New scholarship covers your entire education!

ECFS students can apply for the new Early Learning Equity Scholarship and get all of their costs covered!

Accepting applications for Winter 2025 from September 1 through October 15. 

What you can earn


2-3 years

Credits earned




Time commitment


Upcoming deadline

April 15, 2024

Major in early childhood education

The Early Childhood and Family Studies Teaching and Learning (ECFS) program is designed to offer multidisciplinary and critical perspectives of early childhood development, early learning and family-centered education of young children. Through a combination of coursework and hands-on experiences in early learning settings, you will develop the necessary knowledge and skills to create inclusive and equitable learning environments and curriculum for young children.

  • ECFS supports the application of theory and research into practice by:
  • Creating equitable learning environments
  • Strategizing approaches for individualized and culturally responsive instruction
  • Writing curricula that centers children’s lived experiences and funds of knowledge
  • Engaging with colleagues in communities of practice

ECFS prepares you for a rewarding career in early childhood education. We invite you to join us as advocates for children and families!

Apply for Winter 2025!

Transforming inequitable systems

Our curriculum is rooted in the belief that all young children and their families have the right to equitable opportunities to learn and develop in a just and culturally-thriving society. You'll have the opportunity to reflect on your identities and how they are influenced by larger power systems, encouraging critical thinking about early learning, equity, and community.

Read our equity statement

What you'll learn

In ECFS, you'll acquire a range of valuable knowledge and skills that will set you apart.


  • Critical perspectives of early childhood development and learning theories
  • How to foster positive and engaging learning environments for young children
  • Current policies and initiatives in early childhood education


  • Promote skills in language, literacy and STEM using age and developmentally appropriate practices
  • Provide individualized instruction and behavioral support
  • Partner with children, families and communities
  • Question current values, practices, and policies rooted in unjust systems
  • Create anti-bias anti-racist curricula
  • Implement culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies
  • Self-reflect on biases and socialization experiences to grow personally and professionally

After graduation

Earning your bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood & Family Studies opens doors to various exciting paths:

  • Early childhood teaching
  • Leadership roles in childcare centers and other early learning spaces
  • Social/mental health services and parent and family support programs
  • Involvement in shaping early childhood policies and initiatives
  • Graduate studies in K-12 education, speech and hearing sciences, occupational therapy, special education, psychology and more!

Want to become a PK -12 teacher? ECFS graduates do not earn a teaching certificate, but you will be prepared to apply to many of our graduate-level programs that will support your career goals, including our teacher preparation programs.

Let's connect

We're so excited that you're thinking about joining our undergrad program! Join our mailing list to learn about upcoming information sessions, deadlines, scholarships and more!

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Prefer a one-on-one experience? Prospective students can schedule an admissions advising appointment.


    As an ECFS student, you'll explore careers in early childhood education, and engage in courses that focus on research, curriculum, policy, language and literacy, mathematics, science, and technology. Additionally, you'll participate in extended community-based learning experiences, working directly with children in preschool classrooms or childcare centers. This unique combination of academic coursework and practical application will help you develop a comprehensive and culturally relevant understanding of child development and effective teaching strategies. As we engage in (un)learning, you will be challenged to envision systems that are more equitable and just and engage in teaching and advocacy work toward that vision. 

    Our program frameworks emphasize creating engaging interactions and environments that support individualized instruction and culturally responsive anti-bias anti-racist education. This program prepares you to be an early childhood professional who understands and actively works to dismantle systems of oppression.

    A minimum of 79-81  credits are needed to meet the requirements for the ECFS major. You will work with your advisor to ensure that your graduation plan includes courses required to earn your degree at UW.

    Download degree requirements PDF

    Required for admissions (3 credits)
    • ECFS 200  Introduction to Early Childhood & Family Studies (3 credits with a grade of 2.0 or higher required)

    You must also earn 2.0 in English composition course

    Major requirements

    All of the following

    • ECFS 301 Early Childhood Curriculum (5)
    • ECFS 303 Exploring the Landscape of the Early Learning Profession(3)
    • ECFS 311 Teaching from the Inside Out: Being a Resilient Educator (3)
    • ECFS 312 Positive Behavioral Support in Early Childhood (3)
    • ECFS 321 Engaging Interactions and Environments (3)
    • ECFS 400 Child Observation & Assessment (5)
    • ECFS 401 Understanding Research in ECFS (5)
    • ECFS 402 Social Policy & Young Children and Families (5)
    • ECFS 410 Language and Literacy in Preschool (5)
    • ECFS 411 Young Children’s Mathematics & Science (5)
    • EDPSY 302 Child Development and Learning (5)
    • EDPSY 406 Learning and teaching in Our Changing World (5)
    • EDUC 251 Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity (5)
    • IECMH 432 Infants & Children: Risk & Resilience (5)

    One of the following (5)

    • ECFS 315 Parenting and Child Development
    • ECFS 419 Family & Community Influences on the Young Child
    • ECFS 320 Childhood in Cultural Context: Theory and Practice

    One of the following (3-5)

    • EDSPE 304 Disability & Ableism in Education
    • EDSPE 414 Issues and Trends in Inclusive Early Childhood Education
    • EDSPE 427 Introduction to Applied Behavioral Analysis
    • EDSPE 435 Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders
    Senior capstone
    • ECFS 454  Senior Project I (2 CR)
    • ECFS 455  Senior Project II (2 CR)
    • ECFS 456  Senior Project III (2 CR)
    General education requirements

    In addition to your ECFS credits, you'll also need the following general education credits to graduate from the UW.  You will be able to meet many of these credits within the ECFS program.

    • English composition (5 credits)
    • Writing (10 credits)
    • Diversity (3-5 credits)
    • Reasoning (4-5 credits)
    • Arts & Humanities (15 credits)
    • Social Studies (15 credits)
    • Natural Sciences (15 credits)
    • Area of Inquiry (15 credits)

    We believe early childhood professionals learn by applying knowledge through action, observation and reflection. ECFS students take part in Community Based Learning (CBL), a place-based education, centering learning in the physical environment, local culture, history, language, and with the people of a community.

    You will have many opportunities to integrate your classroom experience into your CBL Experience. You will build on your cultural and contextual knowledge of children’s learning through real-world opportunities to apply your knowledge and skills in early learning settings.

    Our students participate in two types of experiential learning:

    • Community-Based Learning Experience: Weekly time spent engaging with young children through your work or volunteering in an early learning setting is required for many courses.
    • Applied assignments: Examples of applied assignments include videos of your practice, environment or child observations, case studies, and an interview with a professional or parent. These may be completed at your Community-Based Learning Experience site.

    Already working or volunteering with children in an early learning setting? You can complete the community-based learning experience at your current job! If you need support finding a setting, our CBL coordinator will help you find a place to do your community-based learning.

    View the ECE Community-Based Learning Guide

    It will take a minimum of 7 quarters to complete the program. To graduate from the University of Washington, you must have a minimum of 180 quarterly credits. How long it takes to graduate depends on a number of factors, including how many credits you are transferring in with and how many credits you take per quarter as an ECFS student.


    Prospective students are welcome to schedule an admission advising appointment with our Lead Admissions & Outreach Adviser, Alejandra Baires-Ramirez, who can provide one-on-one support with:

    • Admissions process
    • Scholarships and financial aid
    • Transferring to UW

    Note: If appointments are completely booked, please schedule an admission advising appointment with Ramon Concepcion.

    Current ECFS majors and UW prospective students who are ready to declare ECFS as their major are welcome to schedule an in-person or virtual advising appointment with Waleed Khan, Academic Adviser.  

    Admission requirements and process

      • Starting in your sophomore year is recommended
      • You can begin in autumn or winter quarter
        • Apply Mar. 1 - Apr. 15 for autumn start
        • Apply Sept. 1 - Oct. 15 for winter start

      You can start the ECFS program in autumn quarter or winter quarter. For autumn quarter admission, apply March 1 - April 15. For winter quarter admission, apply September 1 - October 15. We recommend starting your application process as early as possible due to the different steps and requirements.

      If you're a current UW student, it's best to begin the program during your sophomore year and no later than the autumn quarter of your junior year.

      • 2.50 cumulative GPA
      • 5-credit English composition course graded 2.0 or higher

      Applicants must also have completed ECFS 200 Introduction to Early Childhood & Family Studies before starting the ECFS program. Please note:

      • You must be graded 2.0 or higher
      • The course can be in progress when you apply, but must be completed before the ECFS begins
      • Transfer students will complete ECFS 200 after joining UW

      Applicants need to write and submit three essays. Each essay should be 250 words or fewer. Use the following three prompts for your essays:

      • Have you experienced, witnessed, or learned about injustices in your educational journey? Please describe. How will the ECFS Major help you understand these injustices?
      • The ECFS major focuses on the educational experiences of children from birth to age 8 and their families. Why are you interested in teaching?
      • A premise of the ECFS major is that teachers can be advocates for social change. What are some of the positive changes you would like to work toward within early education?
      1. Gather all required materials
      2. Begin the online application form
      3. Complete all steps in application process and upload your materials
      4. Submit your application

      This process is only for current UW students. If you are a transfer student, follow the steps outlined in the Transferring section.

      We welcome transfer students to our program! As a transfer student, you will have some additional steps and required materials to your application process. 

      If you are interested in the ECFS major, be sure to select the major on your UW Admissions application. We require ECFS 200 to be completed for a student to be fully-admitted to the major. Transfer students who select the ECFS major on their UW Admissions application will have a seat in ECFS 200 held for them.

      Transfer students need to submit an unofficial transcript with their ECFS application:

      • Include transcripts from all institutions you have previously attended
      • You must upload your transcript during the application process
      • Do not mail your transcript when you apply

      You will be submitting TWO applications: one to join the University of Washington and one to join the ECFS program.

      1. Gather all required materials for UW admissions
      2. Gather all required materials for ECFS
      3. Connect with our Lead Admissions & Outreach Adviser to help you through the process

      Feel confident in the process by attending Transfer Thursday, an informational event run by the UW Office of Admissions. We also invite you to attend one of our weekly undergraduate majors and minor information sessions.

      After submitting your enrollment deposit to the university, admitted transfer students will attend the required Transfer Advising & Orientation hosted by UW First Year Programs. This is a chance for you to meet with an ECFS adviser and create a plan to successfully complete the course and internship requirements.

      Costs and funding

        We are a tuition-based program. Estimated tuition rates are based on your residency:

        • Estimated cost for Washington state residents: $12,643 per year
        • Estimated cost for out-of-state students: $41,997 per year

        Estimates are subject to change due and may differ due to course load and summer quarter enrollment. Estimates include some fees such as building fee, technology fee, U-Pass, etc. Fees such as textbooks are not included.

        View the UW tuition dashboard →
        Visit the Office of Planning & Budgeting →

        It is highly recommended that students in the program complete the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) application. These applications are necessary for various forms of financial aid, including scholarships and loans.

        Early Care & Education (ECE) and Early Childhood & Family Studies (ECFS) students can be awarded up to the cost of attendance.
        Through this one application, undergraduate students can apply for multiple scholarships worth between $900 - $5,000.

        Program Faculty

        Assistant Teaching Professor
        Teaching Professor
        Associate Professor
        Associate Professor
        Associate Professor
        Associate Teaching Professor
        Assistant Professor
        Associate Professor

        Program Staff

        Undergraduate Programs Manager
        Lead Admissions & Outreach Adviser
        Assistant Director for Undergraduate Academic and Student Services
        Experiential Learning Coordinator
        Academic Adviser