Development matters.

Cornerstone University's early childhood education program gives you the opportunity to become a specialist who works and teaches young children from infancy through age eight. You will be taught best practices and theory, all from a Christ-centered perspective. Then, during the required field experience, you will observe how these principles are applied through various levels of classroom involvement.

The Early Childhood Education program provides a student with two options: a ZS endorsement or an Associate of Arts degree. 

  • ZS Endorsement: Students in the early childhood and elementary program will be able to work toward a General and Special Education endorsement (ZS). For ZS endorsement, you will earn a minor that will lead to the Early Childhood Endorsement on the Elementary Teaching Certificate in the State of Michigan. As a ZS endorsed teacher, you will be able to teach in general education early childhood classrooms, inclusive early childhood classrooms and early childhood special education classrooms. These teachers are not qualified to teach self-contained Special Education classes in K-3.

  • Associate of Arts Degree: By selecting this program track, you can be qualified for school paraprofessional positions, Head Start teachers, childcare and preschool teachers and, in some cases, administrative positions within early childhood programs. If you decide at a later date to pursue a four-year degree and become certified as an elementary teacher, you 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 creditsThe Associates of Arts program is a beneficial choice for those desiring to work in school districts as substitute teachers and paraprofessionals.

  • 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.'"

There are several school districts in Michigan that will only hire teachers who have 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, the 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.

  • 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

    Program Classes

    From personable faculty to one-on-one advising appointments, we have resources to support you in reaching your goals and being successful in your classes.

    See our sample degree plan for the list of classes you'll take as an early childhood education major.

  • Global Internships

    All traditional undergraduate students complete an academic internship or practicum. This experience helps you explore your calling and gain practical career skills.

    With guidance from the Center for Career & Life Calling, our students land internships at trusted businesses and nonprofits around the world.

    Education Student Outcomes


    of traditional undergraduate education students from the class of 2019 were working or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.

    Importantly, our recent graduates also shared that they love their work. Of respondents, 88 percent reported a genuine interest in what they are doing.