Early Childhood Education (M.Ed.)

Early Childhood Education (M.Ed.)

Early childhood education students with children

Why get a Master of Education in early childhood education? 

The early years are critical for nurturing children’s curiosity, confidence and love of learning. In our M.Ed. in early childhood education, you’ll learn about the diverse backgrounds and development of young children, constructing appropriate learning environments and curricula. You’ll work to better understand the role of families, community and social policy in early development and classrooms. Your studies will culminate in an extensive, field-based internship.  

Why choose UNH for your education degree?

Our graduate program offers an advanced course of study designed for teachers, administrators and other early childhood practitioners who wish to improve their professional competence and broaden their career opportunities. You may complete electives in order to add teacher certification to your master’s degree, and dual certification in early childhood education and early childhood special education is also available. The curriculum content of the program is keyed to National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) guidelines for advanced degree programs, along with New Hampshire State Teacher Certification standards. 

Potential career areas

  • Childcare 
  • Curriculum consultation 
  • Early childhood program administration 
  • Early childhood teachers/team leaders
  • Early intervention
  • Instructional coordination 
  • Preschool directorship 
  • Special needs education 
  • Staff development coordination


Department of Education
Morrill Hall
University of New Hampshire
62 College Road
Durham, NH 03824

Phone: (603) 862-2310
Fax: (603) 862-2174


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Curriculum & Requirements

The Department of Education offers the master of education degree in early childhood education and an option in special needs. When completed in conjunction with a degree, certification is available as an early childhood teacher (PreK - 3rd). Certification requirements are additional to the master's degree but may be completed as electives for the degree. This program is an advanced course of study designed for teachers, administrators, and other early childhood practitioners who wish to improve their professional competence and broaden their career opportunities. The program emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge and competencies in child development (birth through eight years), learning environments, developmentally appropriate curriculum, developmental and cultural diversity, and professional leadership. The coursework culminates in extensive field-­based experience.

Admission Requirements

All admitted students are expected to have had at least one course in child development at the upper­ division level and at least 200 hours of supervised classroom experience with children from birth through eight years of age, or the equivalent.

Admission Criteria

In determining admission of students to teacher education graduate programs, several criteria are used:

  1. The undergraduate record. The undergraduate overall minimum grade point average for admission is 3.0.  The undergraduate grade point average of students admitted to the graduate programs in teacher education is approximately 3.55 (based on 2020 admissions).
  2. Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) exam scores are required. Applicants must obtain, at a minimum, a qualifying score (as set by the state of New Hampshire at the time of testing) on all three (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) Core exams in order to be considered for admission. Current NH qualifying scores may be found at the ETS Praxis Website under the “Tests required for all licensure areas” page.
  3. Additional required application materials can be found at http://www.gradschool.unh.edu/php/pos.php under programs.

Credit Hours

The M.Ed. degree requires a minimum of 36 graduate-­level credits. The exact number of credit hours will depend on the student's background, competencies, and professional goals, and will be determined by the adviser.

Core Requirements
EDUC 861Designing Curriculum for Inclusive, Equitable Settings for Young Children (birth-8)4
EDUC #941Diversity and Child Development4
EDUC 942Socio-cultural Perspectives on Teaching and Learning4
EDUC 948Leadership and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education4
Special Needs Requirement4
EDUC 856
Advocating for Diverse and Inclusive Family-School-Community Partnerships
or EDUC 860
Introduction to Young Children with Special Needs
or EDUC 862
Curriculum for Young Children with Special Needs: Evaluation and Program Design
Internship Requirement3-4
Internship and Seminar in Early Childhood Education
or EDUC 901B
Internship and Seminar in Early Childhood Education
Select in consultation with program adviser based on interest or optional certification requirements.
Optional: Teacher Certification requirements14
Teaching Elementary School Science
Teaching Elementary Social Studies
EDUC 806
Teaching & Learning Literacy in the Elementary Classroom
EDUC 845
Math with Technology in Early Education
Note: Some students may exceed the minimum credit requirement while completing the required coursework and teacher certification requirements.
Concluding Experience 1
Total Credits37-38
  • All students will demonstrate an understanding of theories of learning and development, as well as related theories of instruction, as they apply to children from birth through age eight. Students will also demonstrate the ability to translate those theories into developmentally appropriate early childhood programs and practices for all children, including those who are culturally and/or developmentally diverse.
  • All students will demonstrate willingness and the ability to exercise their leadership and advocacy skills on behalf of young children and their families.
  • All students will demonstrate an understanding and commitment to the concept of teacher as researcher and reflective practitioner, and a disposition to engage in those and related activities that contribute to their on-going professional development.


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: April 15
  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer: April 15
  • Special: Students who plan to begin their internship Fall semester, must have a completed Graduate School application by March 1st and have taken all prerequisite coursework.

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: VT

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester and UNH Non-Degree work. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must request one official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. International transcripts must be translated into English. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts are required for any school you earned a degree from, attended for at least one year, or attended for 2 or more semesters. Exceptions to this rule may be approved at the discretion of the program you are applying to and the UNH Graduate School Admission’s office.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted. At least one letter should be from a university/college level instructor.

The Early Childhood program requires that two recommendations speak to your ability to do graduate-level work and at least one speaks to your ability to work with children.

Test Scores: Praxis Required

IMPORTANT: Please see the latest information regarding Praxis testing at https://www.ets.org/s/cv/important-update/   More testing centers have reopened with limited seating capacity. In addition, select tests (Praxis CORE), are being offered in a Test At Home environment. The tests are the same as the ones offered at testing centers and are monitored by an online “human proctor.”  Go to:  https://www.ets.org/s/cv/praxis/at-home/ for additional information.

Admitted students will need a background check prior to beginning their internship, and passing scores on the Praxis Core will be needed for program completion and teacher licensure.

Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) exam scores are required of all applicants to Master’s level (M.Ed. and M.A.T. ) programs leading to initial certification in Teacher Education, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education. Applicants must obtain, at a minimum, a qualifying score (as set by the state of New Hampshire at the time of testing) on all three (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) Core exams in order to be considered for admission. Current NH qualifying scores may be found at the ETS Praxis Website under the “Tests required for all licensure areas” page. To have scores sent to our office please use our recipient code which is 3922.

For general information about test scores required for admission into our programs please visit our Test Scores webpage.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

In no more than two pages, describe the reasons you wish to pursue the degree program you have chosen, including relevant personal qualities and life experiences that have shaped your beliefs about learning, development and teaching, counseling, or administration (depending on the program to which you are applying).

Statements must be included with your submitted application.

State and Federal Background Check

A background check is a requirement before an application can be reviewed by the Education department. Here is the document and instructions Department of Education Background Check and Criminal History Release form.

Follow the provided instructions and bring your background check documentation to the Department of Education at Morrill Hall, Room 203B (see instructions for details).  Due to COVID-19 and remote learning, you can also mail your completed form and check to: UNH Education Department, Morrill Hall, 62 College Road, Durham, NH 03824. Once received, the Education Department will provide a receipt that you will upload to your application to show this portion is completed. The Education department will send the materials to the state for processing. 

Additional Department Requirements

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program specific application questions.

International Applicants

Some academic departments recommend that international applicants, living outside of the United States, and planning on pursuing a research based degree, submit a preapplication form before submitting a full application. If your desired program is not on the form, departments prefer a full application be submitted. Preapplication requests will be carefully reviewed and a decision usually provided within 3 weeks. If your preapplication is approved then it is recommended you then submit a full application. If you are currently living in the United States (on a H1B visa, etc.), or you plan on pursuing a professional master’s degree, then you do not need to submit a preapplication.

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

The early childhood program offers the Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree and also supports the Ph.D. in Education for those candidates who choose to focus in the area of Early Childhood.

See the Early Childhood - M.Ed., Special Needs program if you are interested in pursuing the Early Childhood Education Special Needs Option.

The program is designed for experienced teachers and other early childhood practitioners who wish to improve their professional competence and broaden their career opportunities. The curriculum emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge and competencies in child development (birth through eight years), learning environments, developmentally appropriate curriculum, developmental and cultural diversity, parent collaboration, and professional leadership. The course work culminates in an extensive 1-year internship experience. This program emphasizes the personal development of each student in close collaboration with faculty and fellow students.

The Early Childhood program is designed to prepare leaders for new careers in early childhood education such as:

  • Early childhood teachers and team leaders
  • Curriculum consultants and staff development coordinators
  • Coordinators for home-based infant and toddler programs or for family and group day care programs
  • Junior college and vocational school child care instructors
  • Administrators of early childhood programs
  • Early childhood special education teachers
  • Early Interventionists

All students enroll in EDUC 900B and 901B, a two-semester sequence consisting of a field-based internship and on-campus seminar. Students must have completed all required courses prior to enrolling in the internship, or be completing those requirements concurrently. The Office of Field Placement in the Department of Education will work to place students in a school that is part of our school-university collaborative. Students in the Special Needs option must have an internship that is linked with a public school and be supervised by a licensed special educator. It is recommended that students in the Special Needs Option complete a hybrid internship, which includes a primary internship placement in a public school and an additional placement in early intervention. All early childhood interns spend a minimum of 20 hours per week for two semesters in the internship.

Based on satisfactory performance in the first semester internship, post-baccalaureate candidates with current certification may petition for exemption from the second semester internship. The decision to grant the petition will be made by the Director of Educator Preparation in collaboration with the intern, cooperating teacher, and UNH supervisor.


By the end of the graduate program in Early Childhood Education, students should be able to provide evidence of their professional development in a variety of ways.  Through the presentation of a graduate portfolio, students will demonstrate professional knowledge and competencies.


All students will develop, maintain, and submit a graduate portfolio reflecting their professional growth and development during their participation in the graduate program in Early Childhood. Early in a student's program, preferably in EDUC 941 (Diversity in Child Development), students will begin to collect portfolio entries that are both illustrative of and essential to their understanding of their own development. The portfolio will be shared periodically throughout the graduate program. Formal and informal feedback from faculty and fellow students will contribute to the emerging portfolio.


Categories for portfolio entries include examples of theoretical as well as practical knowledge demonstrating your growth and development. Each entry will be accompanied by a brief written caption explaining its purpose and meaning. These reflective commentaries will be more than descriptive, and should reflect thoughtful analysis and interpretation.

While some take the view that portfolios only represent one's best work, our view is that a collection of evidence documenting change, sources for change, and other indications of professional growth and development is equally valuable. Thus samples might include exemplary as well as unsuccessful attempts at tasks of personal significance, evidence of critical and constructive feedback, and evidence of other professionally meaningful experiences.

Additional types of entries include samples of children's work, teacher developed plans and materials, videotaped teaching episodes, and reflections on your own teaching. One required entry will be a 3-5 page (typed, double-spaced) professional statement that combines personal and formal knowledge about development and the field of early childhood.

Candidates may elect to add teacher certification to their master’s degree. Dual certification (Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education) is also available. Please see plan of study for more information. To be recommended for certification, candidates must demonstrate completion of teaching methods courses (Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies). This requirement can be fulfilled through elective credit coursework in the Master’s degree or through transcript evaluation of prior coursework. Master’s degree students who complete additional targeted coursework can be recommended for teacher licensure as an early childhood educator (PreK-3).

A blended approach to teacher preparation is a hallmark of the Early Childhood Program. All students take a core curriculum that emphasizes understanding the development of young children, the effect of diversity on teaching and learning, and a family centered community-based approach to education. Teacher candidates take course work in relevant teaching methods to the area of certification being sought and the PRAXIS II examination. Lastly, students complete a full year internship in an inclusive education setting with a licensed teacher in the area of certification they seek. The curriculum content of the program is keyed to National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) guidelines for advanced degree programs along with New Hampshire State Teacher Certification standards.

Requirements for Early Childhood Teacher Certification (PreK-3)

  • Required courses for M.Ed. Early Childhood
  • Early Childhood Teaching Methods Core Coursework (listed below)
  • Praxis II Examination: Education of Young Children*

* Note: A passing score on the PRAXIS II Education of Young Children must be reported to the UNH Department of Education prior to graduation to obtain recommendation for certification to the NH Department of Education.

Early Childhood Teaching Methods Core Coursework

Literacy Course (4 credit hours)

Choose from:

Subject Course Number Title Credits
EDUC 806 OR Introduction to Reading Instruction OR
EDUC 907 Foundations of Literacy Instruction 4

Content Knowledge Courses (6 credit hours)

Subject Course Number Title Credits
EDUC 803 Teaching Elementary Science 4
EDUC 803 Teaching Elementary Social Studies 4
EDUC 845 Math with Technology in Early Education 2

UNH Undergraduate students in high academic standing (3.2 GPA) may apply for early admission to the Graduate School for the accelerated master’s program. UNH students accepted to the Graduate School may enroll for up to 12 graduate credits (800-level courses), which count toward both their undergraduate and graduate degree.

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