Early Childhood Education

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Birth to kindergarten programs have undergone fundamental changes in recent years as the focus continues to move from basic child care to education. Because of this shift, the demand for qualified early childhood educators has risen significantly.

If you are passionate about nurturing and educating the next generation, Gaston College’s Early Childhood Education program can prepare you for a career working with children in diverse learning environments.

A Path That’s Right for You

Gaston College offers students three unique Associate of Applied Science programs in early childhood education depending on their career and education objectives. Gaston College is also the only community college in North Carolina where students can earn an Early Literacy Certificate.

  • Career Ready: For students looking to serve as a director, lead teacher, or teaching assistant in an early childhood education program without pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Students in this program earn the following certificates: Infant/Toddler, Early Childhood Education, Special Needs, Early Literacy, and Preschool.
  • Transfer: For students interested in transferring to a university, this program offers a seamless transition into four-year, birth to kindergarten education programs. Students in this program earn the following certificates: Infant/Toddler, Special Needs, and Preschool.
  • Transfer with Licensure: For students who want to earn the required licensure to work in pre-k or kindergarten programs at a public school while earning a degree that allows them to transfer seamlessly into a university birth to kindergarten education program.  Students in this program earn the following certificates: Infant/Toddler, Special Needs, and Preschool.

Regardless of which path you choose, Gaston College has options available to make pursuing your education as affordable as possible. Early Childhood Education students at Gaston College can apply for scholarships through the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship Program. In most cases, the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship awards can be used to help cover the cost of in-state tuition, books, travel, and release time (if applicable). This scholarship program has many more benefits for qualified students. It is a tremendous resource for North Carolina residents like you who are seeking a career in early childhood education. Explore more of the details and benefits of this program here.

The Applied Associate in Early Childhood Education degree at Gaston College is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, www.naeyc.org [naeyc.org]. The accreditation term runs from July 2017  through June 2024.


Program Outcomes

Curriculum Overview

The Early Childhood Education program is designed to prepare students to prepare and implement developmentally appropriate programs in early childhood settings. Courses within the program include:

  • General Psychology
  • Child Development
  • Curriculum Planning
  • Early Childhood Literature
  • Observations and Assessments in Early Childhood Education

The links below provide additional information on these programs.

Associate of Applied Science


Contact Information

Eileen Yantz, Program Lead