Majoring in Child Development and Family Studies (CDFS) prepares students for careers working with children and their families, including early childhood education (ECE). Our program introduces child development theory and current research, emphasizes early childhood education best practices, and recognizes children in the context of family and culture. Students will apply learned theories, in actual settings with young children, under the supervision of Cuesta College Lab Teachers and Instructors.


Early Childhood Teacher Pathways prepare students to work with children from infancy into middle childhood in various learning environments. The Pathways will educate and train students to become effective teachers; provide hands on learning in the classroom; and support students to develop as teaching professionals.

Students who plan to work in the field of Early Childhood Education are advised to pursue a Child Development Permit (CDP). Early Childhood Education Program course work is approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing as meeting the requirements for the CDP Permits. The six levels of Child Development Permits are: Assistant Teacher, Associate Teacher, Teacher, Master Teacher, Site Supervisor, and Program Director. Students completing the core four courses (CDFS 201, 202, 203, and 205) will qualify for an Associate Teacher Certificate, through Cuesta College. Students completing the ECE AA or AS-T degrees (coupled with experience in the field) are eligible for the Child Development Permit at the Teacher level.

The ECE Distance Learning Professional Track is designed for Early Childhood Educators, who are not pursuing a degree at Cuesta College, and who want to deepen their understanding of child development, build their early childhood classroom skills, and advance their careers in ECE in a supportive online learning community. Three professional certificates are available: Associate Teacher Certificate of Achievement (12 CDFS units), Teacher Certificate of Achievement (26 CDFS units), and Master Teacher Certificate of Achievement (35 CDFS units). Early Childhood professionals may earn Work Experience credits at their early care and education sites, under the supervision of a mentor teacher.