If you’re interested in the cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development of children, you might consider pursuing a masters in child development.
A masters degree in this field could help you develop your expertise and professional qualifications in the specialty of your choosing. Graduate-level training in child development can also be a beneficial supplement to careers in healthcare, social work, education, and counseling.
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Read on to discover potential degree specializations, course topics, and career paths associated with the advanced study of child development.
Masters in Child Development Online Programs
A Master of Child Development program covers the emotional, social, physical, and intellectual development and well-being of children.
You’ll likely explore the effects that culture and surroundings have on children and their families as well. A masters program in child development will often cover a range of subjects, and many schools offer specializations as well. Common child development concentrations include:
- Intervention strategies
- Infant and early childhood mental health
- Child life
- Developmental psychology
Your program will likely include courses related to research methods as well. The field of child development often involves working with children from early youth to adolescence.
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Professionals in this field work in a variety of sectors, including school settings, clinical settings, and research settings. Job titles in this field can include:
- Youth advocate
- Childcare center director
- Social service worker
- Instructional coordinator
- Kindergarten and elementary school teacher
- Special education teacher
- School and career counselor
- Mental health counselor
The type of roles you can qualify for with a master in child development will likely depend on your degree specialization and prior experience. Some positions, such as counselors and public school teachers, require licensure as well.
A masters program could also help you prepare for doctoral studies in child development or a related field, such as social work, child psychology, or behavioral psychology.
Common Online Masters in Child Development Concentrations
Here are some common concentrations found in an online child development degree graduate program:
- Counseling. A counseling concentration typically involves courses that deal with mental health and family issues. You’ll likely focus on school and child counseling in particular.
- Intervention Strategies. This concentration explores a wide range of intervention strategies for child developmental or behavioral issues.
- Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health. This concentration emphasizes the emotional, social, and mental development of infants up to age five.
- Child Life. This concentration helps prepare students to become certified child life specialists in the healthcare field. An internship at a medical facility is often required for this concentration.
- Developmental Psychology. With this concentration, you can learn the fundamentals of psychology as it relates to infants and adolescents. You’ll also focus on social and emotional developmental stages.
Concentration offerings can vary from school to school. Your short-term and long-term career goals can help you determine which specialty area is best for you.
Child Development Careers and Salaries
Professionals who earn a masters in child development can work in a wide range of careers and industries, depending on their area of specialty and prior work experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the career paths related to child development, along with their median salaries.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Junior College Teachers||$76,350|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|Special Education Teachers||$61,820|
|Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers||$61,350|
|School and Career Counselors and Advisors||$60,510|
|Social Science Research Assistants||$49,720|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$48,520|
|Preschool and Childcare Center Directors||$47,310|
Some child development professionals work in the medical field as child life specialists, while others work in education as teachers or instructional coordinators. Social services is another common field for graduates.
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A number of roles related to child development—such as social workers, counselors, and public school teachers—require additional licensure or certification.
Child Development Master’s Curriculum & Courses
You’ll likely take courses that span several different disciplines in child development. These classes typically range from education courses to psychology courses.
Here are some examples of courses you may come across:
- Typical and Atypical Behaviors of Young Children: You’ll learn how children develop and learn socially, physically, and emotionally, and you’ll learn how to design learning opportunities for children.
- Foundations of Infant Mental Health: This course involves the theories and views of infant mental health.
- Family Studies: You’ll learn about parenting and family management relating to infants and young toddlers.
- Parent-Child Relationship Assessment in Early Childhood: You’ll study social and emotional relationships and mental assessments.
- Foundations of Early Childhood Education: This course involves learning about family roots, ethics, and teaching models in early childhood development.
- Mathematics in Early Childhood Education: You’ll learn about teaching methods and about assessing students reasoning and math skills.
- Infant Observation: In this course, you’ll learn about parent-child relationships and the observation of infants.
- Appropriate Instructional Methodologies for Young Children: This course involves surveying teaching methodologies for small children.
- Creating and Managing the Early Childhood Environment: You’ll explore types of environments that support collaborative learning and social interactions.
- Early Childhood Mental Health: Parent-Child Relationships: In this course, you’ll learn about infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) and about forming supportive relationships among families and young children.
Many masters programs have internship components, and some also require the completion of a thesis.
Admission requirements for masters programs in child development can be different for each school, but here are some common criteria:
- Bachelor’s degree
- Minimum GPA requirement, often 3.0 or higher
- Letters of recommendation
- Official undergraduate transcripts
A growing number of schools no longer require GRE or GMAT scores, but this is still a traditional requirement for many graduate programs. You may also be required to submit an application processing fee.
Child Development Master Programs Accreditation
It is essential that you earn your masters in child development from a regionally accredited school. Regional accreditation establishes a school’s credibility, and attending an accredited school can affect your ability to transfer credits and receive financial aid.
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Holding a graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution is a common requirement for industry certification. Most employers also consider the credibility of your education during the hiring process. You can verify the accreditation status of prospective schools by visiting the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are a number of financial aid options available to graduate students who qualify. Financial aid often comes in the form of scholarships, student loans, work-study programs, and grants, though grants are less common for graduate students.
To see if you’re eligible for need-based aid through the federal government, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your state may offer aid options as well. If you are currently employed, you can also see if your work offers tuition benefits to those who are continuing their education.
What Can I Do with a Masters in Child Development?
The range of careers you can qualify for with a masters in child development will likely depend on your degree specialization and your prior experience, among other factors.
Many graduates work in education, healthcare, childcare, or social services. Some use their expertise as teachers, instructional coordinators, childcare center directors, or community social workers. Others work as school or mental health counselors.
A child development masters program could also help prepare you for doctoral studies in this field or related sectors, such as psychology and counseling.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Child Development Masters Online?
How long it takes for you to get your online masters degree depends on your program’s requirements as well as the class load that you are able to take.
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For example, full-time students can often complete a 36 credit hour program in about 1 year if they take classes year-round, including during the summer. If you plan on taking classes part-time, it will likely take longer for you to complete your masters degree. Additional program requirements, such as an internship or thesis, can add to your overall completion time as well.
What’s the Difference Between an Online Masters Degree in Child Development vs. Child Psychology?
Both a masters in child psychology and a masters in child development can fall within the umbrella of psychology, but here are some of the differences between these two fields.
|Child Psychology||Child Development|
The degree path that’s right for you will likely depend on your interests and long-term career goals.
What’s the Difference Between an Online Master’s Degree in Child Development vs. Early Childhood Education?
Here are some of the differences between a masters in early childhood education and a masters degree in child development.
|Early Childhood Education||Child Development|
Child development has a stronger focus on psychology than learning, while early childhood education’s primary focus revolves around teaching and school activities.
Is a Master’s in Child Development Online Degree Worth It?
Yes, a master’s in child development online degree is worth it for many professionals. Obtaining a masters degree in child development can allow you to develop specialized expertise in the field. This area of study can be beneficial for a wide range of career paths, especially in healthcare, education, and social services.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, education, training, and library occupations are expected to see 10% job growth over the next ten years. Similarly, employment for community and social service positions is projected to grow by 12%, which is faster than average.
Universities Offering Online Masters 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.
Capella University offers an MS in Child and Adolescent Development. The program is online and includes an integrative project. Students can choose between 12 week, asynchronous courses that provide flexibility or 10 week, synchronous courses that provide more structure. The curriculum covers how to analyze scientific literature on child development and how to apply best practices in the real world.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Erikson Institute offers an online program for a Master of Science in Child Development. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours, which can typically be completed within 3 years, even with part-time study. Classes can be started each fall. Students finish the program by completing a capstone project under the guidance of a faculty adviser.
Erikson Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers a Master of Early Intervention and Child Development. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, which can potentially be finished in just 1 year. The curriculum focuses on children from birth to age eight. Coursework includes Research in EICD, Assessment in Counseling, Applied Behavioral Analysis for Teachers, and more.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online program for a Master of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology. It is designed for students who have already completed relevant undergraduate coursework. The program requires the completion of 36 credits and uses an asynchronous format.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Tarleton State University’s online MS in Child Development and Family Studies program can typically be completed in 18 months. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours. Course options include Language and Cognitive Development in Childhood, Research Methods in Human Science, Culture and Diversity in Schools, and more.
Tarleton State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Texas Woman’s University offers an MS in Child Development that can typically be earned in 12 to 18 months. The program is 100% online and designed with working professionals in mind. Each course is 7 weeks long. There are also face-to-face course options available on campus in Denton.
Texas Woman’s University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers an online program for an MA in Psychology with a Child and Adolescent concentration. The program can typically be finished in 1 year of full-time study or 2 years of part-time study. Courses include Trauma and Crisis Intervention, Family Systems and Family Therapy, Evidence-Based Programs for Children and Adolescents, and more.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
The University of La Verne offers a Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Development. Students can choose between the Practitioner track, which requires the completion of 33 units, or the Researcher track, which requires the completion of 39 units. Full-time students can usually finish in 30 months, and part-time students can usually finish in 42 months.
The University of La Verne is accredited by the Senior College Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The University of Minnesota offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development. The program requires the completion of 32 credits and has no on-campus components, though online students have the option to take some classes on campus. There are three specialized tracks available: Child Life, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, and Individualized Studies.
The University of Minnesota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of North Carolina—Charlotte offers a Master of Education and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Family and Child Development. Both programs provide immersive experiences and can be tailored to students’ interests. Courses are completed in a hybrid format that includes both face-to-face and online components.
UNC Charlotte is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Masters in Child Development Online
The field of child development is broad. It has essential applications in a range of sectors, including healthcare, education, and social services.
Pursuing a masters in child development can help you advance your professional qualifications in the specialty area of your choice. In addition, a growing number of the best online colleges for education degree programs offer graduate programs in child development online, allowing you to further your education according to your own schedule. A growing number of universities also offer online PhD in Child Development programs for professionals wishing to earn this credential.
You can start exploring accredited child development masters degrees today to find the program and specialization that best align with your interests and goals.