Students May Use Own Experience to Complete ‘First-of-its-Kind’ Early Childhood Education Degree

Dean of Business and Professional Studies Jody Carson. (Courtesy photograph.)

This fall, Northern Essex Community College will offer a first-of-its-kind associate degree program for students majoring in Early Childhood Education and geared to non-traditional learners.

Students will have the option to take all required online degree and certificate courses in the competency-based education model. Those already working in fields their studying may demonstrate what they already know and accelerate through the coursework. Competency-based education allows greater flexibility to start and complete courses online at a student’s own pace.

“Someone might be working at a childcare center and already know a lot about planning curriculum but might be less familiar with assessing and documenting development, for example,” says Dean of Business and Professional Studies Jody Carson. She adds, “To our knowledge, this is the first Early Childhood Education degree to be offered at a public college or university using CBE.”

College officials say the offering is the culmination of more than four years of work to give learners more flexibility in obtaining a degree.

Students have a required 330-hour in-classroom practicum, but Carson says this also can be completed at a student’s workplace and observed virtually by the supervising college faculty member.

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