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Early Childhood Education: Alternative Licensure

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Interested in becoming a teacher of young children but your bachelor’s isn’t in Teacher Ed? The College of Education at New Mexico State University offers a 21-credit alternative licensure program in early childhood education for persons who hold at least a baccalaureate degree but have not completed a traditional teacher preparation program. Deepen your understanding and skills of PreK to 3rd-grade education with a 100% online graduate certificate designed to prepare highly qualified early childhood educators. Our accomplished faculty is dedicated and eager to work with students committed to serving Pre-K-3rd grade classrooms along with the families and communities of New Mexico.  The Teacher Education Program in the College of Education is CAEP accredited and approved by the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Explore the Alternative Licensure in Early Childhood: Graduate Certificate program at New Mexico State University

The program requires seven (7) courses for a total of 21 credits of graduate coursework. All licensure courses are eligible for transfer into a Master's program in TPAL. Field experience, technology, and multicultural education are integrated into all coursework. As an Alternative Licensure candidate, you will need to be hired by a public school district as a teacher of record in PreK – 3rd grade.

There are state-mandated licensure exams required by New Mexico Public Education Department to apply for a New Mexico teaching license.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

This is an exciting time for early childhood education in New Mexico. The Early Childhood Education and Care Department is offering scholarships for graduate degrees in education. See information on their website:

NMSU helps to keep your tuition costs affordable. But if you need financial help, NMSU is ready to work with you to determine the best ways to finance your education to earn your Early Childhood Education graduate certificate.

Financial assistance includes loans, grants, and scholarship opportunities. To apply, use NMSU’s convenient Scholar Dollar$ one-stop scholarship application, which serves all students in the NMSU system.

NMSU Online students are also eligible for loans and grants. The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Learn more about financial aid opportunities at NMSU.

Contact Financial Aid

Phone: 1-888-729-6678


Graduate Certificate: Alternative Licensure in Early Childhood Education

College: College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation

Department: Teacher Preparation, Administration, and Leadership (TPAL)

Delivery formats: 100% online

Program Road Map: Review Course Offerings

Cost per credit hour:

  • Graduate online: $444.40*†
  • Active Military online: $250*†

Accredited by: NMSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. NMSU Teacher Education Program is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

*For NMSU Online programs and courses, the per credit hour cost is listed above. Special tuition agreements (Western Undergraduate Exchange, Descubre, etc.) are not applicable to NMSU Online programs. Course fees still apply and are charged separately. Textbooks, uniforms, equipment, etc., are additional program costs. Additional per credit costs might be charged by the program, department or college.

†For on-campus students, find tuition and fees here.

Program Highlights

The Alternative Licensure in Early Childhood Education: Graduate Certificate is offered through the College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation.

The Mission of the College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation is to serve the people of New Mexico through education, research, extension education, and public service with specific emphasis on innovative practices, overcoming barriers to learning, international activities, technology, and literacy for the diverse populations of New Mexico, surrounding states and border communities.

The College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation currently offers bachelor’s, master’s, graduate certificates, and doctoral degrees in Education and Curriculum and Instruction, with a range of specialties to meet the needs of the dynamic Southwestern education community and beyond.

Quick Facts

Research and innovation in early childhood care and education is supported by the newly established NMSU Glass Family Research Institute for Early Childhood Studies.

Myrna’s Children’s Village, located on campus, provides opportunity for hands-on teaching and research experiences in NM PreK and Head Start classrooms.

Our instructors hold PhDs and have extensive experience in the local education community.

What can you do with an Alternative Licensure in Early Childhood: Graduate Certificate from NMSU?

The Alternative Licensure in Early Childhood: Graduate Certificate prepares candidates as they teach PreK through 3rd grade in public school settings using culturally responsive pedagogy and developmentally appropriate practices.

Early childhood education is a growing field. The state and federal governments have recently committed to new investments in early childhood education with the development of New Mexico’s Early Childhood Care and Education Department and PreK now being offered in public schools across the state.

Alternative Licensure in Early Childhood: Graduate Certificate

Obtaining a graduate certificate will deepen your understanding of child development, curriculum design, and early childhood pedagogy. You can also earn a Master of Arts in Education by completing an additional 12 credits. These credentials will prepare you for other careers in early childhood education such as: 

  • Instructional Coordinator
  • Curriculum Specialist
  • Early Childhood Center Director
  • Consultant for Early Childhood Organizations
  • Teacher Educator at the Associate’s Level

Advanced study.

Graduates with a master’s degree in early childhood education can choose to pursue advanced studies. Graduates can continue at NMSU to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Curriculum and Instruction to prepare for a career in higher education and research. Graduates might also pursue a Doctorate of Education (EdD.) in Education Administration.

Program Curriculum

Teacher with kids



The Early Childhood Education: Alternative Licensure Graduate Certificate provides coursework while you are actively teaching in a public-school setting. You will receive mentorship and guidance by a university supervisor as you teach young children in public school settings grades PreK – 3rd grade. The program requires 21 credits of graduate coursework in topics such as family engagement, special education, play-based curriculum, health and wellness, and content areas of literacy, math, and science. The program culminates with a semester of student teaching seminar where you will complete a capstone project – Evidence of Student Learning.

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