MA in Education – Nature-Based Early Childhood Education Concentration

Our new MA in Education Nature-Based Early Childhood Education Concentration provides educators with professional development and training for helping young students explore and grow in nature’s classroom. Children who spend more time outdoors develop healthier bodies and creative, inquisitive minds.

Become a leader in the global nature-based education movement – whether you wish to create, develop, or instruct nature preschools and forest kindergartens. There are 15 required concentration units as a part of our 45-unit MA in Education program.

Scholarships Available

There are ten scholarships of $500 each for applicants to either the Certificate or the Masters program. These scholarships are provided by First Five of Santa Barbara County to strengthen the preparation and capacity of Early Childhood Educators. The scholarships can be applied to the tuition for either program. We will consider anyone with 12 units of Early Childhood Education or the equivalent, who is working in an Early Childhood (Birth through Age 8) context or intends to be working in a Nature Based or Forest Kindergarten eligible to apply. If you are interested in applying for a First Five Scholarship, please provide a short essay on the following prompts.

Learn more!

  • I have the following experience in Early Childhood settings:
  • I am interested in the Nature Based Early Childhood program because:
  • The scholarship will support me to accomplish my career goals by:

Please send your essay to our Financial Aid department at

The Storer Foundation has generously offered $20,000 in scholarship money to encourage Early Childhood Educators to learn more about how to include outdoor education and nature based experiences in their early childhood programs. Our intention is to award this to the first ten applicants interested in either the MAE with Concentration in NBECE or the NBECE Certificate program. Please respond to the following prompts:

  • Please describe your experience working with young children.
  • Please describe your level of experience and expertise working with young children outdoors in nature.
  • Given the changing opportunities young children have to play outside and to interact with the natural world, how will you use your education to make a difference in children’s lives?

Please send your essay to our Financial Aid department at

Upcoming Courses in 2017

EDP 5280.SB: Ecology of Imagination in Childhood (1.5 units)
Marianne D’Emidio-Caston
Class schedule:
January 3-5, 2017

EDP 5090.SB: Nature-Based Early Childhood Curriculum (3 units)
Pattie Bailie & Sunny Crandell
Class schedule:
Jan 6-9, 2017

EDP 5030.SB: Natural History for Early Childhood (1.5 units)
Andrew Lindsey
Class schedule:
Jan 28, Feb 11, Mar 11 2017

Details: These courses are electives in our new Nature- Based Early Childhood Education Certificate Program, or can be used as electives for graduate students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Education program with a Concentration in NBECE. Want to take the classes as stand alone experiences for your own interest or Professional Development? You are also welcome! Talk to an Admissions Advisor today: or 805.962.8179 x 5301

MAE Requirements

  • 45 units
  • Residency: Two full-time and three half-time quarters (half-time = 6-9 units, full-time = 10-15 units)
  • Thesis

Required Courses for ALL MAE Tracks

SummerFallWinterSpringSummer 2
TEP 6350 - Research Ethics for Human Subjects (1)TEP 6140 - Foundations of Educational Research (3)TEP 6160 - Critical Evaluation of Education Research (3)TEP 6190 - Producing and Disseminating Educational Research (3)TEP 6211 - Thesis Study (6)
TEP 6300.SB - Soc Justice Education (3)TEP 6310 - Resilience and the School Community (3)
4 units3 units3 units3 units9 units
TOTAL = 22 units

Concentration in Nature-Based Early Childhood Education Required Courses

SummerFallWinterSpringSummer 2
EDC 5090.SB - Nature-Based Early Childhood Curriculum (3) 7/11-15EDP 5620.SB - Risk Management for Nature-Based Early Childhood (3)
10 units (including required courses for MAE track)4.5 units3 units6 units9 units
TOTAL REQUIRED = 32.5 units
12.5 Elective Units Needed

Elective Units

(4.5 NBECE Elective Units Required)

EDT 5100.SB – Landscape Design for Nature Play & Learning (1.5) – Fall

EDC 6650.SB – Music, Movement and Storytelling for Early Childhood (1.5) – Fall

EDC 5280.SB – Ecology of Imagination in Childhood (1.5) – Winter

EDC 5030.SB – Natural History for Early Childhood (1.5) – Winter

ED 5900.SB – Internship in Nature Preschools or Forest Kindergartens (Variable Units)

EDC 5160.SB – School Change Practicum – own classroom (Variable Units)

TEP 6110 – Independent Study (Variable Units and Variable Quarter)

TEP 6110 – Women & Leadership Courses

“I became acutely aware that what a child wanted to do most of all was to make a world in which to find a place to discover a self.”

– Edith Cobb, author, The Ecology Imagination in Childhood