M.S.E. and graduate certificate in Early Childhood Unified

Early childhood teacher reading to a group of children

Earn skills to make a difference with an early childhood unified education degree

Early childhood education prepares young children for a lifetime of learning. Effective early childhood educators are critical to achieving effective early childhood education and the promotion of children's positive development and learning in the early years. The early childhood unified education degree program from KU blends knowledge, skills, value and dispositions in early childhood education and early childhood special education, thus preparing the childhood educator to effectively promote the development, learning and well-being of each and every young child, including those at-risk for and with developmental delays and disabilities.

An educator with an early childhood unified education degree applies their skills by:

  • Supporting the learning and development of each and every young child through a strengths-based approach
  • Working in partnership with families as they acknowledge the family's primary role in children's development and learning
  • Understanding and valuing each child as an individual with unique developmental variations, experiences, strengths, interests, abilities, challenges and approaches to learning
  • Creating early learning environments that provide for learning opportunities in which all children experience responsive interactions that nurture their full range of social, emotional, cognitive, physical and linguistic abilities
  • Serving as informed advocates for young children, families and the field of early childhood education
  • Understanding and acting upon culture, diversity, and equity considerations that shape individual children's approaches to learning and how they are best educated

What careers are available for someone with a master’s in early childhood unified education?

Graduate students who complete this early childhood unified education degree at the University of Kansas will have achieved both a master's degree and have satisfied the requirements for an initial teaching license in early childhood unified (birth through kindergarten) in Kansas. The certificate program also satisfies the requirements for the licensure endorsement in early childhood unified (birth through kindergarten) in Kansas.

Potential careers for early childhood unified degrees - Professional Development Provider, Community-based Itinerant ECSE Teacher, Early Childhood Special Educator (ECSE), Early Childhood Educator (ECE), Kindergarten Teacher, Family/Parent Educator, Early Interventionist




Kim Huggett
  • Cirriculum & Instruction Ed.D.
  • Educational Leadership Ed.D.
  • Special Education
Graduate certificate, Graduate degree

How are the programs structured?

The master's in early childhood unified program offered at the University of Kansas is aligned with the Kansas educator licensure standards for the early childhood unified birth through kindergarten (age 5). Completion of the 33-credit-hour sequence leads to a Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) degree as well as the opportunity to obtain an initial Kansas educator license.

The graduate certificate program satisfies the requirements for the early childhood unified (birth through kindergarten) initial Kansas educator license but does not fulfill the requirements needed to complete a master's degree. 

Most courses are hybrid (online & in-person class sessions) and offered in both Lawrence and at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. In-person class sessions occur one evening a week, 4:30-7 p.m. Practicum experiences can be completed any semester and may be completed in the student’s current work setting when appropriate.

Program plans subject to change. See catalog.ku.edu for details.

Master's in Early Childhood (Birth-K) course requirements - 21 hours of required courses, 6 credit hours of practicum *Program plans subject to change. See program guide for details
Why start the early childhood unified program?


  • Experienced, nationally recognized faculty
  • KU's graduate programs in Early Childhood Unified are offered through the KU Department of Special Education, whose program was recently ranked #1 according to U.S. News & World Report's Best Public Special Education Programs
  • Nationally accredited program under the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Standards through the CAEP Accreditation System
  • Aligns with Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators (NAEYC, 2019) and Early Interventionists/Early Childhood Special Educators (DEC of CEC, 2020)


  • Blended delivery format with both in-person and online instruction, synchronous and asynchronous learning
  • Weeks in which a class session is in-person/synchronous the sessions is held on one evening
  • Practicum experiences may (if appropriate) be completed in a work setting
  • Full program can be completed part-time (one to two courses per semester) or full-time (three courses per semester)
  • Full program is offered at both the KU Lawrence campus and Edwards Campus in Overland Park 


  • Focuses on application in the real world of practice
  • Addresses interdisciplinary approaches to early childhood education and early childhood special education
  • Emphasizes collaborative and team-based processes that empower families and program staff to work together to support development of young children
  • Provides tools for making decisions for use of evidence-based interventions
  • Develops habits of reflection and continuous learning in order to inform practice

Request M.S.E. and graduate certificate in Early Childhood Unified Information


Summer 2024: May 1

Fall 2024: Aug. 1

Spring 2025: Dec. 15