Early Childhood Education Degree

Early Childhood Education


The early childhood education degree prepares students for careers as preschool teachers, teaching assistants, childcare facility director/administrators, family educators or early childhood paraprofessionals.

About the Early Childhood Education Degree

Real-world experience is the center point of this program. Students gain field experience from semester one, nearly every course requires students to be in an early childhood care setting for interaction or observation, and a required 192-hour internship ensures students graduate with maximum experience. With the opening of the new Head Start early childhood center on campus, students have more opportunities than ever for observation and experiential learning.

Students will get a comprehensive education in early childhood education, including development, psychology, curriculum planning and administration. Topics covered include:

  • Physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language development in early childhood
  • Designing curriculum for appropriate, effective and progressive cognitive, language, physical and creative development
  • Impact of family relationships on child development
  • Diversity and disabilities in early childhood
  • Skills for listening and talking to children
  • Methods for effective discipline
  • Issues in early childhood education such as child abuse, child care choices, parent rights, kindergarten entrance, high-risk children and advocacy
  • All aspects of operating an early childhood program or facility, including philosophy; handbook and budget; designing an environment; curriculum planning; standards of quality; health, safety, and nutrition; staff hiring, supervision and development; teamwork and leadership; and relationships with parents

Interested students can take EDUC 101-Introduction to the Profession of Teaching their first semester to explore education pathways, learn more about the field and refine career goals.

The early childhood education program is offered on SMC's Dowagiac and Niles campuses.

Students interested in furthering their education can use the early childhood education degree as a minor in Ferris State University's elementary education bachelor's degree program on SMC's Dowagiac campus. Learn more about the elementary education program.

Curriculum Guides

View the course plan for the Associate in Applied Science in Early Childhood Education at Southwestern Michigan College.

Related Programs

Elementary Education

Learn more about the elementary education program.

Secondary Education

Students interested in secondary education can take general education courses to complete the MTA at SMC before transferring to another institution.

Career Options & Salaries
Preschool Teachers:           $29,780
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors:           $47,940
Teacher Assistants:           $26,970
Childcare Workers:           $23,240
2018 median pay. Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics.