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The Early Childhood Education program provides a student with two options: a ZS endorsement or an Associate of Arts degree. For the ZS endorsement, a student will earn a minor which will then lead to the Early Childhood Endorsement on the Elementary Teaching Certificate in the State of Michigan.

  • ZS Endorsement: Students in the Early Childhood and Elementary Program will be able to work towards a General and Special Education endorsement (ZS). The ZS endorsed teacher will be able to teach in general education early childhood classrooms, inclusive early childhood classrooms, and in early childhood special education classrooms. These teachers are not adequately prepared to teach self contained Special Education classes in K-3.

  • Associate of Arts Degree: Students selecting this program track can be qualified for school paraprofessional positions, Head Start teachers, childcare and preschool teachers and, in some cases, administrative positions within early childhood programs. Students, who decide at a later date to pursue their four-year degree and become certified as an elementary teacher, can apply several of the classes required of the associate degree. Students are required to take the Cornerstone Core, General Education Core for education students as well as six early childhood courses and a three-credit internship in a childcare or preschool program for a total of 65 credits.

  • Child Development Associate Credential: Another option for Early Childhood students is to earn their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. The CDA is a national certification and credentialing program. "A CDA is one who is ‘able to meet the specific needs of children and who, with parents and other adults, works to nurture children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth in a child development framework.'"

The Early Childhood Program gives students the opportunity to become specialists who work and teach young children infant through age eight. Students are taught best practices and theory and then observe how these are applied through various levels of classroom involvement during the required field experience.

Employment Opportunities

The Teacher Education Division is currently aware of several school districts in Michigan who will only hire teachers with their early childhood endorsement (early childhood minor as part of the four-year elementary education program) for lower elementary positions. Due to federal legislation such as No Child Left Behind, current focus on brain research and the importance of quality early educational experiences, this is a marketable and viable program for any elementary student to seriously consider.

The Associates of Arts program is a beneficial choice for those desiring to work in school districts as substitute teachers and paraprofessionals.

  • Overview

    • School: Traditional Undergrad Academics
    • Division: Teacher Education
    • Degree Type: Associate of Arts
    • Format: Residential
    • Location: Grand Rapids
  • Career Opportunities

    A degree in early childhood education prepares you for a variety of careers in diverse educational contexts.

    • Public elementary schools
    • Child development centers
    • Preschools
    • Montessori schools
    • Head start programs
    • Directors of before and after school programs

    Relevant Classes

    A well-rounded list of liberal arts and major classes prepare you to excel as an innovative, character-driven professional. And trained advisers provide the personalized, strengths-focused guidance you need to thrive as a college student and complete your degree.

    Download a semester-by-semester class planning guide. This shows how you can finish an associate degree in two years.