May 28, 2023  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Master of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education


  • Early Childhood Education (Initial Licensure)
  • Early Childhood Professional Studies and Practices (Non-Licensure)
  • Advanced Practices in Early Childhood Education (Subsequent Endorsement)

The specialization in Early Childhood Education is designed for candidates pursuing initial teacher licensure. Candidates will complete coursework to meet Early Childhood Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL) requirements to teach children from birth through grade 2 in Illinois public schools. Candidates who meet the PEL requirements will be automatically eligible to receive the Gateways to Opportunity Level 5 Early Childhood Education (ECE) credential. Candidates may also elect course work to fulfill early childhood special education approval requirements for teaching children with disabilities and special needs in pre-kindergarten. Advisors evaluate candidates’ prior course work, professional experience, and previous credentials to determine individual programs leading to PEL with Early Childhood endorsement and/or Early Childhood Special Education approval, as well as the Gateways Level 5 ECE credential.

No more than six credit hours of graduate NIU coursework completed as a student-at-large may be applied to an advanced degree in SEED. Check departmental information for additional requirements.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at
The specialization in Early Childhood Professional Studies and Practices is a non-licensure degree program that offers focused study to strengthen and broaden the professional preparation of professionals who work with young children (birth through eight years old). In addition to the basic requirements, coursework will be determined on the individual candidate’s undergraduate preparation, experience, and professional goals.

The specialization in Advanced Practices in Early Childhood Education is designed for licensed educators who are seeking a master’s degree as well as a subsequent endorsement to teach young children from birth through second grade. Candidates will select one of two tracks: the general Early Childhood endorsement or the option that includes the endorsement plus the Early Childhood Special Education approval to teach children with special needs in pre-kindergarten. All endorsement coursework is built into the master’s program.


From among the applicants satisfying the requirements for admission to the Graduate School, the faculty select the most qualified, ordinarily requiring a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher for undergraduate coursework.

Each prospective candidate must have two letters of recommendation from employers, supervisors, or professors and a personal statement describing their reasons for applying to the program and their goals related to early childhood education.


To be retained in the M.S.Ed. program, a candidate must demonstrate acquisition and application of specific competencies, through practical experiences.

Candidates must earn a B or better in the course work listed in the Graduate catalog required for the Early Childhood program, in order to take the comprehensive evaluation and/or enroll in student teaching. Candidates receiving lower than a B in any of these professional courses must retake the course. In concert with the university policy, candidates may retake a course only once. If this required grade is not achieved on the second attempt, the candidate may be dropped from the program. Candidates must maintain a cumulative overall GPA of 3.0 to remain in good standing in the Graduate School.

All other rules regarding academic regulations follow those described by the Graduate School.


A candidate is assigned a graduate advisor when admitted to the program. The candidate is also assigned to a faculty mentor. Candidates are strongly encouraged to contact their faculty mentors early in their degree program. Courses of study are developed for each candidate in consultation with the graduate advisor. It is always the responsibility of the candidate to be aware of university policies and regulations affecting their program. Candidates should, therefore, familiarize themselves with the Graduate Catalog early in the program.


Each candidate must select a specialization. Each specialization requires a minimum of 30-45 semester hours of study.  Specific courses required for each specialization are listed below. Elective courses are selected with the approval of the candidate’s advisor.

Specialization in Early Childhood Education (Initial Licensure)

Any state licensure requirements for core content in science and social sciences must be verified by the advisor.

Required courses in this specialization:

Thesis Option

Candidates electing the thesis option will select research in early childhood education as their focus area. Six of the 9 semester hours required for the focus area must be taken in SEEC 699, Master’s Thesis. Candidates electing the thesis option are still required to take SEEC 598.