If you have a passion for teaching and working with young children, and want to make a difference in people's lives, think about a career in early childhood education. Our accredited bachelor's degree program gives you 200 hours working with children before student teaching, preparing early childhood educators for jobs in public schools (preschool through grade 3), Head Start and community-based early childhood programs.
As an early childhood education major at UM, you'll have a variety of opportunities to engage with children in their classrooms — including in our on-site Learning and Belonging Preschool. You'll learn from experienced P-12 teachers and benefit from the close guidance of professional mentors. You'll also have access to student teaching opportunities throughout Montana, out-of-state and internationally.
The early childhood education bachelor's degree program at the University of Montana is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
average GPA for recent admits
hours with children before student teaching
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Other degree options for early childhood education at UM
Minor in Early Childhood Education
What can you do with an early childhood degree?
Earn your bachelor's degree in early childhood education at UM and gain the knowledge and practical classroom skills to teach anywhere in the world. Depending on your interests and professional goals, you may also pursue a specialized field such as literacy, special education or teacher-librarian through additional coursework and classroom experience.
Early childhood education vs. elementary education
If you enjoy teaching and working with children, early childhood education and elementary education are both viable career options. But which is best for you?
As an early childhood educator, you'll work with much younger children, from newborns to infants and toddlers (our graduates earn licensure in P-3). Your role will also focus more on child development — the physical, emotional and cognitive skills that young children develop from birth through preschool.
Elementary education, on the other hand, refers to the primary education that comes after preschool but before middle school. This is a great choice if you are interested in teaching subjects like science, math, history, English language arts and other content areas to young children in grades K-8.
Why employers choose UM teaching graduates
- UM teacher education students score 13 points higher on average than the required Montana score on the Praxis content exam.
- The cumulative GPA of students admitted to our program significantly exceeds national accreditation requirements, with our most recent cohort holding an average GPA of 3.2.
- Engaging research and creative scholarship opportunities prepare our early childhood education majors to be innovative professionals.
- Effective faculty mentorship makes our students competitive and career-ready.
Early childhood education jobs
Our early childhood education majors go on to successful careers in Montana and around the world, working as:
- Preschool teachers
- Head Start teachers
- Kindergarten teachers
- Daycare providers
- Early childhood curriculum specialists
- Early childhood community program leaders
Early childhood education salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, preschool teachers earn an average of $30,320 per year, nationally. As a preschool teacher in Montana, you can expect to earn an average of $32,620 annually.
Average annual earnings for kindergarten teachers in Montana: $51,900. The average for elementary school teachers is $52,160.
Teaching to inspire: The UM Teacher Education Program
Students in the University of Montana's Teacher Education program discuss their experiences and how the curriculum has prepared them to teach.
Student success story: Haley VonGoedert
“There's no way you come out of UM's teacher education program without a commitment to teaching to and being responsive to a culturally diverse curriculum. That's something I'm really proud of, and I think that focus is distinct to UM.”
— Haley VonGoedert, UM education major
Experiential learning in the early childhood education program
Our teaching degree for early childhood education blends content, general education and professional licensure coursework with real-world classroom experiences, preparing you to hit the ground running in your chosen career.
Early childhood education field experiences and student teaching
Our students spend more than 200 hours working with children even before student teaching experiences begin, offering valuable, hands-on opportunities for learning and reflection. This includes working in our Learning and Belonging Preschool, which is part of the Phyllis J. Washington Education Center.
Career development in the early childhood education bachelor's degree program
Students seeking an early childhood degree at UM learn to teach as part of a community, guided by experienced P-12 teachers and 5-plus professional mentors.
Networking and professional development for early childhood education majors
Connect with potential employers and build your professional network through numerous field experiences built into our early childhood education degree. You can also take part in an Educator's Career Fair offered via Experiential Learning and Career Success at UM.
Student organizations and facilities for early childhood education majors
Work, study and connect with peers at our beautiful Phyllis J. Washington Education Center, which features an on-site preschool, state-of-the-art classrooms, cozy study spaces, an atrium and courtyard, and a coffee shop. Learning centers in the Learning and Belonging Preschool include block play, art, writing, science and discovery, math, dramatic play, and sensory. You're also welcome to take part in our Educators Rising student group.
Explore classes for the early childhood education bachelor's degree program
The early childhood education teaching degree includes content coursework, general education coursework and professional licensure coursework. Required courses span a wide range of content areas, covering topics such as literature and literacy for young children, sciences, and mathematics.
Our program also focuses on child development — the physical, emotional and cognitive skills that young children develop from birth through preschool. Graduates are prepared to work with younger children as well as teach grades K-3.