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Early Childhood Education - Associate Degree

The Early Childhood Education program prepares students to work as teacher-caregivers in early childhood settings. It combines hands-on fieldwork in area centers with related academic work at the college. Graduates become responsible for the care and education of children in the birth-to-eight-years age range. They create and maintain safe and healthy play environments, guide behavior, plan and implement learning activities, and work cooperatively with staff and parents.

Program Code: 103071
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Program Costs & Financial Aid

See costs of tuition, books, and supplies.

This program is fully eligible for financial aid.

Estimates based on in-state residency. Learn more about tuition and fees.

Explore Locations

Offered At:

Follow Your Path

All of the credits from the following technical diploma(s) apply toward this associate degree:

Early Childhood Assistant Teacher, 313076

All of the credits from the following certificate(s) apply toward this associate degree:

Early Childhood: Licensing Basic Ages 0-2, 613073

Early Childhood: Licensing Basic Ages 3-5, 613072

Early Childhood: Preschool, 9030711

Some of the credits from the following certificate(s) apply toward this associate degree:

Early Childhood: Infant Toddler, 903073

Ask your advisor about 2+2 transfer opportunities.


  • Day
  • Evening
  • Full-time
  • Online: Some courses include practicum hours which must be completed in person at a work site.
  • Part-time

How do I get started in this program?

Requirements for Program Entry

  • Apply at
  • Submit the following:
  • High school transcript (or GED/HSED transcript).
  • College transcript (if applicable).
  • If your cumulative GPA is below 2.6, complete or submit a placement evaluation.
  • Demonstrated suitability to the early childhood profession as indicated by completion of a functional ability checklist.
  • Complete a physical examination report no more than 12 months prior to admission.
  • Completed an American Heart Association CPR course prior to program entry to include the AED component for infants, toddlers and adults. Students are required to maintain a current CPR card on a two-year renewal cycle.
  • Mastered basic math before entering this program. Basic math covers whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percents, and measurements.
  • To be admitted to this program, learners must achieve a prior cumulative high school or college grade point average of 2.6 or higher OR a satisfactory academic skills assessment score. College grade point average must be based on 15 credits or more. To learn more about starting this program, please contact an academic advisor at (920) 498-5444 or (888) 385-6982.
  • Complete DCF caregiver background check, including fingerprinting. A fee is charged for this service. Must be completed to be accepted to the program.
  • Attend mandatory program orientation. Check your email for invitation to register for orientation.
  • Tip! Our admission advisors will assist you through every step. Have questions? Connect with NWTC Admissions at or 920-498-5444.

What are my courses?


Students following the study plan below will complete the Early Childhood Education Associate Degree in the number of semesters shown. Courses can be taken in-person, online, web conference, and blended, as long as prerequisites are met.

Total Credits 61
  • Curriculum Note: Field experience courses include student teaching placement hours which must be completed in person at a local early childhood setting, in addition to course work. NWTC faculty arrange student teaching settings for/with students. Students are required to complete student teaching in each center placement. Students are required to achieve a grade of "C" or higher in the field experience courses to continue in or graduate from this program. Failure to pass a field experience course on the second attempt, may result in removal from the program. See Program Handbook.
  • If a student is considering pursuing a 4-year degree, Intermediate Algebra w/Apps, 10-804-118, should be taken in place of Principles of Sustainability, 10-806-112.
  • The credit for 10-890-101, College 101, is an Institutional Requirement for graduation. Consequently, it is not part of the program credit requirements, but must be passed with a "C" or better. This course must be taken in the first semester.
  • Students must earn a grade of a "C" or higher in all 10-307-XXX courses to successfully graduate the Early Childhood Associate Degree Program. A student must repeat the particular course with a "C" or better final grade to continue in or graduate from this program. If the course is sequential, the successful retake must occur before continuing the sequence.

Program Outcomes

  • Apply child development theory to practice.
  • Cultivate relationships with children, family, and the community.
  • Assess child growth and development.
  • Use effective, research-based practices in teaching and learning.
  • Demonstrate professionalism.
  • Integrate health, safety, and nutrition practices.

What careers are in my future?


Graduate Employment

with 84% in field


Median Starting Salary

Source: NWTC Graduate Outcome Survey

Employment Potential

A graduate of this program will have the potential for employment in the following areas:

  • Early Childhood Teacher in Preschool or Group Childcare Centers/Head Start Teacher: plans and implements daily activities with concern for health, safety, and welfare for a designated group of children; supervises the assistant childcare teacher; administers instructional program to young children that promotes their physical, social, psychological, and intellectual development; and provides a flexible balance of active and quiet activities, individual and group activities, indoor and outdoor activities, free choice, guided activities and conduct developmental assessments.
  • Family Childcare Provider/Teacher/Owner: same functions as above only in a home setting.
  • Early Childhood Program Director, Day Camp Director, Child Care Center Administrator, Child Care Center Manager: The above positions may require responsibilities of one or more of the following items: responsible to the Board of Directors for day-to-day operations of entire school, including programming, facility, fiscal responsibilities, working knowledge of professional organizations for higher standards, providing customer service, and all human resource functions such as: hiring/firing, supervision, training, and evaluation of staff according to state requirements.

What's next after graduation?

Start here. Finish at a four-year.

NWTC transfer programs are offered through collaborative agreements with our four-year college and university partners. See where your associate degree credits will transfer.

What else do I need to know about the program?


  • Complete a physical examination report no more than 12 months prior to admission.
  • Students will be required to wear a NWTC issued name tag, provide their own transportation to assigned sites and cover any other expenses related to field experience placements. Students may be expected to travel distances. An NWTC approved education program shirt is required for program students, along with specific dress code per placements.
  • Availability: Student teaching hours will span between 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. with the majority of the required hours occurring in the morning.
  • Completion of a Wisconsin Technical Skills Attainment (TSA) is required to graduate from this program.
  • NWTC offers credit-based courses, credentials and degree options that align with the YoungStar requirements.

Industry Credentials

Successful graduates of this associate degree will be eligible to apply for Wisconsin Registry Career Level 12.

Study Abroad Opportunities

The International Programs staff continually seeks opportunities for students to travel abroad for educational experiences that may be offered in association with program courses.

Learn more about upcoming study abroad opportunities.

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Classes wherever you have an internet connection. 

  • An in-person career experience, such as an internship, practicum, or credit for prior learning, may be required.
  • Some online courses may be held at specific dates/times.
Classes between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Classes between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
A combination of online classes and Saturday and/or Sunday classes.
12 or more credits per term.
Fewer than 12 credits per term.