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 has the state's largest undergraduate early childhood education program, graduating about 100 students each year.



The Department of Curriculum and Instruction is currently not enrolling new students into Master's programs in Education of the Gifted and Middle Level Education . However, students who are currently in progress in these programs will be able to complete their degrees. Current budget constraints require faculty who usually teach in these master's programs to teach in other programs to replace faculty lost through retirement. Hopefully, this restriction is temporary and we will again be able to offer these Master's programs in the future as the budget situation improves.


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 speak English as a second language. 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.

For more information about the 2013 cohort program and how to apply please visit : http://www.uni.edu/continuinged/ece 

Bachelor's degree program

Multiple hands-on 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 UNI resource centers including:

  • UNI Child Development Center for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

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 a physical science learning center that engages young children in active experimentation.
  •  Studying an infant or toddler and designing and teaching activities specifically for that child.
  • Using a computer program to design an early childhood education classroom with furniture and materials that meet the needs of pre-kindergarten or kindergarten children.

"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 new statewide voluntary preschool programs.

Graduate Program

For current classroom teachers, the Master's degree program is designed to develop educators' expertise in early childhood education through leadership and classroom expertise. The program schedule is designed for working professionals. Most courses are held in the evening either online or  interactive video conferencing (Adobe Connect). Topics include developmentally appropriate practice, assessment and evaluation of young children and programs, diversity, and more. The Early Childhood Master's program will be offered in a three-year sequence with a new cohort group starting in the Fall of 2013.