If working with young children, families and communities during this critically important stage of development is a passion of yours, University of Colorado Denver’s online Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education (ECE) with the option of an Early Childhood Special Education Specialist licensure or endorsement can take you to the next level no matter where you are now. We prepare highly competent professionals who are leaders and advocates known for embracing the whole child in inclusive, culturally and linguistically diverse settings.

Our highly ranked, flexible, cohort-based hybrid and online ECE program of study features personalized support and will reach you where you are - throughout Colorado and around the world - with a yearly cohort start in January. The next available fully online cohort will start in January 2019 (Spring semester). We encourage you to apply at least four months or as early as possible prior to the start of the semester for which you are seeking admission. We strive to provide rolling decisions and will communicate admissions decisions within two weeks of submitting a complete application.

Program Details

The online MA program of study has three concentrations available including Administration and Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion and Teaching and Learning. You will  choose the concentration that best applies to your own professional background and goals. In addition, an initial license or endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education Specialist is offered along with the MA or separately.

CU Denver’s School of Education & Human Development faculty members emphasize inclusive, family-centered practices, culturally sustaining teaching and a curriculum that is inspired by the potential of all children and families. The online program is taught by well renowned faculty members, who work under the direction of the Dean of the School of Education, Rebecca Kantor. Dr. Kantor is a nationally recognized expert in the field who prioritizes excellent instruction, a solid commitment to full inclusion in the classroom and innovation.

The School of Education & Human Development is regularly ranked as a top graduate school and “best online” experiences by U.S. News & World Report. Your “high-tech and high-touch” experience in this program includes: 24/7 technical support, faculty video-coaching and conferencing/advising and small group learning in both real-time as well as your own time.

Our graduates are known for thriving in inclusive, culturally and linguistically diverse ECE settings. We prepare highly competent teachers, leaders and advocates with the knowledge and skills to identify strengths and meet the needs of all children and their families. You will be taught by the same incredible faculty who teach in our on campus, face-to-face classrooms. Together, our faculty form a unique partnership that will fuel your professional goals.

You will learn about administration and leadership, diversity and inclusion, pedagogy, teaching and learning, and leadership possibilities within this field. We prioritize  innovative and evidence-based practices with real-world application. Your studies will prepare you for the many possibilities within the early childhood education field now and in the future. .

CU Denver is committed to increasing the number of highly qualified and well-compensated early professionals in the field. We offer ECE scholarships and vast learning and development opportunities to support early childhood teachers and leaders. Our graduates work in a number of settings, including as lead teachers, center directors, mentor teachers, educational coordinators, early childhood special educators, early childhood professional development coordinators and coaches, resource and referral staff members, home visitors, and community college instructors.

Our commitment to early childhood professionals compels us to participate in efforts to elevate the profession, and seek out scholarships and partnerships for academic support and job placement. The scholarships include the Early Childhood Education Scholarship Fund (up to $10K awarded to two recipients per academic year); Daniels Boundless Opportunities Scholarship (up to $2000 awarded per academic year per student); and the William Goodwin Scholarship (up to $500 awarded per semester). We have additional scholarships that are open to all students, regardless of major.

Whether you live in the Denver metropolitan area or outside of Denver, you will  take your courses entirely online. This degree can typically be completed in two, maximum three years. You will need to take our recommended courses, pass performance based assessments, participate in fieldwork, complete a practicum and/or capstone to meet graduation requirements.

Tuition and Fees

Investing in your future is a big decision. However, becoming a fully online student at CU Denver is an affordable option with discounted tuition rates for non resident, fully online students. And of course, you will save money not having to drive to campus! 

Tuition and fees are based largely on the class that you enroll in. Tuition amount assessed is determined based on which school/college is offering your class, as well as if it is an undergrad or graduate level, and finally your resident status. For more information or to view exact rates, please visit the Bursar's website.

Financial aid and scholarships are available for those who qualify.

graduation cap with money


The vast majority of our students are professionals who are working full-time in an early childhood education setting. Because of this, most of our students are taking their course work part-time. Depending on your plan of study, your required credit hours will range from 30 to 42.


The next online cohort will begin in Fall 2020 and every fall semester thereafter.  We recommend that you submit your application by July 1st. We strive to provide rolling decisions and will communicate admissions decisions within two weeks of submitting a complete application. We encourage you to submit your application as early as possible. 

Learn more about the admissions process by visiting the admissions website and start your application today!


As part of this program, you will  complete all required courses, performance based assessments, fieldwork, practicum, and/or capstone. Program plans range from 30 to 42 credit hours. Students can complete the program in two to three years maximum. .

Below are sample courses from program plans. It is not a complete list and your coursework will be determined by your specific  plan of study. You will concentrate in Administration and Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion or Teaching and Learning, or complete requirements for an initial licensure or added endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education. Advisement around your specific plan of study begins at admission.


View the CU Denver academic calendar.

View the academic catalog for course information.


Related Programs

The School of Education and Human Development offer a number of certificate programs. To learn more about these options, visit the School of Education and Human Development certificate website.


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