Early Childhood Education - Associate Teacher | UCLA Extension (2024)


Gain the foundational knowledge needed to become an Associate Teacher in a preschool or child care setting, for children birth to five years. This online certificate meets the 12 ECE/CD semester units needed for the California CTC Associate Teacher permit.


This program is perfect for...

  • Individuals preparing for a teaching role in early childhood education and care (ECE)
  • Educators with a passion for young children and a desire to be highly respected, creative, and dynamic teachers
  • Professionals who need the Associate Teacher ECE/CD coursework requirements for California Title 5 and Title 22 regulations and Child Development permits
  • Care providers seeking an in-depth understanding of their child’s development and how to best encourage growth through the various stages of early childhood
  • Teachers with a Multiple Subjects’ teaching credential who need to meet Transitional Kindergarten (TK) requirements

What you can learn.

  • Explore theories and the scientific study of child growth and development
  • Discover the history and development of early childhood programs and differences in philosophy and approach
  • Examine the social and cultural dynamics between a young child, their family, and the community
  • Learn to design, equip, and implement a developmentally appropriate curriculum and learning environment for young children
  • Become aware and reflective of family and community differences in language, culture, and values
  • Learn to apply individually and culturally appropriate practices in all settings with children and families

About this program.

Early Childhood Education - Associate Teacher | UCLA Extension (1)

Early childhood educators play an important role in supporting foundational cognitive, social and emotional development to the youngest of our communities.

This online certificate will support you along the path of this rewarding career, providing the core courses needed for an entry-level teaching position in the care, development, and education of young children. Our goal is to equip you with the skills needed to employ best practices in creating a nourishing, supportive, and dynamic learning environment.


The four required courses, totaling 18 quarter units (equivalent to 12 semester units), offer current developmental theory and appropriate practice, and meet the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) permit requirements and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) guidelines for Associate ECE teachers. The program offers a social justice emphasis, for teachers looking to the future of our 20th century world, and those who work in traditionally underserved communities. Teachers learn tools for embedding culturally and linguistically appropriate curriculumand inclusion ofdual language or neuro-atypical learners.

This certificate program is offered 100% online.


Upon completion of this certificate program, students will be qualified to work in a private child care facility (CA Title 22). To work in a public child care facility (CA Title 5), students must also obtain a CTC Child Development permit, which requires these courses. Check the CTC website for permit requirements. Program curriculum alsocounts towards Transitional Kindergarten (TK) requirements for teachers who already have a Multiple Subjects’ teaching credential and want to teach 4 year olds in elementary schools.

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What our students say.

What our certificates have done for our students.


feel a certificate helped them enhance their careers

1 in 4

received a salary increase after starting a certificate program


switched careers after completing a certificate program


recommend a certificate program to others

Source: UCLA Extension Certificate Graduates Survey

Expect more from your education.

Learn from Industry Leaders

Dr. Jacksonis our resident expert in special education, family and community engagement, and equity and diversity.

Meet Tamara Roberta Jackson

Early Childhood Education - Associate Teacher | UCLA Extension (2)

UCLA Approved

Our course curriculum is developed in cooperation with UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies.

UCLA's Dept of Educationis ranked among the topeducation schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

We have amazing instructors,with experience in classrooms and in college. They really care about their students and are engaged in transformative learning as students become more reflective and intentional teachers. Our students are dedicated and thoughtful, which makes for a lively online experience.

Dr. Helen Davis

Program Director


Click below to view the required and elective courses, if applicable, for this program.

Required Course 1

Child Development/Desarrollo Infantil


Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

Required Course 2

The Young Child in the Family and Community/El Niño Pequeño en la Familia y Comunidad


Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

Required Course 3

Foundations of Early Care and Education: An Introduction to Teaching Young Children/Introducción a la Enseñanza de Niños Pequeños


Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

Required Course 4

Introduction to Curriculum and Learning Environments/Introducción al Currículo y Ambientes de Aprendizaje


Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

Download Certificate Planner

For students who took coursesas part ofthe original ECE Basic Core Certificate program, see course equivalents here.

Courses in this program are open enrollment and you will pay for each course individually. You have the option to begin taking courses before committing to the program, to make sure it’s the right fit for you. We recommend starting with Child Development EDUC X 21.

However, establishing candidacy in the program has its benefits:

  • Receive tailored information to help you succeed in your program
  • Access to exclusive certificate student benefits, such as UCLA Alumni Association membership
  • Lock in the most current terms and conditions of the program, as curricula and requirements are subject to change
  • Candidacy is required to receive your official UCLA Extension certificate upon completing your program

How to Apply

  1. Click the Apply Now button below
  2. Login or create a new student account
  3. Once you are logged into the student portal, you can select “My Applications” from the left side menu at any time to return to your application. Click the yellow “Start” button to proceed.
  4. On the Certificate Application page, follow the instructions and click save. Then submit your application.
  5. Proceed to checkout and pay the $50 nonrefundable candidacy fee to finalize your application.
  6. Begin enrolling in courses!

Benefits exclusive to UCLA Extension certificate students:

  • Advising and support from a UCLA Extension academic advisor, to help plan your course of study.
  • Access to Handshake, UCLA Career Center’s online job board, with access to thousands of job and internship postings
  • Become a member of the UCLA Alumni Association (upon completing your certificate) and a nationwide network of Bruin family
  • Join us for the annual UCLA Extension Graduation Ceremony on campus to celebrate all your hard work
  • Get access to UCLA Recreation facilities as a student affiliate*
  • Open an affiliate/Guest UCLA Bruin ID Card* for a number of student-related benefits
  • Receive a printed certificate mailed to you after completion of your final class, plus notation of the certificate program on your UCLA Extension transcript.
  • PLUS, all UCLA Extension students have access to UCLA Extension’s Career Resources including online career coaching, workshops and networking events

*Nominal fee required


Students are expected to observe or participate with young children in assignments for every course. The state of California requires regular observers and volunteers in ECE centers to have a TB clearance and to be immunized against flu, pertussis, and measles. Please be prepared to present documentation to the center where you observe.


A letter grade of C or better in each course is required for California ECE Permits, as well as successful completion of the certificate. Course grades of C- or lower do not qualify toward the certificate or CTC permits.

Students must complete the certificate within 5 years.

English Proficiency

Professional-level English language proficiency in listening, note-taking, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and written expression is required. Students who lack these skills should consider taking English for International Students courses offered by the UCLA Extension American Language Center, before enrolling in this program.

No previous coursework or experience is required to begin this certificate.

If you have completed previous coursework and wish to apply it toward this certificate, you may be able to transfer up to 25% of certificate units. Contact UCLA Extension’s Education department for approval. Courses that are more than 5 years old will not be approved.

Individuals who have completed college or university coursework in early childhood education at a foreign institution, and wish to apply units to the certificate, must obtain an evaluation of foreign transcripts, degrees, and other relevant documents prior to applying for the ECE Certificate. A foreign transcript evaluation is required even if the foreign coursework has been accepted by a college or university in the United States.

Foreign transcripts must be evaluated by one of the approved organizations listed on the CTC Foreign Transcript Evaluation Leaflet Number CL-635 in order to be accepted. These organizations are private enterprises that charge a fee for their services. Individuals pursuing a foreign transcript evaluation must follow the procedures outlined by the organization providing the evaluation. In all instances, original, official documentation will be required when requesting the evaluation. For a list of the approved organizations, visit the CTCwebsite.

Estimated Cost Breakdown

All courses in this program are paid for individually, unless otherwise noted. An application form is required to establish candidacy in this program. From the 'Apply Now' button, complete the online application and pay the application fee if applicable.

Application & Candidacy Fee


Estimated Program Tuition


Estimated program textbook/materials


Apply Now

*The Application & Candidacy Fee establishes your candidacy in the program for a period of time covering normal progress toward completion and may allow you to access a variety of program benefits.

Early Childhood Education - Associate Teacher | UCLA Extension (3)


Early Childhood Education - Associate Teacher | UCLA Extension (4)

Approved for International Visa
VA Benefit Eligible
Federal Financial Aid

**Federal Financial Aid Gainful Employment Disclosures

The U.S. Department of Education requires colleges and universities to disclose certain information for any financial aid eligible program that, “prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation”. This information includes program costs; occupations that the program prepares students to enter; occupational profiles; on time completion rate; and for the most recent award year: the number of students who have completed the program, the number of students who complete the program within the estimated duration, the job placement rate, and the median Title IV and private loan debt incurred by those who complete the program. For gainful employment information for this program, visit ourFinancial Aid page.

Early Childhood Education - Associate Teacher | UCLA Extension (11)

Prepare For Your Next Step: Lead Teacher

Did you know that this certificate, when combined with our ECE Lead Teacher Advanced Courses Certificate, meets the 24 ECE/CD semester units needed for Teacher and Master Teacher Permits? Add to your professional skill set with courses in developmental assessment, learning through play, and more.

Learn More

Contact Us

Speak to a program representative. Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm.




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Early Childhood Education - Associate Teacher | UCLA Extension (2024)


Can I be a preschool teacher with an associate's degree in California? ›

Aspiring preschool teachers in California can earn either an associate or bachelor's degree in early childhood education or childhood development. Choose an undergraduate program accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), which establishes standards for teacher preparation in California.

What are the requirements to be a preschool teacher in California? ›

California preschool teachers need to obtain specific certification credentials as educators. You don't have to earn a bachelor's degree, but you'll need to complete either educational or experience minimum hours before you can begin teaching preschool students in a classroom.

How do I become an early education teacher in MA? ›

Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Massachusetts
  1. Complete a Degree and Educator Preparation Program in Early Childhood Education. ...
  2. Pass the Examinations Required for Massachusetts Early Education Teachers. ...
  3. Apply for Your Massachusetts Early Educator Teaching License.

Does UCLA have early childhood education? ›

Welcome to ECE!

UCLA Early Care and Education provides care and education for children and an essential service to families by focusing on research and quality.

What is the best degree for preschool teacher? ›

Some schools may only require a high school diploma, while others require a college degree plus specific certification through the state education department. Most public preschools require a bachelor's degree in early childhood education to be a preschool teacher.

Can you be a substitute teacher with an associate's degree in California? ›

Requirements for a substitute teaching permit

Official transcripts showing the completion of a bachelor's or higher degree; Completed application; Information and fingerprints submitted to Live Scan for background check.

How long does it take to become a kindergarten teacher in California? ›

California is one of the few states in the U.S. that requires five years of higher education to become a teacher. This can be done in two ways. The more traditional path is to complete a four-year undergraduate degree in a relevant subject and then go on to earn a one-year graduate education degree.

How do I become an assistant teacher in California? ›

Someone who is interested in becoming a teacher's aide in California must have a high school diploma at a minimum. Requirements vary from one school district to another, and many prefer applicants with at least an associate's degree or those who are currently pursuing a degree in the field.

Can a 4 year old start preschool in California? ›

California State Preschool Program (CSPP) is an age and developmentally appropriate program designed to facilitate the transition to kindergarten for three (3) and four (4) old children in educational development, health services, social services, nutritional services, parent education and parent participation.

How do I become a teacher with a bachelor's degree in MA? ›

Aspiring teachers can earn teaching certification by filling out an application, passing the required MTEL examinations, and paying a fee. Teachers also need to show proof of a bachelor's degree by sending in official transcripts with their application. Additionally, they must complete 150 student teaching hours.

How much does a preschool teacher in MA make? ›

Salaries by years of experience in Massachusetts
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$18.67
3 to 5 years-
6 to 9 years$19.97
More than 10 years$22.22
1 more row

How much do early childhood teachers make in Massachusetts? ›

How much does an Early Childhood Educator make in Massachusetts? As of Jul 5, 2023, the average hourly pay for an Early Childhood Educator in Massachusetts is $19.93 an hour.

Is preschool free in California? ›

California has three main publicly funded preschool programs—the California State Preschool Program (CSPP), Head Start, and Transitional Kindergarten. Other publicly funded programs serve a broader age range, typically ages 0-12, by providing vouchers for some low-income working families to obtain care.

Can you go to UCLA to become a teacher? ›

TEP is housed in Center X at UCLA Ed&IS. The program offers an M. Ed. and teaching credentials for various subjects.

Does Harvard have early childhood education? ›

“From early childhood courses to apprenticeships at the Saul Zaentz Academy for Professional Learning to research opportunities through the Harvard Early Learning Study, HGSE has organized around the notion that the years before formal schooling are crucial.

How to become a teacher in California without a bachelor's degree? ›

There are several ways to become a teacher in California, but all public school teachers are required to hold a bachelor's degree. Those who do not already hold a bachelor's degree may complete a “blended” program that permits applicants to pursue an undergraduate degree and teaching credential simultaneously.

What degree do you need to be a kindergarten teacher in California? ›

Those who want to work towards becoming a kindergarten teacher in the state of California will need to earn a minimum of a bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited university or college.

How to become a kindergarten teacher in California with a bachelor's degree? ›

Earn a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a closely related subject. Complete a student teaching internship in a kindergarten classroom as part of a state-approved teacher preparaton program. Take your state's required tests for prospective kindergarten teachers. Apply for a teaching license.

What organization has called for all preschool teachers to have a bachelor's degree? ›

American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (ACTE). What organization has called for all preschool teachers to have a bachelor's degree? Yes.


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