Early Childhood Education

Whether you want to guide the discovery and learning of toddlers in a daycare or second-graders in a classroom, SAU gives you the skills to have a profound influence on youth.

Our students work at Head Start, Illinois Regional Office of Education, Area Education Agencies, and as teachers in public and private schools in Illinois, Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas and Wisconsin.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Enriching Learning Environment
  • Faculty Mentors
  • Fully-accredited Program

students in classroom

studying in library

reading to students

Our faculty offer you a hand of guidance during your education while you put your hands to work with children. The SAU Teacher Education program is noted for graduating competent and professional teachers and you can receive an initial license to work in Iowa agencies and schools.

Read Our Early Childhood Education Fact Sheet (pdf)

More Information on the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education

What will I learn?

You will learn how to teach all children -- including those with disabilities and developmental delays -- from birth to age 8, in public and private schools, daycares and other settings. Required courses include early childhood development, education technology, assessment practices, administration and nutrition, and managing behavior and social integration skills.

You will begin working with children early in your college career. The SAU Children's Campus is a fully licensed child care center where you will get hands-on field experience. We also have strong, established relationships with Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, Early Access, Davenport Community School District, and other agencies that serve a diverse population of children and settings.

 See how SAU students and faculty made learning muddy and fun for youth at the Children's Campus.

What learning opportunities are available?

At St. Ambrose we give you unmatched real-world experience at both the Children's Campus and the Reading Clinic.

The Children's Campus is the lab site for our early childhood education majors. It is an accredited, fully-operational early childhood program serving up to 70 children of all abilities, ages six weeks to six years-old. The Children's Campus also offers educational experiences and resources for families.The lab experience focus is on excellence in teaching and creating an environment of mutual trust.

Our Reading Clinic is open during the academic year at Adams Elementary School in Davenport. Up to 60 undergraduate students (early childhood and elementary majors) work with youth to increase their reading skills. Our students are responsible for lesson plans, testing, and evaluation.A shortened clinic is offered in the summer, and is opened to all K-8 students in the Quad Cities area.

At most universities, such experience would be reserved for master's students. Not at St. Ambrose. We believe you need these skills before graduate school.

We also make sure our students have all the resources they need. The SAU School of Education Curriculum Library has educational material, instructional resources, and teaching aids that will help prepare you in filling one of the most influential roles in a young person's life: a teacher.

What are some possible job outcomes?

Early Childhood Educators are in high demand, giving you many diverse career options. You can care, inspire, and teach children in pre-school, daycare, elementary school, or even work as a private or school district tutor.

Our education graduates not only teach in classrooms but also are employed as school librarians, reading teachers, curriculum specialists, and guidance counselors.

If you decide to continue your education, St. Ambrose offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Education in Educational Administration. Those programs allow you to continue working with professors you have come to know, and know you, too.

What have alumni of this program done?

Meredith Tangen '08, '10 MBA was recognized by the Iowa Association for Career and Technical Education for her "significant contributions toward innovative and unique career and technical education programs" during her tenure as a math teacher at Davenport West High School.

Degree Requirements

Majoring in Early Childhood Education is equivalent to an Iowa early childhood endorsement.

To acquire an Iowa early childhood endorsement - licensed to teach children birth to 3rd grade with and without disabilities - an applicant needs the following:

EDUC 205 Intro to Teaching, 2 credits or 207 Orientation to Teaching, 1 credit
EDUC 284 Child and Adolescent Development
EDUC 300 Diversity and Culturally-Responsive Teaching
WI-EDUC 301 History and Philosophy of Education
EDUC 308 Educational Technology, 2 credits
EDUC 309 Educational Psychology
EDUC 312 Curriculum Development for Young Children (ages 5-8)
EDUC 371 Language Arts and Reading in the Elementary Schools (grades 4-8)
EDUC 452 Diagnostic and Prescriptive Techniques of Teaching Reading, 4 credits
One course in US History or Government;
6-7 credits in Biology and Natural Science.

Two of the following:
EDUC 440 Student Teaching Early Childhood Birth-3
EDUC 441 Student Teaching Early Childhood Ages 3-6
EDUC 442 Student Teaching Early Childhood Ages 5-8
PSYC 105 Introductory Psychology
SPED 310 Inclusion Strategies for Students with Special Needs
SPED 313 Collaboration with Families and Professional
ECSE 204 Introduction to Early Childhood Education
ECSE 311 Assessment of Young Children
ECSE 321 Management of Young Children
ECSE 410 Infant Toddler Curriculum and Methods
ECSE 420 Development Curriculum and Methods
COMM 325 Introduction to Speech Pathology
ECE 303 Literacy for Young Children
ECE 307 Science for Young Children
ECE 308 Social Studies for Young Children
ECE 350 Math Education for Young Children
ECE 365 Early Childhood Development
ECE 381 Health, Nutrition, and Public Policy

Pre-Student Teaching
A minimum of 215 clock hours of pre-student teaching experiences in a school or agency setting at three different age levels (0-3 or 3-6 years or grades K-3) are required before student teaching.

Early Childhood Education majors also must present evidence of current certification in infant, child, and adult CPR and first aid before the student teaching semester.

Specific course information, State of Iowa competencies, and class listings can be found in the Course Catalog.

For More Information

Dr. Sallee Beneke, 563/333-6107
Dr. Brenda Boleyn, 563/333-6103
Debra Brownson, Children's Campus Director, 563/324-2312

Student Teaching

Student teaching is usually in the last semester before graduation and the placement is all day, every day, for one semester.

Guidelines for Admission to Student Teaching

The applicant must meet the following requirements for admission to student teaching and graduation:

1. Admission to the Teacher Education Program. Completion of a proposed sequence of courses leading to licensure.
2. Maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.70 with 3.00 GPAs in education and major/endorsement courses. All grades must be C or above in education and major/endorsement courses. D or F grades are unacceptable.

Note: A student who does not meet any of the above requirements may file an appeal. All appeals must be submitted in writing to the Teacher Education Appeals Committee through the Assessment Coordinator of the Teacher Education Program, one semester before the start of the student teaching semester.

Plan to Graduate

This is the suggested plan of study to graduate in four years with a degree in Early Childhood Education.

If a student does not have three years of foreign language in high school, then 9-11 credits of a foreign language are required. Also, students must demonstrate proficiency in Math 131 or take that course in addition to a higher level mathematics course.

Year 1

Written Communication 3 EDUC 284 Child/Adolescent Psychology 3
KIN 206 First Aid or Competency 2 EDUC 205/207 Field Experience 1-2
PSYC 105 Introduction to Psychology 3 THEO/PHIL 3
Theology 3 Creative Arts 2-3
Philosophy 3 Natural Sci: Biology 3
Information Literacy 1 Oral Communication 2-3
Total 15 Total 14-17

Year 2

Humanities: U.S. History 3 Wellness KIN 149 1
ECSE 204 Intro to ECE 3 ECSE 420 Curriculum 3
ECE 365 Early Child Dev. 3 ECSE 311 Assessment 3
EDUC 309 Educational Psychology 3 EDUC 371 Lang.Arts & Reading Grades K-3 3
EDUC 282 Educational Technology 2 Humanities 3
MATH 210 Math Skill Requirement 3 EDUC 312 Curriculum Ages 5-8 3
Total 17 Total 16

Year 3

ECSE 321 Behavior Management 3 ECSE 410 Infant/Toddler Curriculum 3
ECE 303 Literacy for Young Children 3 ECE 308 Social Studies for Young Children 3
SPED 310 Inclusive Strategies 3 ECE 307 Science for Young Children 3
EDUC 452 Diagnostic and Prescriptive Techniques of Teaching Reading 4 SPED 313 Collab. with families 3
ECE 381 Health, Nutrition & Public Policy 3 PHIL/THEO 300 level 3
Total 16 Total 15

Year 4

EDUC 301 Hist./Phil. of Educ. 3 Student Teaching Semester
ECE 350 Math Education for Young Children 4 (Choice of two)
COMM 325 Intro to Speech Pathology 3 EDUC 440 0-3
EDUC 300 Diversity and Culturally-Responsive Teaching 3 EDUC 441 3-6
Multidisciplinary: Physical Sci. 3 EDUC 442 5-8
Total 16 Total 15



Scholarships and Grants

For academic/merit-based awards, eligible students are matched to the qualifying award; some of them are listed below.

For need-based support, eligibility is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

You may also qualify for a scholarship or grant due to your talent in the fine arts or athletics. Give us a call or send an email so we can get to know you and find the best package for you. (You're also encouraged to seek outside scholarships and begin that search early.)

Institutional scholarships (2018-19)

To receive an institutional grant or scholarship students must meet specific criteria, and some may require a certain GPA to stay eligible. There is no need to apply for these; students automatically are eligible if they meet the criteria.

The Admissions Office calculates the award amount by using high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores.

Ambrose Scholar
For First Year, on-campus residents only. Straight As on high school transcript and a minimum 30 ACT score. Applicants who meet Ambrose Scholar criteria will be invited to compete for a full tuition scholarship for $@{17-18-Tuition}.

Trustee Scholar
$22,000/year - For First-year, on-campus residents only. Unweighted 3.8 GPA, 28+ACT. May be offset by state and/or federal aid if eligible.

Academic Scholarship
$14,000-17,000/year - Based on GPA and ACT/SAT score

University Grant
$12,000/year - Based on high school GPA and ACT/SAT score

Additional Awards

If you want to apply for any of the scholarships below, contact the Admissions Office.

Fine Arts Scholarships
Award based on performance and ability in art, music, or theatre. Includes the Michael Kennedy Theatre Scholarship. Audition or portfolio required.

Athletics Scholarships
Award varies. Based on performance and ability. Marching Band scholarships available. See below.

Freeman Pollard Minority Scholarship
$1,000 for on-campus students; $500 for off-campus. For accepted minority students.

Diocese of Davenport Catholic Parish Scholarship
Award varies. For First Year students only who are recommended by their parish pastor in the Diocese of Davenport. Recommendation to be completed by your pastor available here (pdf).

Father Welch Alumni Scholarship
$1,000/year. For on-campus students only whose parent is a St. Ambrose graduate.

Athletic Scholarships

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) awards millions of dollars annually to student-athletes at more than 250 colleges and universities. These scholarships allow you to earn a college education while competing in the sport that you love. At Ambrose, we embody that value of developing both the mind and body.

How do I qualify for an athletic scholarship?
You must first be eligible to play a sport at St. Ambrose. You can read about those qualifications here. The NAIA also has a complete website on how to register for eligibility at playNAIA.org

Award Terms

FAFSA forms must be filed every year.

  • To be considered for an Iowa Tuition Grant, the filing deadline is July 1.
  • The St. Ambrose priority deadline is March 15 for some institutional funds. 
  • The Financial Aid Office has the right to adjust your award at any time due to changes in your financial, academic, enrollment, or housing status. 
  • Awards offered from State and Federal programs are contingent upon legislative allocation of funds and maximum limits allowed.
  • You must report any assistance you receive from outside sources – including assistance from your employer – to the Financial Aid Office.

Institutional Aid

Undergraduate level students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester to receive Institutional money. All students, undergraduate or graduate, must be enrolled at least half-time per semester to be eligible for student loans. (Half-time for Undergraduate level = 6 credits; Graduate level = 5 credits)

There is no institutional aid for summer sessions. Federal Loans may be available if you are enrolled at least 1/2 time.

You are eligible for institutional financial aid for up to eight semesters, including semesters taken at other schools, before or after time spent at the university (i.e. if you transfer in as a junior, you will receive 4 semesters of institutional aid; or you attended St. Ambrose, left to attend another school, and then returned). This means that if you continue into a fifth year of classes, you will not be eligible for any institutional funds you may have received previously. (Institutional funds are those awarded by the university, not state, federal, or outside based scholarships or grants.)


All financial aid awards, including loans, are disbursed in two disbursements: one for the fall term and one for the spring term. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement. Once the loan funds have been applied to your account and if you have awards in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. Any other questions regarding your financial aid should be directed to the Financial Aid Office.

Work Study

If you are receiving assistance under the work study program, you must understand that the amount shown on your award letter is the amount we expect you to earn during one academic year if you work all your allotted hours. Any additional earnings must be approved by your department supervisor and taken into consideration in your financial award package.

Endowed Scholarships

Part of the financial aid funds that St. Ambrose awards come from monies provided through the generous support of St. Ambrose University benefactors. Most endowed scholarships are meant to provide financial support for St. Ambrose University's academic and need based awards. Due to this, in some cases you may see a portion of your Academic Scholarship, for example, being replaced by a named endowed scholarship. The total dollar amount you receive between the two awards, however, will remain unchanged.

Recipients are chosen based on the criteria established by the donor, which include, but are not limited to: major, class rank, GPA, performance in a fine art, or residency. You may be contacted by the Advancement Office to write a thank you letter to the donor.

What happens if I withdraw or need to drop a class?

  • If you drop a class, it may affect the amount of aid you can receive. It is very important to visit your Financial Aid counselor if you are planning on dropping a class.
  • If you are going to withdraw completely from all your classes, your financial aid awards will be prorated according to the amount of time you were actually enrolled. It is possible that you may end up owing the University for a portion of your expenses incurred.
  • More information regarding this policy is available in the University catalog.
  • Please contact your Financial Aid counselor if you are considering dropping classes or withdrawing from the University.

Apply Visit Info


Tom Carpenter, PhD, Director

School of Education
Ambrose Hall
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 50 programs and 26 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!