Early Childhood Education

Whether you want to guide the discovery and learning of toddlers in childcare 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
  • Do Your Practicum at SAU’s Accredited Children’s Campus

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 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, pre-schools, 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, nationally-accredited childcare 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 school districts and 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.

During your one-semester Capstone course, you get to develop an idea or problem and conduct research in the classroom. 

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. 

At most universities, such experience would be reserved for master's students. Not at St. Ambrose. We believe you need these skills before stepping into your own classroom.

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.

Our Early Childhood Education program offers students the opportunity to study abroad in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Scholarships are available. Click here to search our study abroad programs. 

In addition, we are one of few universities in Iowa offering Peace Corps Prep, a program that can make you a stronger candidate for volunteer positions within the Peace Corps or other service programs. You'll gain skills and a cultural worldview that employers value and best of all, most students can earn the certificate - awarded by the Peace Corps - without taking extra courses. Peace Corps Prep is a competitive edge that sets you apart and broadens your opportunities, no matter what path you choose. Click here to learn more.

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, childcare, 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, and curriculum specialists.

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 who know you, too.

Faculty and Staff

Tom Carpenter, PhD, Professor; Director, School of Education
Administrative Assistants: Jennet JewellTeri McDonald, Trish Zinger

Gene Bechen, PhD, Professor
Sallee Beneke, PhD, Assoc. Professor, MECE Director
Dale Blesz, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Brenda Boleyn, PhD, Professor
Becky Furlong, EdS, Instructor
Nancy Gardner, EdD, Asst. Professor
Laurie Jeans, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Dick Robertson, EdD, Assoc. Professor
Deanna Stoube, PhD, Professor
Bill Thiessen, MEd, Instructor, MEA Coordinator
Edwin Ubeda, PhD, Instructor
Tanya Volkova, PhD, Assoc. Professor

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.

School of Education Admission Steps

The School of Education at St. Ambrose University includes areas of study necessary to prepare highly-qualified, professional classroom teachers and enables the student to receive an initial license to teach in Iowa agencies and schools.

The program is approved by the Iowa Department of Education. Through agreements with other states, graduates may apply for certification after receiving an Iowa license.

There is some planning involved before you apply, so follow the steps below.

Steps to Apply for Admission to the School of Education

Step One:

Complete these general education courses:

ENGL 101 Written Communications
PSYC 105 Introduction to Psychology
One course in American History or American Government
One Biology and Non-biological Science (only ECE/Elem. majors)
COMM 110 Basic Human Communication

Step Two:

Enroll in EDUC 205 or EDUC 207. Prerequisites: Complete (or transfer) 12 credit hours. GPA must be at least 2.7.

Step Three:

While enrolled in either EDUC 205 or EDUC 207, apply for admission to the School of Education while making sure you satisfy these GPA and ACT requirements below.

Admission Requirements

GPA and ACT Requirements

Overall GPA for entrance to the School of Education and maintenance of status within the School shall be calculated by using only the credits transferred into St. Ambrose University plus the credits earned at SAU.

1. For applicants to the program during 2018-2020 acceptance requires:

a.     ACT score of 22 (or whatever score is in the top 40% nationally at that time)
b.     Cumulative GPA of 3.0
c.     Education GPA of 3.0
d.     Content GPA (if applicable) of 3.0

2. For applicants to the program 2020 and beyond acceptance requires:

a.     ACT score of 23 (or whatever score is in the top 33% nationally at that time)
b.     Cumulative GPA of 3.0
c.     Education GPA of 3.0
d.     Content GPA (if applicable) of 3.0

Requirements for all years of entry:

a.   Pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Exam.
   i. Reading - score of 156
   ii. Writing - score of 162
   iii. Math - score of 150
b.   Complete 50 field hours in EDUC 205 or provide verification through EDUC 207.
c.   Two professional rating forms (EDUC 205 or 207 instructor, and cooperating teacher's evaluation) which show applicant earned an average rating of at least Developing (3) in the three separate dispositional categories and recommended by both course instructor and cooperating teacher to continue on into the program.
d.   Receive a grade of "B" or above in EDUC 205 or 207.
e.   A completed application for admission to teacher education program form (including statement of fraud section and necessary signatures).

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 during 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

Undergraduate Scholarships

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). The SAU school code is 001889.

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.)

First-Year Scholarships

Amounts are for first-year students entering St. Ambrose in the 2019-20 academic year. There is no need to apply for the scholarships or grants below; students automatically are eligible if they meet specific criteria. The Admissions Office calculates the award amount by using unweighted high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores.

Your scholarship will automatically renew each year of your undergraduate studies, for up to four years, as long as you maintain satisfactory progress toward an undergraduate degree, a minimum 2.0 GPA, and remain a full-time student. 

On Campus (Merit-Based Scholarships)

Trustee Scholarships
Criteria: unweighted 4.0 GPA and minimum 30 ACT or 1390 SAT score
Award: $23,000 per year and invited to compete for a full tuition scholarship

Presidential Scholarships
Criteria: minimum unweighted 3.8 GPA and 28 ACT or 1310 SAT score
Award: $20,000 per year

Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
Award: $14,000 per year, $15,000 per year, $16,000 per year or $17,000 per year

University Grants
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
$12,000 per year

On Campus (Additional Institutional Scholarships)

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarships
Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate
Award: $1,000 per year

Fr. Menke Catholic Parish Scholarships
Criteria: member of Catholic parish in the Diocese of Davenport
Award: varies

Freeman Pollard Diversity Awards
Criteria: diverse student
Award: $1,000/year

Off Campus (Merit-Based Scholarships)

Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
Award: $11,000 per year, $12,000 per year, $13,000 per year or $14,000 per year

University Grants
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
Award: $10,000 per year

Off-Campus (Additional Institutional Scholarships)

Fr. Menke Catholic Parish Scholarships
Criteria: member of Catholic parish in the Diocese of Davenport
Award: varies

Freeman Pollard Diversity Awards
Criteria: diverse student
Award: $500 per year

Transfer Scholarships

Amounts are for transfer students entering St. Ambrose in the 2019-20 academic year. 

St. Ambrose scholarships are awarded for fall and spring semesters only and renewable up to 120 credits of undergraduate study, which includes credits transferred to St. Ambrose from prior attendance. For example: If you transfer in with an AA/AS degree, you would receive a scholarship for two additional years at St. Ambrose.


Phi Theta Kappa
Criteria: awarded to all Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society members transferring from a community college
Award: $14,000


Transfer Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on GPA
3.5-4.00 GPA $13,000 
3.0-3.49 GPA $12,000
2.5-2.99 GPA $11,000 
2.0-2.49 GPA $9,000 

Out-of-State Grants
Criteria: non-Iowa resident
Award: $2,000 per year

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarships
Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate; on-campus students only
Award: $1,000 per year

Dual Admission Scholarships
Criteria: participant in SAU/community college dual admission program
Award: $1,000 per year

Freeman Pollard Diversity Awards
Criteria: diverse student
Award: $1,000 per year on-campus; $500 per year off-campus

Federal and State Aid

Federal Pell Grant
Criteria: based on financial need; file FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1
Award: $6,095 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Criteria: based on financial need, priority to Pell Grant recipients. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1.
Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study
Criteria: based on financial need. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1
Award: $1,850

Iowa Tuition Grant
Criteria: based on financial need, Iowa residents only. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1, deadline July 1.
Award: $5,650

Athletic Scholarships

As a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), St. Ambrose can award athletic scholarships to student athletes. 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

Fine Arts Scholarships

How do I qualify for a fine arts scholarship? 
Scholarships are awarded based on performance and ability in art, music and theatre. Review the various requirements below:

Outside Scholarships

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources, here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Another tip: Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Bee Central where we post more flyers and applications for outside scholarships.

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 60 programs and 27 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!