environment or child observations, case studies, and an interview with a professional or parent. These may be completed at your Community-Based Learning Experience site.

    Already working or volunteering with children in an early learning setting? You can complete the community-based learning experience at your current job! If you need support finding a setting, our CBL coordinator will help you find a place to do your community-based learning.

    It will take a minimum of 7 quarters to complete the program. To graduate from the University of Washington, you must have a minimum of 180 quarterly credits. How long it takes to graduate depends on a number of factors, including how many credits you are transferring in with and how many credits you take per quarter as an ECE student.


    Prospective students

    You can connect and schedule an advising appointment with our Lead Admissions & Outreach Adviser who can provide one-on-one support with: 

    • Admissions process
    • Scholarships and financial aid
    • Transferring to UW

    Schedule an appointment

    Admission requirements and process

      Please reach out to us at if you need any support during the application process!

      New students start each autumn, and you can choose either full-time or part-time enrollment. Applications open in January each year. Applicants who submit by our priority deadline (April 1) will be notified first about admissions decisions. They will also be notified about scholarship opportunities in May. Because of the different steps and requirements, we recommend starting your application process as early as possible.

      To be eligible for this program, you must have met the following requirements:

      • Live in the United States and do not require an F-1 visa.
      • Completed at least 45 transferable quarter credits from regionally accredited colleges or universities (1 semester credit is equivalent to 1.5 quarter credits)
      • Earned a cumulative transfer GPA of 2.0 or higher.

      If you have completed fewer than 40 transferable quarter credits at the time you submit your application, you will also need to complete the College Academic Distribution Requirements (UW admission requirements that can be satisfied by high school and/or college coursework). Please contact us at if you have questions about this requirement.

      Official transcript from each college you have attended
      • Include transcripts from all institutions attended
      • Your transcripts must include your name and coursework
      • If you have fewer than 40 transferable credits at the time of application, you must also submit and official or unofficial high school transcript
      Responses to the application questions


      Respond to each of the questions below using these instructions. You may choose to submit either written or recorded responses:

      • Written responses: Write a short paragraph (150 words or less) in response to each question.
      • Recorded responses: Make a video or audio recording with your responses (1-2 minutes per question). You will need to upload your recording to a cloud service such as Youtube, Google Drive, or Sharepoint and share the link in your application form.

      Please reach out to us at if you have questions about how to submit your application questions.


      1. The ECE program focuses on community-based early learning with children from birth to age 8 and their families. Tell us about your experience and/or interest in working with children in this specific age range and their families. 
      2. Please review the NAEYC Advancing Equity Position Statement (2019) (English, Spanish, Chinese). Then, make at least one explicit connection to a section or concept from the position statement in your answers to the following questions: 
        1. How has your background and experience prepared you to be effective in an environment that holds equity, diversity, and inclusion as a core to our mission and values?
        2. What impact have you had (or hope to have) in the early learning community for equity, diversity, and inclusion at your current position (or a position in the future)? What are you still working on?
      3. In what ways do you hope the ECE program will further your learning and skill set in equity, diversity, and inclusion? 
      4. The ECE program’s Community-Based Learning requirement is to work or volunteer for at least 3-5 hours per week at a formal early learning setting that serves children ages birth-8, and allows you to observe, enact practices, and occasionally film yourself interacting with at least 3-5 children. Examples include Head Start, ECEAP, childcare center, family childcare center, elementary school, etc. Do you currently work or volunteer in a setting that meets this criteria? If so, briefly describe the setting and your role. If not, are you willing and able to volunteer in this kind of setting for 3-5 hours per week while you are a student in the program? Briefly describe your ideal volunteer setting. Support is available to help you find a site.
      5. (optional) Are you applying as a member of the Native Cohort based at Tulalip?
      6. (optional) Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
      1. Gather all required materials
      2. Visit the online application form
      3. Log into your account or create a new profile if you are a first-time applicant
      4. Complete all steps in application process and upload your documents
      5. Pay the nonrefundable application fee or request a waiver
      6. Submit your online application
      7. Submit transcripts


      • When completing the online form, be sure to select: “Early Care & Education (Online)”
      • If you have already earned your bachelor’s degree, select “Early Care & Education (Online) - Post-Bac”

      You will be notified some time between June and August. Applicants who submit before the priority deadline (April 1) will be notified first.

      In general, you should be able to transfer college-level academic credits for general education courses (described on the UW's Undergraduate Advising General Education page) and early childhood and education-related credits.

      For more information about UW’s transfer requirements, including notable restrictions on transfer credit, please visit the UW Transfer Credit Policies page. 

      To graduate from the University of Washington, you must have a minimum of 180 quarterly credits completed. Transfer students are encouraged to take courses that will transfer and count towards UW’s general education credits.

      Please note: the majority of your ECE major coursework must be completed within our program. Most EDUC/ECE courses that transfer will count towards your general education requirements or general electives.

      Costs and funding

        The online ECE program is a self-sustaining, fee-based program. Course fees are charged on a per-credit basis and are the same for Washington residents and non-residents. Our course fees are less than, or comparable to, many similar programs in Washington state. The current estimated cost is:

        • $231 per credit
        • The total cost to complete varies based on transfer credits

        Additional UW fees (registration, technology, etc) are not included in this estimate. 

        It is highly recommended that students in the program complete the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) application. These applications are necessary for various forms of financial aid, including scholarships and loans. Because ECE is a fee-based program, students are not eligible for tuition exemptions or university grants, such as the Husky Promise. For more details, please visit the fee-based programs page on the Office of Student Financial Aid website. 

        The Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards offers information and resources about student scholarship opportunities and mentors students through the various application processes.

        Students may qualify for specific scholarships and other financial aid that are tied to their background or prospective career field, including the opportunities below.

        Early Learning Equity Scholarship

        The Early Learning Equity (ELE) Scholarship, made possible by an extremely generous gift from the Ballmer Group, covers a student’s unmet financial need, including the cost of attendance for Washington state residents. The scholarship is available to newly enrolled ECE students, or those returning  to ECE after one or more years away.

        Undergraduate General Scholarship

        Through this one application, undergraduate students can apply for multiple scholarships worth between $900 - $5,000.

        Zesbaugh and Anderson-Olsen Scholarships

        The Zesbaugh and Anderson-Olsen Scholarships generously supports undergraduate students in financial need who are committed to a career as an educator. Applicants should be pursuing a career in P-12 teaching, education policy, higher education, school counseling, social services, or a myriad of other education fields.

        Child Care Aware of Washington (Early Achievers)

        Child Care Aware of Washington (Early Achievers) is for early learning professionals working at an Early Achievers enrolled program. The Bachelor’s Degree Pathways Scholarships are contract based for 12 months, and include BA completion, DTA/Pre-BA and the Montessori Credential.

        Martin Achievement & Martin Honors Scholarships

        The Martin Achievement Scholarship and Martin Honors Scholarship are available for Washington community college students and graduates interested in obtaining bachelor's degrees from the University of Washington.

        Resources for Washington state students

        Students based in Washington state can also apply for scholarships and other financial aid earmarked for residents of this state. There are number of sites that offer information about these kinds of programs, including:

        • Career Bridge: Pay for School

        Transforming inequitable systems

        Our curriculum is rooted in the belief that all young children and their families have the right to equitable learning and development opportunities in a just and culturally-thriving society. ECE students reflect on their identities and how decisions we make every day in and outside of the classroom are influenced by larger power systems. Assignments and cohort discussions encourage critical thinking about early learning, equity, and community.

        Read our equity statement

        Honoring Indigenous Land and Calls to Action: The ECE program shares a commitment that is essential to the process of working to be in good relationship with the Indigenous land on which our lives and institutions exist and the peoples of the land. Read our land acknowledgement.

        We are here to support you!

        Our faculty and student support team are committed to supporting you every step of the way: from your very first question about ECE to your graduation date, and beyond. We offer admissions advising to help you navigate the application process, and our academic adviser will be there to support you after you enroll in the program. We offer support in your community-based learning experience, and our faculty are committed to supporting you as you earn your degree, and prepare for your future.

        Personalized advising & community-based learning support

        Our support approach is holistic, encompassing all aspects of your student experience. Support ranges from academic planning and community-based learning placements, to career guidance and resource referrals, and more.

        At the start of the program, you’ll meet with your adviser to develop an individualized graduation plan. Then you’ll connect regularly to check in on progress and discuss any obstacles you might be facing. Your community-based learning coordinator will work with you to identify and establish a community-based learning site. If you need help, we are here to listen and guide you to available UW resources.

        Engaged faculty and community

        Faculty in the program are dedicated to your success, employing a “high-touch” teaching approach to keep you engaged. They check in weekly with students and embed career goals in courses to make them relevant to your experience.

        The faculty also help foster a reflective and collaborative community where students feel empowered and all voices are heard. Students grow this community by sharing experiences and best practices and offering feedback and support to each other.

        Tech support when you need it

        New to online learning? Don’t feel intimidated by the online aspect of ECE. All levels of tech savvy are welcome — and we’re here to support you.

        The technology is manageable and easy to use. We use a web-based learning management system to deliver course materials, and guided instruction and tutorials are built right into the curriculum. If you need extra technical support, our help from a technical support team is just a phone call or email away.

        W sculpture standing on the UW Seattle campus

        Frequently asked questions

        Will I graduate with a teaching credential?

        No. ECE students do not receive a teaching credential through the program. If teaching in elementary schools is your career goal, ECE is a great first step for your undergraduate work. After graduating you can apply to one of our college's teacher education programs and earn your Master in Teaching (M.I.T.). If your goal is to teach middle or high school, the ECE program is not a good fit and we encourage you to check out one of our other undergraduate majors.

        If I am an ECE student, can I double major or minor in something else at UW?

        No. Because you are admitted directly to the ECE major, you can only pursue the ECE major while you are enrolled at the University of Washington.

        Can I take any courses on campus?

        The ECE program is fully online. While you may be able to take occasional on-campus classes, options are extremely limited. If you prefer an on-campus experience, we recommend the Early Childhood & Family Studies: Teaching & Learning program.

        I have questions about the program, my transfer credits and how to apply. Where do I go for help?

        We are here to help! We offer info sessions and individual pre-admission advising. Schedule a virtual advising appointment.

        Can I complete this degree while working?

        Yes! If you work in an early learning setting with children (birth to age 8), it is likely that this will count as your CBL weekly hours. If you don’t work with young children, the CBL coordinator is available to support you to find a CBL placement. 

        You can access coursework on your own schedule and complete the majority of your work on the weekends. There are flexible options for occasional synchronous small group sessions and meetings with staff and faculty.

        I have already completed a bachelor’s degree. May I apply?

        Yes!  If you have already completed or will complete a bachelor’s or graduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to enrolling at UW, you are considered a post-baccalaureate applicant. Please select “Early Care & Education (Online) - Post-Bac” option when you fill out the online application form. 

        As a “post-bac” you will only need to complete the ECE major coursework as your general education coursework will be taken care of with the credits from your original bachelor’s degree.

        Is the online degree the same as a campus B.A. degree?  Am I a full UW Husky Student?

        Yes, you are a UW Husky. You will receive a UW student ID card, enjoy the same access to resources and events as campus students, and can walk across the stage at Commencement! Go Dawgs!

        Program Faculty

        Assistant Teaching Professor
        Associate Professor
        Associate Teaching Professor
        Assistant Professor
        Associate Professor

        Program Staff

        Experiential Learning Coordinator
        Lead Admissions & Outreach Adviser
        Assistant Director of Academic & Student Services, Early Care & Education
        Undergraduate Programs Manager
        Community Liaison and College Navigator
        Program Coordinator

        Alumni Profile

        Early Care and Education
        Learning online was easy because you learn on your own time; you just have to be disciplined. I’m someone who does everything by the book, so I read every article and took lots of notes. I’m so glad I did because I use those notes today.