About the Preschool Program

Make a difference in children’s lives during key stages of growth and development. Preschool, or pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) is an early childhood education program that provides care and education to children between the ages of 3-5 years.

Early childhood professionals support children’s ability to:

  • Learn
  • Be self-confident and have high self-esteem
  • Have positive social skills
  • Develop a sense of empathy

From reading and writing to math, science and more, children at this age and stage learn how to recognize letters and numbers as well as develop critical social skills including the ability to work independently in a classroom. Play is a major part of that learning process, and early childhood professionals recognize that through play, children build the foundations they will need to be productive and successful at later ages.

Our Early Childhood Studies pathways prepare you to teach young children ages 0-8 in a variety of early childhood education settings, with an emphasis on working with preschool children ages 3-5 years. You will train to work in infant and toddler classrooms, preschool/Pre-K environments, and before and after-school programs.

The early childhood education curriculum at Santa Monica College is the best place to start if your goal is to transfer to a 4-year college or university and work toward a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education or related field. We provide rich, experiential learning opportunities through site observations, mentoring and tutoring under the expert guidance of our esteemed faculty.

Degrees and Certificates

Associate in Science Degree for Transfer Icon Associate in Science - Transfer More information on the Associate in Science - Transfer

Prepare yourself to transfer into an upper-division baccalaureate program at a California State University (CSU).

If you are considering a transfer to a UC, private, or out-of-state university, please consult a counselor before applying to transfer, as that institution’s transfer requirements might be different from those required for the AS-T.

Estimated Timeline:
2+ years, 60 units

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Associate in Science Degree Icon Associate in Science More information on the Associate in Science Degree

Get a foundation in general education, then gain the skills needed to excel in your desired field.

Completion of an Associate degree usually will not satisfy transfer major requirements. Meet with a counselor to develop an academic program best suited for you.

Estimated Timeline:
2+ years, 60 units

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Certificate of Achievement Icon Certificate of Achievement More information on the Certificate of Achievement

Gain the skills needed to excel in your desired field without completing general education requirements.

Estimated Timeline:
1+ years, 24+ units

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Associate in Science for Transfer - Early Childhood Education Associate in Science Degree for Transfer Icon

24 units + General Education

This degree is intended for students who are interested in Early Childhood Education and are planning on transferring to a four-year university. Early Childhood Education professionals adhere to the guidelines as well as the Professional Code of Ethics of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) providing developmentally appropriate learning opportunities for the enhancement of the physical, intellectual, social, emotional and creative domains of young children. Completion of this degree will likely give you priority admission consideration in the majors at the CSU campuses listed below. In addition, you will need to complete no more than 60 semester/90 quarter CSU units of coursework after transfer to complete your degree. If you are considering transfer to a UC, private, or out-of-state university, please consult a counselor before applying to transfer, as that institution’s transfer requirements might be different from those required for the AS-T in Early Childhood Education.

PDF FileView Requirements for the Associate in Science for Transfer - Early Childhood Education

Associate in Science Degree - Early Childhood Studies Associate of Science Degree Icon

30 units + General Education

Certificate of Achievement - Early Childhood Studies Certificate of Achievement Icon

30 units

The Early Childhood Studies program focuses on educational practices that emphasize interpersonal relationships, cultural diversity, child-centered curriculum and the inclusion of children with special needs in all educational opportunities. The curriculum prepares students to teach or administer programs for young children that include: private early childhood programs, public programs such as school district children centers and Head Start Programs, Head Start, Infant and School Age Programs. The Early Childhood Studies program is geared toward students wishing to prepare for employment in early childhood programs. Emphasis is placed in preparing students for early entry into the workforce. The program provides a sequential path that allows students to obtain the academic requirements for various state permits – Associate Teacher, Assistant Teacher, and Teacher. Students may build on the courses provided by the Early Childhood Studies program to later transfer. However, the AS-T in ECE is the recommended option for students desiring to transfer.

PDF FileView Requirements for the Associate in Science Degree - Early Childhood Studies and Certificate of Achievement - Early Childhood Studies

Certificate of Achievement - Early Childhood Education Certificate of Achievement Icon

12 Units

Upon completion of the program, students will demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to meet the entry-level requirements for early childhood professionals working in programs regulated by the California Department of Social Services (Title 22). This certificate is designed to meet the Early Childhood Education course work, which is one of the two requirements needed to qualify for the California Child Development Associate Teacher permit.

PDF FileView Requirements for the Certificate of Achievement - Early Childhood Education

SMC Resources

Potential Career Options

Click on any job title to learn more.

Job Title Typical Education Median Wage
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education Some College $31,515
Teacher Assistant Certificate $34,294
Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program Associate Degree $43,209