The Associate of Science Childhood Education and Family Studies degree (AS CE&FS) meets all of the requirements for an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) degree while giving a strong foundation in childhood education and family studies - allowing students to earn a degree that will meet employment requirements for many early childhood  programs, and provide an opportunity for a seamlessly transfer into a bachelor's degree program.

All courses specific to childhood education and family studies degrees and certificates are offered online through Southwestern’s online platform. Transfer courses that meet Southwestern's course outcomes are readily accepted into the program.

Southwestern's AS CE&FS degree is articulated with Eastern Oregon University's online bachelor's degree with a focus on Early Childhood Education and Southern Oregon University.  This degree can also lead to a bachelor's degree in human development, early childhood education or social science with a certificate in early childhood education at Portland State University (PSU) Distance Education programs. Students may petition for adjustments in the Southwestern AS degree if course requirements are met for the first two years of any regionally accredited four-year institution offering a degree in education, early childhood education, family studies, human or child development.

Both the AS CE&FS and AAS CE&FS degrees are accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation program.

For further program information, contact the Childhood Education Director at or visit the Childhood Education and Family Studies webpage. 

Childhood Education & Family Studies Principles & Goals

Main principles in the Childhood Education & Family Studies Program include:

  • Understanding that children lead their own learning based on the level of their development
  • Focusing on the importance of families in their roles with their young children
  • Respecting diversity
  • Addressing the needs of children with diverse abilities in inclusive settings
  • Themes of inclusion, bilingual and multicultural education and care
  • Critical thinking
  • Reflective teaching

These principles are infused throughout the Childhood Education & Family Studies coursework. Coursework and field experiences at every level recognize the social, historical, political, and cultural contexts that have impacted the profession. 

Southwestern's Childhood Education and Family Studies (CE&FS) program goals include:

  • The CE&FS program seeks to empower its graduates by enabling them to acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will allow them to excel in their careers or further educational goals. 
  • The CE&FS program seeks to provide opportunities for teacher candidate-child, teacher candidate-classroom teacher, teacher candidate-content and teacher candidate-faculty interaction supporting teacher’s professional growth and development.
  • The CE&FS program seeks to provide model early care and education programs and staff for teacher candidates to develop effective knowledge, skills and attitudes.
  • Graduates of the Childhood Education and Family Studies (CE&FS) program will possess broad general education and content area knowledge, remain effective and reflective practitioners and problem solvers, apply innovative learning technologies and participate in opportunities for professional growth.

Entry Requirements

Students are required to complete the College's placement process to determine skill level and readiness in math, reading and writing. As part of their training program, students must begin with the courses within their skill level as determined by the placement process.

Students will also be required to have a current immunization record and background check to complete practicum requirements. The requirements will vary per state. Students whose home state is not Oregon, are encouraged to research requirements for the state regulating organization regarding what will be required to complete the background check. 

In Oregon, students must be listed on the Oregon Central Background Registry (CBR).  To begin this process, visit the State of Oregon Early Learning Division to be prepared to complete practicum work in a certified early learning center, apply for a background check, and receive additional information regarding how to comply with  fingerprinting requirements.

Graduation Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 94 credit hours with a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 or better. All courses must be completed with a grade of ‘C’ or better. Practicum and student teaching courses require students to pass CLASS assessments to successfully complete the courses. Twenty-four (24) credits must be completed at Southwestern before the Childhood Education and Family Studies AS degree is awarded.

Courses that are developmental in nature, (designed to prepare students for college transfer courses), are not applicable to this degree.

Complete the graduation application process one term prior to the term of completion (e.g., spring term graduates must apply during winter term).

Credit for Prior Learning

Credit for prior learning options are available for students with a Preschool Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, an Infant Toddler Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, a Step Seven on the Oregon Registry, or a Certificate of Completion for First Connections that includes mentoring in an infant toddler learning environment. Contact for more information.

Pre-Program Courses

Students are required to take the following courses prior to the program courses, depending on students' college placement information. See advisor for details:

CIS90Computer Basics (or demonstrate proficiency)2
WR90RAcademic Literacy (or placement in higher writing course)4
MTH98Math Literacy4
or MTH95 Intermediate Algebra

Program Guide

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
ECE150 Introduction and Observation in ECE 1 4
ECE151 Guidance and Classroom Management 1 3
HDFS225 Prenatal Infant and Toddler Dev 3
MTH105 Math in Society 4
English Composition
or English Composition w/Honors
ECE152 Creative Activities in ECE 3
ECE163 Environments and Guidance in ECE 2 3
ECE163B Practicum I ECE 2 2
HDFS247 Preschool Child Development 3
English Composition
or English Composition w/Honors
Science/Mathematics/Computer Science 3 4
ECE154 Children's Language and Lit Dev 3
ECE209 Theory and Practice I Pre-K 2 3
ECE209B Practicum II Pre-K 2 2
HDFS229 Development in Middle Childhood 3
WR123 English Composition 3
Second Year
ECE102 Theory and Practice II Pre-K 2 3
ECE102B Practicum III Pre-K 2 2
ECE240 Lesson and Curriculum Planning 3
ED169 Overview of Student Special Needs 3
Science/Mathematics/Computer Science 4
ED258 Multicultural Education 3
HDFS140 Contemporary American Families 3
Arts and Letters 3 3
Science 3 4
Speech 5 3
ED280K Internship, Primary Grades K - 2 1
Science/Mathematics/Computer Science 3 4
Arts and Letters 3 3
Arts and Letters 3 3
Health, Wellness and Fitness 6 3
 Total Credits94

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this degree, students will have knowledge and skills in the following Standards developed by National Association for the Education of Young Children Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation (NAEYC) organization:

  1. Promoting Child Development and Learning
    Students develop and use their understanding of child development – including young children's unique characteristics and needs, and the multiple interacting influences on children's development and learning – to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for each child.
    Key elements of Outcome 1;
    1. Describe young children's diverse characteristics and needs, from birth through age 8.
    2. Explain the multiple influences on early development and learning.
    3. Use knowledge of child development to create healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging learning environments for young children.
  2. Building Family and Community Relationships
    Students articulate the complex characteristics of children's families and communities and use this understanding to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families, and to engage all families in their children's development and learning.
    Key elements of Outcome 2;
    1. Describe diverse family and community characteristics.
    2. Develop and implement strategies to support and engage families and communities through respectful, reciprocal relationships.
    3. Develop and implement plans to engage families and communities in young children's development and learning.
  3. Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families
    Students articulate the goals, benefits, and purposes of assessment and use systematic observations, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence the development of every child.
    Key elements of Outcome 3;
    1. State the goals, benefits, and purposes of assessment – including its use in development of appropriate goals, curriculum, and teaching strategies for young children.
    2. Use observation, documentation, and other appropriate assessment tools and approaches, including the use of technology in documentation, assessment and data collection.
    3. Practice responsible assessment to promote positive outcomes for each child, including an awareness of assistive technology for children with ability differences.
    4. Describe how assessment partnerships with families and with professional colleagues can be used to build effective learning environments.
  4. Using Developmentally Effective Approaches
    Students implement a wide array of developmentally appropriate approaches, instructional strategies, and tools to connect with children and families and positively influence each child's development and learning, which will vary depending on children's ages, characteristics, and the early childhood setting.
    Key elements of Outcome 4;
    1. Discuss how supportive relationships and positive interactions are the foundation of their work with young children.
    2. List and implement effective instructional and guidance strategies and tools for early education, including appropriate uses of technology.
    3. Use a broad repertoire of developmentally appropriate teaching/learning and guidance approaches.
    4. Reflect on their own practice to promote positive outcomes for each child.
  5. Using Content Knowledge to Build Meaningful Curriculum
    Students develop and apply their knowledge of developmental domains and academic (or content) disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate meaningful, challenging curriculum that promotes comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for each child.
    Key elements of Outcome 5;
    1. Begin to explain content knowledge and resources in academic disciplines: language and literacy; the arts – music, creative movement, dance, drama, visual arts; mathematics; science; physical education – physical activity, health, and safety; and social studies.
    2. Recognize and apply the central concepts, inquiry tools, and structures of content areas or academic disciplines.
    3. Use their own knowledge, appropriate early learning outcomes, and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate developmentally meaningful and challenging curriculum for each child.
  6. Becoming a Professional
    Students are collaborative learners who continuously demonstrate knowledgeable, reflective and critical perspectives of their work, make informed decisions that integrate knowledge from a variety of sources, including ethical guidelines, and advocate for sound educational practices and policies.
    Key elements of Outcome 6;
    1. Identify as a member of the early childhood field and become involved in the professional community.
    2. Locate and apply ethical guidelines and other early childhood professional guidelines.
    3. Engage in continuous, collaborative learning to inform practice; using technology effectively with young children, with peers, and as a professional resource.
    4. Integrate knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives on early education into their work.
    5. Engage in informed advocacy for young children and the early childhood profession.
  7. Early Childhood Field Experiences - These outcomes are to be met at the bachelor's level program upon transfer.
    Students engage in field experiences and clinical practice to develop the knowledge, skills and professional dispositions necessary to promote the development and learning of young children in a variety of early childhood settings and with multiple age groups.
    Key elements of Outcome 7;
    1. Observe and practice in at least two of the three early childhood age groups (birth – age 3, 3-5, 5-8).
    2. Observe and practice in at least two of the three main types of early education settings (primary school grades, child care centers and homes, ECEAP/Head Start programs).