Early Childhood Education - Associate Teacher

Gain the foundational knowledge needed to become an Associate Teacher in a preschool or child care setting, for children birth to five years. This online certificate meets the 12 ECE/CD semester units needed for the California CTC Associate Teacher permit. Certificado para Maestra Asociada de Primera Infancia Aprenda los conocimientos fundamentales necesarios para ser una Maestro/a Asociado en escuelas preescolares o casa de cuido de niños de nacimiento a los cinco años. Este certificado se ofrece completamente en línea y satisface los requisitos de 12 unidades semestrales en primera infancia y desarrollo infantil para adquirir el permiso de California del CTC Maestra Asociada.  Imprime “See Courses In This Program” para sujetos alistados en español. 

This program is perfect for...

  • Individuals preparing for a teaching role in early childhood education and care (ECE)
  • Educators with a passion for young children and a desire to be highly respected, creative, and dynamic teachers
  • Professionals who need the Associate Teacher ECE/CD coursework requirements for California Title 5 and Title 22 regulations and Child Development permits
  • Care providers seeking an in-depth understanding of their child’s development and how to best encourage growth through the various stages of early childhood
  • Teachers with a Multiple Subjects’ teaching credential who need to meet Transitional Kindergarten (TK) requirements

What you can learn.

  • Explore theories and the scientific study of child growth and development
  • Discover the history and development of early childhood programs and differences in philosophy and approach
  • Examine the social and cultural dynamics between a young child, their family, and the community
  • Learn to design, equip, and implement a developmentally appropriate curriculum and learning environment for young children
  • Become aware and reflective of family and community differences in language, culture, and values
  • Learn to apply individually and culturally appropriate practices in all settings with children and families

About this program.


Early childhood educators play an important role in supporting foundational cognitive, social and emotional development to the youngest of our communities. 

This online certificate will support you along the path of this rewarding career, providing the core courses needed for an entry-level teaching position in the care, development, and education of young children. Our goal is to equip you with the skills needed to employ best practices in creating a nourishing, supportive, and dynamic learning environment. 


The four required courses, totaling 18 quarter units (equivalent to 12 semester units), offer current developmental theory and appropriate practice, and meet the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) permit requirements and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) guidelines for Associate ECE teachers. The program offers a social justice emphasis, for teachers looking to the future of our 20th century world, and those who work in traditionally underserved communities. Teachers learn tools for embedding culturally and linguistically appropriate curriculum and inclusion of dual language or neuro-atypical learners.

This certificate program is offered 100% online. 


Upon completion of this certificate program, students will be qualified to work in a private child care facility (CA Title 22). To work in a public child care facility (CA Title 5), students must also obtain a CTC Child Development permit, which requires these courses. Check the CTC website for permit requirements. Program curriculum also counts towards Transitional Kindergarten (TK) requirements for teachers who already have a Multiple Subjects’ teaching credential and want to teach 4 year olds in elementary schools.

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Expect more from your education.

Learn from Industry Leaders

Dr. Jackson is our resident expert in special education, family and community engagement, and equity and diversity.

tamara Jackson
UCLA Approved

Our course curriculum is developed in cooperation with UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies

UCLA's Dept of Education is ranked among the top education schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

We have amazing instructors, with experience in classrooms and in college. They really care about their students and are engaged in transformative learning as students become more reflective and intentional teachers. Our students are dedicated and thoughtful, which makes for a lively online experience.

Dr. Helen Davis
Program Director


Click below to view the required and elective courses, if applicable, for this program.

Required Course 1
Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
Required Course 2
Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
Required Course 4

For students who took courses as part of the original ECE Basic Core Certificate program, see course equivalents here.


Courses in this program are open enrollment and you will pay for each course individually. You have the option to begin taking courses before committing to the program, to make sure it’s the right fit for you. We recommend starting with Child Development EDUC X 21.

However, establishing candidacy in the program has its benefits:

  • Receive tailored information to help you succeed in your program
  • Access to exclusive certificate student benefits, such as UCLA Alumni Association membership
  • Lock in the most current terms and conditions of the program, as curricula and requirements are subject to change
  • Candidacy is required to receive your official UCLA Extension certificate upon completing your program

How to Apply

  1. Click the Apply Now button below
  2. Login or create a new student account
  3. Once you are logged into the student portal, you can select “My Applications” from the left side menu at any time to return to your application. Click the yellow “Start” button to proceed.
  4. On the Certificate Application page, follow the instructions and click save. Then submit your application. 
  5. Proceed to checkout and pay the $75 nonrefundable candidacy fee to finalize your application. 
  6. Begin enrolling in courses!

Benefits exclusive to UCLA Extension certificate students:

  • Advising and support from a UCLA Extension academic advisor, to help plan your course of study.
  • Access to Handshake, UCLA Career Center’s online job board, with access to thousands of job and internship postings
  • Become a member of the UCLA Alumni Association (upon completing your certificate) and a nationwide network of Bruin family
  • Join us for the annual UCLA Extension Graduation Ceremony on campus to celebrate all your hard work 
  • Get access to UCLA Recreation facilities as a student affiliate*
  • Open an affiliate/Guest UCLA Bruin ID Card* for a number of student-related benefits
  • Receive a printed certificate mailed to you after completion of your final class, plus notation of the certificate program on your UCLA Extension transcript.
  • PLUS, all UCLA Extension students have access to UCLA Extension’s Career Resources including online career coaching, workshops and networking events
 *Nominal fee required


Students are expected to observe or participate with young children in assignments for every course. The state of California requires regular observers and volunteers in ECE centers to have a TB clearance and to be immunized against flu, pertussis, and measles. Please be prepared to present documentation to the center where you observe.


A letter grade of C or better in each course is required for California ECE Permits, as well as successful completion of the certificate. Course grades of C- or lower do not qualify toward the certificate or CTC permits.

Students must complete the certificate within 5 years.

English Proficiency

Professional-level English language proficiency in listening, note-taking, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and written expression is required. 

No previous coursework or experience is required to begin this certificate.

If you have completed previous coursework and wish to apply it toward this certificate, you may be able to transfer up to 25% of certificate units. Contact UCLA Extension’s Education department for approval. Courses that are more than 5 years old will not be approved.

Individuals who have completed college or university coursework in early childhood education at a foreign institution, and wish to apply units to the certificate, must obtain an evaluation of foreign transcripts, degrees, and other relevant documents prior to applying for the ECE Certificate. A foreign transcript evaluation is required even if the foreign coursework has been accepted by a college or university in the United States.

Foreign transcripts must be evaluated by one of the approved organizations listed on the CTC Foreign Transcript Evaluation Leaflet Number CL-635 in order to be accepted. These organizations are private enterprises that charge a fee for their services. Individuals pursuing a foreign transcript evaluation must follow the procedures outlined by the organization providing the evaluation. In all instances, original, official documentation will be required when requesting the evaluation. For a list of the approved organizations, visit the CTC website.

Estimated Cost Breakdown

All courses in this program are paid for individually, unless otherwise noted. An application form is required to establish candidacy in this program. From the 'Apply Now' button, complete the online application and pay the application fee if applicable.

Application & Candidacy Fee


Estimated Program Tuition


Estimated program textbook/materials


*The Application & Candidacy Fee establishes your candidacy in the program for a period of time covering normal progress toward completion and may allow you to access a variety of program benefits.

**Federal Financial Aid Gainful Employment Disclosures

The U.S. Department of Education requires colleges and universities to disclose certain information for any financial aid eligible program that, “prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation”. This information includes program costs; occupations that the program prepares students to enter; occupational profiles; on time completion rate; and for the most recent award year: the number of students who have completed the program, the number of students who complete the program within the estimated duration, the job placement rate, and the median Title IV and private loan debt incurred by those who complete the program. For gainful employment information for this program, visit our Financial Aid page.


Prepare For Your Next Step: Lead Teacher

Did you know that this certificate, when combined with our ECE Lead Teacher Advanced Courses Certificate, meets the 24 ECE/CD semester units needed for Teacher and Master Teacher Permits? Add to your professional skill set with courses in developmental assessment, learning through play, and more.

Learn More

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