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.
Average Yearly Salary for Childcare Workers by state
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Top 25 Online Bachelor’s Programs in Child Development 2021
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.
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.
Graduation rate: 71%
School status (public/private): Public
Tuition cost: $$$
Number of programs offered: More than 70
City location: Hays, Kansas
Admission requirements: Qualified Admission Requirements for students who graduate high school in 2021 or after :
Kansas and Out-Of-State Freshmen Under 21 Years of Age
Have a cumulative 2.25 or higher GPA on a 4.00 scale, OR
Achieve an ACT composite of 21 or higher OR a minimum combined SAT ERW+M score of 1080.
And, if applicable, achieve a 2.0 GPA on all college credit taken in high school
ACT/SAT superscores will be used for admission and scholarship awarding. (Note that there are other requirements if you’re not an incoming freshman).
Standardized test scores/requirements: ACT composite of 21 or higher OR a minimum combined SAT ERW+M score of 1080.
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.
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.
Admission requirements: Minimum admission requirements include: This program is open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and those residing in the United States who do not require an F-1 student visa.
To be considered for admission, you must have met the following requirements:
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.
Number of programs offered: 35 undergraduate; 18 graduate programs
City location: Odessa, Texas
Admission requirements: In addition to graduating with the recommended academic programs, applicants can also be automatically admitted to UT Permian Basin by meeting the required entrance exam and class rank criteria listed here:
Entrance Exam for Automatic Admission
HS Graduation Class Rank
No Minimum Score
No Minimum Score
If you don’t meet these requirements, you may still be admitted to UT Permian Basin. Every freshman class includes students who are admitted after a professional, individual review of their documents and application.
Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): SAT and ACT tests are optional, but can be used for scholarships.
Contact: Program Advisor: Ruth Ann McQuitty, Lecturer, (432) 552-2134 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Number of programs offered: More than 100 degree programs
City location: Richmond, Kentucky
Admission requirements: First-Time Freshman
Standard Admission: High School Cumulative GPA (unweighted): 2.50 or higher
Success First Admission: High School Cumulative GPA (unweighted): 2.00-2.49
*All students must have a minimum high school GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.
Standardized test scores/requirements (is the GRE required and what is the average score for admission): Test scores are not required for admissions purposes, but students are encouraged to submit test scores for proper course placement in English and mathematics courses.
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.
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.
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.
Graduation rate: 72%
School status (public/private): Private
Tuition cost: $$$$$
Number of programs offered: 30 degree programs
City location: Fresno, California
2 years post-secondary experience
60 transferable baccalaureate-level units
Minimum 2.4 GPA
Standardized test scores/requirements: Official high school transcripts, GED or AA/AS degree
Contact: Carol Gossett, Ed.D., Early Childhood Development Program Director, email@example.com, 559-453-7101
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.
Kansas State University offers more than 100 online programs. Students in the 120-credit bachelor's in early childhood education prepare for Kansas' early childhood unified teaching licensure. The curriculum includes general requirements that students may transfer from previous college credits. The major explores topics such as language development, emergent literacy, environments in early childhood, and behavior management.
Enrollees learn how to develop curricula and activities for young children. Students hone pedagogical skills during a student-teaching experience. Kansas maintains reciprocal teacher certification agreements with 50 states, allowing program graduates to transfer their teaching license to other jurisdictions once they complete any additional requirements.
K-State Online offers one tuition rate to all students regardless of residency. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores and a minimum 2.0 GPA on transferable coursework.
West Virginia University enrolls about 30,000 students annually. The online bachelor's in child development and family studies offers birth through 5/pre-K non-certification and birth through 5/pre-K certification options. The 120-credit child development program meets standards set by West Virginia and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Enrollees explore topics such as families across the lifespan, early childhood development, infant toddler language literacy, and adolescent problems and disorders. Students complete a required practicum as a tutor or assistant. They also build professional experience during field placements.
All students pay a flat tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 2.5-2.75 GPA and the PRAXIS core for applicants pursuing certification.
Part of Florida's 12-college system, the University of North Florida administers programs through six colleges. The hybrid bachelor's in early childhood education offers an early childhood development concentration that does not lead to licensure. The degree-completion program requires transfer of an associate degree or significant credits. Students complete much of the concentration online, exploring concepts such as teaching the whole child, the foundations of literacy, educational psychology, and the measurement and evaluation of young children.
Students learn how to teach subjects, such as math and science, to young children. Participants complete a practicum in an early childhood setting that builds hands-on experience in teaching, assessment, and working with families. They can complete the practicum at their place of work or another location under a master teacher's direction. Admission requires 60 prior credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
West Virginia University at Parkersburg offers an online child development program that uses a ladder model beginning with a certificate, followed by an associate degree and a culminating 120-credit bachelor's in child development. The degree-completion bachelor's program teaches students how to plan, implement, and assess learning experiences for young children. The program does not lead to public school certification.
The curriculum explores topics such as strategies in early education, teaching math to young children, curriculum in early education, and creative experiences in early education.
Students complete field hours in a child development setting. They also complete a semester-long project and seminar before graduation. The program ranks among the nation's most affordable child development programs.
All students pay in-state tuition rates regardless of residency. Admission requires an associate of applied science degree in child development and school transcripts.
Among the world's top 1% of colleges, Oregon State University operates two campuses and a robust virtual college. The 180-credit bachelor's in human development and family sciences prepares students to promote health and wellness across the lifespan. The degree requires general education courses that students can transfer from prior college credit. The major explores topics such as family policy, parenting research and application, and children and youth with disabilities.
Students complete 90 hours of field experience at a human services organization, learning how to apply intervention strategies to help individuals and families. Students in the child development program receive access to free online tutoring, success coaching, and library services. Participants must complete a minimum of 45 credits of the degree's last 75 credits at OSU. All students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores for freshmen and a minimum cumulative 2.25 GPA for transfer students.
Washington State University is one of the nation's top research colleges. WSU's Global Campus offers 21 undergraduate majors, including a bachelor's in human development. The online degree explores how people mature and address challenges across the lifespan. Enrollees prepare for roles in preschools, social service agencies, and programs such as Head Start.
The 120-credit program examines topics such as family stress and coping, adolescence and emerging adulthood, and child assessment and evaluation. The program also offers a certificate in early childhood education for students residing in Washington. The certificate trains enrollees to work with young children and requires a practicum at an early childhood program. All students culminate the child development program with an internship at a relevant organization.
Admission requires SAT or ACT scores and a minimum 2.5 GPA on transfer credits.
Founded in 1928, Hope International University is a private Christian college in Fullerton, California. HIU offers a 120-unit online bachelor's in human development that includes six units of biblical studies coursework. The program explores concepts such as adult development, social issues, and Christian perspectives in human development.
The program offers 15-unit concentrations in areas including behavioral psychology, addiction studies, and community mental health and counseling. A family studies concentration gives students the skills they need to support child development and healthy families.
All enrollees pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Active-duty military personnel receive a tuition discount. Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA for freshmen and a minimum 2.0 GPA for transfer students.
The University of Massachusetts offers about 180 degrees and certificates online. The 120-credit bachelor's in children's learning and development program enrolls degree-seekers who already work for agencies that serve children, youth, and families. The flexible curriculum allows enrollees to transfer up to 105 credits from prior coursework and work and life experience.
Participants design a concentration to meet their career goals, choosing from courses on topics such as teaching methods, behavior management, child psychology, and special education. Though not a teacher licensure program, the degree may meet requirements for provisional teacher licensure in Massachusetts.
All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires at least 12 credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Point Loma Nazarene University is a Christian liberal arts college located in San Diego. The degree-completion bachelor's in child development program offers a hybrid curriculum that consists of online coursework and weekly sessions on one of four campuses. The curriculum prepares students for child development jobs that champion the needs of children, adolescents, and families. With enough transfer credits, degree-seekers can earn the 120-credit degree in 15 months.
Child development courses cover topics such as development of children and adolescents, development of infants and toddlers, and administration and supervision in early childhood education. Enrollees culminate the degree with a professional development portfolio that documents achievements, work samples, and community service experience.
PLNU offers mentorship and career support to help learners succeed. The school lauds affordable tuition. Admission requires at least 40 credits with a minimum 2.25 GPA.
Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, Union Institute and University specializes in programming for nontraditional learners. The bachelor's in child and adolescent development gives learners the skills needed to work with children and families. Students can choose from fully online and hybrid formats.
Core courses examine concepts such as transforming learning standards into achievement and the art and science of assessing children and families. Students can use electives to explore topics like the exceptional child and development of the adolescent.
Students can transfer up to 90 credits. All students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Full-time and part-time enrollment options give learners flexibility. Admission requires all college transcripts.
Point University is a private Christian liberal arts college located in West Point, Georgia. The bachelor's in child development program prepares students to work with young children in educational and other settings. Graduates qualify for an early education teacher certificate from the Association of Christian Schools International. The curriculum requires 120 credits, including general education and biblical studies courses.
The major explores topics such as educational psychology, principles and methods of teaching, and preschool methods and materials. Students culminate the degree with two practicum experiences that they may complete in one setting. Learners can transfer up to 90 credits.
Online students pay about 40% less in tuition than on-campus learners. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires all school transcripts.
The University of Wisconsin-Stout is a comprehensive polytechnic college that offers an online bachelor's in human development and family studies. The fully online curriculum prepares learners for helping professions focused on the wellness of individuals across the lifespan. The 120-credit program covers topics such as family policy, healthy couple relationships, and skills training for individual/family interventions.
Students use 15 credits to design a minor or emphasis. Graduates qualify for the certified family life educator designation conferred by the National Council on Family Relations. Students must complete their last 32 credits at UW-Stout. All students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA for transfer students.
Central Michigan University's online early childhood and development and learning major leads to a bachelor of science, bachelor of arts, or a bachelor of applied arts and sciences. The degree meets the requirements for early childhood education and preschool teaching licensure in Michigan.
The 43-credit major requires a foundational course on lifespan development, the education of children, or developmental psychology. A development and family component explore topics such as infant/toddler and early childhood development. Learners also study topics like the implementation of best practices in early childhood settings and early childhood program administration and leadership.
Participants culminate the program with a supervised teaching experience in CMU's child development and learning lab. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA and prerequisite coursework.
Colorado State University-Fort Collins is one of the nation's top research colleges. Students enrolled in the bachelor's in human development and family studies program develop the knowledge and skills necessary to serve individuals and families across the lifespan. The 120-credit curriculum explores concepts such as individual and family development, infant and child development in context, and family and parenthood across the lifecycle.
All students complete a course on statistical methods. Enrollees can choose from concentrations in areas like early childhood professionals, prevention and intervention sciences, and human development and family studies. Students can complete field experiences that align with their career goals and concentration. Learners culminate the child development program with a proposal for an evidence-based intervention or prevention program.
All students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA on transferable credit.
Stephen F. Austin State University enrolls about 13,000 students annually through 120 programs. The 120-credit online bachelor's in human sciences: human development and family studies program examines human development across the lifespan. Degree-seekers complete general education and other requirements before pursuing the major. They begin the program with foundational coursework that explores human services.
The core of the degree explores topics such as family life education; child growth and development; contemporary family issues; and families, school, and community. Students build real-world experience during on-the-job training at a relevant organization.
Distance learners may participate in on-campus activities such as career exploration field trips. SFA maintains articulation agreements with several community colleges to facilitate seamless transfers. Admission requires SAT or ACT scores for freshmen.
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We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates
Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid
Admission and enrollment rates
Number of program options
Online Enrollment Score
Portion of learners taking at least one online course
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
Average Yearly Salary for Childcare Workers by State
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.
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.
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.
Psychological Development of Children During the Pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic sent countries across the globe into a lockdown over a year ago, it also upended life for millions of people. For children, the abrupt end to regular routines – like attending school, extracurricular activities, and even seeing friends – was particularly destabilizing. Already living in a world that can feel out of their control, children are particularly reliant on schedules and habits to give their lives order and meaning.
Mary Alvord, a children’s psychologist, says that since the start of the pandemic, she’s seen a drastic increase in the number of children dealing with anxiety. While covid might be sparing our children’s physical health, it’s not sparing their mental health.
And, even as vaccines begin to allow us a return to “normal” life, the anxieties and stressors felt by our nation’s children don’t seem to be fading away. While returning to the classroom and outside activities is a positive, the extended time we’ve spent in isolation means that this return is, in many cases, now tinged with separation and social anxieties. While we may finally be getting a grip on this global pandemic, the increased need for mental health professionals who specialize in children remains high.
Child Psychology Supply and Demand
Prior to the pandemic, the country was already in the midst of a child psychiatrist crisis. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, there were about 8,300 practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists and about 15 million children and young adults who needed help as of 2019. Since that time, the pandemic has dramatically increased the number of children and adolescents in need, but not the number of qualified, practicing professionals. This is a better time than ever to enter the field of child psychology and truly make a difference, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the best and most affordable psychology programs.
Starting therapy at an early age is one of the best approaches to help at-risk children. The AACAP reports that about 50% of lifetime cases of mental illness have begun by the age of 14. And, nearly 1 in 5 kids will deal with a mental, emotional, or behavioral issue in a given year. In these cases, therapy is not a luxury, but necessary, to help ensure our kids are primed to become happy, well-adjusted members of society.
What Do Child Psychologists Do?
Prospective counselors will help young children and teens work through feelings like anger, anxiety, and sadness through play, like the Mad Game developed by Patricia Davidson, or talk, like positive postings developed by Jacqueline Melissa Swank. They can help their clients develop positive coping mechanisms and adjust harmful behaviors. Many in the field describe the job as necessary and rewarding, emphasizing its positive long-term, even generational, effects over the occasionally stressful day-to-day.
Children haven’t yet fully developed socially or emotionally, which likely means the effects of the pandemic will be much different for them than they would be for the average adult. We have to be prepared to offer the help our kids may need to deal with the fallout, which begins with an increase in the number of licensed child psychologists available to provide this assistance.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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