UW Launches New Undergraduate Online Degree Completion Program with Early Childhood and Family Studies Degree

March 27, 2013

Two important trends in higher education have come together at the University of Washington, as officials announced a new online degree completion program featuring a degree targeting early childhood education. The program will begin accepting applications in May, with classes starting this fall.

Pending final approval, the new Undergraduate Online Degree Completion program will launch with a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood and Family Studies. The degree will be offered by the highly ranked UW College of Education, which has been at the forefront of research on early learning, childhood special education and early intervention. The program is modeled on the UW’s similar on-campus degree and will utilize the university’s regular faculty, including experts in the field.

As a degree completion program, the new offering is designed for students who already have roughly two years' worth of transferable college credit. The competitive price – $160 per credit, regardless of residence – is lower than many other online degree completion programs and broadens access to a UW degree.

The announcement comes as more universities offer flexible online degree programs for busy adults, and as early-learning initiatives become a national priority (including a prominent mention in President Obama’s recent State of the Union address). It’s a natural step for the UW, which has long been a leader in both areas. The university has a rich history of providing innovative online educational options for more than a decade, although this is the first online degree completion program to be offered.

The new program addresses the growing demand for well-trained early childhood specialists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for preschool teachers in the United States will grow by 25 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. The growth is expected due to increasing focus on the importance of early learning and the burgeoning population of children ages 3 to 5.

The degree features a balance of rigorous, research-based courses with practical training. Students will explore early childhood development and learning from a variety of perspectives, studying the theories and evidence that drive current research and policy efforts. Graduates will be prepared to pursue various career tracks in early education, social/mental health services, child care, and parent support and education.

Some innovative features of the Undergraduate Online Degree Completion program are community college partnerships that can grant reverse (or dual) credit for eligible students, and the development of several related Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), so the general public can explore some of the core topics in early childhood education.

For more information, see the press release.

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