Expanding nationwide access to quality education-oriented care options for children from birth to age 8 is one goal of the University of Missouri's new online Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education in a mobile society (BS HES). With its new offering, the College of Human Environmental Sciences aims to further the reach of skilled professionals working with young children.

"Families nationwide truly need learning environments that support the social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of their small children," said Jean Ispa, professor and co-chair of the college's Department of Human Development and Family Studies. "Young children of working families often require all-day childcare or before-and-after-school care once they start elementary school, and it's very important that that care be of high quality."

Ispa expects that graduates of the BS HES program will be likely to make significant impacts within their own communities, if they can maintain their day-to-day local ties while earning their degrees at a distance.

"We want to train the next generation of professionals who will help create high-quality learning environments for children within their own communities," Ispa said. "We're offering this program online so that students who live far from the university, even overseas, or whose other obligations make it difficult to attend day classes have the option to study without relocating for college."

The program is now accepting enrollments for the spring 2015 semester; classes begin in mid-January and are 100 percent online. Ispa encourages students not to hesitate calling to discuss the program's potential fit.

"We can work with students who are still earning their general education requirements so that they are well-prepared for the early childhood bachelor's course work once they're accepted into the sequence," she said. "This program has something for anyone who is still working toward their bachelor's and is interested in working with young children."

It does not prepare students for public school teacher certification.

Students who apply to the program at Mizzou will take some courses that are taught through other institutions as part of the Great Plains IDEA consortium, but all credit hours (and the degree) are earned through MU. Space in the online program is limited, but new students can start the program in January, June or August.

For more information, see http://online.missouri.edu/bshes.