Early childcare education and programming

The early childcare education and programming (E C P) is a fully only bachelor’s degree offered in conjunction with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (or GPIDEA) program that prepares you to work in a variety of early childhood education programs, including…

  • Childcare centers and homes
  • Infant/toddler and preschool programs
  • Head Start programs
  • Before and after-school programs for children ages birth to eight
  • Childcare administration

This online undergraduate program does not lead to teacher licensure. If you are looking for licensure, learn about the on-campus early childhood education major.

About the program

Online format

You take all your classes online, studying when it fits into your schedule. Your classes are taught by faculty from each GPIDEA university who are experts in early childcare. Within Great Plains IDEA the program is referred to as early care and education for a mobile society (ECEMS) instead of E C P. Requirements to complete the program online include...

  • A computer that meets all requirements for your classes
  • Web access
  • Email address

Download the Early childcare education and programming flyer.


Students are considered pre-E C P until the following requirements are fulfilled:

  • Completion of a minimum of 30 credits (either at Iowa State or transferred in from another college or university)
  • Minimum GPA of 2.50
  • Successfully pass a criminal background check
  • Completion of Lifespan and Development (HDFS 102 at Iowa State)

Pre-practicum I

  • E C P 201: Child Development―Birth to 3 (Infant/Toddler)
  • E C P 202: Child Development―4 to 8 
  • E C P 305: Introduction to Early Care and Education for a Mobile Society

You must successfully complete all Pre-practicum I courses prior to enrollment in E C P 320/Practicum I and Pre-practicum II courses:

  • E C P 320: Practicum I - Child Guidance and Classroom Environments

Pre-practicum II

  • E C P 307: Child Guidance and Classroom Environments
  • E C P 412: Development of Curriculum for Children Ages Birth to 3
  • E C P 413: Development of Curriculum for Children Ages 4 to 8
  • E C P 424: Assessing Young Children and their Environments to Enhance Development
  • E C P 425: Understanding and Adapting for Developmental Differences

You must successfully complete all Pre-practicum II courses prior to enrollment in E C P 420/Practicum II:

  • E C P 420: Practicum II - Curriculum Development and Implementation

Professional Development Courses

These courses may be completed at any time during the program. 

  • E C P 306: Health, Safety, and Nutrition
  • E C P 324: Technology and Young Children
  • E C P 322: Diversity in the Lives of Young Children and Families
  • E C P 323: Working with Families

You must successfully complete all other E C P courses prior to enrollment in E C P 442 and Practicum III.

  • E C P 442: Administration and Supervision in Early Childhood Settings
  • E C P 460: Practicum III - Capstone Experience

The E C P program requires three practicum experiences coinciding with course work. These placements need to be in at least three different settings, three different age groups and three different Cooperating Teachers.

For more details about each Practicum experience, see page 13 in the handbook.

General education courses

This program requires 120 total semester credits. This course requirements list details your options and how many credits from each area are required for the E C P degree.


You must complete the following steps before you are able to take classes associated with the E C P degree.

  1. Work with our Iowa State Admissions Office to apply to be admitted to Iowa State. Follow these instructions to fill out the online application.
  2. You will be expected to have all of your transcripts sent to Iowa State. They should only be sent to the address below and no one else.

    • Office of Admissions
      100 Enrollment Services Center
      2433 Union Drive
      Ames, IA  50011-2042

  3. You will apply for the E C P major. If admitted, you are considered Pre-E C P. You will then need to follow the instructions sent to you in order to accept your offer of admission to Iowa State University which includes paying the $330 acceptance fee. Part of this fee is a deposit for on-campus housing. However, for students who never contract for on-campus housing, the housing deposit portion of the $330 acceptance fee would be refunded on your first university bill.
  4. Once you've paid your admission fee, you will need to complete two orientations. One is the University's orientation, and the second is the College's orientation. After you complete both, you will be instructed to contact the College's Student Services office to finalize your orientation. Student Services will then confirm you are done and assign you an adviser.
  5. Contact your adviser to help you understand what classes transferred if you are a transfer student, go over requirements and prerequisites, and to make a plan.
  6. You will get a Registration Access Number (RAN) from your adviser if you need to register for a general education course or an elective.
  7. If you are eligible to take E C P courses, you will work with your academic advisor and GPIDEA coordinator, Katie Mott, to get registered for any E C P courses.