Online Early Care & Education for a Mobile Society Bachelor's Degree Completion Program

Program Summary
Cost per credit hour:

2023-2024: $435
2024-2025: $440

Learn more about Tuition and Cost

Average time to complete: 28 months

48–51 Hours

Great Plains IDEA's online Early Care & Education for a Mobile Society (ECEMS) bachelor's degree completion prepares you to work with diverse groups of young children, families, and communities in a global society. This bachelor's completion program requires previously completed coursework, allowing for you to focus directly on the curriculum that prepares you for rewarding careers in early childhood settings with young children, especially those whose family members are highly mobile.

FAQs for ECEMS ECEMS Student Handbook

What do you mean by "a mobile society"?

Today, children and families are increasingly mobile. This is especially true for military families, immigrant families, families who must travel to make a living, homeless families, and families living in poverty. Young children and their families need professional support from individuals with expertise in this area who are interested in working with them in a society that is always "on the go." That person could be you.

Listen to instructor Chris Kiewra from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln explain why this program was designed the way it is and how it helps students advance in the field of early childhood education.

Why study Early Care & Education through Great Plains IDEA?

Through Great Plains IDEA’s ECEMS online bachelor’s completion program, you learn that successful early childhood education depends upon partnerships with children’s families and their surrounding communities. As part of this dynamic program, you will engage in sensitive interactions that reveal the complex characteristics of children’s families and communities.

It is an ideal program if you enjoy working directly with children and families in diverse populations and care deeply about improving the lives of others. Through the degree, you will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for each child. 

Designed for working professionals and those with busy schedules, the ECEMS degree is offered entirely online, offering flexibility and convenience, as well as affordability through a common price per credit hour through all universities

Listen to how ECEMS graduate Jacy Phillips was able to balance her professional, personal, and academic responsibilities in this dynamic program.

ECEMS Program Format

The bachelor’s degree in Early Care & Education for a Mobile Society is a 120-credit hour baccalaureate program of study that includes completion of 48-51 credit hours of required coursework and other requirements unique to the home university where you are enrolled. The required coursework also includes two practicum experiences that span 9 credit hours and can be completed while taking other courses.

The ECEMS program is designed to ensure that you will meet the professional preparation standards endorsed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC, 2020).

Please note that this degree program does not lead to licensure or teacher certification.

Your home university will be where you receive academic advising, manage your program, pay tuition, and meet graduation requirements. Although you will take classes online at each of the participating universities, your home university will award your diploma on completion of the baccalaureate program. 

Degree and certificate titles vary by member university; you can contact your home university directly for more information on how the title will appear on your diploma or certificate upon completion of the program. 

Review the official degree names at our member institutions in our ECEMS Student Handbook.

Emily Buster sits with her family. She received the Great Plains IDEA Student Excellence Award in 2020."I have loved every minute of this program! The teachers are wonderful, the coursework is challenging and engaging, and I have been able to do it while also working full-time and taking care of my three children. During the day, I run a home daycare and I am able to use the techniques and ideas that I have learned in my classes to enhance the learning experience in my home. This degree program has given me the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual, as a mom, and as a teacher."  Emily Buster, ECEMS Graduate

Transformative Early Childhood Education Curriculum

Following your admission to the online ECEMS program, you will complete 48-51 credit hours in 13 core courses and two practicum experiences through Great Plains IDEA, plus any remaining credit hours required by the admitting institution for completion of a bachelor's degree. 

The engaging curriculum conveys the leading issues facing education for mobile populations; the skill-building course topics include:

  • Child Development
  • Diversity in the Lives of Young Children and Families
  • Health, Safety, and Nutrition
  • Assessing Young Children and their Environments
  • Adapting for Developmental Differences
  • Developing Curriculum
  • Working with Families

View Course List for the Bachelor's Degree

Jennifer Theriac is an ECEMS student who recently received the GP IDEAS Student Excellence Award."I was approaching my third year volunteering in West Africa when I decided to find a degree program that would allow me to continue my work supporting children overseas. Great Plains IDEA has been perfect! Learning online has allowed me to focus on the children I foster and my family while providing information that supports my work in child development and helping me care for children better. The incredible faculty have been flexible about the environmental challenges I face with unstable electricity, network, and time differences." Jennifer Theriac, student in the early care and education for a mobile society bachelor's degree program

Early Care & Education Practicum

The ECEMS program requires two practicum experiences coinciding with coursework. These placements need to be in at least two different settings, two different age groups, and two different Cooperating Teachers.

  • Practicum Experiences with Young Children (formerly called Practicum II): 3 credit course including 36 hours of field experience.
    • Prerequisites and Corequisites prior to enrolling in Practicum Experiences with Young Children, students must take six credit hours including Introduction to Early Care and Education in a Mobile Society (Professional Development) and either:
      • (a) Child Development―Birth to 3 (Infant/Toddler) or
      • (b) Child Development―4 to 8 (Early Childhood)
    • The Child Development course not previously taken must be taken concurrently with Practicum Experiences with Young Children.
  • Senior Capstone (formerly called Practicum III): 6 credit course including 108 hours of either field experience or action research.
    • Prior to enrolling in the Senior Capstone students must have senior standing and instructor permission to enroll.

The ECEMS program requires two (2) practicum experiences, amounting to nine (9) credit hours. The practicum experiences can commence once the respective pre-practicum required courses are completed, as noted in the degree curriculum.

The hands-on, in-person practicum experiences allow you to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to promote the development and learning of young children across the entire period of early childhood. Through these real-world experiences, you will use observation, documentation, and other forms of assessment to positively influence the development of every child.

The practicum placements must meet the following qualifications:

  • In at least two (2) different settings
  • With two (2) different age groups and
  • With two (2) different cooperating teachers

Visit the course planner to see how the practicum experiences fit within the overall degree coursework.

Practicum Cooperating Teacher Handbook (PDF)


Tyra Franklin headshot"The flexibility of learning online provides me with the opportunity to learn while still working and expanding my professional skills. Not only will this degree help me to make a lasting impact on families, but it will also allow me to set an example for my two children. I want to show them the importance of hard work, resilience, and education."
Tyra Franklin, ECEMS student and recipient of the 2022 Student Excellence Award

Rewarding Program Outcomes

Graduates of the online Early Care & Education undergraduate program are well-positioned to become effective leaders in education, youth development, and community advocacy. 

You will be able to use your refined knowledge of academic disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate experiences that promote positive development and learning for every young child, especially for those in more mobile, and at times unstable, environments. 

The curriculum and hands-on practicum experience provide exceptional preparation for fulfilling careers in a variety of programs that offer early care and education in the community, including locations such as:

  • Childcare centers and homes
  • Infant/toddler and preschool programs
  • Head Start programs
  • Before and after-school programs for children ages birth to eight
  • 700+ childcare facilities on military installations around the world

Learn more in this national directory of Careers in Early Care and Education, produced by the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood National Center Division and Child Care Services Association.

"After graduation, I was hired as the preschool teacher and onsite supervisor/team leader at the center where I did my last practicum.  After a year-and-a-half at that center, I became the Assistant Director at a KinderCare. I love my new position and balancing time in the classroom with administrative work."

Sunshine Huisman, ECEMS graduate, Iowa State University

Collaborate with Leading Education Faculty Members Nationwide

Great Plains IDEA’s ECEMS faculty have in-depth practical knowledge of social-emotional learning and development across the human lifespan. They come from different home universities, blending a range of perspectives and experiences for a unique and enriching online academic environment.

Our faculty are dedicated to your success and care about supporting your academic, personal, and professional goals. They will collaborate directly with you, providing resources and expertise from their extensive experience as practitioners in the field. 

Faculty in the Early Care & Education for a Mobile Society bachelor's degree completion program have put together activity plans with best practices and activity ideas. These resources help you to maximize your skillset in order to make a larger, more immediate impact in your community.

Review Faculty-Created Activities & Resources for Teachers and Parents

Admission to the Online ECEMS Program

The online Early Care & Education for a Mobile Society degree is a bachelor’s completion program. This unique undergraduate degree is designed specifically for those who have previous academic experience at a higher education institution.

To become part of the ECEMS program, you must apply for admission as an undergraduate student at one of the four universities partnering in the delivery of this program through Great Plains IDEA, which will become your home university. 

To be admitted to the ECEMS program, you must already have completed at least 30 credits (applicable to graduation requirements) earning at least a 2.5 GPA. These credit hours must include a Human Lifespan Development course.

You may transfer up to 12 credit hours of core course equivalents. However, you may not transfer equivalents for the Professional Development course or any practicum courses. Your selected home university will determine the number of credit hours from previous study that may be transferred in to meet other degree requirements.

Program Information at Participating Universities

The following member universities offer the ECEMS undergraduate degree and hold respective regional accreditation:

All Great Plains IDEA member universities are accredited by regional agencies, aligning with requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education. This ensures that students pursuing their degrees through Great Plains IDEA are met with a high standard of academic excellence, which is essential in sitting for certification exams and pursuing future employment. Learn more about the accreditation of our member universities.

Make an Impact with an Early Care & Education Bachelor's Degree

The online Early Care & Education for a Mobile Society bachelor’s completion degree through Great Plains IDEA prepares you to become a confident educator and early childhood expert in diverse, ever-evolving families.

Ready to get started? Learn how to apply now!

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ECEMS highlights:

  • 30 credit hours must be previously completed.
  • 48-51 credit hours will be completed in the program.
  • There are two-three practicum experiences.
  • This degree program does not lead to licensure or teacher certification.

View Course List for the Bachelor's Degree

University Contact
These campus coordinators can help you navigate Great Plains IDEA. Click on the university name to learn more about how Great Plains IDEA works at that campus. Iowa State Online
Rae Ann Montgomery
Janice Clawson
Mel Sedlacek
University Members
Members of the Great Plains IDEA are universities accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Member universities recruit, admit and graduate students, teach in an academic program and contribute to the leadership and maintenance of the alliance. Membership in the alliance is a selective process that engages institutional leadership at all levels.

Alison Eddy is a student in the Dietetics program at KUMC.Great Plains IDEA has so many benefits for its students. The ability to continue my education while working full-time and growing my family has been a huge benefit for me. Earning the Student Excellence Award will greatly benefit my family as we begin our lives with our new daughter because we can use it to pay for the rest of my tuition and will not have to budget in finishing my degree.

– – Alison Eddy, Dietetics and Nutrition Master's Degree Student,
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