Great Plains IDEA Early Care and Education

HDFS participates in the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA) which is a partnership of 20 public universities that provides access to high-quality, accredited educational opportunities through collaborative, online academic programs.

Focus of Program

Addresses the need for Bachelor level degrees in Early Childhood Education at military installations and in Head Start facilities.  Students learn to work with children birth through age eight using empirical knowledge from an ecological and strengths-based perspective.  Students will gain knowledge in parent-child relations, parenting practices, special needs of children, parental and environmental influences on child development, caregiver-child interactions, external support services, and related public policy issues. 

In collaboration with the Department of Defense, the program provides education for careers on and around military bases that fit the professional development of active duty military, spouses, dependents, retirees, veterans and civilian professionals. The CIP Code is: 19.0706.


There is a common tuition rate for these programs.  There are no in-state/out-of-state fees and the tuition does not include books or supplies.  Please review the fee schedule.

Format of Courses

All classes are delivered online and there are no on-campus meetings. Persons with disabilities are not disadvantaged and are encouraged to participate and seek accommodations through the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Cooperating Universities

Great Plains IDEA programs ( are unique among online degree programs in that:

  • The curriculum is developed by faculty teams at all schools.
  • All courses and programs receive full institutional review and meet the rigorous academic standards of all member schools.
  • Courses are taught by professors with expertise and research interests in the content area.

In addition to Michigan State University, other participating institutions in these programs include:

  • Iowa State University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • South Dakota State University
  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln


It is a limited enrollment major available to transfer students or second degree/additional major, non-traditional students only.  To be admissable to MSU, students must:

  • have 30 transferrable credits
  • completed freshmen writing and college algebra
  • be currently employed in an early childhood education setting
  • can perform CPR and first aid, and can pass a background check
  • currently employed in a preschool or Head Start facility for the three practicum experiences

MSU has not determined whether online programs meet the requirements for professional licensure outside the state of Michigan. Applicants  need to contact the applicable licensing board(s) in the states they wish to purse licensure before seeking admission.

The MSU undergraduate application can be found at:


Michigan State University cannot offer online programs to students based on their residency at the time of application for admission and/or graduation in certain states, please check your state rules at:

For more Information

Read the digital brochure or please contact the MSU Great Plains IDEA Campus Coordinator: Meagan Rau, 552 W. Circle Drive, 14 Human Ecology Building, 517-432-9225 or

Great Plains IDEA logo