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MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education (ECE)

The work an early childhood educator does is extraordinarily important. You give young minds the foundation for lifelong success, while teaching them what it means to love learning and aim high. Bolster the meaning behind your work and your impact with Concordia University-Portland’s Early Childhood Education MEd concentration.

You’ll explore current trends and research, design developmentally effective curricula, and refine skills in advocating for young children ages 0-8. And through the MEd in Curriculum & Instruction core courses and capstone experience, you’ll get a comprehensive overview in addition to specialized knowledge.

Accredited, nonprofit, and taught by practitioners, all of Concordia’s online MEd programs reflect the same meaningful experience we’ve been delivering on campus since 1905. The convenience of 100 percent online, clearly defined coursework—paired with realistic deadlines and the ability to immediately apply what you learn in your classroom—makes our programs ideal for busy lifestyles. And the potential career benefits—from higher pay to promotions—are second only to the reward of having an everlasting impact on the lives of your students.

Step 1 of 3: What type of student are you?

Step 2 of 3: What would you like to study?

Portland Campus: Classes taught entirely at Concordia University-Portland.

Accelerated Online: Classes taught 100% online. MEd programs complete in 1 year. EdD programs complete in 3 years.

Flex Online: For online students who want to go at a slower pace - MEds can be completed in 18-36 months.

Hybrid: Students take some classes online and some at Concordia University-Portland.

Step 3 of 3: Get info about this program

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100% online
100% online (no in-person field work required)
One year
Earn your MEd in one year, one class at a time, with built-in breaks
Updated curriculum
Curriculum is up-to-date and relevant
Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
Concordia is one of the most respected names in learning today
Positive career benefits
87% of our online MEd grads report positive career benefits as a result of their degree
10,000-strong alumni
10,000-strong alumni network
93% of our online MEd grads say they are satisfied with their overall academic program experience

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education Program Goals

In addition to meeting the objectives and requirements for the MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education online degree program, successful candidates will also demonstrate:
Expertise in Evaluating Progress

Expertise in Evaluating Progress

Expertise in the utilization of new methods of authentic assessment and strategies as tools to evaluate student learning progress in relation to Oregon’s Common Core State Standards and specific district standards

Effective Instructional Skills

Effective Instructional Skills

Effective instructional skills in planning, implementing, and assessing instruction in settings that include diverse cultural populations and special needs

Classroom Diversity Skills

Classroom Diversity Skills

An understanding of the ways that the specific curricular/instructional area has the potential to be responsive to classroom diversity

Moral Leadership

Moral Leadership

A clear understanding of the moral leadership required of them as advanced scholars in the chosen area of curriculum and instruction



The ability to modify instructional plans and promote alternative goals and strategies when necessary, particularly in relation to assessment results


The MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education is a 30 credit-hour program

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Core Courses
12 credits

This course will provide teachers with the resources and skills necessary to integrate character themes and character development into their school curriculum. It provides a forum in which to discuss and develop one's own moral perspectives on the basis of generally accepted criteria.

This course is designed to provide leaders with the latest psychological research about learning and guide them in exploring ways to directly apply these precepts to their current work setting. Topics will include cognitive science, learning theory, and relevant teaching theories that utilize this information. The course will fuse the latest biological and psychological understanding of how the brain learns so candidates can harness this knowledge and apply it directly to learning situations.
Relationships constructed on trust are critical for an efficient, collegial, collaborative workplace. This course challenges candidates to confront the tremendous diversity in their current environment and develop strategies to build community in the midst of the social, ethnic, economic and alternative lifestyle differences that permeate today's 21st century workplace. In sum, this course stresses the critical importance of creating community in the workplace and illustrates how that community, once established, can generate an efficient, supportive, and positive work place.

Candidates identify, review, and analyze major trends and issues impacting the contemporary state and national educational scenes. Each class session provides students with an opportunity to evaluate the advantages and liabilities of current educational reforms and issues from the perspective of prevailing educational research as well as from their own personal beliefs and current work environment. Candidates will also consider how they can impact and influence change in their own workplace.


Please note: Completing a Master of Education degree program does not lead to state certification or licensure. The MEd is not designed or intended to lead in any way toward a teaching license, endorsement, or administrative credential.

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Early Childhood Education
12 credits

This course provides an overview of the field of early childhood education by exploring its past, present and future. Significant issues focusing on advocacy for children and families will be addressed in terms of the interpretation of research, philosophical approaches, and application of theory. Students will become familiar with advocacy for children and families at the local, state, and national levels.

This course focuses on curriculum development in pre-kindergarten and the primary grades from a constructivist perspective. Emphasis is placed on facilitating child-centered learning and implementing authentic assessment practices within State prescribed standards and benchmarks. This course is specifically designed for classroom teachers willing to explore the opportunities of project-based learning.

This course focuses on the relationship between play and learning for young children (birth through age eight). It is based on the philosophy that children construct knowledge while actively engaged in the process of understanding the world around them. Strategies for implementing play opportunities in the preschool and primary curriculum will be accentuated in order that the student may create a classroom environment that supports playful learning.

This course examines the development of literacy skills in young children, ages 0-8. Topics include the reading/writing connection, use of trade books and thematic literature, and current research in the field of literacy development.

Please note: Completing a Master of Education degree program does not lead to state certification or licensure. The MEd is not designed or intended to lead in any way toward a teaching license, endorsement, or administrative credential.

Research Course 1
3 credits

This course provides students with the basic competencies necessary to understand and evaluate the research of others, and to plan their own research with a minimum of assistance. This course includes the basics of both qualitative and quantitative research.

The Master of Education culminates with the choice of either EDGR 698-Action Research or EDGR 696-Practitioner Inquiry. Either option provides candidates with an understanding of the role of research in the field of education as a tool to solve problems and as a way to improve student learning.


Research Course 2
3 credits   Select one of the following:

Practitioner Inquiry focuses on the reflective acts of the candidate as an educator seeking to improve teaching practice. Premised in the self-study research methodological traditions (Samaras, 2011), Practitioner Inquiry provides the opportunity to reflect on teaching practice and generate improvements based on classroom observation. Practitioner Inquiry focuses on the educator and her/his own practices, developing skills of inquiry, observation, reflection, and action in teachers. Prerequisite: Successful completion of EDGR 601 Educational Research

Action research is one of the capstone projects for the Master of Education program. During this five-week course, candidates will learn more about the action research methodology, complete final edits of the Literature Review, and design a complete Action Research proposal including data collection methods and analysis approaches. (During this course, the proposal will NOT be implemented with students/participants.)
This design provides students with the requisite skills and means to pursue the transformative practice called "Action Research" in their classroom, school, district or other work environment. The design method for the capstone project closely aligns with current classroom realities, with district and school requirements, and the needs of teachers and students.

Please note: Completing a Master of Education degree program does not lead to state certification or licensure. The MEd is not designed or intended to lead in any way toward a teaching license, endorsement, or administrative credential.


In addition to fully online, Concordia offers several Master of Education programs in an on-campus or hybrid format. See the options here.

Is the MEd in Early Childhood Education concentration right for me?

Consider choosing this path if:

  • You want to study new strategies that engage kids in active, hands-on learning
  • You’re looking to take on an ECE leadership role at your school or district
  • You’re ready to gain additional competencies to advocate for ECE programs in your community

Still unsure? We know we offer a lot of programs! Let’s talk more about your professional and personal goals.

Child Learning
I use the techniques I learned from my Early Childhood Education concentration to better assist my students with behavior, social and emotional needs.
KAYVONNA STIGALL, MEd in Curriculum & Instruction:
Early Childhood Education '15

MORE ON THE TOPIC OF Early Childhood Education

What makes this program so relevant today

As more states begin to prioritize and provide early childhood education programs to meet the needs of millions of children, access to and awareness of these programs and their benefits are adversely impacted by location and socio-economic status.

  • In 2015, some 38% of 3-year-olds, 67% of 4-year-olds, and 87% of 5-year-olds were enrolled in pre-primary programs.
    —Preschool and Kindergarten Enrollment National Center for Education Statistics (Last updated: April 2017)
  • Among 3- to 5-year-olds who were enrolled in preschool programs in 2015, some 51% attended full-day programs.
    —Preschool and Kindergarten Enrollment National Center for Education Statistics (Last updated: April 2017)
  • Among 3- to 5-year-olds attending kindergarten, the percentage attending full-day programs increased from 60% in 2000 to 81% in 2015.
    —Preschool and Kindergarten Enrollment National Center for Education Statistics (Last updated: April 2017)
  • In 2015, a lower percentage of Hispanic 3- to 5-year-olds (30%) were enrolled in preschool programs than of 3- to 5-year olds who were White (40%) or Black (39%)
    —Preschool and Kindergarten Enrollment National Center for Education Statistics (Last updated: April 2017)
  • Forty-two states and the District of Columbia had public pre-kindergarten programs, serving a total of 1.35 million children in the 2014-15 school year.
    – Steven W. Barnett, Alison H. Friedman-Krauss, Rebecca Gomez, Michelle Horowitz, G.G. Weisenfeld, Kristy Clarke Brown, and James H. Squires, The State of Preschool 2015: State Preschool Yearbook (New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research, 2016).
  • In 2014, 55% of 3- and 4-year-olds in the United States were enrolled in school, compared to the average enrollment of 79% for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
    —Preschool and Kindergarten Enrollment National Center for Education Statistics (Last updated: April 2017)
  • Each year, almost 4 million children enter kindergarten in the United States. 

    U.S. Department of Education, A Matter of Equity, April 2015

Early Childhood Education is more important than ever for closing our nation’s achievement gap and preparing young learners to succeed in school and in life.

  • “The early years of a child’s schooling provide a solid foundation for future learning and their lives as citizens. Researchers say that the human brain develops most of its neurons, and is most receptive to learning, between birth and three years old. The learning of new information helps form neural pathways.”
    Institute of Medicine. 2000. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 
  • Early intervention into the minds, bodies, and emotions of children suggests long-term benefits.” Children who attended high-quality preschool were more successful in school “academically, socially, and emotionally”… and there were fewer placements in special education.
    —Linda Bakken, Nola Brown & Barry Downing (2017) Early Childhood Education: The Long-Term Benefits, Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 31:2, 255-269, DOI
  • A longitudinal study of the The Chicago Child-Parent Centers program reported a 29% increase in high school graduation rates by age 20 among its participants who attended preschool.  
    — Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., Robertson, D. L., & Mann, E. A. (2001, May 9). Long-term effects of an early childhood intervention on educational achievement and juvenile arrest: A 15-year follow-up of low-income children in public schools. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285, 2339-2346.
  • By age 24, the people served by the Chicago CPC were 20% less likely to have served time in a jail or prison.
    — Reynolds, A. (2007). Paths of influence from preschool intervention to adult well-being: Age 24 findings from the Chicago Longitudinal Study. Society for Research in Child Development, March 31, 2007, Boston, MA.
  • A longitudinal study of Michigan’s Great Start Readiness program reported a 35% increase in high school graduation rates.
    — Michigan Great Start Readiness Program evaluation 2012: High school graduation and grade retention findings. Retrieved here
  • The Perry Preschool Program saw a 44% increase in graduation rates by age 40. The study also found that adults who attended the preschool program achieved higher income, committed fewer crimes and were more likely to be employed than adults who did not attend preschool
    — Schweinhart, L.J., Montie, J., Xiang, Z., Barnett, W.S., Belfield, C.R., & Nores, M. (2005). Lifetime effects: The High/ Scope Perry Preschool study through age 40. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press
  • Pennsylvania’s Preschool Counts Public Private Partnership program cut—from 22% to 4%—the portion of children at risk for problematic social and self-control behavior.
    — Bagnato, S., Salaway, J., & Suen, H. (2009). Preschool Counts in Pennsylvania for Youngsters’ Early School Success: Authentic Outcomes for an Innovative Prevention and Promotion Initiative. Retrieved here.
  • Children’s vocabulary skills are linked to their economic backgrounds. By 3 years of age, there is a 30 million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families. “In four years, an average child in a professional family would accumulate experience with almost 45 million words, an average child in a working-class family 26 million words, and an average child in a welfare family 13 million words.”
    The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3 — By Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley
  • When it comes to early childhood education programs, quality is critical. High-quality preschool gives children a strong start on the path that leads to college or a career. Research shows that all children benefit from high-quality preschool, with low-income children and English learners benefiting the most.
    —Hirokazu Yoshiwaka et al., Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education, Foundation for Child Development, 2013.

“Kindergarten teachers will tell you that the students who are ready to learn are those who come into school with good social and behavior-management skills,” Linda Smith, executive director of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies says. Early childhood education prepares young learners for their years of schooling and begins building the mental and cognitive skills necessary for life. Skills include:

  • School readiness
  • Phonological awareness
  • Letter knowledge
  • Numeracy and counting skills
  • Verbal expression
  • Emotional skills and self-regulation
  • Language skills
  • Inquiry
  • Persistence
  • Social skills
  • Executive functions
  • Metacognition/self-reflection
  • Concentration
  • Pretend play
  • Empathy
  • Literacy
  • Imagination

Leseman P. Preschool and Learning-Related Skills. In: Tremblay RE, Boivin M, Peters RDeV, eds. Melhuish E, topic ed. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development Published December 2012.

In our Early Childhood concentration, you’ll review pedagogical and practical methods and theory for use in the ECE classroom. You’ll learn:

  • The history and future of Early Childhood Education
  • Instructional strategies and classroom management for the ECE classroom
  • How to facilitate child-centered learning and implementing authentic assessment practices
  • The relationship between play and learning for young children
  • The development of literacy skills in young children, ages 0-8
  • Assessment and evaluation in the ECE classroom
  • How to integrate character themes and character development into school curriculum
  • Cognitive science, learning theory, and relevant teaching theories
  • Current educational reforms and issues from the perspective of prevailing educational research


See where an MEd focused on ECE could take you

Planning to stay in your current teaching job? Many MEd graduates do! But in addition to potential benefits like increased salary and more self-confidence, an MEd could also expand your career opportunities within the education industry.

Potential careers include:

  • Daycare owner
  • Director, ECE program
  • Higher education instructor: Early Childhood Education
  • Consultant/advisor, ECE programs
  • Professional development, ECE
  • ECE advisor to local, state, and national policymakers

(Some states may require specific licensure for some of these positions. Check with your state’s Department of Education for more details.)

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