Welcome to our ranking of the most affordable online child development degree programs.
When you think of childhood development, what kind of careers come to mind? Preschool teachers? Daycare service providers? Tutors? Social workers? The truth is, graduates with a bachelor’s degree in Childhood Development, Family Studies, Early Childhood Education, or a related field can work in all these jobs and more. That’s because degrees focused on childhood development are often interdisciplinary in nature and combine various aspects of education, psychology, communication, and social science. And these degrees are only becoming more valuable; for example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the need for preschool and childcare center directors will grow by 11% by 2026 – that’s almost twice the national average!
If you’re thinking of going to school or returning to finish your degree, you might want to consider going to college online. There are a lot of really wonderful online degree programs out there, and they’re usually much cheaper than traditional universities (who needs Harvard, anyway?).
The 20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Child Development Degrees Ranking Methodology
For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer adolescent and early childhood development degrees online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $25,000/year or less.
*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
Unfortunately, there are a limited number of online child development degree programs available. Therefore, we could not compile a pool of options large enough to justify a complex ranking system in which we’d filter out schools based on a list of specific factors.
So instead, we ranked the programs solely according to their affordability. See below for the best cheap online bachelor’s in child development degrees, ranked from most to least expensive.
Cheap Online Child Development Degree Programs Ranking
20. Pacific Oaks College
Online BA in Human Development: Early Childhood Education and Development Concentration
Pacific Oak College’s B.A. in Human Development is a degree completion program designed for working adults. Within this program, Pacific Oaks offers a concentration in Early Childhood Education and Development. Most applicants who choose this concentration already have some experience working with children, either through a job or prior college classes. As such, the goal of this accredited online child development degree is to build on students’ foundational knowledge by providing advanced training in topics like classroom diversity, biculturalism, and curriculum design. To graduate, you must also participate in a 45-hour internship in a school or other child development setting.
Average Tuition & Fees: $21,300/yr
19. Concordia University-Saint Paul
Online Bachelor of Arts in Child Development
Individuals who are interested in child development but don’t necessarily want to teach elementary school will appreciate Concordia University – St. Paul’s broad-based program. Although their affordable online bachelor’s in child development does fall within the “Teacher Education” area of study, the curriculum actually touches on a myriad of subjects. For example, you’ll take classes in “Human Diversity and Relations,” “Child Social and Emotional Growth,” and “Ethics in Early Childhood.” And if you are interested in teaching, you’ll be happy to know that the coursework also covers education-related topics like language development and early childhood learning.
Average Tuition & Fees: $21,250/yr
18. Colorado State University-Fort Collins
Online BS in Human Development and Family Studies: Early Childhood Professions
At Colorado State University, you can acquire a comprehensive education in human development as well as specialized expertise in early childhood topics. To ensure you have a solid understanding of growth throughout the lifespan, you’ll begin your education by learning about development as it pertains to couples and families, parenthood, aging, adolescence, and more. Next, you’ll augment your accredited online bachelor’s in child development program with a concentration – most likely in Early Childhood Professions. And finally, you’ll complete 5-8 credits (200-320 hours) of hands-on field experience in a setting pertinent to your career goals.
Average Tuition & Fees: $19,699/yr
17. University of Alabama
Online BS in Human Environmental Sciences: Early Child Development
Compared to other schools in this online child development degrees ranking, the University of Alabama’s program offers deeper and more concentrated instruction in the topic of early childhood. This is due to the structure of the degree itself, which makes early childhood education its primary focus but also provides a specialized track in early child development. The result is a curriculum that’s jam-packed with highly targeted classes like “Children’s Literature and Language Development,” “Child Centers and Programs,” and “Developmental Perspectives of Young Children with Disabilities.” In addition, you’ll complete a six-credit internship in a professional setting (typically an elementary school in your home district).
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,710/yr
16. Washington State University
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development: Certificate in Early Childhood Education
If you’re primarily interested in the field of human development as a whole, Washington State University’s online program should fit your needs. The curriculum covers both foundational and advanced concepts across a wide span of topics, such as family systems, communication and life skills, death and dying, and even policy issues in human development. However, you can effectively transform this program into a top online child development degree by earning a certificate in Early Childhood Education concurrent with your other undergraduate coursework. Indeed, many of the required certificate classes – “Child Development” and “Parent-Child Relationships,” for example – are also part of the general human development curriculum.
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,357/yr
15. Central Michigan University
Online BS in Early Childhood Development and Learning
Central Michigan University’s BS in Early Childhood Development and Learning is primarily designed for students who want to work in non-elementary school settings, such as childcare centers, nonprofits, and social services agencies. In fact, few of the core classes in this online bachelor’s in child development program focus explicitly on education. Rather, you’ll take classes like “Guidance for Young Children,” “Developmental Psychology,” and “Early Childhood Program Administration and Leadership.” This approach ensures that you’ll accrue a versatile skill set that will enable you to assist children and encourage their growth in just about any setting or circumstances.
Average Tuition & Fees: $17,910/yr
14. Southern Oregon University
Online Bachelor’s Degree Completion in Early Childhood Development
A completion program, Southern Oregon University’s bachelor’s degree in early childhood development only accepts applicants who have already completed about two years of college classes. However, SOU will work with you and your current institution (e.g., a community college) in advance to identify the lower-division courses you should take. This strategy helps to ensure that the transfer process goes smoothly when you’re ready to make the switch. Once you’ve enrolled in this affordable BA in Child Development online, you’ll get to dive in to a rich curriculum that touches on everything from children with disabilities and literacy development to course design and education advocacy.
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,847/yr
13. West Virginia University
Online BS in Child Development and Family Studies
The main goal of West Virginia University’s BS in Child Development and Family Studies is to prepare degree candidates to teach in preschool and early childhood classrooms. As such, many of the required classes focus on concepts relevant in school settings, such as literacy, differentiated instruction, special education, and early childhood development. In fact, students who complete the Preschool Education track will qualify for Pre-K teaching certification. This makes WVU one of the only schools on this online bachelor’s degree in child development ranking that leads to a professional credential. However, you can also choose a non-certification track in Child Development, which will prepare you for roles outside the classroom (e.g., administration or advocacy).
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,240/yr
12. Appalachian State University
Online BS in Child Development – Birth through Kindergarten
Although you don’t need an associate’s degree to qualify for Appalachian State’s cheap online bachelor’s in child development program, you will need to have completed at least 30 credits worth of transferable coursework. ASU then provides the remainder of your classes in a convenient online format that blends both asynchronous and synchronous delivery methods. Working at a manageable pace (6-8 hours per semester), you’ll garner an understanding of child development as it pertains to literacy, food and nutrition, psychology, curriculum design, and more. A mere seven semesters later, you’ll be ready to put your skills to the test in a semester-long student-teaching experience.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,394/yr
11. North Dakota State University
Online BS in Human Development and Family Science: Child & Adolescent Development
North Dakota State University’s BS in Human Development and Family Science is ideal for individuals who aspire to careers in the human and social services industries. The thoughtfully designed program offers classes in topics like lifespan development, public policy, and research methods. These and other similar topics will help ensure your success in jobs ranging from administration to advocacy. You can also narrow your focus within this top online bachelor’s in child development by choosing electives that align with one of the two main types of human development careers: direct service (e.g., outreach, counseling) or support service (e.g., research, consulting).
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,989/yr
10. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
Online BS in Human Development and Family Studies: Certificate in Children, Youth, and Family Services
Penn State’s BS in Human Development and Family Studies caters to individuals who want a comprehensive education grounded in practical training. The curriculum addresses a wide range of topics while focusing on skills that will prepare you for a wide range of careers. For example, courses like “Resolving Human Development and Family Problems” and “Development and Administration of Human Services Programs” will provide you will professional problem-solving strategies and leadership techniques that will serve you well in a variety of industries. Finally, an optional certificate in Children, Youth, and Family Services helps narrow your studies while transforming this broad-based program into one of the top online child development degrees.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,678/yr
9. Eastern Kentucky University
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies: Child Development Concentration
Compared to other programs on this list, Eastern Kentucky University offers a remarkably specialized curriculum in child development. Even the core courses in this BS in Child and Family Studies degree feature a narrow focus on early childhood concepts, such as “Family Involvement with Young Children” and “Observation and Assessment in ECE.” As a part of earning this affordable early childhood development degree online, you’ll also be able to earn a concentration in Child Development. These emphasis classes provide an even deeper dive into the field with courses that cover everything from family stress and resilience to program planning for infants and toddlers.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,524/yr
8. Texas Tech University
Online Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences: Youth Development
Texas Tech University’s unique human sciences program is perfect for anyone who values flexibility in his or her coursework. In fact, there is no set curriculum for the major! Instead, students design their personalized plan of study by combining three different concentrations (two of which must be from the College of Human Sciences). If you want to design an accredited online child development degree, for example, you might choose concentrations in Youth Development, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Human Development and Family Studies. Online options from other departments may also be relevant to your interests, such as Public Health or Women’s and Gender Studies.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,324/yr
7. Union Institute & University
Online BS in Childhood & Adolescent Development
The goal of Union Institute & University’s BS in Childhood and Adolescent Development is to prepare program participants for careers in early childcare. To do so, the curriculum focuses on contemporary concepts that are shaping the field of child development today. For example, you’ll learn about the importance of a multicultural curriculum and get up-to-date on the most recent classroom assessment methods. After graduating from this accredited early childhood development degree online, you’ll have the skills you need to work as a child care specialist, aftercare program director, or preschool/elementary school teacher (note, however, that the degree does not lead to teacher licensure).
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,416/yr
6. Brandman University
Online BA in Child Psychology
Brandman University’s program is a little different than most of the other options on this online child development degrees ranking. A Bachelor of Arts in Child Psychology, this degree emphasizes the aspects of adolescent development related to mental and emotional wellbeing. In addition, the program incorporates classes that will train you to assist children who suffer from intellectual and developmental disabilities. Examples include “Pediatric Neuropsychology,” “Preferred Behavior Enhancement,” and “Applied Behavioral Analysis” – all of which will strengthen not only your understanding of crucial psychological concepts but also how to apply those concepts in classroom settings.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,300/yr
5. California State University-East Bay
Online BA in Human Development: Early Childhood Development
At California State University – East Bay, transfer students will find an easy and convenient way to earn their BA in Child Development online (technically a BA in Human Development with a concentration in Early Childhood). More specifically, CSUEB notes that the program should be “of particular interest to transferring community college students who work full-time but still want to earn a full four-year degree.” As incoming majors are likely to come from a variety of backgrounds, the curriculum works to help integrate and synthesize candidates’ knowledge across a wide span of issues, including human development in its “social, cultural, physical, and emotional dimensions.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,144/yr
4. University of Southern Mississippi
Online BS in Child and Family Studies: Child Development
It’s hard to go wrong with the University of Southern Mississippi’s BS degree in Child and Family Studies. Although the program offers two separate emphases (Child Development and Family Relations), both tracks include a solid core of classes in child and adolescent behavior, developmental disabilities, family relationships, children and technology, and more. However, applicants interested in earning an affordable early childhood development degree online may prefer the Child Development track, which focuses on education and literacy and includes a practicum component. The Family Relations track, on the other hand, puts greater emphasis on topics like public health and psychology.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,094/yr
3. Arizona State University
Online Online Bachelor of Science in Family & Human Development: Child Development Track
Given Arizona State University’s extensive online presence, it’s no surprise that it includes a BS in Family and Human Development in its selection of distance education programs. Adopting a wide scope, this degree helps students understand how both individuals and families grow, relate, and communicate in diverse social settings. Like other top online bachelor’s in child development programs, ASU’s degree also offers specialized tracks within the core curriculum. If classes like “Child Dysfunction in the Family” and “Early Childhood Intervention” interest you, you’ll prefer the concentration in Child Development. Or if you prefer topics like “Gender and Society” and “Fundamentals of Marriage and Family Therapy,” check out the concentration in Family Systems.
Average Tuition & Fees: 11779.5/yr
2. University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Online BA in Child and Family Studies
With an average tuition rate of less than $7k a year, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin offers a truly cheap BA in Child Development online. But what’s even more impressive about UTPB’s program is the effort it extends to ensure that distance learners have access to all the resources – and coursework – they could possibly need. Not only are all the core courses in its Child and Family Studies major available online, but many of the general education classes are as well. Plus, the program makes note of several relevant online minors (e.g., communications, history, or criminal justice) that students can earn through their electives courses to boost their knowledge in specific areas.
Average Tuition & Fees: $6,366/yr
1. Central Methodist University
Online Bachelor of Science in Child Development
Technically, Central Methodist University ranks first on this early childhood development degrees online ranking because of its unbeatably low tuition. But don’t worry; this program is anything but a cheap education. Rather, the curriculum offers a rich selection of courses that cover everything from infant and toddler development to children’s health and literature. In addition, you’ll enjoy two opportunities to customize your studies. The first comes when you pick an emphasis in either Early Childhood or School-Aged Children. Next, you’ll get to choose your method of experiential learning. Opt for the early childhood capstone to practice your teaching strategies in a classroom environment, or go for the child development internship to get on-the-job experience in a non-school setting.
Average Tuition & Fees: $5,870/yr
For more information: Central Methodist University
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 top cheap early childhood development degrees online!
Published April 2018