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Become an Early Childhood Teacher: Master’s of Early Childhood Education

Prepare for your Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL) with three embedded endorsements.

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A Reimagined Master’s of Early Childhood Education Degree from Erikson Institute
A Reimagined Masters of Early Childhood Education Degree from Erikson Institute.


Accelerate Your Career as a Fully Licensed Early Childhood Teacher

You’re ready to become a teacher. And you want to be ready for every child that walks into the classroom door. Join us in the triple endorsement program, the first of its kind in Illinois where you learn and become certified in early childhood, multilingualism and special education.

Being a teacher today means leading classrooms defined by a multiplicity of languages, abilities, and life experiences. More than 50 percent of your students will be children of color. To create a truly inclusive classroom, you need to know how to build on the strengths of every student and much more. You need to be attuned to individual family dynamics and have a comprehensive understanding of the systemic forces that stand in the way of learning and opportunity.

Watch this video and hear from Sandra Osorio, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Raciolinguistic Justice & Director of Teacher Education, on how the reimagined Master’s in Early Childhood Education program features an integrated and streamlined curriculum and practicum requirements that could help you reach your career goals.


Add to the Scope of Your Teaching Opportunities with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Start in the Summer or Fall* term and earn your ECE degree, initial licensure and three endorsements in a hybrid or online program.

In 2024, the modality of the program will vary by term but include both part- and full-time options. The Summer program will be hybrid-only while the Fall program will be online-only for Illinois residents and those teaching in Illinois.

* Fall term starts will have a longer program of study by one additional term to better allow for student teaching. 

36 Credit Hours

Hybrid or Online*

Summer & Fall Start Dates

Part-Time: 2 years*

Full-Time: 1 year*

Why Erikson

Earn Your Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Pioneers in the Field

Prepare to become a licensed teacher in Illinois for young children.



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Flexible Study Options

Study part-time or full-time based on your needs.

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Licensure Pathway

The MSECE program leads to the initial Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL).

Embedded Endorsements

Our program integrates three endorsements in a single course of study: Early Childhood Education, English as a Second Language/ bilingual education, and Special Education.

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Faculty Experts

Collaborate with our nationally recognized faculty, build a respected network of field experts, and learn from the field’s leading voices.

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Real-World Field Experience

Put theory to practice in one of over 150 Chicagoland field placement opportunities while completing your student teaching requirements.

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Small, Personal Classes

Work closely with your professors and peers in small classes where personal relationships enrich your learning experiences

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Self-Reflective Supervision Seminars

Learn resilience and healthy professional practices from experienced practitioners.

Help Make a More Equitable Society

Teaching is challenging work, but the rewards are enormous–every effective teacher moves us that much closer to a more equitable society. That’s why the Erikson Institute has created the only program of its kind in Illinois: Master of Science in Early Childhood Education with three embedded endorsements (Early Childhood, English as a Second Language/ Bilingual, and Special Education).

The traditional method of “stacking” endorsements is costly, time-consuming, and falls far short of offering a holistic approach that every child needs. Our initial licensure program integrates three endorsements in a single course of study: Early Childhood Ed, ESL/ Bilingual Ed, and Special Ed.

Beyond traditional student support, graduates of the program will have access to a 2-year professional learning community and earn professional development hours.

Gain Experience with Extraordinary ECE Student Teaching Placements

Put theory into practice.

Learning can never be confined to a classroom — nor should it. Student teaching experiences are a critical component of your ECE degree work.

For placement, you will be working during the day at custom-selected locations in Illinois that include multilingual and children with special needs. When you graduate, you’ll be ready to take your learning and lead in your career path.

Weeks Total
Hours of Student Teaching Experience


Earn Three High-Demand Early Childhood Education Endorsements

Add to your credentials with these endorsements embedded directly in your Master’s in Early Childhood Education program. Graduates of this program will be eligible to earn these endorsements from the Illinois State Board of Education based on the curriculum inclusive of the requirements and clinical hours. Students may need to pass additional tests from the state.


Early Childhood Birth-2nd Grade Endorsement
After completing this program, you will be eligible to earn the Early Childhood Education Birth-Grade 2 endorsement

Special Education / LBS1 Endorsement

After completing this program, you will be eligible to earn the LBS1 endorsement and Early Childhood Special Education letter of approval.

Bilingual/ESL Endorsement

After completing this program, you will be eligible to earn the bilingual and/or the English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsements.

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Look Into Erikson’s Robust Financial Support & Scholarship Options

With Erikson’s Educator Impact Grant students may be eligible for full tuition and student service fees.

Additionally, with dozens of scholarships and other financial aid opportunities, our team is here to help you make your graduate education more affordable.

Based on your unique professional goals, we can help you understand tuition and expenses, and identify possible financial support opportunities.

Financial Aid Options  Tuition and Fees


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Apply Now for Scholarship & Grant Considerations

You may be eligible for multiple scholarships offered by Erikson, in addition to other sources of aid. 


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Career Services

Join the ECE Program Family for Support at Every Step of Your Journey

At Erikson Institute, our Career Services team works with you every step of the way.

  • Career counseling and workshops
  • Annual job fair and networking events
  • Interview prep and resume reviews
  • Career placement program
  • Student and graduate resume book

With hundreds of partnerships and robust networks of alumni and field experts, the Career Services team is here to help you put your education into practice.

Meet our Career Specialists

Hear from Our Alum

Evan Tracy, Erikson Institute alum.
Evan Tracy
MS Early Childhood Education 2013
“ I learned so much at Erikson about the holistic, interconnected nature of child development and early childhood education. A deep knowledge of best educational practices prepared me for my work in public schools. ”

Open New Doors with Your Erikson ECE Degree

Once you graduate, you’ll be able to put your Master’s in Early Childhood Education degree to work right away. Here are a few of the roles Erikson graduates take on after graduation.

Learn more about Career Services

  • Licensed early childhood teacher
  • Education coordinator
  • Child care center director
  • Executive director of early childhood program
  • Curriculum coordinator
  • Master teacher
  • Bilingual, ESL/ELL teacher
  • Early childhood special education teacher

Erikson Professors are Leaders in the Field

Gain expert perspectives working closely with leaders in the field.

Erikson’s Early Childhood Education program faculty are nationally recognized. With specific research interests and decades of experience, each of our faculty enriches your academic experience, connecting you to new networks and the latest data.

Meet the Program Faculty

Explore a Few of Our MSECE Program Courses

See all MSECE courses

Inclusive & Culturally Sustaining ECE Approaches, Practices, & Learning Environments
This course critically examines early childhood (birth through age eight) approaches, practices, and learning environments from historical, sociocultural, and political perspectives while emphasizing the material, interpersonal, and environmental factors that extend knowledge and curriculum-making.
Reflecting on the Foundations of US Schooling
This course introduces students to the historical policies, practices, and structures of formal schooling in the United States, including the exclusion and rights of children of color, immigrant children, indigenous children, multilingual children, and children with diverse abilities or dis/abilities.
The Cultural Nature of Human Development and Learning
This course provides an overview of child development from conception to age eight.

Early Childhood Teacher Program FAQs

Find answers to the biggest questions students ask about the Early Childhood Teacher program.

The Master’s in Early Childhood Education is a teacher licensure program and as such if you already have your Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL), this degree program isn’t for you. The endorsements are embedded in the program plan and as such students are not able to select the individual endorsements and related coursework.

Grant eligibility is contingent upon admission, enrollment, and completion of a grant application. Grants are conditioned on recipients, post-graduation, serving underinvested communities in Illinois for 4 years and participating in 2 years of a professional learning community; failure to meet these conditions will require, in most cases, repayment of tuition and fee amounts. Additional criteria may apply.

If you prefer not to apply to the Erikson Educator Impact Grant or are not awarded the grant, Erikson awards over $2 million in scholarships to students enrolled in our degree and certificate programs. Erikson also participates in the federal Direct Loan programs, and assuming you meet all eligibility requirements, you will have access to both Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS loans to help finance your Erikson education.

Over 90% of our students work either part-time or full-time as they are pursuing their Erikson degree.

The other factor to consider as you think about your work schedule is whether you want to pursue your master’s degree program in one or two years. While there are always exceptions to this, most students who wish to work full time while enrolled at Erikson opt for the two-year program. Students who have more flexibility in their work schedule or want to complete their program in a shorter period of time while working part-time tend to enroll in the one-year program.

It’s important to note that you will be required to be available during business hours Monday through Friday during your practicum placement, and you will have evening courses and methods seminars one to two nights per week. We encourage you to plan ahead and communicate as necessary with your employer in advance of your program.

It may be possible to complete your practicum placement with your existing employer if you work with an agency that provides site-based early care and education to children under the age of eight and your employer approves the placement(s). Practicum placement requirements may differ based on your situation and could result in two different placements. Given that this is a program with three embedded endorsements in ECE, ESL/bilingual and special education, at least one of the placements will need to have multilingual and children with special needs. Erikson faculty as well as the practicum coordinator will work with you to find a practicum placement within Illinois.

The staff in our Career Services Office will work with you to prepare you for seeking early childhood teacher positions while you’re enrolled at Erikson and upon graduating from the program. You’ll receive feedback on your resume and cover letters, and we also maintain a job board on our campus portal where employers list part-time and full-time early childhood teacher positions for which they’re hiring.

The Career Services team also plans an annual social work, early education, and child development job fair for Erikson students and alumni. In concert with the job fair, you can submit your resume to be included in an annual Resume Book that we distribute to organizations and managers who are interested in hiring Erikson students and alumni.

This degree program is only licensed for Illinois. Professional licensure requirements vary by state and students are encouraged to understand professional licensure and certification requirements for any state they are planning to pursue a career in. Additionally, we are unable to support practicums outside of the state of Illinois at this time.

Erikson students enrolled in the hybrid modality of this program live in a wide range of neighborhoods in Chicago and in the suburbs. We do not offer campus housing. While we can’t make specific recommendations about where you should live, we encourage you to find a neighborhood that suits your style, taste, and budget. To help you in your housing search, we work closely with StudentSpace, a free apartment-finding service that specializes in helping graduate students find housing in Chicago.

Because of Erikson’s small size, you’ll have access to a wide range of both informal and formal student support services. These include:

  • The Career Services team will help you identify and apply for your practicum placement. Erikson has hundreds of pre-approved sites, so you don’t have to worry about finding a placement site on your own.
  • Advising about your financial aid options, including personal financial education, is coordinated through the Financial Aid Office.
  • Academic advising is facilitated through your faculty advisor and program director.
  • The Academic Success Center provides services to help you with the academic reading and writing expectations of your program. The Center also sponsors discussion groups for selected master’s program courses.
  • The Director of Disability Services provides advising and support for students with disabilities and students who need accommodations for their academic work.
  • WorkLifeMatters is a confidential student assistance program offered to all Erikson students through Guardian and Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH). You have unlimited access to consult with a professional counselor via telephone. Face-to-face counseling sessions are available, if needed, with an IBH network provider — and up to eight sessions are free of charge as part of WorkLifeMatters.
  • Validated parking at a reduced rate is provided to Erikson students in three nearby parking garages. You will also have access to deeply discounted public transportation through the CTA U-Pass program.