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Online Bachelor’s in Child Development Programs 2021

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A child development degree trains students to support children and young learners as they grow. With a degree in child development, professionals can pursue careers as preschool directors, child life specialists, and kindergarten teachers.

Earning a child development degree generally takes four years of full-time study. Learners typically study topics like infant and toddler development, atypical child development, and early childhood education.

Our list ranks the best online child development programs for 2021. Prospective students can use these rankings to find the right for their career goals. This article also introduces career paths for graduates with a child development degree, common courses for child development majors, and scholarship opportunities.

Advertisement BestValueSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

What Can I Do With a Child Development Degree?



Child development professionals must understand how infants, toddlers, and young children develop emotionally and mentally. They help children gain new skills, work through challenges, and overcome obstacles.

Training in child development leads to careers in early childhood education and childcare. For example, graduates can work as preschool teachers who help children build developmentally appropriate skills. They can also work as preschool and childcare center directors, making curriculum decisions for young learners.

A child development degree also prepares graduates for careers in social services and healthcare. Many child development jobs require a bachelor’s degree. Earning a bachelor’s in child development helps current childcare professionals advance their careers.

Accreditation for a Child Development Degree



Prospective students should always check a school’s accreditation status before applying. Accredited schools meet high standards for educating students and granting degrees. To earn accreditation, colleges and universities must submit to a comprehensive review from an independent accrediting agency. Schools that follow the best practices as demonstrated by their student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and graduation requirements can receive accreditation.

Accreditation benefits students in important ways. For instance, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid. Additionally, many employers prefer to hire candidates with an accredited degree, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions.

Programs within a school may also hold accreditation. For example, the National Association for the Education of Young Children grants accreditation to child development programs. Students can verify a school or program’s accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education database.

FAQ

Question Answer
What kind of jobs can I get with a child development degree? A child development degree prepares graduates for careers in early childhood education and childcare. Graduates may also work in social services.
How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree in child development? Earning a bachelor’s degree in child development generally takes full-time students four years. Majors who choose an accelerated program or transfer credits toward their degree can finish in less time.
How much does a child development major make? According to PayScale, child development majors earn just over $50,000 per year, on average. However, the salary for child development jobs varies depending on the role.
Do you need additional training to work in child development? A bachelor’s degree in child development meets the educational requirement for many child development jobs. Some employers also look for professional experience.

What Are the Requirements for a Child Development Degree?



Prospective child development majors often must meet certain requirements before joining their program. For example, most colleges and universities require a high school diploma or the equivalent and SAT or ACT scores. After gaining admission, undergraduates may need to take prerequisite courses before declaring their major.

The requirements to graduate with a child development degree vary by program. In general, students must typically earn around 120 credits. Some programs incorporate a capstone project or practicum that provides professional experience.

Courses in a Child Development Program



Courses in a child development program build research, observational, and analytical skills. Students develop these skills through lectures, projects, and hands-on learning requirements.

During a child development degree, undergraduates typically take courses on topics like infant and toddler development, early childhood education, and atypical child development. Some programs let majors specialize their degree by choosing electives in areas like neuroscience, education, and psychology.

While specific courses vary by program, many child development programs include the courses below.

Introduction to Child Development
A degree in child development often begins with an introductory course, which provides an overview of the field and the major. Degree-seekers study the history of child development as a field, typical stages of child development, and the research tools scholars use to understand development. They also examine the role of observation and teaching in child development. The course prepares undergrads for advanced coursework in their major.
Infant and Toddler Development
Enrollees examine growth and development in the first three years of life. The course incorporates research, child observations, and early education practices to understand infant and toddler development. In addition to examining physical health, the course may also explore mental health and emotional attachments in the earliest years of life. The class prepares graduates for careers working with infants and toddlers.
Early Childhood Development
Learners explore various types of early childhood programs and theoretical approaches to early childhood education. Coursework covers the student assessment process, observation skills, and educator tools for working with children of different ages. Students also learn about trends in the field and issues facing early childhood educators. The class provides foundational training for child development majors interested in early childhood education careers.
Curriculum for Young Children
Students learn about the appropriate practices for building a curriculum. They learn to connect curricular material to child development, use student observations to revise the curriculum, and draw on early learning theories to create a curriculum. Learners also explore developmentally appropriate curriculum guidelines. The course prepares child development majors for leadership roles in the field.
Atypical Child Development
Learners explore the typical human development sequence in terms of motor, cognitive, social/emotional, and language skills. The course then examines deviations from typical development. Topics may include the developmental sequences of disabilities such as autism. The course prepares graduates to work with children with disabilities.

Certifications and Licensure for Child Development Majors



Depending on their career goals, child development majors may need a certification or license. For example, those who work in early childhood education can pursue teacher certification or the child development associate credential. Professional certifications and licenses can help candidates stand out in the job market.

Childcare License


State and local governments license childcare providers, including childcare centers, preschools, and in-home providers. To receive a license, providers must follow minimum requirements, including child-to-teacher ratios. Regulations also govern nutrition, safety, public health practices, and training requirements.


Child Development Associate


The CDA credential recognizes experienced early childhood educators. Candidates must demonstrate knowledge of competency standards, including how to help children advance their developmental stages. As part of earning the credential, candidates participate in a verification visit. Some childcare centers and preschools prefer to hire candidates with this credential.


Early Childhood Teacher Certification


In many states, child development graduates can pursue an early childhood teaching credential or license. Requirements vary by state, but they often include a bachelor’s degree with coursework in child development and early childhood education. Many states also require an examination and a background check as part of the certification process.

Professional Organizations for Child Development Majors



Researching professional organizations can help child development majors build their professional network and prepare for the job market. These organizations offer networking opportunities, professional development resources, and career support. Many organizations also host job boards that list openings in the field. Students, early career professionals, and experienced child development professionals can all benefit from professional organizations.


  • National Head Start Association

    Founded in 1974, this nonprofit represents the 245,000 staff members working in the Head Start program. NHSA provides professional development resources, including a knowledge center with information on best practices, early childhood education policies, and data. The association also hosts conferences and events.


  • National Education for the Education of Young Children

    NAEYC promotes quality early learning for children from birth through age eight. The association represents more than 60,000 professionals and offers resources on best practices, education policies, and child development research. NAEYC also accredits early childhood programs that meet high standards.


  • Society for Research in Child Development

    SRCD promotes research and science in child development. The organization offers fellowships and mentorship programs, teaching resources, and information on policy engagement. The society’s professional advancement resources include events with networking opportunities and a career center with job postings.


  • Childhood Education International

    Founded in 1892, CEI promotes the education of children around the world. The association promotes access to quality care and a right to learn for all children. CEI publishes news and articles about the field and offers a global network to connect professionals.


Scholarships for Child Development Students

Child development students qualify for many scholarships. Professional associations, private foundations, and government agencies award scholarships to child development and early childhood education majors. In addition to the following scholarships, degree-seekers can look for opportunities based on factors like their school, state, or career goals.

NAEYC Lasting Legacy Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports preschool administrators and teachers. The Diane Trister Dodge Award funds bachelor’s students in early childhood education who plan to work in the education field.
Amount: Varies

Montessori Teacher Education Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The American Montessori Society awards scholarships to support future Montessori teachers. Applicants must attend an AMS-affiliated program at the infant and toddler, early childhood, elementary, or secondary level. The committee considers applicants based on financial need, a personal statement, and three recommendation letters.
Amount: Varies

Mister Rogers Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Seniors in child development or early childhood education programs can apply. Applicants must attend an accredited school with the goal of working in children’s media. Applicants must submit a detailed plan of how they plan to use the scholarship funds.
Amount: Varies

Kentucky Early Childhood Development Scholarship

Who Can Apply: College students in Kentucky qualify for this early childhood development scholarship. Applicants must be child development or early childhood education majors, Kentucky residents, and employed at least 20 hours per week in an early childhood facility or preschool. Recipients must agree to a service commitment after completing their degree.
Amount: Up to $1,800

Educational Advancement Foundation Scholarships

Who Can Apply: A scholarship offered by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation, this award supports full-time undergraduate students. Applicants must attend an accredited school, demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA, and complete at least one year of college before applying. The scholarship also looks for evidence of community service and involvement.
Amount: Varies

Online Bachelor’s in Child Development Programs 2021



  1. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
    Location

    Natchitoches, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Northwestern State University of Louisiana's Global Campus offers a fully online bachelor's in child and family studies that trains students for careers in fields such as education, healthcare and wellness, and social services. The 120-credit child development degree explores topics such as child development, family development, and individual and family management.

    Students choose one of two 24-credit concentrations: consumer services or child development and family relations. Enrollees must also choose a minor. The 27-credit social science minor offers a mostly online curriculum and the fastest route to degree completion.

    All students receive on-the-job training during an internship at a school, organization, or agency. The school charges the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Active-duty military personnel and their dependents receive a steep tuition discount. Admission requires a high school or GED diploma and SAT or ACT scores.

  2. Fort Hays State University
    Location

    Hays, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Fort Hays State University is a leader in distance education with more than 200 online programs. The 120-credit bachelor of general studies offers a child development concentration. All students complete general education courses in the liberal arts and sciences, many of which students can transfer from other accredited institutions.

    The 21-credit concentration explores topics such as the young child, diverse learners, human growth and development, and educating exceptional students. Enrollees also learn how to use instructional media and technologies in a variety of classroom settings. Students can complete the program entirely online and transfer up to 90 credits. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores and a minimum 2.0 GPA.

  3. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian State University offers online degree-completion options for students with significant college credit. The 120-credit bachelor's in child development - birth through kindergarten features a part-time format.

    Students take 24 credits of professional education courses on topics like teaching and learning in the digital age. The 48-credit major examines topics such as infant/toddler curriculum and kindergarten curriculum. Participants also complete a 360-hour student-teaching practicum. Graduates qualify for teaching licensure in North Carolina.

    Students can save money by transferring an associate degree or a significant block of credits. Admission requires at least 30 prior college credits with a minimum 2.25 GPA.

  4. University of Washington
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Washington manages one of the nation's top teacher training schools. The 180-credit bachelor's in early care and education offers a degree-completion option for students interested in a career in childcare, early childhood education, or social and mental health services. The degree blends theory, research, and practical training. The program features an asynchronous cohort model.

    Enrollees work with an advisor to create an individualized degree plan. Upper-division courses cover topics like the early childhood curriculum, engaging interactions and environments, and child observation and assessment. Students complete a service-learning component at their place of work or at a relevant organization in their community.

    All students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. The school offers a generous transfer policy and scholarships for transfer students. Admission requires at least 70 prior college credits with a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA.

  5. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
    Location

    Odessa, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Texas of the Permian Basin offers a 120-credit bachelor's in child and family studies. The degree enrolls students interested in working with children and families in educational and other contexts.

    The 37-credit major covers topics such as child/adolescent psychology, social stratification, the exceptional child, and the education of young children. The program offers a learning and development track that leads to certification, but students must complete many of these required courses on campus. All students choose an 18-credit minor.

    Students culminate the child development degree with a research study. Learners can save money by transferring credits. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA on transfer credits.

  6. Eastern Kentucky University
    Location

    Richmond, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A leader in distance education, Eastern Kentucky University offers 40 online programs. The bachelor's in child and family studies requires 120-125 credits and prepares students for child development jobs such as preschool teacher and early childhood educator. The curriculum's core explores topics such as nutrition in the lifecycle and family stress and resilience.

    The child development concentration explores topics like early childhood literacy, program planning for infants and toddlers, and observation and assessment in early childhood education. Students can supplement required coursework with a certificate in areas such as early childhood director. A practicum gives learners supervised field experience in early childhood education.

    EKU's eight-week terms accelerate degree completion. All students pay a flat tuition rate regardless of residency. Activity-duty military personnel receive steep tuition discounts. Students can transfer up to 90 credits. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores and college transcripts.

  7. University of Alaska Fairbanks
    Location

    Fairbanks, AK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Alaska Fairbanks administers programs on seven campuses across the state. The bachelor's in child development and family studies enrolls early childhood educators seeking to advance their careers. The 120-credit degree, which offers fully online and hybrid delivery options, meets standards put forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

    The major covers topics such as child development; child guidance; culture, learning, and the young child; and adolescence through the lifespan. The program offers four concentrations: administration, curriculum, family support, and infant and toddler. In addition to coursework, students complete field experiences.

    Participants culminate the degree with a portfolio. UAF awards Pioneer scholarships to help transfer students pay for tuition. Admission requires all college transcripts.

  8. Concordia University-Saint Paul
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Part of a nine-campus system affiliated with the Lutheran Church, Concordia University-Saint Paul offers a suite of degree-completion options for nontraditional learners. The fully online, degree-completion bachelor's in child development program explores topics such as infants and toddlers, growth and development of children, dual language learners, and language development and emergent literacy.

    One course focuses exclusively on a framework for ethical decision-making in individuals' personal and professional lives. Students gain hands-on experience in a licensed childcare or early childhood education facility. All participants develop a portfolio that highlights their accomplishments.

    Seven-week courses accelerate degree completion. CSP offers a competitive flat tuition rate regardless of residency. Active-duty military personnel receive a tuition discount. Admission requires transferable credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

  9. Fresno Pacific University
    Location

    Fresno, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Nestled in California's Central Valley, Fresno Pacific University administers 100 areas of study on five campuses. The degree-completion bachelor's in early childhood development features a fully online format. The program uses a cohort model with weekly class meetings. The curriculum aligns with standards established by California's department of education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

    Students complete 39 credits in an average of 18 months. They must transfer a significant number of credits to cover general education and other requirements. The major covers topics such as biblical perspectives for educators; child, family, and community; children's play and learning theory; and advanced child growth and development. Admission requires at least 60 credits with a minimum 2.4 GPA.

  10. Eastern Washington University
    Location

    Cheney, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Eastern Washington University was the nation's first college to offer a major in children's studies. The bachelor's in children's studies offers a fully online curriculum that incorporates coursework from different disciplines, including psychology and education. The degree focuses on the developmental, social, and learning needs of children from birth to age 18. The program offers concentrations in child life and health, child services, and community programming for children.

    Core courses explore topics such as infant and toddler development, children and the family, trauma-informed care with children and families, and growth and development through childhood and adolescents. A unique course focuses on the use of mindfulness and other practices to foster calm, balance, and awareness in young children.

    Students complete 78-84 credits in their specialization. They culminate the degree with a senior capstone during which they design and implement a community-based project in collaboration with local organizations. A scholarship helps students pay for tuition. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores.

Advertisement BestValueSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

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