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Faculty of Community Services

About the School of Early Childhood Studies

Ryerson’s School of Early Childhood Studies prepares students for a range of careers working with young children and their families, as well as in the areas of early childhood research and policy.

Over the years, we’ve earned a strong reputation as an innovator in care, education and services for young children and their families. Rewarding learning opportunities in the classroom and in the field, outstanding faculty, and a strong community provide our graduates with the skills and tools they need to excel in a variety of early childhood careers.

Our mission and vision

Our mission

Ryerson’s School of Early Childhood Studies offers a multidisciplinary program of study to undergraduate and graduate students. We prepare our students to adopt leadership roles in careers involving children and families in our diverse society. Our teaching, research, scholarship, and community service contribute new knowledge in the early childhood field — nationally and globally.

Our vision

We aim to provide leading university graduate and undergraduate programs contributing to the advancement of the quality of life for all children and families. We will lead the development of knowledge, research and advocacy in disciplines related to early childhood.

Our goals

We strive to prepare our students to adopt leadership roles in careers involving children and their families. Our graduates demonstrate:

  • The ability to integrate theory, conceptual understanding, professional  skills, and attitudes appropriate to working with children and families.

  • Extensive knowledge of the social sciences and interdisciplinary subjects.
  • An awareness of global issues in early childhood education and care, as well as in policy, social justice, diversity and inclusion.

  • Effective communication skills in writing, advocacy and teamwork.

  • Innovation and leadership in the fields of education, community services and health.
Our history

Ryerson’s School of Early Childhood Studies is the oldest school of its kind in Canada. Since 1959, we have continually evolved to offer innovative new programming at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

A few highlights:

  • 1959: Working within Ryerson’s Home Economics Department, we began to offer a two-year Diploma in Preschool Education.

  • Mid-1960s: Based on the initial success of the program, we expanded our Preschool Education option into a three-year diploma.

  • 1972: We broke new ground by initiating a four-year Bachelor of Applied Arts degree, the first of its kind in Canada.

  • 1982: We introduced our Direct Entry program — allowing early childhood community college graduates to advance their knowledge and earn a Bachelor of Applied Arts — the first program of its kind in Canada.

  • 2002: Our Bachelor of Applied Arts in Early Childhood Studies became a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Studies. This degree continues to be unique in Canada. 

  • 2006: This year, we launched our Master of Arts  — the only master’s degree of its kind in North America — acclaimed for producing graduates who fully understand issues related to diversity and inclusion.

  • 2012: Recognizing the need for greater flexibility in course delivery, we began to offer online delivery for our part-time Bachelor of Arts.

  • 2014: We launched an innovative program in collaboration with York University. Our Concurrent BA/BEd program — the first of its kind — allows students to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Studies as well as a Bachelor of Education, over a period of six years.
                    

We are proud of our history. Over the years, we have consistently led the advancement of early childhood studies. We look forward to carrying this role forward into the future.

Message from the director

Welcome to the School of Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson University. Our school is a very special place filled with remarkable people.

Our exceptional faculty are leaders in the profession, offering students a wide range of experience, expertise and research pertaining to young children. Their work influences policy and practice in early childhood education around the globe. 

Our staff are highly dedicated, experienced, and committed individuals who tirelessly support students and faculty in all aspects of their work.

Our comprehensive curriculum allows students to explore and experience all aspects of the development and lives of young children. We focus not only on children, but also on parents and families, who help to shape their environment, opportunities and well-being.  

Our program ensures that students experience a wide range of hands-on experience in their field education, with many diverse placement opportunities throughout a truly diverse city.    

Our lab schools bring theory and practice together to enrich the experience of our students and researchers, and the children with whom they work.

This is a very special place with remarkable opportunities to learn and to grow.  We hope you will join us.

Charlene Ryan
Director

What is early childhood studies?

The development, health and well-being of children in our society are strongly influenced by the work of early childhood educators. These individuals support children’s learning and growth in the early years, and for life. Through practice, research and policy, early childhood educators work to enhance the quality of life for young children and their families.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Planning curriculum that enhances children’s learning and growth.

  • Enhancing children’s literacy and numeracy skills.

  • Working inclusively with children with disabilities.

  • Supporting young children and families from diverse backgrounds.

  • Pursuing research and influencing policy.

  • Supporting the healthy development of children at risk, through early intervention.
At a glance

Ryerson’s School of Early Childhood Studies is unlike any other.


A few highlights:

  • Take advantage of five pathways for completing a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Studies. These options are open to high school graduates, college graduates and working professionals. 

  • As an undergraduate student, expect to spend one third of your program hours each year in over 1,000 placement sites across the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Our two internationally recognized learning laboratories —  the Ryerson Early Learning Centre and the Gerrard Resource Centre — advance research, support families and enhance the inclusion of children with disabilities.
  • Our Master of Arts in Early Childhood Studies is unique in North America for its focus on diversity and inclusion.

  • As an undergraduate student, learn from seven hands-on courses that cover curriculum development for young children in visual arts, music and movement, science, mathematics and literacy.

  • Gain a global perspective. We have the most undergraduate students at Ryerson completing a senior internship abroad.
  • Be part of a strong community. The School of Early Childhood Studies is home to just over 1,000 students.

  • Learn from exceptional teachers and researchers. Our faculty members are experts in early childhood care and education, child development, family support and social policy, and equity and inclusion.
  • Get to know your fellow students. Our student lounge space provides a relaxing environment in which to study and socialize. 

  • Get involved. We host a local student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children, an association for special education professionals.
Our people

Our faculty come from across the country and around the world to teach at Ryerson’s School of Early Childhood Studies. And they’re here because they care about making a difference in the lives of young children and families.

Our faculty regularly make important contributions to policy, practice and teaching. They pursue innovative research in areas including:

  • early language development

  • children’s rights

  • early childhood policy

  • adaptive design for children with disabilities

  • early childhood services integration 

  • music performance anxiety in children

But perhaps what is most noteworthy about them is their dedication to student success. Integrating research and field experience into their teaching, they create unique learning opportunities for our students. Together with our dedicated staff, they help our students to achieve their goals.

Our partnerships

We work with diverse stakeholders in Canada and around the world to create important learning, research and field placement opportunities for our students.

Student exchange programs


International learning opportunities
encourage undergraduate students to experience living and learning abroad — helping them to gain a global perspective. We partner with two universities in Australia to offer student exchange opportunities:

Field placements

Field education
is a critical component to our undergraduate curriculum as it allows students to link theory with practice in a variety of early childhood settings. Our placement partners offer our students a wealth of learning opportunities not only within the Greater Toronto Area, but also across the country and around the world.

Our We Will Read initiative, offered in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, matches our students with Grade 1 students from Scarborough and North York Schools for individual instruction to improve their reading. This partnership creates a unique, sustained educational experience.

International collaborations

We regularly engage in collaborative research and study tours with the Faculty of Child Studies at the University of Urawa in Saitama, Japan. Each year, a delegation of faculty, students and professionals from the University of Urawa visits us to learn more about our school and our family support programs.

We also collaborate with the Early Childhood Development Initiative (ECDI) on research and student placements in Nigeria, challenging our students to make a difference.

Our diversity policy

Ryerson's School of Early Childhood Studies encourages early childhood professionals to engage in critical reflective practice when working with children and families. In particular, we encourage them to:  

  • Recognize our commonalities and value difference and diversity.
  • Question and evaluate the conventions, biases and expectations inherent in a variety of dominant cultural experiences.  

  • Question notions of development that claim universality.

  • Identify exclusion, inequality, equity and social justice. 

  • Support families from a diversity of backgrounds. This includes listening to families’ priorities and aspirations for their children, and adapting programs and curricula to facilitate their sense of belonging and success. 


We also recognize that it is essential that all students, staff and faculty feel respected, safe and included in our school community.


As a school, we seek to promote and model social responsibility and social justice practices as they relate to a wide range of diversities, such as:

  • Aboriginal issues

  • race

  • nationality

  • religion

  • spiritual beliefs

  • ethnicity

  • language diversity

  • family composition

  • socioeconomic status

  • sexual orientation

  • disability

  • gender issues and experiences