Undergraduate E C P Program (ECEMS)

The mission of this program is to prepare graduates to work with diverse groups of young children, families, and communities in a global society. At ISU this program is called early childcare education and programming. E C P is an online undergraduate program provided by seven universities working in collaboration on The Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA) Program. Early childcare education and programming is a bachelor of science (BS) degree program that will prepare you to work in early childhood settings with young children. When you complete the program you will be qualified to work in a variety of programs that offer early care and education in the community and on military installations. When inside the GP-IDEA website, this program is often referred to as Early Care and Education for a Mobile Society (ECEMS).


Pre-E C P

Admission Requirements

  • Apply for admission to ISU as a transfer or first-time freshman student
  • Apply to the program and meet minimum requirements;
    • completion of a minimum of 30 credits
    • a minimum GPA of 2.5
    • successfully pass a criminal background check
    • completion of Lifespan and Development (HDFS 102 at ISU)


Block One Courses:

Students must successfully complete all Block One courses prior to enrollment in Practicum I and Block Two courses:

  • Child Development―Birth to 3 (Infant/Toddler)
  • Child Development―4 to 8 (Early Childhood)
  • Professional Development
  • Child Guidance and Classroom Environments
  • Health, Safety, and Nutrition.

Block Two Courses:

Students must successfully complete all Block One courses and Practicum I prior to enrollment Block Two courses:

  • Development of Curriculum for Children Ages Birth to 3
  • Development of Curriculum for Children Ages 4 to 8
  • Understanding and Adapting for Developmental Differences
  • Assessing Young Children and their Environments to Enhance Development

Professional Development Block Courses:

Students must successfully complete all Professional Development Block courses prior to enrollment in Practicum III, yet these required courses may be taken before, after, or while taking Block One and Block Two courses:

  • Administration and Supervision in Early Childhood Settings (prerequisite: Practicum 2)
  • Technology and Young Children
  • Diversity in the Lives of Young Children and Families
  • Working with Families

General Education Courses:

120 Total semester credits required

3 ENGL 150 Critical Thinking and Communication
3 ENGL 250 Written, Oral, Visual and Elec. Composition
3 LIB 160 Library Instruction
(3) Select from:
COMST 102 Intro to Interpersonal Communication
COMST 214 Professional Communication
COMST 218 Conflict Management
SP CM 212 Fundamentals of Public Speaking
(3) Select from:
ENGL 302 Business Communication
ENGL 309 Report and Proposal Writing
ENGL 314 Technical Communication
(3-4) Select from:
STAT 101 Principles of Statistics
MATH 104 Intro to Probability and Matrices
MATH 105 Introduction to Mathematical Ideas
MATH 140 College Algebra
MATH 142 Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry
MATH 150 Discrete Math - Business and Social Sci.
MATH 165 Calculus I
(6) Select from Biological or Physical Sciences courses
(9) Select from HD FS list of approved Social Sciences
(6) Select from HD FS list of approved Humanities
(3.5) Human Development and Family Studies Core
3 HD FS 102  Ind. And Family Life Development
.5 HD FS 103  Professional Principles for Child Programs


Practicum Block:

  • Practicum I. Block One courses are prerequisite to Practicum I. Practicum I must be successfully completed prior to enrollment in Block Two courses
  • Practicum II. Block Two courses are prerequisite to Practicum II. Practicum II must be successfully completed prior to enrollment in Practicum III
  • Practicum III. This is the program capstone experience. Practicum III may be taken only after successful completion of Block One, Block Two, and Professional Development Block courses, and successful completion of Practicum I and II.

The E C P program requires three practicum experiences coinciding with course work. These placements need to be in at least two different settings, three different age groups and three different Cooperating Teachers.

Below is a chart that will provide an overview of the three practicum experiences. More detail and explanation is provided in each of the practicum sections.

E C P Practica Sites/Supervisors Guidelines
Practicum I Practicum II Practicum III
Number of Hours Required at Site 120 120 300
Site Childcare center, Head Start, family childcare, afterschool program, Mom’s Day Out Childcare center on or off military installation, head Start, public School, private/religious PK-3 schools Classroom as defined by head teacher and assistant teachers, public school, childcare, private/religious PK-3 schools
 Licensed/Accredited No Yes, by state Yes, licensed by state, prefer NAEYC accredited or state QRS rating at or above state mean
 Class Size Minimum of 5 Minimum of 5 Infant-toddler minimum of 6; Preschool/Elementary minimum of 10
Agree to Videotaping Yes Yes Yes
Cooperating Teacher education High school degree or GED; prefer training in field AA or CDA, prefer BS (one person on site should have BS with training in field) BS in a related field
Coop Teacher holds valid teaching certificate Will vary depending on age level Will vary depending on age level Will vary depending on age level
Coop Teacher total years teaching 1+ year 3+ years 3+ years
Coop teacher years teaching at site 1+ year 1+ year 1+ year
Coop Teacher able to schedule time with univ. student Yes Yes Yes

For more information on the courses, please refer to the GPIDEA ECEMS Student Handbook(PDF).


Careers after E C P

When you complete the program you will be qualified to work in a variety of programs that offer early care and education in the community and on military installations. Some of these programs are:

  • Childcare centers and homes
  • Infant/toddler and preschool programs
  • Head Start programs
  • Before and after-school programs for children ages birth to eight


Cost and Student Financial Assisstance

The Common Price

Great Plains IDEA courses are offered at a Common Price per credit hour. The Common Price is reviewed and established annually by the Great Plains IDEA Financial Officers team and approved by the Great Plains IDEA Cabinet. The Common Price may be adjusted on an annual basis. The Common Price may be higher or lower than regular tuition at Iowa State University. The Common Price includes all fees, distance delivery costs, and other such “add-ons” common for distance education. No additional fees shall be charged by any participating institution. Textbooks and other material and administrative costs (such as late enrollment fees) are allowed.

If there is an onsite component of a course (e.g., field experience and/or laboratory experience) included in the curriculum, any additional fees and travel-associated expenses incurred in attending the required onsite experience will be the full responsibility of the student and must be fully disclosed to the student prior to their course selection and enrollment.

For more information check out the Tuition and Fees Page.

Student Financial Assistance

Students may be eligible for financial assistance through Iowa State University. Consult Iowa State University’s Office of Financial Aid for details about how to apply.


Application Process

You must complete the following steps before you are able to take classes associated with the E C P degree.

  1. You must work with our ISU Admissions office to apply to be admitted to ISU. Follow these instructions to fill out the online application.
  2. You will be expected to have all of your transcripts sent to ISU. They should only be sent to the address below and no one else.Office of Admissions
    Enrollment Services Center
    Iowa State University
    Ames, IA  50011



  3. You will apply for the E C P major. Once accepted, you are considered Pre-E C P. You will then need to follow the instructions sent to you in order to accept the offer of admission to Iowa State University. Part of that process includes paying the fee. Part of that is a deposit for housing. Since you will not be using the campus housing, that amount will be refunded to you mid semester after your TEACH funding is applied to your u-bill.
  4. Once you’ve paid your admission fee, you will need to complete two orientations. One is the University’s orientation, and the second is the College’s orientation. After you complete both, you will be instructed to contact the College’s Student Services office to finalize your orientation. Student Services will then confirm you are done and assign you an adviser.
  5. Contact your adviser to help you understand what classes transferred if you are a transfer student, go over requirements and prerequisites, and to make a plan.
  6. You will get a Registration Access Number (RAN) from your adviser if you need to register for a General Education course or an elective.
  7. If you have met the prerequisites, you will work with GPIDEA coordinator, Karen Smidt, ksmidt@iastate.edu, to register for you E C P Block I courses after adviser approval.


Q: I have been looking on the GP IDEA site and it state we have to do 120 hours of observations for the practicums. I would like to know where we are allowed to do this and if we can possibly do it, all or in part, in our own child-care/early childhood program?

A: Here is the link to the Student Handbook. This Handbook explains the Practicum Experiences in depth. We are working with many students who are employed currently and so have similar questions. We were told that the requirements for the Practicum Experiences would stay the same as the “TEACH” program would provide substitutes to cover your business when you had to be at the Practicum Experience.

Maybe start by describing (very briefly) the expectations and outcomes for each practicum placement?

You cannot complete the Practicums in your own home childcare business. Practicum 1 is 120 hours but it is more flexible and can be completed in Saturday programs, Sunday School programs and less intense programs, before school, after school, wrap around care, etc. Practicum 2 will need to be in another childcare facility in order to provide supervision for your teaching and lesson preparation.  Practicum 3 will be completed in a public or private school setting in a K-3 program. The degree covers birth through third grade and so you will need experience in all levels.

Q: I would like to know if we could work something out for the Practicums 1 and 2 so that I can still run my business and support my family but still be able to accomplish the practicums?

A: You cannot complete the Practicum Experiences in your own home childcare business. Practicum 1 is 120 hours but it is more flexible and can be completed in Saturday programs, Sunday School programs and less intense programs, before school, after school, wrap around care etc. Practicum 2 will need to be in another Childcare facility in order to provide supervision for your teaching and lesson preparation.

Q: Do I need to take the professional development class? I am hoping that I do not need to take it because I have worked in the field for many years.

A: The Professional Development course is a core course for this program.  We cover many issues related to the practicum experiences and simply tie the explanation to that.

Q: I am wondering how all the practicum stuff works?

A: The Practicum Experiences are a vital part of the ECEMS curriculum, and they have been designed to give the university students experience working in different types of educational settings and with different age groups.  Here is the link to the Handbook which has a section that clearly spells out the requirements for the Practicum Experiences.

Q: We were originally told because we are not getting a teaching license that Practicums were not going to be part of the course work.  Has something changed in the degree program?

A: Nothing concerning the Practicum Experiences has changed.  The Practicum Experiences have been a part of the design of the program from the very beginning.  We believe that it is important for a person to have a variety of experiences in their degree program and we believe the Practicum Experiences provide those experiences.

Q: Can I complete the ECEMS program and then seek teacher certification in my state?

A: Certification is state driven, and each state has different criteria for issuing a license to teach in their state.  Some states will accept your home university undergraduate degree with the emphasis in ECEMS degree course work as a basis for issuing a state license to teach.  Other states will accept the degree and then refer you to Alternative Certification where you might need to take a subject area test and/or take some additional classes.  It would be best to contact your State Department of Education to find out their requirements.

Q: I’m not interested in the degree program but I would like to take some of the classes.  Can I do that?

A: We have established the following priority enrollment guidelines.  We will enroll students in the following order depending on the enrollment numbers in the class.

  1. Students officially admitted to the ECEMS program
  2. Military Spouses
  3. Early Childhood Education Providers on Military Installations
  4. Head Start & Early Head Start educators
  5. University students who are completing an on-line degree through Great Plains IDEA.
  6. University students who need to obtain credits necessary for graduation.
  7. Other students wishing to take the course.

Q: I have 9 hours in ECE from National Lewis University (example) that I feel should count for something somewhere and I am wondering why none of it is counting. Can you help me with this?

A: Your home university makes the decision regarding which classes can and cannot be accepted in the program.  We will accept 6 hours of classes that are similar to our core courses; an exception is  the Professional Development Class. Sometimes depending on the home university those ECE credits will count towards Electives, so they do count for something.  Please continue working with your Academic Adviser to help you get your credits to count.  You might be required to send a syllabus of the course in question and have it evaluated by the instructor.

Q:  How do I apply to the ECEMS program?

A: You must go through your home university’s Office of Admissions.  Follow all directions after talking with the GP-IDEA Coordinator or Adviser for the home university you are applying to enter.  Make sure to apply to the correct program.



Students will meet the requirements for degree completion as established by the Great Plains IDEA program faculty and Iowa State University. Students should work with their Campus Coordinator and their Program Advisory Committee to ensure that all necessary paperwork and coursework is completed for graduation at Iowa State University.

Upon completion of a Great Plains IDEA program students will receive an Exit Survey from Iowa State University. The Exit Survey serves the Great Plains IDEA Cabinet, Boards and faculty to continue to improve the programs. Participation in the Exit Survey is highly encouraged, but is voluntary and all responses are confidential.

  • Contact Information

    Academic issues
    (Questions related to academic progress, such as advice on courses, timing of courses, career path, etc.)

    Lisa Sharp
    2362 Palmer
    2222 Osborn Drive
    Ames, IA 50011-1084

    E C P program information
    (Questions about admission, registration, etc.)

    Karen Smidt
    310 MacKay Hall
    2302 Osborn Drive
    Ames, IA 50011-1078
    Fax: 515-294-5385


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