Early Childhood Education (HDFS)

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Our early childhood education-unified (ECE) program leads to recommendation for a state of Iowa license that will allow you to teach children from birth through third grade, in both general and special education. This early childhood education-unified program prepares you to help all children reach their potential, regardless of their abilities.

In the Iowa State University program:

  • You will be part of the Human Development and Family Services (HDFS) Learning Community your freshman year.
  • You will gain practical experiences that take place in area elementary schools
  • You will have over 100 hours of hands-on practicum experience in our five-star rated Child Development Laboratory School.
  • Your ECE classes are taught by nationally recognized faculty and instructors.
  • In addition to the lab school, students will have access to high tech classrooms, computer labs, and the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching (CTLT).

Careers and Student Teaching

As a graduate of the early childhood education program, you are well-prepared for working in early childhood intervention programs, elementary schools, and other childcare centers. You are also able to pursue further education options in graduate programs.

Graduate programs in HDFS

Career Services
Prepare for your next job or student teaching with Career Services, where staff help you with job or student teaching searches, interview preparation, and resume/cover letter reviews.

Look at a list of career possibilities inside early childhood education.

ISU Child Development Laboratory School

Early childhood experiences in human development and family studies classes take place in our nationally accredited (National Association for the Education of Young Children) model laboratory school housed on central campus. The Iowa State University Child Development Laboratory School has been educating young children and practicum students alike since 1924.

Each practicum experience you have will be determined by the course content and goals set forth to engage you with each aspect of early childhood teaching.  Based on the course you are enrolled you will spend between one and three hours interacting directly in the early childhood classroom alongside licensed teachers who will supervise and mentor you throughout the experience.

The Child Development Laboratory School offers the unique opportunity to interact directly with young children of all abilities during your educational journey that most early childhood education programs do not offer.

The early childhood education program is unique because it is an interdepartmental major – meaning it is administered across two departments in the College of Human SciencesHuman Development and Family Studies (HDFS) and School of Education (SOE). This allows students to work with faculty who have expertise in the ages, grades, and curricula that will better prepare graduates to work with children and their families, as well as with other professionals.

HDFS Department Faculty

School of Education Faculty

Program Information

Early Childhood Education

Curriculum Requirements

REQUIRED: Completion of two or more years of high school foreign language in one language or one year of university-level foreign language in same language or American Sign Language.

Catalog requirements
2023-24 curriculum requirements

4-Year Plans
2023-24 sample 4-year plans

Background Check Policy for Practicum Courses

Faculty Review of ECE Student Progress


View class syllabi

Educator Preparation Program

Once you’ve been accepted to Iowa State University, our Educator Preparation Program (EPP) prepares you for recommendation to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) for licensure. Admission into the Educator Preparation Program is the first step in completing your teacher education. Learn about the options, timing and requirements for the Educator Preparation Program.

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Scholarships are available at the university, college, department and program levels. You can apply for most scholarships through OneApp.

Specifically for Early Childhood Education majors, the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children offers scholarships through their Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) program. This application process is separate from the OneApp process outlined above. You will need to apply directly on the T.E.A.C.H. website.

Study abroad programs

Are you considering a study abroad opportunity to broaden your educational perspectives and personal view of the world? We hope so!

The HDFS department offers various international opportunities through the College of Human Sciences International Programs office.

Student teaching
Student teaching opportunities are available within various school systems throughout the country and in Iowa. For more information, visit the School of Education Student Teaching webpage.

To apply for full-time career opportunities after graduation, you can use CyHire, the on-campus Teacher Education FairCareer Services, or TeachIowa.gov.

See where other students have taught. Visit Career Connections.

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