Alyssa Sutton

LA GRANDE — A new survey by College Choice named Eastern Oregon University’s online early childhood education degree as one of the top 25 such programs in the country.

College Choice is an analysis agency that ranks universities based on program quality, courses offered, faculty, rankings, awards and the university’s reputation for providing quality online programs. Eastern’s early childhood education program was ranked 16th this year, surpassing all other similar programs in Oregon. In April 2015, the year of the program’s inception, the program was ranked among Great Value Colleges’ top 30 affordable schools offering online bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education.

“When we were designing the program, we did a lot of research about courses and meeting the needs of the profession,” said Rae Ette Newman-Condera, the early childhood education program coordinator. “We’re really excited that that work is paying off.”

The two-year, non-licensure course prepares students to work with young children from birth to age 8, gaining knowledge and skills needed to support, educate and advocate for young children in a variety of careers.

“The program is oriented toward people who want to work in the preschool environment, which does not typically require a teacher licensure,” according to Dan Mielke, EOU’s dean of the business and education colleges. Mielke said the students going through the program will have other standards to meet once completing their degree, adding that some students may go on to get their teacher’s license in the future.

Newman-Condera said some of the students in the program are already working in early education and are earning a bachelor’s degree, while some students are incoming freshmen.

“Those in the workforce can take what they’re learning (online) and go back to the classroom where they can use it immediately,” she said. “We also have two practicing teachers guiding them through the process when they’re in the classroom.”

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer