High-quality early educators serve a vital role in ensuring all young children have equitable access to developmentally appropriate, high-quality early learning. NAEYC promotes a shared vision of excellence in the preparation of early childhood professionals through accreditation and other initiatives that are responsive to the needs of individual children and communities, and that aim to advance the profession. NAEYC's higher education accreditation and recognition systems provide an objective external evaluation of programs preparing early childhood professionals. Wondering about the differences between the accreditation and recognition systems? See this overview to learn more.
Higher Education Accreditation
NAEYC accredits early childhood professional preparation programs at the associate, baccalaureate, and master's degree levels that provide evidence of meeting the NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards.
Higher Education Recognition
NAEYC also works with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to provide national recognition to baccalaureate, graduate, and post-graduate programs.
NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards
These standards describe what early childhood educators should know and be able to do, defining learning outcomes for professional preparation programs and presenting a shared vision of excellence.
NAEYC is currently developing a national directory highlighting all available early childhood professional preparation programs to help students, policy makers, and researchers make informed choices.
Revised Accreditation Handbook and Report Templates Now Available
The NAEYC Higher Education Accreditation Handbook has been revised to reflect the system's expanded scope, new name and branding, and new policies and procedures. For an overview of the changes in the revised handbook, please review this summary of changes. To learn more about when each change goes into effect, please review this timeline of changes. To download the revised handbook in its entirety, please click here. New Self-Study Report and Annual Report templates are also available in the online community for programs seeking or maintaining accreditation.
Webinar Recording "The First Steps Toward Higher Education Accreditation": January 2017
On January 25, 2017, NAEYC hosted an information webinar for those wanting to learn more about pursuing Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs. If you were unable to join us for this webinar, you can watch a recording here.
Summer 2016 Commission Decisions: July 2016
Associate degree programs at three institutions earned NAEYC Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs, and programs at seven institutions earned renewed accreditation at the most recent meeting of the Commission. Learn more in our latest press release, or visit our accredited program search page to see a list of all accredited programs.
NAEYC offers two different paths for higher education institutions looking to improve and evaluate the quality of their early childhood degree programs. Both NAEYC Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs and NAEYC Recognition provide opportunities for program faculty and other stakeholders to conduct a self-study to determine the strengths and areas for improvement within their programs. However, there are differences in the processes, requirements, and levels of rigor involved.
Baccalaureate and graduate degree programs seeking NAEYC Recognition submit an electronic report focused on the early childhood program(s) in their institution as part of a larger unit review through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The recognition process does not involve a program-level site visit from NAEYC. Instead, the entire teacher education college or unit (referred to by CAEP as the "education preparation provider" or EPP) receives a visit conducted by CAEP. Reports submitted by early childhood programs seeking NAEYC Recognition are reviewed electronically by a team of peer reviewers and auditors, who make the recommendation for whether the program should be granted recognition from NAEYC.
NAEYC Accreditation, on the other hand, involves an in-depth review of the early childhood program alone, and includes submission of a Self-Study Report as well as a three-day on-site visit by a team of peer reviewers seeking to validate the information provided in the program's report. This team of peer reviewers compiles a report of their findings to present to the Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs, the decision-making body that makes the final accreditation decision.
|NAEYC Accreditation||NAEYC Recognition|
|Degree Levels||Associate, baccalaureate & master's degree programs in US states and territories||
Baccalaureate, master's & doctoral degree programs internationally
|Process||Self-Study Report review and 3-day site visit by team of NAEYC peer reviewers||Program Report reviewed electronically by team of NAEYC peer reviewers and the NAEYC Audit Team as part of institution's CAEP Accreditation process|
|Decision-Making Body||NAEYC Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs||NAEYC peer reviewers and NAEYC Audit Team|
Not sure which path is right for your institution's early childhood degree program?
Often programs choose NAEYC National Recognition if:
- Their state requires it as part of CAEP accreditation of the education preparation provider (often a College of Education or School of Education) at their institution.
Often programs choose NAEYC Accreditation if:
- They prefer a process with more focus specifically on early childhood education.
- Their program is a licensure program at an institution that does not participate in CAEP.
- Their program is a nonlicensure program at the associate, baccalaureate, or master's degree level.
Still not sure which path is right for your program? Contact us to discuss your options!