Early childhood education

Our early childhood education-unified (ECE) program leads to a state of Iowa license that will allow you to teach children from birth through third grade, in both general and special education. This early childhood education-unified program prepares you to help all children reach their potential, regardless of their abilities.

In the Iowa State University program:

  • You will be part of the Human Development and Family Services (HDFS) Learning Community your freshman year.
  • You will gain practical experiences that take place in area elementary schools
  • You will have over 100 hours of hands-on practicum experience in our five-star rated Child Development Laboratory School.
  • Your ECE classes are taught by nationally recognized faculty and instructors.
  • In addition to the lab school, students will have access to high tech classrooms, computer labs, and the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching (CTLT).

Careers and student teaching

As a graduate of the early childhood education program, you are well-prepared for working in early childhood intervention programs, elementary schools, and other childcare centers. You are also able to pursue further education options in graduate programs.

Graduate programs in HDFS

Career services
Prepare for your next job with Career Services, where staff help you with job searches, interview preparation, and resume/cover letter reviews.

Look at a list of career possibilities inside early childhood education.

ISU Child Development Laboratory School

Early childhood experiences that are a part of human development and family studies classes take place in the five-star rated exemplary child care center housed here on campus, the Iowa State University Child Development Laboratory School

You will be involved in a clinical experience with the Lab School starting in your first semester to learn about pre-primary education, observing from specially designed observation rooms. Later, in other classes, you will be interacting with the children during learning and play activities. You will be supervised and given lots of feedback and support to improve your interactions with young children and teaching staff.

At Iowa State, you will be prepared to help all children reach their utmost potential, regardless of their abilities. In our program, you will receive more practical experience than students at other universities as well as participate in more classes that will prepare you to work with children who have special needs.

The early childhood education program is unique because it is an interdepartmental major – meaning it is administered across two departments in the College of Human Sciences: Human Development and Family Studies and School of Education (SOE). This allows students to work with faculty who have expertise in the ages, grades, and curricula that will better prepare graduates to work with children and their families, as well as with other professionals.

HDFS department faculty

School of Education faculty

Program information

Early childhood education

Curriculum requirements

REQUIRED: Completion of two or more years of high school foreign language in one language or one year of university-level foreign language in same language or American Sign Language.

Catalog requirements
2020-21 curriculum requirements

4-year plans
2020-21-20 sample 4-year plans

Background Check Policy for Practicum Courses

Faculty Review of ECE Student Progress


View class syllabi

Get involved

Study abroad programs

Are you considering a study abroad opportunity to broaden your educational perspectives and personal view of the world? We hope so!

The HDFS department offers various international opportunities through the College of Human Sciences International Programs office.


Student teaching
Student teaching opportunities are available within various school systems throughout the country and in Iowa. For more information, visit the School of Education Student Teaching webpage.

To apply for full-time career opportunities after graduation, you can use CyHire, the on-campus Teacher Education Fair, Career Services, or TeachIowa.gov.

See where other students have taught. Visit Career Connections.