6 Things You Didn't Know About the Rasmussen University School of Education

smiling female teacher helping children at a table

You’ve always loved working with kids in any capacity, but you know that to create a strong career doing what you love you’ll need some formal education. You know you’re on the right path, but how can you make sure you chose the right program?

There are a lot of Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs out there—so how can you determine the best fit for you? While we can’t speak to each and every program, we can speak to ours.

The Rasmussen University ECE faculty are just as committed to developing professional, knowledgeable and effective early childhood educators as you are to becoming one. We discussed the specifics of the Early Childhood Education programs offered at Rasmussen University with School of Education Department Chair Dr. Mary Muhs to help you learn as much as you can about your options at Rasmussen University.

What you might not have known about the Rasmussen University School of Education

The process of evaluating ECE programs can start to feel like a complex scavenger hunt. To make things easier, we compiled all of the most important info about our program in one place. Here’s what you should know:

1. Rasmussen University has provided ECE academic programs since 1992

When you’re considering a school’s early childhood education program, it helps to know if that school is well-established. The good news? Rasmussen University has been developing early childhood educators since 1992! The faculty and staff at Rasmussen University are well versed in what it takes to prepare students to be effective early childhood educators and have extensive industry experience. Dr. Muhs, for instance, has over 30 years of experience in the field as a center director, a published author and a strong advocate for high-quality education for children and adults alike.

With leadership and instructors who’ve lived and breathed the ECE field for years, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll receive quality instruction from professionals dedicated to the field—and improving the lives of young children! 

2. The flexible and affordable online offerings are designed to help you save

Time and money are two resources we all wish we had more of. You know a college education requires a significant investment of both—a commitment that could keep students from furthering their education. Rasmussen University understands this and structures its programs and courses in ways that can help.

So how does the University’s approach help you save? For one, all School of Education courses are offered fully online. With an online learning track record that dates back to 2002, Rasmussen University is no stranger to effective online education. Our flexible online programs allow you to cut out the commute time and have more control over how you balance your schedule. But it’s about more than being able to learn online.

ECE as a field is still striving toward a more standardized level of training and education for those employed in this field. That’s part of why Rasmussen University’s emphasis on an approach that focuses more on what you know than the amount of time you spend in a classroom can be a natural fit. You’ve informally learned quite a bit through experience, and Rasmussen University wants to make sure you have an opportunity to capitalize on it.

Students pursuing an Associate’s degree have the option to take advantage of self-directed assessment offerings, which allow you to earn credit for a fraction of the cost if completed successfully. Additionally, Rasmussen University aims to acknowledge and reward students for the skills they’ve already demonstrated, so students who possess a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or other relevant certifications may be eligible to receive credit or waive course requirements.

Students pursing a Bachelor’s degree have an added element of flexibility thanks to Rasmussen University’s online Empowered Learning™ approach. These competency-based education courses give you greater control over how you complete your work. As long as all assignments are completed prior to the end of the course term and a simple 14-day attendance window is met, you can work at a pace that fits your life. That means no missing credit for falling a bit behind on an assignment during a hectic week—and not having to wait until a certain week to get started on course projects.

Better yet? Many of the University’s School of Education programs are offered at an affordable per-credit price. This means you can earn an Associate’s degree for $14,985, a Diploma for $11,600 or a Certificate for $5,931—and that’s not including any potential savings from transfer credits or self-directed assessments!1

3. Rasmussen University offers options to fit where you’re at in your ECE career

Chances are you have a good idea of what you’re hoping to get out of your formal ECE training, but it can be hard to know which education options will help you get there. One of the challenging aspects of this field is that requirements for working in an ECE setting vary substantially based on employers, the state you live in and what you’d ultimately like to do as an ECE professional.

For example, the publicly funded Head Start program requires lead teachers to have a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education while other providers might hire a qualified candidate with an Associate’s degree, certificate or diploma. National initiatives like Power to the Profession from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) are currently advocating to standardize ECE job requirements across the country, but for now requirements remain varied. The good news? Rasmussen University understands this sometimes-complicated landscape and provides a variety of ECE offerings to fit your needs:

  • Child Development Associate Credential Prep Classes: This three-course (12-credit hour) training option helps fulfill a major requirement for earning the CDA credential, a commonly sought-after credential for ECE professionals awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition.
  • Early Childhood Education Certificate: This 36-credit hour offering helps lay the foundation for a career as an early childhood educator. It provides students the 120 hours of formal education required to apply for the CDA credential and expands on this knowledge with courses like Dynamics of the Family and Guiding Children’s Behavior. This is an excellent option for those seeking work as an early childhood teacher’s aide or childcare worker.
  • Early Childhood Education Diploma: This 70-credit hour offering is the next step up. It features curriculum designed to prepare you for the CDA credential but expands upon the foundation laid by the CDA Prep Training and Certificate options. Students enrolled in this program also have the opportunity to specialize in coursework focused on either children with special needs or child development. This is a good option for ECE professionals seeking roles as a teacher’s assistant, early childhood special education assistant or early childhood teacher in a non-public center.
  • Early Childhood Education Associate’s Degree: The Associate’s degree takes what you’ve learned through the Diploma program and expands on it with well-rounded liberal arts coursework. This option is a great fit for those who are seeking positions as a teacher’s assistant, Head Start assistant or associate teacher, early childhood special education assistant or early childhood teacher in non-public centers.
  • Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Degree: This option is the pinnacle of the ECE offerings at Rasmussen University. Students in this program will master foundational ECE principles while also developing advanced management and administration skills that will prepare you to become a leader in the field. With experience, you’ll be prepared to apply to a wide variety of ECE positions—from aide to center director.

These program offerings build upon each other with a seamless credit transfer process—making it easy for you to continue in your education when it makes sense for you.

4. Rasmussen University is recognized as a CDA® Gold Standard training organization

The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is a valued credential for entry-level ECE professionals that ensures educators have the foundational knowledge and practices experts consider critical for working with children. As an institution recognized by the Council for Professional Recognition as a CDA Gold Standard training organization, Rasmussen University understands the value of this credential as a starting point for formal education in the ECE field.

Students who complete the CDA prep program are not only well-positioned for earning the CDA credential, but also for continuing their education at Rasmussen University with 12 credit hours available to transfer seamlessly into whatever their next academic step may be. 

5. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and aligned to NAEYC standards

Though your first instinct may not be to research accreditation and industry standards, they are certainly points worth considering. Accreditation shows employers and others that you received your formal training from a peer-reviewed, higher education institution that meets specific standards for quality. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which is recognized by the U.S Department of Education.

The early childhood education curriculum in particular is aligned to standards set by the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC)®, a professional organization that works to set industry standards of high-quality early childhood education and programing.2 Dr. Muhs and the entire ECE department have worked to incorporate the NAEYC’s positional statements on topics like equity, ethical conduct, developmentally appropriate practice and professional preparation into each course at Rasmussen University.

This is all in an effort to prepare ECE students to thrive in the field. “By incorporating [NAEYC’s] standards and their position statements, we feel like we’re giving students the best opportunity to be successful,” says Dr. Muhs.

6. Course curriculum is designed to develop valuable transferable skills

In order to be truly successful in any career, you’ll need a strong set of “soft” or transferable skills. These are skills like teamwork, leadership and digital fluency that will prove useful in a wide variety of roles throughout your career.

Like any skill, these capabilities can be refined with practice and focused instruction. The curriculum at Rasmussen University is created with an intentional focus on developing these skills. For example, students in the Diversity and Social Justice course learn how to better communicate with children about the issues going on in their lives and communities. In a course focused on ECE advocacy, future early childhood educators learn how important it is to advocate for children and families outside of the classroom about causes like special needs, homelessness and poverty. In practical terms, that means learning how to effectively communicate with policymakers, write an elevator speech or address an advocacy organization.

Digital fluency, another key transferable skill, is integrated creatively into many classes. Projects often include creating newsletters, PowerPoint presentations, infographics and flyers. For one assignment, students made a video of themselves giving a mock parent tour. Though engaging with tech may be outside of some students’ comfort zone, Dr. Muhs believes early childhood educators will need to adapt—today’s children are immersed in the digital world and being able to comfortably navigate it is important to staying at the front of any learning environment.

Start your ECE education journey

Chances are at least one of these reasons helped you see how the Rasmussen University School of Education offerings are focused on putting students first. Rasmussen University has quality ECE courses designed by child development experts that you can benefit from at nearly any stage of your early childhood education career. If you’re ready to get started, visit the School of Education page to learn more about your options.

1Tuition for the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Associate’s degree, Diploma and Certificate is $161 per credit, for new students only. A student who withdraws and re-enrolls will be required to pay the tuition price offered at the time of their re-enrollment. Students who receive the tuition price of $161 per credit cannot use any additional Rasmussen University discounts, grants and/or scholarships. If a student needs to retake one or more courses in the degree program, the total cost of the Associate’s degree will exceed $15,000, Diploma will exceed $11,600 and Certificate will exceed $5,931. Associate’s degree program cost breakdown: $161 per credit x 90 credits = $14,490 + $495 book fees = $14,985 estimated tuition cost. Diploma program cost breakdown: $161 per credit x 70 credits = $11,270 + $330 book fees = $11,600 estimated tuition cost. Certificate program cost breakdown: $161 per credit x 36 credits = $5,796 + $135 book fees = $5,931 estimated tuition cost. Program availability varies by campus and state; please see the Rasmussen University Catalog for details.

2The Early Childhood Education programs at Rasmussen University are not accredited by the NAEYC Commission on Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation. Rasmussen University is not a partner of NAEYC, and our programs are not sponsored or endorsed by NAEYC.

Graduates of Early Childhood Education programs at Rasmussen University are not eligible for licensure as a teacher in an elementary or secondary school. A Bachelor’s degree and a state teaching license are typically required to work as a teacher in a public school and some private school settings. States, municipalities, districts or individual schools may have more stringent licensing requirements. Students must determine the licensure requirements in the state and school in which they intend to work.

Childcare facilities and the states in which they are located establish qualifications for staff who work with children, and often implement guidelines regarding age, education, experience and professional development. Students must determine the licensure requirements for the state and facilities in which they work.

This program has not been approved by any state professional licensing body, and this program is not intended to lead to any state-issued professional license. For further information on professional licensing requirements, please contact the appropriate board or agency in your state of residence.

About the author

Will Erstad

Will is a Sr. Content Specialist at Collegis Education. He researches and writes student-focused articles on a variety of topics for Rasmussen University. He is passionate about learning and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.


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This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

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