Early Childhood Education & Early Childhood Special Education, Bachelor of Science in Education

Department of Teaching and Learning

College of Education

This degree allows teacher candidates the opportunity to earn dual certification in both early childhood (EC) and early childhood special education (ECSE) at the bachelor’s level. Certification in both EC and ECSE will better prepare candidates to meet the needs of ALL young children birth to age eight in strategic and evidence-based ways across multiple settings. This degree leads to Arizona state certification in early childhood and early childhood special education.

This program is approved by the Arizona State Board of Education

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 89 units of major requirements
  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements
  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units

Candidates in this program are required to demonstrate content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and skills, professional knowledge, and professional dispositions to be eligible to enter student teaching or internship placements. Content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge or skills, professional dispositions are demonstrated through candidate performance on key assessments embedded in the following course(s): 

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA 2.5
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 155
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required
Student Teaching/Supervised Teaching Required
University Honors Program Optional
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan
Licensing or Certification

This program may lead to licensure or certification.

Purpose Statement

The Bachelor of Science in Education, Dual Certification in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education leads to Arizona teacher dual certification, providing candidates with the necessary foundation to teach young children age’s birth to 8. This nationally recognized program emphasizes sound pedagogical practices while stressing the skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary to enter the field of education with confidence. Candidates engage in a purposeful program of study grounded in theory and infused with practical experiences in schools. Candidates complete foundational coursework in mathematics, educational foundations, political science, bilingual and multi-cultural education, educational psychology, special education, and curriculum and instruction. Throughout the program of study, students participate in rich practica experiences and the degree culminates with student teaching in kindergarten through grade three placements.
Throughout the program of study, candidates demonstrate outcomes aligned to standards affiliated with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, and the International Society for Educational Technology (ISTE). Nationally recognized by NAEYC and CEC, the program is designed to: promote child development and learning; build family and community relationships; use a variety of assessment strategies to support young children and families; promote developmentally effective teaching and learning approaches, use content knowledge to build meaningful curriculum, and identify and conduct themselves as members of the early childhood profession.
Candidates who complete this program will be prepared to join the next wave of early childhood educators—people who will dramatically shape and influence the lives of children in educational venues, as well as non-profits, state and national agencies, and other venues.

Student Learning Outcomes

Outcomes align with Standards from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) are included.
Grounded in a strong child development knowledge base this degree program enables candidates to use their understanding of young children's characteristics and needs, and multiple interacting influences on children's development and learning.  This knowledge prepares the candidates to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for each child.

  • Graduates of this program will be able to integrate their understanding of developmental processes and individual variance in their instructional practice by:
    • Candidates will demonstrate a thorough understanding of patterns and variations in child development of young children birth through age 8.
    • Candidates will design healthy, respective, supportive and challenging learning environments for young children based on their knowledge of child development. 
Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs understand that successful early childhood education depends upon partnerships with children’s families and communities. They know about, understand, and value the importance and complex characteristics of children’s families and communities. They use this understanding to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families, and to involve all families in their children’s development and learning.
  • Graduates of this program will be able to effectively engage families and communities in support of children’s growth and development by:
    • Candidates will demonstrate a deep understanding how families and communities promote resilience and protective factors that ameliorate risk in young children.
    • Candidates will actively engage with families and communities to promote positive child outcomes by demonstrating communication skills that promote reciprocity and respect. 
Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs understand that child observation, documentation, and other forms of assessment are central to the practice of all early childhood professionals. They know about and understand the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment. They know about and use systematic observations, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to influence the development of every child in a positive manner.
  • Graduates of this program will be able to use assessment practices for multiple purposes focused on improving learning outcomes for students by:
    • Candidates will demonstrate an understanding of the purpose, uses and processes of assessment in early childhood education.
    • Candidates will demonstrate the skills required to conduct a range of assessments including: observation, screening, criterion- and norm-referenced assessments, monitoring child progress, and evaluating intervention strategies and learning environments.
    • Candidates will appropriately integrate technology in assessment practices, including basic assistive technology.
Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs understand that teaching and learning with young children is a complex enterprise, and its details vary depending on children’s ages, characteristics, and the settings within which teaching and learning occur. They understand and use positive relationships and supportive interactions as the foundation for their work with young children and families. Candidates know, understand, and use a wide array of developmentally appropriate approaches, instructional strategies, and tools to connect with children and families and positively influence each child’s development and learning.
  • Graduates of this program will be able to select and implement appropriate instructional practices for young children by:
    • Candidates will use evidence-based instructional practices that are developmentally appropriate.
    • Candidates will create opportunities for young children to develop and sustain relationships with others in their natural environments.
    • Candidates will demonstrate the ability to effectively use technology that promotes learning and functioning.
    • Candidates will demonstrate the ability to reflect upon their practice and make modifications as appropriate.
Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs use their knowledge of academic disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate experiences that promote positive development and learning for each and every young child. Candidates understand the importance of developmental domains and academic (or content) disciplines in early childhood curriculum. They know the essential concepts, inquiry tools, and structure of content areas, including academic subjects, and can identify resources to deepen their understanding. Candidates use their own knowledge and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate meaningful, challenging curriculum that promotes comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for every young child.
  • Graduates of this program will be make curricular decisions that are informed by professional and state learning standards and conform to current content knowledge across disciplines by:
    • Candidates will demonstrate a thorough content knowledge and resources across the curriculum in language and literacy; the arts – music, creative movement, dance, drama, visual arts; mathematics; science, physical activity, physical education, health and safety; and social studies.
    • Candidates will be able to develop lessons and units that reflect central concepts, inquiry tools, and structures of academic discipline, and are able to integrate these content areas appropriately.
    • Candidates will demonstrate knowledge of early learning standards, professional standards and content areas to design, implement and evaluate developmentally meaningful and challenging curriculum for each child.
Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs identify and conduct themselves as members of the early childhood profession. They know and use ethical guidelines and other professional standards related to early childhood practice. They are continuous, collaborative learners who demonstrate knowledgeable, reflective and critical perspectives on their work, making informed decisions that integrate knowledge from a variety of sources. They are informed advocates for sound educational practices and policies.
Graduates of this program will be able to conduct themselves in a professional manner that is collaborative and reflective and will pursue excellence in the profession by:
  • Candidates will adhere to professional standards set forth by the National Association of Education of Young Children and the Council for Exceptional Children/Division of Early Childhood.
    • Candidates will engage in continuous, collaborative learning to inform practice, and integrate technology appropriately.
    • Graduates will collaborate with community partners and advocate for young children and their families. 
Field experiences and clinical practice are planned and sequenced so that candidates develop the knowledge, skills and professional dispositions necessary to promote the development and learning of young children across the entire developmental period of early childhood – in at least two of the three early childhood age groups (birth – age 3, 3 through 5, 5 through 8 years) and in the variety of settings that offer early education (early school grades, child care centers and homes, Head Start programs).


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • To be eligible for admission to the Professional Education Programs (PEP), candidates must meet the following requirements:

    45 units of coursework which includes:

    • EDF 200, MAT 150, and MAT 155 with a Grade of "C" or better
    • Two lab science courses with a Grade of "C" or better
    • The English foundations requirement (ENG 105 or equivalent) with a minimum GPA of 3.0.  (If your English GPA is below 3.0, you may take an approved writing course to achieve the 3.0 GPA.)
    • One of the following GPA requirements:
      • A cumulative 2.5 GPA in Liberal Studies courses
      • A cumulative 2.5 GPA
    • A copy of your State-approved Identity-Verified Print (IVP) fingerprint clearance card obtainable through the Arizona Department of Public Safety (602-223-2279).
Major Requirements
    • Note:  Students may only repeat courses in which a grade of “D” or “F” was earned. See Course Repeat Policy

Teacher Preparation
  • Teacher education programs require a student teaching or internship experience. A minimum number of practicum units are also required, which involves supervised field experience with a practicing teacher. These required experiences are embedded in the major requirements courses. 
    Before being accepted to student teaching, the following criteria must be met:

    • Admission to the Professional Education Programs (PEP)
    • GPA and course grade requirements for degree program as stated in Additional Admission and Major Requirements
    • Complete all plan requirements.
    • All major coursework, with the exception of EDF 200, must be completed within the six years prior to student teaching
    • Successful completion of required state and university training modules
    • All candidates must demonstrate professional and ethical standards of practice as described in the Model Code of Ethics for Educators and adhere to NAU’s and PEP’s Student Code of Conduct 
    • All outstanding PEP Alerts must be resolved per improvement plan
    • Attend mandatory Student Teaching Orientation


  • AZ Teacher Certification

    In order to obtain an AZ teaching certificate, you must pass the required Arizona Educator Exams:

    • AEPA Professional Knowledge: Early Childhood Exam
    • AEPA Professional Knowledge: Special Education Early Childhood Exam
General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that Arizona state teacher certification requirements leading to an Institutional Recommendation may change at any time, and may impact program of study requirements.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information, see course information contained in the catalog or your advisor.