Early Childhood Development - Associate Degree | Thomas Nelson Community College

Early Childhood Development - Associate Degree

Early Childhood Development - Associate Degree
Program Details
Associate of Applied Science
Academic Division: 
Public Safety, Allied Health and Human Services

Thomas Nelson’s Early Childhood Development program prepares students to provide high-quality early care and education for children up to age eight. The College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Development, an Early Childhood Development Assistant certificate, and an Early Child Development career studies certificate. Many courses can be used to upgrade job skills, renew teaching licenses and count toward CDA requirements.  Students benefit from a research-based curriculum and internships with Virginia Quality Programs, area military child development centers and Head Start programs. Graduates are equipped with skills to provide top-notch care and instruction in various professional settings.

We offer courses that lead to stackable credentials – from career studies to a one-year certificate to a two-year AAS degree in early childhood development.
We provide day, evening, weekend and online classes. Daytime classes are scheduled either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday but are not available Friday.

What can you do once you finish your degree at Thomas Nelson?

Early Childhood Education: AAS to BIS

The Early Childhood Associate Degree to Bachelor of Individualized Study is designed for students who have earned an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Development from a Virginia Community College. Completers of this program earn a four-year degree and are eligible for a Virginia teaching license in PreK-3rd  grades from James Madison University.  More information on the AAS to BIS online program is available on the Canvas site at canvas.jmu.edu/courses.

James Madison University

Who is Eligible?

  • VCCS graduates with an AAS degree in Early Childhood
  • VCCS graduates who have passed VCLA and Praxis Core Math before starting the program
  • Those who want to become early childhood teachers in VA (grades PreK-3)
  • Students who need an online program AND Students who need the flexibility to attend full or part-time

Field Experiences

  • Typically, in public school PreK - 3rd grade classrooms
  • Work experience in childcare settings may count for some of the field experience requirements
  • Students teach the final semester in a public school PreK-3rd grade classroom

Degree & Licensure

  • About 60 credit hours at JMU plus your AAS degree will meet the 120 credit hours required for a four-year degree at JMU
  • For teacher licensure in Virginia:
  • Praxis Core Math and Virginia Communication Literacy Assessment (VCLA) - passing scores required for admission
  • Praxis Elementary Subject Test - taken during the JMU program
  • Reading for Virginia Educators (RVE) – taken during the JMU program

Other four-year colleges and universities are also redesigning their early childhood programs and may sign agreements with the VCCS in the near future. This means students will be able to choose the college that best meets their needs. 

Four year agreements

James Madison University - Harrisonburg, VA

Old Dominion University - Norfolk, VA

Longwood University - Farmville, VA

Virginia Commonwealth University - Richmond, VA

George Mason - Fairfax, VA

Program Classes


For more information

Program Head
Teresa Frazier

Early Childhood Development


Program Advisors
Robert Campbell, Seth Fisher,  Sheri Neselrod
Peggy Waddell, Kim Williams, Alisa Williams

Hampton Campus,
Hastings, Suite 323


Graduates find employment in a variety of early care settings, including Heat Start, religious-based and military child development centers and for-profit and nonprofit programs. Those who earn an associate of applied science in Early Childhood Development can explore several employment opportunities. Graduates become:

  • paraprofessionals in public schools
  • preschool teachers
  • childcare program directors
  • in-home childcare professionals
  • before/after school resource program employees

Early childhood program outcome data

Career Exploration

Learn more about a career in this field, how much it typically pays, what the demand is, and how your education can help you become qualified.

Virginia Education Wizard

College Catalog

For the most up-to-date information about this program, including courses, credits, and other requirements, please refer to our College Catalog.

College Catalog

Scholarship Opportunities