Back to Homepage Learn About NHU Resources for Future Students

Master of Arts in Early Childhood
Course Descriptions

ECE 600
Building a Shared Vision of the Early Childhood Field (3 units)

The early childhood field offers many opportunities for leaders and advocates. This course explores the breadth and depth of the early childhood field and focuses on the resources and knowledge essential to assuming leadership roles. Students survey foundational theories and current research, explore key resources, examine contemporary issues and trends, and begin to develop a shared vision of the early childhood field. In addition, this course builds an understanding of the philosophy and requirements of the Master of Arts in Early Childhood program.

ECE 601
Early Childhood Development Today (3 units)

Current research supports that sociocultural, environmental, and biological factors can influence child development. This course delves into child development from multiple perspectives, supporting the study of physical, cognitive/language, and social and emotional development prenatal through age 8. Through media and field observations, students observe child development in a variety of settings, learn how adults can support healthy development, and study new findings related to the factors that foster or impede healthy development. Special areas of focus include brain research, sociocultural perspectives on child development, children with varying abilities, and influences on prenatal development.

ECE 612
Exploring Diversity (3 units)

Understanding diversity and respecting the individuality of every child and family is central to effective practice and at the heart of the early childhood field. In this course, students investigate attitudes and beliefs related to culture, family, identity, and the impact of stereotyping and bias on young children and early childhood curricula and programs. Students also examine issues related to access, equity, and social justice while developing a deep understanding of the intricacies of diversity and scrutinizing their own biases in order to effectively work with and advocate for all children and families.

ECE 615
Working With Latino Children, Families, and Communities (3 units)

What do professionals need to know about Latino cultures, family dynamics, and community resources in order to be respectful of the values and experiences that influence children's development and learning? In this course, students explore the diversity of Latino cultures and the significance of working as partners with families and communities. Using a strength-based perspective, this course examines the unique characteristics of Latino children and families; the role of community in family life and child development; skills needed to build effective relationships with families and community, and current issues and trends impacting U.S. Latino children and families.

ECE 617
Dual Language Development and Learning (3 units)

With more children than ever before growing up in dual- and multi-lingual families, early childhood professionals must understand cutting-edge research on dual language development and learning. This course focuses on the natural progression of second-language acquisition in young children, appropriate assessment for children's first and second languages, research-based practices related to supporting home languages, and providing developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive literacy instruction. Special attention is paid to addressing individual strengths and challenges, links between language and identity development, and language and culture, the effects of bias and stereotyping related to second language learning, and partnering.

ECE 620
Building Effective Early Childhood Programs (3 units)

Research states that long-term benefits from early childhood programs result only when the programs are of high quality. This course focuses on components essential to program effectiveness including planning for, improving, and evaluating program quality. Students analyze research-based, effective practices for promoting healthy development and learning beginning with the youngest children in care and education programs through primary grades. Special consideration is given to examining individually appropriate, culturally and linguistically responsive, and developmentally appropriate practice.

ECE 630
Developing Research Competencies (3 units)

Leaders and advocates in the early childhood field must be critical consumers of research who excel in understanding, evaluating, and utilizing research in their work with young children and families. This course involves students in strengthening essential research skills, becoming fluent in research terminology and processes, investigating ethics and equity issues related to research studies, and developing a research proposal based on an early childhood topic of their choice. Students will use their research proposal in the capstone course to develop their capstone project.

ECE 632
Understanding Early Childhood Policies and Systems (3 units)

This course helps build a foundation for public policy and advocacy work by examining early childhood systems in depth. Students study research-based work focused on developing systems that promote quality, comprehensive services for young children and families. Special attention is paid to the history of early childhood systems, challenges facing the field in creating effective systems models, and strategies to influence policy toward improving early childhood systems. Students are involved in designing ideal comprehensive early childhood systems, evaluating early childhood systems according to criteria for optimal services, and generating improvement strategies.

ECE 640
Leading Early Childhood Programs (3 units)

Learn the skills, knowledge, and dispositions that effective leaders need to administer early childhood programs. This course examines effective leadership competencies including making tough decisions, creating communities of problem solvers, and tackling the change process. Topics also include learning about supervision and staff management, financial management, program policies and procedures, and marketing. Special attention is paid to the role of emotional intelligence in effective leadership and building safe and sustainable quality environments.

ECE 650
Capstone: Effecting Positive Social Change (3 units)

To positively promote change, early childhood professionals must be skilled advocates. This course presents tools, strategies, and insights essential to supporting positive outcomes for all young children and families. The capstone experience requires students to develop and present a capstone project based on the research proposal they developed in ECE 630 Developing Research Competencies. Capstone projects are of sufficient scope to enable students to synthesize and apply theories, concepts, and practices learned throughout the master's program to effect positive social change for young children, families, and/or the early childhood field.