Early Childhood Education - Lead Teacher Advanced Courses

Gain the essential knowledge needed to become a Lead Teacher or Master Teacher in a preschool or child-care setting, for children ages birth to five. This online certificate, when combined with our ECE Associate Teacher certificate, meets the 24 ECE/CD semester units needed for advanced Child Development teaching permits and Transitional Kindergarten ECE units.

This program is perfect for...

  • Individuals ready to take the next step professionally, after completing the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Associate Teacher Certificate or equivalent
  • Teachers who need to meet ECE/CD general coursework requirements for CA Title 5 and Title 22 regulations, and Child Development permits
  • Educators with a passion for young children and a desire to be highly respected, creative, and dynamic teachers
  • Teachers who need to meet ECE/CD general coursework requirements for Transitional Kindergarten ECE units

What you can learn.

  • Master techniques in observation, documentation and developmental assessment of young children
  • Apply observed assessment findings to create individually and culturally appropriate curriculum for developmental growth
  • Explore the research-based perspective of learning and inquiry through play, and how it supports optimal brain development
  • Specialize in elective topics, like building self-esteem, techniques for behavior change, health and nutrition, and more

About this program.

teacher reading with young students

Whether you want to become a lead teacher, mentor teacher, curriculum specialist, or beyond, we’re here to help you reach your goal. 

Our online certificate program takes an in-depth look at child development, care, and education, and focuses on curriculum design for our changing world.

Students learn techniques they can apply immediately and graduate with the skills needed to serve as a leader in their school, meet the changing needs of students, and build strong relationships with students’ families and community. 


When combined with the ECE Associate Teacher Certificate, this 18 quarter unit program (equivalent to 12 semester units) meets the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) 24 ECE/CD semester units needed for Teacher and Master Teacher permits, Transitional Kindergarten teacher ECE units, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) guidelines for ECE master teachers, program developers, and curriculum coordinators.

Our 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 program is offered 100% online.


Upon completion of this program, students are qualified to work as a lead teacher in any setting, provided that additional requirements are also completed as outlined by CA Title 22 (private facility) and Title 5 Child Development Permits (public facility). Check the CTC website for all permit requirements. Program curriculum also meets 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

A seasoned early childhood educator, Mr. Hioki designs progressive play-based curriculum, incorporating the principles of emergent, experiential, and anti-bias programs.

todd Hioki
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.

This program provides the deep dive for talented teachers to gain breadth and new ideas. For example, the documentation and assessment course draws from district needs and the creativity of Reggio methods. You will become the child development expert who can meet every program need and serve families from all backgrounds.

Dr. Helen Davis
Program Director


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

Required Courses
EDUC X 321.26
Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
EDUC X 321.25
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
Students must complete 2 elective courses (6 units). Recommended elective is EDUC X 321.59 Health, Nutrition and Safety in Early Childhood. 
EDUC X 312.11
Typically Offered: Winter, Summer
EDUC X 312.42
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
EDUC X 321.246
Typically Offered: Summer
EDUC X 321.25
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
EDUC X 321.31
Typically Offered: Spring
EDUC X 321.44
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
EDUC X 321.59
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
EDUC X 321.6
Typically Offered: Winter, Summer
EDUC X 321.71
Typically Offered: Winter, Summer
EDUC X 321.74
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
see all courses

For students who were part of the original ECE Basic Core Certificate progam, please note that EDUC X 125 is equivalent to EDUC X 25.  Learn more about course equivalents.


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 Observation, Documentation and Assessment of Young Children EDUC X 321.26.

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

Suggested Prerequisite

Completion of the ECE Associate Teacher certificate or equivalent is recommended for teachers with less experience before taking the ECE Lead Teacher Advanced Courses Certificate.


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. 

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.

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Prepare For Your Next Step: Program Director

Explore courses in adult supervision and center administration. Build the skills and knowledge you need to run a child care center and apply for advanced Child Development teaching permits with our Early Childhood Education Administration Certificate Program.

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