Early Childhood Education

Program Type

Associate in Applied Science

Certificates available


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About the Program

Early childhood education lays the foundation for a child's future academic and personal success by providing a solid educational and developmental base. The Early Childhood Education program provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in early childhood education settings. In addition to classroom instruction, students in the Early Childhood Education program complete field experiences in a variety of early childhood education settings.

What can I do with this degree?

Opportunities exist in home-based care, day care centers, nursery schools, preschools, private homes, and at before or after-school programs. While the program is not preparation for state certification, courses may transfer to four-year schools, where certification can be earned to teach ages birth through third grade.

Potential Careers & Wages

Program Pathways

Students should meet with an Academic Advisor to develop a clear pathway leading to a seamless transfer experience or transition to the workforce. For additional possibilities that may require an advanced degree or certification, make an appointment with an Academic Advisor.

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In addition to the Associate in Applied Science degree, students may choose from two certificates:

  • Early Childhood Educator Assistant (5511)
  • Early Childhood Educator Certificate (5501)

The Early Childhood Education credentials are stackable credentials. Meaning, when you earn a credential or certification, it leads seamlessly into the next.

Early Childhood Educator Assistant - Gateway Level 2 Credential (18 credits)

Early Childhood Educator - Gateway Level 3 Credential (29 credits)

Early Childhood Education AAS - Gateway Level 4 Credential (60 credits)

Rock Valley College is pleased to announce the award of an Early Childhood Education grant in the amount of $773,663.68 from the Illinois Community College Board to provide streamlined paths to degrees, licenses, and credentials to members of the early childhood incumbent workforce in the field of early childhood (EC) education. These funds are provided as part of a larger statewide initiative to establish the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity.

Signed into Illinois law in 2021, the Early Childhood Access for Equity Consortium Act (ECACE) mandates the transfer of the AAS, without the need for additional coursework to receiving universities. Per the legislative language: “A public university may not require students transferring pursuant to this Section to repeat courses taken and completed successfully at the community college and applied toward the associate degree granted pursuant to subsection (a) of this Section. All courses completed successfully in the AAS degree program must count toward baccalaureate degree completion. Students entering with an AAS may not be required to take a total number of credits greater than those students first starting in a baccalaureate degree program. This includes any courses in which credit for prior learning was used to determine course equivalency and credit was awarded by the evaluating institution. Additional coursework may be required if a student is seeking to add one or more endorsements to the student's Illinois Professional Educator License.”

The funds received through this grant will support the institution as we seek to improve the way educational programming is offered to students, by creating stackable credential opportunities throughout the Early Childhood Education pathway, as well a smooth transition to a four-year institution.  More importantly, the grant allows the college to provide additional support services to help students as they progress throughout their educational journey.

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