2024 Best Online Child Development Degrees [Bachelor’s Guide]

By Molly Doyle
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on May 7, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?
Explore the best online child development degree programs in 2023. Discover how this degree can lead to careers in education, social services, and more.

A child development degree is a strategic choice for those who have a passion for helping children and a desire to be a positive and influential member of the community.

Best Online Child Development Degrees

Many individuals who study child development go on to work in education or social services, greatly impacting the learning experiences of our youngest society members.

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Not only will you learn more about the developmental domains of child development, but you’ll also have the opportunity to conduct research, improve your communication skills, and learn to collaborate.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Child Development Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Child Development—Birth through Kindergarten. The program is both online and part-time. Some online courses are synchronous, and others are asynchronous. The program leads to licensure in the state of North Carolina and includes a semester of student-teaching.

Appalachian State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Central Methodist University

Central Methodist University offers a Bachelor of Science in Child Development than can be earned on campus or online. The program provides preparation to work in preschool and day care settings or to go to graduate school. Students in the program participate in internships and hands-on learning experiences with children.

Central Methodist University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Columbia College

Columbia College offers a Bachelor of Science in Child Development. CC offers classes in several different formats. Daytime, residential classes are 16 weeks long, and evening and online classes are 8 weeks long. Class sizes are small to help ensure students can receive personalized attention.

Columbia College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Concordia University – St. Paul

Concordia University—St. Paul offers a BA in Child Development. The program can potentially be finished in just 2.5 years. Coursework is all online, but students are required to complete fieldwork experiences at a childcare center. The curriculum includes studies in developmentally appropriate practices and how to create inclusive learning environments.

Concordia University – St. Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University offers a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies—Child Development. The program is 100% online, and each course is just 8 weeks long. Online courses are taught by the same faculty as on campus. Students in the program are required to complete two practicum experiences to gain hands-on experience.

Eastern Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offers a Bachelor of General Studies with a concentration in Child Development. The program is designed for those who wish to work in day care centers and other early childhood settings. Course possibilities include Human Growth and Development, Introduction to Instructional Technology, Educating Exceptional Students, and more.

FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Indiana Tech

Indiana Tech’s BS in Child Development features an immersive curriculum that covers both theory and practice. Students in the program receive hands-on experience through 5 credits of internships. Classes are taught by instructors with years of experience in the field. Indiana Tech offers traditional daytime classes, as well as accelerated online, evening, and weekend classes.

Indiana Tech is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Jacksonville State University

Jacksonville State University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in Child Development. This non-certification program aims to prepare students for careers in childcare centers and similar settings. JSU offers both synchronous and asynchronous online courses. Online students have around-the-clock access to technical support.

Jacksonville State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Maryville University

Maryville University’s Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies program is available 100% online. Coursework is immersive and includes numerous fieldwork opportunities and chances to take steps toward earning various professional certifications. SAT and ACT scores are not needed to apply.

Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University offers a BS in Human Development and Family Sciences that can be earned online. Oregon State follows a quarterly academic calendar, so there are four start dates each year. Course options include Interpersonal Communication, Infant and Child Development, Applied Research Methods, Adolescent Development, and more.

Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Point Loma Nazarene University

Point Loma Nazarene University offers a BA in Child Development. The degree can be earned in hybrid or online formats. Hybrid students can potentially finish in just 15 months. Online students may complete the program at their own pace. The program is designed to meet academic requirements for childcare licensure in California.

PLNU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Point University

Point University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Child Development. The curriculum covers child development from birth through age eight. Graduates may pursue work with children in a variety of educational and care settings. Point University teaches a Christian worldview, and its class sizes average just 13 students.

Point University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University offers an online degree completion program to earn a BS in Child Development. This program is offered through SDSU’s partnerships with community colleges. Coursework is 100% online, but students are required to complete fieldwork experiences. Course options include Interactions in Culturally Diverse Families, Theories in Socio-Emotional Development, and Children with Special Needs.

San Diego State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. SNHU’s online classes have no set meeting times, so students can learn on their own schedules. There are six 8 week terms each year.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Alabama

The University of Alabama offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Child Life. To graduate, students must complete a 600 hour internship. The curriculum gives special emphasis to the needs of hospitalized children. Graduates are eligible to take the Child Life Professional Certification Examination.

The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Child Development. Courses use an accelerated format, with each one being 5 or 6 weeks long. Students take just one course at a time. Courses include Curriculum Planning and Design for Early Learners, Cognitive Development of Infants through Adolescents, Collaboration with Parents and Community, and more.

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Central Missouri

The University of Central Missouri offers a BS in Child and Family Development. The curriculum aims to help students develop a strong understanding of child development theories, while also providing plenty of hands-on learning experiences. Class sizes are small to help ensure students can receive individualized attention. Graduates may pursue work in preschool, day care, and recreational settings for children.

The University of Central Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of La Verne

The University of La Verne offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Child Development. Students can apply to begin in the fall or spring. Online classes are asynchronous to provide maximum flexibility, but online students have access to support services through phone and video conferencing.

The University of La Verne is accredited by the Senior College Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Washington State University

Washington State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development that can be earned 100% online. Accepted students can begin in the fall, spring, or summer. Course options include Human Development Across the Lifespan, Research Methods, Public Policy and Issues in Human Development, Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood, and more.

WSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

West Virginia University

West Virginia University’s BS in Child Development and Family Studies program uses an online, asynchronous format. The curriculum focuses on birth through age five and includes courses such as Families Across the Life Span, Infant Toddler Language and Literacy, and Early Socio-Emotional Development. Students must also participate in internships and field experiences.

West Virginia University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Online Bachelors in Child Development Degrees

Man getting Online Bachelors in Child Development degree

Child development refers to the growth experienced by children as they age. There are several developmental areas, including social, emotional, physical, and cognitive.

In a bachelors in child development online degree program, you can study pedagogical theories prevalent in early childhood education as well as the practical application of these theories. You may also learn different ways to advocate for students and families, communicate with a diverse range of people, and partner with communities.

Although courses will vary from school to school, you can expect a typical child development curriculum to include topics like:

  • Individual and family development
  • Applied research methods
  • Risk and resilience across the lifespan
  • Child social and emotional growth
  • Language development and emergent literacy
  • Ethics in early childhood
  • Young child with special needs
  • Children’s literature

As you work your way through these courses, you’ll likely gain a better understanding of each of the major developmental domains as well as their importance in early child care and education. Those who earn a Bachelor of Arts in Child Development online generally go on to work with children in some capacity.

Many professionals with a child development or early childhood development degree go on to become:

  • Childcare workers
  • Preschool teachers
  • Social workers
  • Preschool and childcare center directors
  • Kindergarten and elementary school teachers
  • Parent educators
  • Early childhood education consultants
  • Youth sports coaches

A degree in this field can also prove useful in a number of areas outside of education, such as policy, advocacy, family support, and healthcare.

A deep understanding of child development could be useful in personal situations as well. If you are a parent or caregiver, for example, being aware of developmentally appropriate practices can help you practice patience and introduce creative learning activities at home.

Child Development Careers and Salaries

Child Development Careers and Salaries

People who earn a bachelor’s degree in child development often go on to work with children or families in an educational setting. Many professionals utilize their knowledge to provide meaningful learning opportunities for children, enabling them to exercise their creativity and develop their social and emotional skills.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who are interested in child development often find themselves drawn to professional roles like the following.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Psychologists $81,040
Speech-Language Pathologists $79,060
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000
Special Education Teachers $61,820
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $61,350
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $47,310
Social and Human Service Assistants $37,610
Preschool Teachers $30,210
Recreation Workers $29,680
Childcare Workers $27,490

While some of these positions—such as preschool teachers, childcare workers, and recreation workers—can be pursued directly after graduation, others may require additional schooling or licensure.

For example, psychologists and speech language pathologists both require a more advanced degree, additional training, and licensure. Teaching positions in public schools also involve passing a licensing exam, with requirements varying between states.

A bachelors degree in child development can often be the beginning of a career in education, policy and advocacy, or healthcare. A bachelors can also act as a foundation for further education and specialization in the field.

BA in Child Development Curriculum & Courses

University students taking BA in Child Development

Typical coursework for a BA in Child Development varies between institutions, but here are some course examples:

  • Individual and Family Development: In this course, you’ll explore the biological and cognitive development of individuals and families, especially as it pertains to gender and culture.
  • Applied Research Methods: You’ll learn how to conduct research with the goal of solving problems faced by individuals or communities.
  • Infants and Toddlers: You’ll study the characteristics and developmental stages of infants and toddlers, covering topics such as developmentally appropriate practice and environments.
  • Child Social and Emotional Growth: In this course, you’ll study the factors that impact and contribute to children’s self-perception and interpersonal relationships, exploring topics like expressing emotion and stages of play.
  • Language Development and Emergent Literacy: Designed to explore the cognitive process of language development and provide tools to effectively teach early literacy skills, this course covers phonics, speaking and listening, and assessment.
  • Ethics in Early Childhood: This course will examine ethical dilemmas in early childhood education through a historical lens.
  • Young Child with Special Needs: Intended to prepare individuals for work with students from a diverse range of backgrounds and ability levels, this course explores topics such as educational intervention, advocacy, and legislative issues.
  • Children’s Literature: In this course, you’ll learn how to use children’s literature to develop and strengthen curriculum as well as create culturally responsive classroom communities.
  • Children’s Play and Learning: This class explores the role of play in education and learning, covering prominent theories from experts such as Piaget and Vygotsky.
  • Dual Language Learners: This course is designed to provide educators with the necessary tools to support young learners who are navigating the process of learning two languages simultaneously.

You can expect the curriculum to cover each of the major developmental areas and to help prepare you for work with young children.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development Program

Student choosing Bachelor's in Child Development Program online

Every child development bachelor’s degree program offers a unique curriculum and experience. As you begin your search for an undergraduate program that is right for you, it is helpful to consider factors such as:

  • Cost. One of the biggest deterrents for many families is cost. It may be helpful to calculate a budget before you begin your search so you can use it as a frame of reference. You can also compare schools’ different financial aid offerings.
  • Timeline. Some schools offer a typical bachelor’s degree program schedule, meaning that you can complete your studies in 4 years when enrolled full-time. Others may offer accelerated programs, which could be beneficial for students hoping to begin their professional career quickly.
  • Class format. Online programs generally offer classes in either asynchronous (pre-recorded) or synchronous (live) formats. Depending on your personal learning style and preference, you can select a school that offers predominantly one or the other.
  • Curriculum. If you have an idea of your career goals after graduation, you can select a child development program with a curriculum that aligns with your goals. This could make it easier to prepare for a specific position in the future.
  • Location. While most online degree programs take place virtually, there are some that have a few in-person requirements. It’s helpful to check these requirements before applying so you can prepare travel plans if necessary.

Using these factors to help determine exactly what you are looking for from a degree program may help you get the most from your college experience.

Admissions Requirements

College admission interview for Bachelor's in Child Development

Admissions requirements for colleges and universities are intended to paint a picture of who you are as an applicant.

There can be differences in requirements between institutions, but here are some common criteria:

  • SAT or ACT scores (only if required)
  • Personal statement
  • Official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation

It’s strategic to utilize each section of your application to highlight a different strength, goal, or achievement. Rather than focusing on one area, such as academics, you can use each section to show a different side of yourself. This may help admissions teams develop a better understanding of who you are as an individual, including your academic abilities and dreams for the future.


University offering for Bachelor's in Child Development

Attending a regionally accredited college or university can impact your educational experience as well as your future job search. An accredited institution is one that has undergone a thorough review and an evaluation for quality. This typically includes a review of a school’s facilities, fiscal capacity, curricula, and admissions practices.

If a school becomes accredited, it must then upkeep its accreditation status by participating in the process again every five to ten years. This ensures that a school keeps up to date with the latest educational and technological developments, offering students a high-quality education. Employers and graduate programs generally require applicants to hold an accredited degree.  

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid Bachelor's in Child Development

If you qualify, financial aid options can help you cover some of the costs of a college education. Luckily, applying for federal financial aid does not have to be a difficult process. You can start by filling out the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

As the name suggests, there is no cost to fill out this form, and it will provide you with a breakdown of how much need-based financial aid you are eligible to receive from federal programs. Another way to pursue financial help is to apply for scholarship opportunities. Specific programs are offered through schools and outside parties.

Typically, schools offer scholarships in a diverse range of areas, including opportunities based on academics, sports, community service, and ethnicity.

Child Development Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization could help you expand your personal network. Here are some professional organizations for the field of child development:

Being a member of a professional organizations is also a strategic way to stay on top of the latest developments in your field.

What Is a Child Development Major?

Kindergarten teacher and students during class

A child development major is focused on the study of children and their growth, from infancy through adolescence. Along with studying the major developmental domains—including physical, linguistic, social-emotional, and cognitive—you’ll also explore the contexts in which children grow and develop.

Many programs offer an opportunity to explore child development research in the areas of behavioral and social science. Additional topics that could be covered in a child development degree program include health and nutrition, infant and toddler development, and child assessment.

What Can I Do with a Child Development Degree?

Child development majors often accept professional positions in education after they complete their studies. Many individuals who study child development are drawn to positions as preschool or kindergarten teachers, childcare workers, or recreation workers. Some graduates in child development also often complete education degree online or on campus programs to augment their credentials. Some universities even offer online masters in child development degree programs for those wishing to further their educations.

Positions outside of education that still benefit children—such as social work or counseling—are also popular career paths, though some roles will require specialized training. Professionals who gain experience as preschool teachers or childcare workers might also work their way up toward leadership roles, such as preschool or childcare center directors.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Child Development Bachelor Degree Online?

Woman getting her Child Development Bachelor Degree Online

If you follow a traditional16 week semester and attend full-time, it will typically take 4 years to complete a bachelors degree program. Alternatively, if you follow an 8 week semester and stay continuously enrolled year-round, you may be able to finish in less time.

Every school offers different programs with unique timelines. Researching the program lengths for specific schools of interest can help you make plans for the future. It is helpful to note that online programs often take a shorter time to complete than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. This, in turn, may help you begin your career sooner. Part-time enrollment, though, will often lengthen your time to completion.

How Much Money Can You Make with an Early Child Development Degree?

How much money you earn after completing an early child development degree program depends on several factors, such as your job title, your experience level, and your geographic location.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that most preschool teachers earn between $22,840 and $58,530 each year. These positions have the potential for upward mobility, with preschool and childcare center directors typically making between $31,200 and $78,350.

The median salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is $61,350 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Graduates can also find work in community and social services. If you go on to earn a graduate degree, you may be qualified for higher-earning positions in social work, counseling, or speech-language pathology.

What’s the Difference Between a Bachelors in Child Development vs. Early Childhood Education?

A degree in child development and early childhood education differ in focus, but they could lead to similar career paths.

Child Development Early Childhood Education
  • Studies children’s physical, social-emotional, psychological, and cognitive growth
  • Broader field, even involving study of family relationships
  • Has job applications in many fields, such as school, social work, and healthcare
  • Focuses on learning experiences of children prior to kindergarten
  • Narrower field that centers on education of young children
  • Has job applications primarily in childcare and school settings

The degree path that is best for you will likely depend on your specific interests and career goals.

Is an Online Child Development Degree Worth It?

Psychologists and child client in a session

Yes, an online child development degree is worth it for many professionals. Many individuals find a deep sense of fulfillment when they work with children. Childcare workers and teachers often develop strong and impactful relationships with students and families.

Many of the positions in the field of child development are also experiencing employment growth at a rate as fast as or faster than the national average for other occupations. Employment of education, training, and library occupations overall is expected to grow 10% over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Getting Your Bachelor’s in Child Development Degree Online

Student getting Online Child Development Degree online

Earning a bachelor degree in child development could help you prepare for a fulfilling career supporting the growth and development of children and adolescents.

Over the course of your studies, you can develop a strong understanding of crucial developmental stages in the lives of children. This information could help you contribute to the fields of social services, education, and healthcare.

If you’re ready to begin your academic journey, you could start with a simple search for online child development degree programs. The sooner you start exploring accredited schools, the sooner you may find the right program for your needs and aspirations.

Ready to start your journey?