MISSOULA – The Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Montana now offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education. This is the only degree of its kind in Montana and will serve to benefit the state’s youngest populations and those who work with them.
Developed by Susan Harper-Whalen, associate dean of the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences; Julie Bullard, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction; and Kristin Dahl Horejsi, co-director of the UM Learning and Belonging Preschool, the program is designed to meet national and state early childhood education standards. The coursework will be delivered in an online format to create a readily accessible master’s degree option for current teachers and other human-service professionals to prepare them for emerging needs in the workforce.
“This is an innovative and accessible program that has been needed in Montana for quite some time,” Harper-Whalen said. “We are thrilled to be able to offer advanced degrees to early childhood professionals across the state and in a format that works with their schedules and professional demands.”
There are two options within this degree program: an Early Childhood Education option and an Advanced Early Childhood Education option. The former is designed specifically for professionals who do not have a degree in early childhood but are interested in or currently established in early childhood careers. Pending final state approval, currently certified K-8 teachers can complete this program to earn Montana’s new P-3 early childhood teaching certificate. The latter is developed to advance the preparation of leaders in the field of early childhood and is designed for professionals who have completed baccalaureate degrees in early childhood education, as well as professionals with diverse academic backgrounds who work in the early childhood field in leadership roles that do not require the direct implementation or supervision of early childhood curriculum.
“Being able to align our curriculum to meet the needs of early childhood education professionals across the state is so exciting,” Horejsi said. “Working in conjunction with the Early Childhood Project, Montana’s Early Childhood Education Consortium, and the Montana chapter of the National Association of the Education of Young Children, there are more opportunities for professional advancement and high caliber early childhood education in Montana than ever before.”
Prospective students are encouraged to apply for the program as soon as possible, as classes begin this summer.
For more information about the program or to apply, visit the Early Childhood Education website at http://www.coehs.umt.edu/departments/currinst/masterofed/Early%20Childhood%20Education.php.