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Early Childhood Studies BAS

College of Community Studies and Public Affairs / Psychology
Undergraduate major / Bachelor of Applied Science

About The Program

Program overview

Early Childhood Studies is designed for students seeking career enhancements in the field of child development including early care and education. It is expected that all students receiving a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree with a major in early childhood studies will develop knowledge and skills at the upper-division level related to:

  • child development and learning;
  • early childhood curriculum development and implementation;
  • family and community relationships;
  • assessment and evaluation of young children;
  • professional and ethical issues in early childhood; and
  • application of knowledge and skills within the context of an urban early childhood setting.

This major is an excellent option for students transferring from a Minnesota State institution with a diploma or an associate degree in child development or early childhood education who seek a baccalaureate degree. Minnesota State’s Transfer Pathway for early childhood education and Metropolitan State University's articulation agreements with Minnesota community and technical colleges streamline students’ completion of their degree in Early Childhood Studies. Courses are also open to non-majors.

Careers and professional opportunities

The Early Childhood Studies BAS degree gives students the flexibility to demonstrate their commitment to young children’s development through work in a variety of early childhood settings as teachers, directors, trainers, and administrators. Graduates successfully seek employment in child care centers, Head Starts, preschool programs, and child care resource and referral agencies. The Early Childhood Studies program meets the needs of home care providers seeking an academic credential and individuals advocating for children within government agencies. The Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Studies does not lead to a Minnesota teaching license.

Student outcomes

It is expected that all students receiving a BAS degree with a major in early childhood studies will develop knowledge and skills at the upper-division level related to:

  • child development and learning;
  • early childhood curriculum development and implementation;
  • family and community relationships;
  • assessment and evaluation of young children;
  • professional and ethical issues in early childhood; and
  • application of knowledge and skills within the context of an urban early childhood setting.

Related minors

How to enroll

Current students: Declare this program

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student and have met any further admission requirements your chosen program may have, you may declare a major or declare an optional minor.

Future students: Apply now

Apply to Metropolitan State: Start the journey toward your Early Childhood Studies BAS now. Learn about the steps to enroll or, if you have questions about what Metropolitan State can offer you, request information, visit campus or chat with an admissions counselor.

Get started on your Early Childhood Studies BAS

Program eligibility requirements

To be eligible for acceptance to the Early Childhood Studies major, students must submit a College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Undergraduate Program Declaration Form. Consult with an advisor before enrolling in courses toward the major.

Courses and Requirements


The Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Studies from the Psychology Department consists of 120 semester credits. At least 30 semester credits must be completed at Metropolitan State University and at least 40 credits must be at the upper division (300-level or above). Credits may overlap to satisfy more than one requirement. The baccalaureate and program degree requirements include:

  • 40 general education credits, defined by the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum 10 Goal Areas;
  • 8 liberal studies credits, which must be upper division (300 level or higher) general education courses;
  • 43 credits for the Early Childhood Studies major including practicum credits and a program residency requirement of 24 credits earned at Metropolitan State University; and
  • 29 elective credits.

A Minnesota Department of Human Services background study is required. The background check process includes an online application, photo and fingerprint. Information about how to complete the background study requirement will be provided in Early Childhood Studies courses.

Director's Credential

Metropolitan State University offers two online courses leading to the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC) Director's Credential. The MnAEYC Director's Credential program is a voluntary opportunity for the career advancement and professional development of early childhood center directors and other administrators. Students seeking the Director's Credential complete PSYC 425 Administration of Early Childhood Programs I and PSYC 426 Administration of Early Childhood Programs II through Metropolitan State University. After courses are successfully completed, students send an application and payment to the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children to receive the credential.

Student-Directed Learning and Alternative Learning Strategies

Alternative learning strategies are options for students in the Early Childhood Studies program. Through a Student-Directed Independent Study, students can create a proposal to study an early childhood topic that is not covered in a college course. Early Childhood Studies faculty can assist with registration and evaluation of the student created course. Faculty Designed Independent Studies are created by faculty often using the same learning outcomes as the course of the same name. Faculty Designed Independent Studies are listed in the class schedule.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is the process by which learning gained through work, training, or self-study is systematically assessed for college credit. The student and faculty decide how the student will demonstrate that the student has met the learning outcomes. Assessment may include writing a paper, creating a portfolio, taking a test, or an oral interview. Students work with a faculty evaluator to decide the best way to assess what they already know about the care and education of children. Students can also register for a free online workshop PSYC 020-81 Getting Credit for What You Know in Early Childhood.

Finally, students can earn college credits for training that is not sponsored by Metropolitan State University but has been assessed and approved for prior learning credit. Admitted students are eligible to apply for credit if they earned the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, the Montessori Center of Minnesota Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) 3-6 Diploma, or the Parents In Community Action (PICA) Head Start Journey Assessment for teachers. Contact an Early Childhood Studies program advisor to learn more about these options.

Early Childhood Studies BAS Requirements (43 credits for the major, 120 credits total)

In addition to the Early Childhood Studies major requirements, students must complete the university general education and liberal studies courses as well as electives for a total of 120 credits.

+ Required Courses

This course provides a foundational base for the field of Early Childhood and an introduction to the Early Childhood Studies major. It includes exploration of current practices, various roles, professionalism, environments for learning and approaches to working with and teaching diverse young children. The course also provides an outline of the historical and theoretical foundation of the field, development of young children, resources for professional development, and the development of early childhood curriculum with equitable learning opportunities.

Full course description for Foundations of Early Childhood Studies

This course provides an overview of the science of child psychology. Major theories and research related to a child's perceptual, motor, emotional, social and cognitive development are reviewed, and their practical applications are explored. Overlap: PSYC 308T Child Psychology Theory Seminar.

Full course description for Child Psychology

This course explores the social, cultural, and historical contexts which impact child development. Students learn how children have been perceived during historical periods as well as the roles that children play in a variety of cultures. Emphasis is on racism, classism, sexism, ethnocentrism, ableism and heterosexism. Strategies for reducing the negative impact on children's lives and promoting healthy development of children within the social-political context are explored. The roles of parents, family and the community are considered as they relate to current policies affecting the needs of young children.

Full course description for Early Childhood Development within a Social/Cultural and Historical Context

This course is an introduction to formal and informal assessment strategies and their application to work with young children. The emphasis is on observing, recording and using authentic performance-based assessment, communicating assessment results to colleagues and parents, and applying assessment data to curriculum planning.

Full course description for Observing and Assessing Young Children: Birth Through Age Five

This course addresses the developmentally appropriate strategies to support learning of socially appropriate classroom behaviors for young children. Strategies examined for the course support social development, personal values and citizenship. The developmental and philosophical rationale for selection of behavior guidance strategies and practices are the foundational focus of the course. Students address the differences between discipline, classroom management and positive behavior guidance with particular focus on the cultural and contextual experiences of children in urban communities.

Full course description for Positive Behavior Guidance

Developmentally appropriate curriculum, materials, and environmental design for infants and toddlers are the focus of this course. Students will review infant and toddler development and connect development to the practices used to design programs for infants and toddlers in urban early childhood settings. The importance of integrating the values, language, and cultural practices of the child's family into the daily curriculum will be a topic. The course will focus on strategies for communication with urban families and the current issues around infant and toddler care. Students will consider the appropriate practices for a program serving infants and toddlers in a diverse urban community. This course requires a practicum designed to provide urban field experiences for students to practice meeting the individual developmental needs of infants and toddlers. Using the basic strategies and techniques of child study, the student will learn to critically observe and assess the general…

Full course description for Urban Infant-Toddler Curriculum and Practicum

The spectrum of physical and motor development of children from conception to age 8 will be covered in this course. Students will also be introduced to foundations of good nutrition and health maintenance for young children. There will be opportunities to develop nutritional plans for yearly childhood programs that respect cultural and religious diversity. Students will consider health policies for schools and child care centers as well as assess and plan large and small motor activities for groups and individual children. The effects of drugs will be addressed, from the prenatal period through the use of medication to treat behavior and emotional conditions in early childhood.

Full course description for Physical Development, Health, Nutrition, Effects of Drugs in Birth-Grade 6

This course focuses on a comparative study of traditional, current and culturally-based program models designed for children from birth through five years of age. Students are introduced to early childhood program models including: The Creative Curriculum, Reggio Emilia, Head Start, Montessori, High Scope, Waldorf, behavioral approaches to learning (Portage, Distar), early childhood family education, and school readiness.

Full course description for Comparative Study of Early Childhood Program Models

This course provides students with foundational knowledge of the development of the communication skills in young children from birth through age eight. Topics include: hearing and speaking, speech and language development, vision and visual motor skills, and emergent literacy and small motor skills development. The process of learning more than one language is addressed as well as strategies for working with children for whom English is not the first language. The application of knowledge in the areas of assessment, individualization and referral are addressed and practiced.

Full course description for Language and Communication Development in Early Childhood Education

This practicum is for students interested in working with young children. Students apply their knowledge and skills within a community-based program, school, or agency serving young children from birth through age five. Students are required to complete observations, plan activities and facilitate children's learning. The practicum includes required hours in the field as well as lectures and assignments. Note: This course is reserved for Early Childhood Studies students.

Full course description for Early Childhood Studies Practicum

This capstone course explores professionalism and the ethical dilemmas facing early childhood professionals today through the analysis of case studies using the profession's code of ethics. Students develop a professional portfolio, create a plan for professional development, and attend a professional conference. Consideration is given to state rules and regulations, advocacy, accreditation and working with families using effective diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. Students should register for this course in their final university semester.

Full course description for Early Childhood Studies Capstone: Professionalism and Ethical Issues

+ Guided electives

The following is a list of electives that are not required for the major, but can be used as electives to meet the 120 credits required to graduate.

Theories and realities of diverse family structure and function will be the foundation of this course. The students will examine the unique roles of parents, family, and community in the lives of children who live in urban settings with particular focus on the racial, cultural and ethnic groups that reside in the metropolitan Twin Cities. Opportunities will be available for students to compare their own life and family experiences to those of children living in today's urban communities through primary research experiences. The role of the urban teacher in effectively working with diverse urban families, and strategies for building effective home-school partnerships will be discussed. Clinical field experience hours are part of the course requirements.

Full course description for The Child and the Family in an Urban Setting

This course will provide the prospective teacher with opportunities to plan and implement developmentally and culturally appropriate activities in the arts for young urban children. The students in this course will be introduced to the basic theories of teaching the visual arts, creative movement, music and creative dramatics within a developmental program for young children. Integration of the arts into the regular daily curriculum of urban early childhood settings will be a major focus of this course. Clinical field experience hours are part of the course requirements.

Full course description for The Arts in Early Childhood and Elementary Education

This course will cover the normal development of skills and understandings necessary for a young child to learn to read and write. The individual nature of readiness and the differences in children's approaches to learning to read and write will be a focus of the course. The instructional strategies and materials that constitute a developmentally and culturally appropriate reading and language arts program for young urban children will be presented and used in practice sessions. The important role of multicultural literature in an emergent literacy curriculum for diverse urban children from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and families will be emphasized. Clinical field experience hours are part of the course requirements.

Full course description for Emergent Literacy in Urban Early Childhood Education

This course is designed to increase knowledge of child growth and development and child-rearing principles and techniques. The focus is on parents' roles as facilitators for their children in areas such as achieving a purposeful life, becoming self-reliant and developing communication skills. It includes understanding and meeting the needs of single parents and their children.

Full course description for Dynamics of Parent/Child Relationships

The topics covered in the different sections of this course vary from semester to semester. The focus of each section is on young children birth to age five. The purpose of the course is to familiarize students with specific subjects in the field of early childhood. Possible topics include: curriculum approaches such as Montessori or Reggio Emilia, infant-toddler mental health, assessment tools, parent education, or issues in early childhood special education. Students should consult the Class Schedule for the topics featured each semester. Note: This course may be taken four times for credit as long as the topic is different.

Full course description for Selected Topics in Early Childhood

In this course, students will review current research on children and nature, evaluate the benefits of nature experiences in early childhood, and identify ways that nature supports children's development. Students will explore, discuss, and evaluate the different approaches to nature experiences that are becoming common practices in early childhood settings. The class will investigate and examine issues around risk and reward. The class also covers developmental stages, learning styles, and health, behavioral, and social-emotional concerns in early childhood and explores how they can be supported through the creation of nature-based play settings. Finally, we view nature experiences as an issue of "white privilege" and equity, and create a plan to make nature opportunities accessible and available to all children.

Full course description for Children and Nature

This course introduces the concept of scientific inquiry at the early childhood level, and it uses the environment as a context in which to do so. In this course, students will review current research, guidelines and standards, compare different approaches and reflect on the role of environmental education and nature in early childhood. Students will explore, discuss and evaluate the many approaches to presenting environmental education in the early childhood setting, including a review of existing guidelines, standards, and recommendations. Students will evaluate the influence of culture, background, philosophy and ethnicity on children's understanding of environmental issues. Students will learn how natural settings may be used as a context for introducing science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) to young learners. This course is appropriate for educators, parents, social workers, and anyone who has an interest in STEAM, as well as children's learning and well…

Full course description for Inquiry and the Environment in Early Childhood

This course covers the nature of early childhood program administration, decision making and communication, leadership images, human relations, time management, employee motivation and evaluation, planning and organizing, and budgeting. Special attention is paid to the geographic location, ethnic composition and ages of the population being served, legal requirements for centers in Minnesota and other states, philosophies of child care and their impact on curriculum, and staff qualifications.

Full course description for Administration of Early Childhood Programs I

This course identifies and evaluates critical success factors leading to effective managerial performance of early childhood administrators in the roles of planner, decision maker, organizer, leader and motivator. Management theory, current trends in regulations and standards for early childhood programs including health/safety of children in the facility, federal history in early childhood, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and child abuse and neglect mandated reporter regulations. Students examine the elements of a business plan and budgeting, strategic planning, parent engagement, advocacy, anti-bias leadership and program marketing.

Full course description for Administration of Early Childhood Programs II