Early childhood & family policy

University of Missouri-Columbia
Graduate certificate
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Graduate certificate

You want to focus your efforts on improving the lives of children and, ultimately, society. The University of Missouri’s (Mizzou) 100% online graduate certificate in early childhood and family policy is a flexible program for work in various careers in education, social work, government and more. Enter a graduate program built for you to specialize your skills whether you’re working, preparing to switch careers or continuing your graduate education. 

This graduate certificate is a collaborative program with Mizzou’s College of Arts and Science (A&S) and College of Education & Human Development (CEHD) offering you unique online courses. This program will help prepare you to think differently, lead in new ways and tackle the policy, infrastructure and advocacy challenges inspired by the present era of early childhood efforts. Feel confident knowing you’re entering a graduate program administered by two renowned departments, A&S’s Truman School of Government and Public Affairs and CEHD’s Department of Human Development and Family Science.

Courses will cover critical thinking and the nuances of the policymaking and implementation processes. Develop a deep understanding of the history of early childhood education, how to design effective policy and how to evaluate policies at multiple levels. This program inspires you to enact social change backed by early childhood policy. Working within early childhood empowers you to know and represent the cultures and communities of children and advocate on behalf of those being served. Become equipped to collaborate with pedagogical leaders to design, analyze and advocate for constructive policies driven by research and evidence-based practice.

Quick facts

Official name

Graduate certificate in early childhood & family policy


University of Missouri-Columbia

Program type

Graduate certificate

Academic home

College of Arts & Science,
College of Education & Human Development

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission

Credit hours


Estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

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Career prospects

This graduate certificate program will prepare you for work in a variety of careers in the following areas:

  • Local, state or federal government
  • Local education agencies
  • Early childhood professional organizations
  • Foundations or advocacy organizations
  • Non-profit agencies
  • United Nations
  • World and regional banks
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Average median salary
Average projected employment change over the next 10 years of the careers listed in Missouri. 2023 Lightcast industry data, staffing patterns and Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics data.
Employment outlook

Program structure

Delivery of this program is 100% online: no campus visits are required.

Courses are eight weeks long. Most students take two classes per semester and complete the course work in just one year.

Course work includes

  • History, child development and equity
  • Examining practices, policies and key issues
  • Early childhood policy
  • Policy, leadership and policy advocacy


100% online

Calendar system

8-week courses

Typical program length

1 year

Typical course load

2 courses per semester

Great Plains IDEA

Mizzou is a proud member of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA). Great Plains IDEA is a partnership of multiple public universities offering 100% online degree programs. Your degree will come from Mizzou, however, your courses are taught by expert faculty from several universities. 

Learn more about the Great Plains IDEA.


The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

Faculty spotlight

Louis Manfra II

Louis Manfra has worked in the Department of Human Development and Family Science since 2010. Dr. Manfra earned a doctorate in developmental psychology from George Mason University in 2006. His research broadly focuses on children's cognitive development, learning and school success during the early childhood years, especially as it relates to school readiness, self-regulation, motivation and self-directed speech. He is currently exploring the impact of these constructs on long-term achievement in elementary school and identifying early skills and environmental factors that increase school success among at-risk and vulnerable children and children from diverse populations.

Louis Manfra II, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Science
Irma Arteaga

Irma Arteaga earned a master's in public policy and a doctorate in applied economics from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Arteaga's research seeks to understand the consequences of early childhood investments over the life course. Specifically, she examines the role of contextual factors and program dosage, intensity and components on children’s well-being. Her research agenda has three dominant themes: analysis of the short-term effects of early childhood interventions and program delivery on children’s well-being, analysis of the long-term effects of child policy on children’s well-being, and analysis of early childhood investments in the developing world.

Irma Arteaga, PhD
Associate Professor, Truman School of Government and Public Affairs

Learn more about this program