Courses in

Nursing Health Sciences and Social Care

GMIT Mayo campus

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Early Childhood Education and Care

Four year honours degree offering learners the opportunity to become specialists in the care and education of young children between birth and six years of age

Discipline: Nursing Health Sciences and Social Care

Programme Code: 


Location: Mayo

NFQ Level: 8

Programme Duration: Four years

Mode of Study: Full time

Application Route: Apply through the CAO

Places: 30

CAO Round 1 Points: 270 (2020)

Why Study?

GMIT Mayo campus in Castlebar, County Mayo offers a contemporary and dynamic approach to professional preparation in the early years sector.

This four year Bachelor of Arts honours degree is designed to provide learners with a comprehensive education in Early Childhood Education and Care. 

The focus of the course is the study of the play, development and learning of children from birth to six years old in a sociocultural context and the implications this has for practice in early childhood settings. It emphasises the links between theory and practice, and highly values the development of professional and academic skills and knowledge. 

It aims to equip the learner with knowledge, skills and competencies required for autonomous working practice in Early Childhood Education and Care.

There are clear pathways for progression and career advancement.  This Level 8 degree prepares graduates to work in a variety of national roles. These include Mentoring roles, Early Years Specialist roles, and Inspection roles with Tusla and with the Department of Education and Skills.  All of these roles require a minimum qualification at QQI Level 8. 

A child-led transformational philosophy will underpin the programme to build authentic reciprocal relationships with children, parents, colleagues, the community and other professionals.

The course is based on the contemporary principles of best practice as determined by Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (2006) and Aistear, The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (2009).

***Download our brochure here (PDF, 2.52MB)***


Advanced Entry

Direct entry into Year 2 is available for learners who have completed QQI at Level 6 in Early Childhood Education and Care.

The Early Childhood Education and Care degree will equip you to implement effective practice with children and families in a range of situations based on the work of researchers at the forefront of the field. As a team we are passionately committed to empowering and inspiring learners to make transformational changes to their own lives and to the lives of children, families and communities.

We value learners' individual experiences and existing knowledge and embrace a diversity of opinions. The programme encourages learners to engage in continuous critical reflection and analysis.

Visit our Admissions page where you can apply under "Advanced Entry".


Applied learning

Prepare for the working world by spending around 1,000 hours on work placement during your course.

A unique feature of this undergraduate degree is that work placement is an integral part of each week with learners spending 12 hours per week on placement over the duration of the programme. This ensures there is a strong emphasis on merging theory with practice.

Supervised work placement allows learners to have extensive opportunities for hands-on learning throughout the programme.

The process of reflective practice establishes the foundation for observation, which is an essential element in meeting the developmental needs of children. This in turn facilitates curriculum planning, assessment, conducting research and analysing the results.


Professional Recognition

In March 2021, this degree was officially recognised as meeting the Professional Award Criteria and Guidelines for Initial Professional Education (Level 7 and Level 8) Degree Programmes for the Early Learning and Care Sector in Ireland.

This endorsement is recognition that our students are deemed to be at the centre of providing high quality care and education to our youngest citizens and their families.

Programme Modules

Our undergraduate programme at GMIT is a tiered system that builds on the expertise gained at each preceding level. Learners can focus on individual areas of interest as they progress through the programme.

There is a specific focus on building a strong foundation amongst learners to lead excellence in pedagogical practices within early childhood settings.

Assessment is continuous in nature and includes assignments, project work as well as work placement.

With an emphasis on the knowledge, skills, practices, and values inherent in contemporary understandings of best practice in early childhood education, you will be well positioned to work with children and families in an array of early years centres.

Work placement is an integral part of each year.

Year 1

It begins with a first year introduction to child development and psychology, with a particular emphasis on play, creativity, relationships, curricula, pedagogy, health and wellbeing.

Year 2

Topics include working which children under 3, sociology, enquiry with young children, diversity and equality, early childhood law, learning environments and research with children.

Year 3

Topics include leadership and governance, transitions, family centred practice, outdoor play, trends in ECEC and employment law.

Year 4

Topics include empowering human relationships, neurodiversity, nature and place, creativity, reflective practice and management in ECEC.  Learners can focus on individual areas of interest in year 4 including the setting up of your own business or carrying out an independent piece of action research.

Career Opportunities

There is growing recognition that Early Childhood Education and Care is a distinctive specialty with its own career pathways. It will offer enhanced employability within the rapidly professionalising sector, furthermore, the degree will offer graduates a gateway to a number of careers including:

  • Early childhood educator
  • Manager in an early years centre
  • Early years inspector
  • Early years specialist
  • Entrepreneur in the ECE field

Opportunities also exist for further education at masters level to pursue careers in research, psychology, speech and language therapy, primary teaching among others.

The course is designed to attract both school-leavers, mature learners and international learners and is designed for people working towards careers in services for children, young people and their families. It caters for the demand for highly qualified early years and childhood professionals, while also developing future researchers in the field.

The BA in Early Childhood Education and Care QQI level 7 graduates working in the sector will be eligible for the higher capitation.

Essential Information: 

Practice Development

Practice development is an integral part of the BA in Early Childhood Education and Care.

Our learners undertake 12 hours practice development per week, in an Early Years setting, which allows you to apply what you have learned in a real-world environment.

Garda vetting is required.


Study environment

The college campus is situated in the centre of Castlebar, Co. Mayo. The town has a wide range of shops, bars, restaurants, a cinema and several other leisure opportunities.

Our campus building is a charming mixture of old and new and there are around 800 learners. It is known and loved for its friendly and informal atmosphere, which is highly appreciated by our learners.

Teaching methods include:

  • Lectures
  • Group work
  • Learner presentations
  • Project oriented learning

The campus offers learners opportunities to join a wide range of clubs and societies, exploring and participating in many interests.

GMIT Clubs and Societies promote community and learner involvement and gives learners an opportunity to meet like-minded people and have fun!

Contact Us

Mary Skillington

Phone: +353 (0) 94 904 3133

Email: Mary Skillington