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Understanding the Child in Early Childhood Education Certificate

Learn about educating the whole child and how to best support young children’s learning with an Understanding the Child in Early Childhood Education certificate from the University of Central Missouri. One of UCM’s pathways to early childhood education teacher preparation, this undergraduate certificate includes state-approved coursework that will set you on your way to building career-focused credentials. It also gives practicing teachers the opportunity to strengthen their skills and deepen their understanding of early learning. 

If you’re just starting a career in early childhood education, you can slowly build on your knowledge by earning this undergraduate certificate instead of, or in addition to, a bachelor’s degree.

Earn course credit and valuable credentials before committing to a UCM degree   

Designed to provide flexibility for working teachers, UCM’s Understanding the Child in Early Childhood Education certificate is one of three UCM early childhood education certificates you can earn before or while enrolled in a degree-seeking or alternative certification program. The credits you earn in Understanding the Child and in our other two certificate programs — Teaching in the Early Childhood Classroom and Programs and Community Partnerships in Early Childhood Education — can be applied toward a BSE in Early Childhood Education at UCM.

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Aligned to NAEYC standards

CAEP accreditation

Longest CAEP-accredited program in MO

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95% job placement rate

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#1 in MO for nontraditional students

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Earn in as quickly as one year

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Apply your credits toward a BSE degree


What you will study

Understanding the Child focuses on children’s brain development and what influences and enhances a child’s ability to learn. You’ll learn evidence-based strategies that you can use to support young children in your own classroom. Designed for both seasoned early childhood education teachers and those looking to enter the ECE field, this undergraduate certificate focuses on providing developmentally appropriate instruction for children up to age 8.

As part of the Understanding the Child Early Childhood Education certificate, you’ll take courses such as:  

  • Development and Learning Through Play
  • Early Childhood Principles and Observation
  • Child and Adolescent Development


Excellence in Early Childhood Education

  • Top 15%: Best Value Bachelor’s Degree Colleges for Elementary Education (College Factual, 2022)
  • A Best Value College for Elementary Education (College Factual, 2022)
  • Top 15%: Most Focused Colleges for Education (College Factual, 2022)
  • A Most Focused Bachelor’s Degree College for Education (College Factual, 2022)
  • Top 6%: Most Popular Colleges for Education (College Factual, 2022)
  • Top 10%: Best Value in Education (College Factual, 2021)
  • Top 5%: Most Popular in Education (College Factual, 2021)
  • Top 10%: Most Focused in Education (College Factual, 2021)


Unique learning opportunities in early childhood education

Throughout UCM’s Understanding the Child in Early Childhood Education certificate program, you’ll work with faculty, peers and educators in your school to explore new learning strategies and put your knowledge to work. Draw upon your own classroom experiences to make connections between your learning and your teaching practice:

  • Use your own classroom as a lab: Practicing teachers can work with their leadership to apply what they’re learning in this undergraduate certificate program. Use the intervention strategies you’re learning in class to impact student learning in your own classroom.
  • Learn within a cohort: Develop strong relationships, share best practices and reflect on your undergraduate studies with your peers as you progress.
  • Receive tailored career advising: Work with a faculty mentor who will help you advance in your career, prepare you for interviews and assist you when you’re ready to apply for admission to one of UCM bachelor’s degree programs.


What can you do with an undergraduate certificate in Understanding the Child in Early Childhood Education from UCM?

UCM’s Understanding the Child in Early Education certificate can open the door to a number of careers. Whether you’re ready to advance your career, start a new job or prepare for becoming a certified early childhood teacher or your next degree, this certificate will demonstrate your knowledge to future employers. 

The skills you’ll acquire at UCM prepare you for success in settings such as:

  • Child care centers
  • Preschools
  • Elementary schools (grades PK–3; requires teacher certification)
  • Youth facilities

Careers in early childhood education

Use the tool below to explore career paths, salary expectations, job openings, projected job growth and more in the early childhood education field.




Financial assistance options for your Understanding the Child in Early Childhood Education certificate

Learn more, spend less. At the University of Central Missouri, we make earning an undergraduate certificate affordable. In addition to university scholarships, grants and loans, partnerships with community organizations may help offset student tuition costs for qualifying working teachers enrolled in our Understanding the Child Early Childhood Education certificate program.

Beyond UCM’s university-wide funding options, the College of Education offers numerous scholarships reserved for undergraduate students in our Early Childhood Education program, including:

  • Merle C. and Lillian J. Rider Scholarship in Early Childhood Education
  • Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education Scholarship

Learn more about program-specific scholarships using the UCM Scholarship Finder.


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Take your degree further.

Build upon your knowledge by applying your credits from the Understanding the Child in Early Childhood Education certificate program towards a bachelor’s degree at UCM:

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Make yourself more marketable.

If you wish to deepen your knowledge of young children and are already enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program, you might be interested in the following minors:

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Explore programs related to education.

If you’re still exploring your options in undergraduate studies, check out these programs at UCM:


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