early childhood education degree

Early Education Degree Program, PreK-4 (Bachelor of Science)

Help Young Students Develop a Love of Learning

If you dream of becoming a certified teacher who helps shape young children’s social, language, and reasoning skills, start your journey with our B.S. in Early Childhood Education degree program. Our program focuses on early childhood development and includes a path to PreK-4 teacher certification.

You’ll have access to expert teachers and resources as you develop your teaching skills and further your education at one of the best early childhood education schools in the Philadelphia area.

Certification: This program was designed to meet the certification requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you reside in a different state, you should carefully review your home state’s certification requirements prior to enrolling in this program.


"During this extraordinary year, teachers faced many obstacles in creating lessons for their students. However, their creativity, flexibility, and willingness to ‘think outside the box’ allowed teachers to engage with students in meaningful ways using the technologies at their disposal. Teachers became energized by this challenge and rose to meet the challenge each and every day." 
—Mary Jo Pierantozzi, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator, Education


Program Details

At GMercyU, we have been helping students become the teachers they’re meant to be for more than 60 years. You will have access to expert faculty and resources as you develop your teaching and classroom management skills. Learn more below.


Classroom Experience, Every Semester

How soon will you spend time in an actual classroom?  Your first semester at GMercyU!

You will be placed in a classroom as early as the first week of October of your freshman year. As part of our Teacher Apprentice Program (TAP), Early Education students gain first-hand insight into how the real world of education works through classroom observations.

In all, you will spend 8 semesters in actual classrooms! Your final two semesters will be dedicated to pre-student teaching and student teaching experiences where you can take your turn at the head of the class.

While it is important to be knowledgeable about your curriculum, it is also important to develop your personal teaching style for the classroom. Through GMercyU's hands-on approach in the classroom, you will learn effective classroom management styles, an array of communication methods, and will be able to handle conflicts within the classroom.

Our real-world approach to teaching will prepare you to better understand your students in a dynamic setting.

“With this program I had the opportunity to experience teaching in the classroom, beginning my freshmen year, and to collaborate with amazing faculty and staff in different settings. This clearly differentiates GMercyU from other schools and reassured me that I had made the right choice.”
—Stephanie Holtz '17


Your Personal Academic Team

No matter your major, all GMercyU classes are taught by full-time or part-time faculty members – no teaching assistants. In fact, the professors in our Education Programs have more than 130 years of combined experience as educators!

As an Early Education major, your support includes:

  • A personal advisor who will guide you through all four years.
  • Field Placement Coordinator, Dr. Cheryl Malfi, who will help ensure that you have a successful student teaching experience.
  • An Education and Certification Coordinator. Once on the teacher certification track, Mrs. Megan Lawler will ensure you meet all requirements to become a certified teacher in Pennsylvania.


Test Preparation

An essential part of becoming a certified teacher in Pennsylvania is passing the required Pennsylvania Department of Education tests.

At GMercyU, we will help you prepare for these tests. Not only will you work closely with your advisor, but our Student Success Center provides many opportunities to help you prepare for these tests, including a series of basic skills workshops, a computer program to practice for the tests, private one-on-one tutoring, and a variety of materials for you to take and prepare on your own.

Education Clubs & Organizations

Gain leadership skills, grow professionally, and make friends by getting involved!

Education Outreach Club
Its mission is to provide an opportunity for those with a passion for helping the community to come together to learn, collaborate, and share educational experiences. This club offers its members the option to connect with professionals, participate in educational and social events, and volunteer. Being a member of this club will promote understanding, education, and best practices for the GMercyU community.

Best Buddies
Our Best Buddies chapter matches GMercyU students with members of the community who have Intellectual and developmental disabilities, hosts monthly events, and participates in fundraisers.

Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society
It is the oldest and largest honor society in education. Invitations to join are based on academic achievement, a commitment to education as a career, and a professional attitude that assures the member’s steady growth in the field of education.


In addition to general education requirements, you will complete the following courses for an early education degree:

Core Courses:  69 Credits

EDU 100  Education in America
EDU 104 Health & Motor Development Pre K-4
EDU 216 Foundations of Teaching & Learning Pre K-4  
EDU 223 Teaching Science Pre K-4
EDU 224 Teaching Social Studies Pre K-4
EDU 226 Reading Sequence I – Foundations of Early Literacy Research
EDU 227 Math Methods for Pre K-4
EDU 228 Art and Humanities
EDU 229  Reading Sequence II – Lang. Dev. & Early Literacy, Instruction & Assessment
EDU 309  Technology Integration in Education Pre K-8
EDU 314   Reading Sequence III – Early Literacy Instruction & Assessment
EDU 316  Reading Sequence IV – Literacy Instruction, Assessment & Intervention
EDU 351 Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners
SPE 205 Exceptional Person
SPE 231  Mild/Moderate Disabilities in the Inclusionary Setting
SPE 331  Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Methods for Mild/Moderate Disabilities
EDU 414   Classroom Management for Pre K-4
EDU 415 Pre-Student Teaching Pre K-8
EDU 498 Student  Teaching Pre K-8 (12 Credits)
EDU 4000 

Capstone Seminar

PreK-12 Special Education Certification - Additional Courses
SPE 232 Students with Complex Needs in the Educational Setting
SPE 332  Research-Based Practices in the Assessment and Instruction of Students

Credit Requirements

A minimum of 120 credits is required for a bachelor’s degree in early education.

This program requires a criminal background check, child abuse clearance, and certain immunizations and other health-related clearances in order to participate in all field experiences.

Undergraduate Minors

Increase the value of your early childhood education degree by adding an undergraduate minor. GMercyU offers a wide variety of minors so you can choose the one that best meets your personal and professional goals.

Featured Courses

Here’s a closer look at just a few of the courses you’ll take as an Early Education major at GMercyU.

EDU 226 Read Sequence I Foundation Early Lit Research
This is a foundational course on literacy instruction for PreK-4 students. The course will provide students the opportunity to: review the evolution of American Reading Instruction, explore various instructional processes for teaching reading and writing, investigate techniques for teaching reading and writing, discover the role of assessment in literacy instruction and become familiar with the Pennsylvania Literacy Standards.

EDU 414 Classroom Management for PreK-4
This course is designed to prepare teacher candidates to understand and use provisions and procedures needed to create and maintain an environment in which effective teaching and learning can occur. Various discipline models will be introduced.

EDU 415 Prek-4 Pre-Student Teaching
The student is required to participate in classroom activities of local schools one day each week during the semester. Two different placements are offered to the student in preparation for the student's anticipated certification categories. The experience is to promote the development of professionalism in the school and community setting while affording the opportunity to apply teaching methodology and educational concepts mastered in coursework. A weekly seminar provides an opportunity to analyze the experience. Application to the Education Committee of Gwynedd Mercy's School of Education is required early in the spring semester prior to the experience.

For all courses in GMercyU’s Early Education program, please refer to the undergraduate catalog.

Meet the Faculty

Mary Jo Pierantozzi, MS

Position: Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator, Education
Did You Know? Professor Pierantozzi has presented nationally on many topics in education including math, social studies, hybrid online courses, and cooperative learning. She is also the advisor for Best Buddies and Kappa Delta Pi.

Learn More

Deb Schadler, PhD, CPCRT, PRSE

Position: Assistant Dean, School of Business and Education
Did You Know? Dr. Schadler is also the Director of GMercyU’s Autism Institute. She has developed and taught GMercyU’s undergraduate special education curriculum.

Learn More

Marianne Boyd, M. Ed.

Position: Professor of Practice, Education

Did You Know? Professor Boyd has extensive experience as a classroom teacher and an elementary principal and brings a wealth of experience to her courses. She is the co-advisor of the Education Outreach Club.

Learn More


Career Opportunities

What Can You Do with a Degree in Early Childhood Education?

Early childhood education is a field where educators care for and teach children of a young age. Typical ages of children within early childhood education include children from birth until about 8 years of age. This type of education is important since early childhood education teachers help to shape a child's education from the start and can set a precedent for them to succeed later in life.

Early childhood education encompasses teaching fine and gross motor skills, cognitive learning, and social development for children.

Once you have an early childhood education degree, you have a variety of career that you can choose to pursue depending on your specific interests. Some early childhood education jobs include elementary school teacher, school counselor, pre-school teacher, daycare manager, or in-home nanny.

There are numerous locations where you can choose to work within the early childhood education field. Elementary schools, daycares, private homes or specialty care centers are all possible workplaces. A degree in early childhood education can unlock various potential career paths for you in a variety of locations.

The Need for Teachers

Pennsylvania is a state in need of educators. According to the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the number of new teacher certificates issued in Pennsylvania dropped by 74 percent between 2012-13 and 2018-19, with the number of college students completing Pennsylvania teacher prep programs dropping by 32 percent between 2013-14 and 2017-18.

There is opportunity beyond Pennsylvania, as well. Assistant Dean of the School of Business and Education Deb Schadler, PhD, reports that these states have been aggressive in recruiting GMercyU students:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
Where GMercyU Education Graduates Work

In these districts and more, GMercyU students have recently completed student teaching and landed teaching positions after graduation:

  • Abington School District
  • Bensalem School District
  • Central Bucks School District
  • Colonial School District
  • Council Rock School District
  • Hatboro-Horsham School District
  • Lower Moreland School District
  • MAST Charter School
  • Methacton School District
  • Neshaminy School District
  • North Penn School District
  • Perkiomen Valley School District
  • Philadelphia School District
  • Phoenixville School District
  • Springfield School District
  • St. Malachy School
  • Upper Dublin School District
  • Upper Moreland School District
  • Wissahickon School District
What Teachers Make

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2020, the median annual wage for elementary school teachers was $60,940, with the top 10% earning more than $100,480.

The median annual wage for special education teachers was $61,420 with the top 10% earning more than $100,160.

Pennlive.com reported Pennsylvania's 50 top paying school districts, including average salaries for teachers.

Griffin Success Stories

Melissa Russo ’18

Current Position: 3rd grade teacher in the Wissahickon School District

Melissa landed her job just three days after graduation. While at GMercyU, she served as President of the Special Education Club and attended GMercyU’s annual Autism Conference to complement her education. She also led our field hockey team to two conference championships in 2014 and 2017.

“Ms. Pierantozzi continuously helped me prepare lesson plans and prepare for teaching positions. She actually helped me prepare for an interview with Wissahickon School District where I was hired. GMercyU’s Education Department is a very close community. We, as students, knew the professors were there to support us no matter what.”

Read more about Melissa’s GMercyU experience.

Meet more Griffin Success Stories.


Next Steps

Transfer Opportunities

If you’ve already earned college-level credits at other accredited institutions or early education colleges, you can transfer them to Gwynedd Mercy University in order to achieve an early education degree. All you need to do is submit your transcript and course description to the Registrar, who will determine whether the course counts towards the credits required for graduation. Read more on our Transfer Credits page.

In addition, Gwynedd Mercy University has articulation agreements with Bucks County and Delaware County Community Colleges, Harcum College, and Manor College to speed your path to become a teacher with teacher certification.

Bucks County Community College
AA in PreK-4 Education to BS Early Education PreK-4 Certification 
AA PreK-4 Education to BS PreK-12 Special Education Certification 

Delaware Community College
AS Early Education to BS Early Education PreK-4 Certification 

Harcum College
AS Early Childhood Education to BS Early Education PreK-4 Certification  
AS Early Childhood Education to BS PreK-12 Special Education Certification 

Manor College 
AS Early Education to BS Early Education PreK-4 Certification  
AS Early Education to BS PreK-12 Special Education Certification 

Admission Requirements

Have questions about GMercyU's admission requirements? Contact us! Our Admissions staff is ready to walk you through the process of applying to GMercyU’s Early Education Program.

Email: admissions@gmercyu.edu
Phone: 215-641-5510

Financial Aid, Tuition & Fees

At GMercyU, we strive to make a quality education accessible to all through financial aid, scholarships, and grants. As a military-friendly university, we welcome service members and participate in all VA educational benefits programs. 

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GMercyU’s Early Education program is one of the best teacher education programs in Pennsylvania. Earn your early childhood education degree and start your teaching journey!