If you want to earn a graduate degree in early childhood education, one of the 50 highest paying master’s degrees, you will need to devote quite some time – probably, a couple years or more – to pursuing this advanced degree. You can measure the time it takes to complete a master’s degree program in early childhood education in credit hours that are awarded for each class taken or in the number of years it takes to complete these credit requirements. Other factors that can affect the time it takes to finish your master’s degree program are whether you study full-time or part-time, as well as whether you take advantage of any accelerated-format options.
The Length of a Master’s in Early Childhood Education in Credits and in Years
The number of credits that constitutes a master’s degree can vary dramatically. Generally, the shortest master’s degree programs consist of only 30 credits, while the longest can require up to 60 credits of graduate coursework. As you could probably imagine, it can take far longer to pursue a master’s degree program with a curriculum pushing 60 credits than it does to finish a program that is closer to 30 credits long. Even if you manage to complete a 60-credit program in the same number of years as a 30-credit program could be completed, you will have to spend a lot more time on your studies to do so.
Full-time students in a master’s in early childhood education program can typically complete their degree in one and a half to two years of study, but graduate programs with a more robust curriculum may require you to devote more time to earning your degree. Programs that require student-teaching fieldwork will often take longer to complete than programs that have no student-teaching component but require a comparable amount of credits.
Although you’re eager to finish your degree faster, students should take the time to explore their options. A school’s 30-credit program may be excellent, but it won’t allow for as much advanced or specialized study as a program with a longer curriculum would.
Full-Time and Part-Time Study Options
Pursuing your graduate studies full-time while also working is a challenge, but with discipline and dedication, it can be done. Some programs are designed with working students in mind, scheduling classes in the evenings or presenting coursework in an asynchronous online format that can be completed on your schedule. When students get to the student-teaching semester – in programs that require them – they may have to quit or take a leave of absence from their job or else find a paid teaching position in a school that can count toward their master’s degree requirements.
If you’re not able to study full-time, you can work toward your master’s in early childhood education degree on a part-time basis. Studying part-time can take several years, but the benefit is that you can better balance your load of one or two courses at a time with your other professional and personal obligations.
Schools may have a limit on the maximum amount of time a student has to pursue their degree upon enrolling in the program. If you’re thinking about studying part-time, it’s a good idea to go over your expected course of study with an advisor from the school.
Speeding Up Your Graduate Education
If you’re determined to complete your degree even faster, an accelerated option could be for you. Some master’s degree programs in early childhood education present courses in an accelerated format that allow you to finish the degree program in as little as one year. Students aiming to complete an accelerated program should plan to take courses year-round, including in the summer and during times that would be breaks between traditional semesters. It’s also worth noting that accelerated master’s degree programs in education are usually intended for licensed and experienced teachers, not new teachers who require certification.
Students who are still planning for their undergraduate studies but eventually want to pursue a master’s degree could consider knocking out both of their degrees through a dual-degree program. These combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs typically take a total of five years of full-time study, with some graduate credits counting toward both degrees.
An accelerated master’s degree program may sound appealing, but students should be realistic in considering how much time they have to devote to their studies, especially while working. The workload of an accelerated program is rigorous.