Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education

For more than a century, the University of Northern Iowa has educated teachers of young children. Because of their preparation and dedication, these teachers have assumed leadership roles in the education field. Today, the early childhood education program, based in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction,  continues to prepare its graduates to assume leadership roles in education in Iowa, the United States and in countries throughout the world.

Our early childhood education majors engage in a blended curriculum that features both regular education and special education for early childhood, called the Unified Program. Teaching positions in this field include the following: infant and toddler teacher, early interventionist, public or private inclusive preschool, kindergarten and primary teacher, and early childhood special education teacher. Other careers that early childhood education graduates choose are those of child-care director, resource and referred consultants, and early childhood coordinator of programs for young children.

The undergraduate sequence of courses in early childhood education is based on an understanding of the development of young children who are typically developing and those with exceptionalities, working with children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and promoting meaningful participation in inclusive classrooms. The program of study is a planned series of academic courses in conjunction with practical experiences with young children and families in diverse programs in the Cedar Valley.



Be sure to take the pre-elementary sequence of courses while at community college to maximize the number of courses you transfer. 


Early Childhood Education
Multiple hands-on teaching opportunities

Beginning in their second year, students observe master teachers and participate in classrooms with children of diverse backgrounds and abilities in highly regarded early childhood programs including the UNI Child Development Center for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. As students progress through the program they gain experience teaching children with disabilities and dual language learners.

Early Childhood Education
Hands-on learning and classroom experiences

Students have a variety of opportunities to gain the knowledge, skills and professional attitudes to become outstanding teachers, including:

  • Experiencing 100 hours working with young children in classrooms before the student teaching semester.

  • Developing materials for a physical science learning center that engages young children in active experimentation.

  • Studying an infant or toddler and designing and teaching activities specifically for that child.

Early Childhood Education
Excellence in leadership

Students are encouraged to participate in the UNI Student Elementary and Early Childhood Association (SEECA) to gain leadership experiences. Faculty members provided strong leadership in developing and revising Iowa's licensing requirements for early childhood education. The division also sponsored statewide Early Childhood Education Summits for educators in two- and four-year institutions and others involved in Iowa's statewide voluntary preschool programs.


96% of last year's graduates are either continuing their education or employed


Pre-kindergarten teacher

Early childhood special education teacher

Elementary teacher (K-3rd grade)

Early intervention home instructor

Child care director

Infant and toddler teacher 



Have questions or want more information? Fill out the form below and someone from the department will contact you directly. To receive general university information from UNI’s admissions office, please click on ‘Request More Info About UNI’.

Mary Donegan-Ritter
Early Childhood Education program
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