Best Online Master’s in Child Development Degrees

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Advocacy, education, and commitment to the welfare of children is what a Master’s in Child Development stands for.

A Master’s in Child Development is the ideal degree for those who already have experience with teaching or working with children.

A Master’s not only increases salary and career opportunities, but also increases one’s chances of delving into deeper research relating to adolescent issues. In addition, an online degree is perfect for working professionals who may not have the time commitment of a traditional degree.

Many online Master’s can be finished within two years, giving graduates a good time frame to adjust to a new career or higher position within their desired field.


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What kind of Child Development degree should you get?

There are many degrees within the field of adolescent care that are not directly titled “Child Development,” so it is important to have clear career goals before choosing a program.

For those that are interested in going into counseling, a psychology degree focusing on childhood behavior and development may be ideal. If you want to go into teaching, degrees with an emphasis on childhood program development are a good option.

In addition, if social work is an ideal career, many schools offer a Master’s in Social Work with specializations in child development. For all of these paths, students should check to see if the program leads into a licensure program to practice within the state he/she wishes to work.

In addition, those who are already working professionals may wish to consider an online program instead of a traditional one that requires daily on-campus visits. Take a look at our ranking of the Top Online Universities to learn more about online education.

How much money do people with a Master’s in Child Development make?

Those with a Master’s can make significantly more than those with only a Bachelor’s. For example, a director of an educational program or private school with a preschool can earn a beginning salary of $60,000 with a potential pay rise of up to $100,000 after many years of experience.

An early childhood special education teacher pays an average of $77,000 which can increase to almost $100,000 throughout the career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we can expect a 7% job growth increase for preschool and childcare center directors and a 6% job growth increase for kindergarten and elementary school teachers between the years of 2014 and 2024.

What can you do with a Child Development degree?

There are a lot of versatility with a degree in Child Development, however many graduates go into a career involving advocacy or education surrounding childhood issues. Popular careers are counseling, teaching, program development, program advisor, social work, etc.

Some people may even be hired into healthcare programs involving childhood health or work in different governmental branches. More specific career paths are available for those who carry a specific license (ie. counseling, teaching, etc.) to practice.

 
 

What are the requirements for a Master’s in Child Development?

Many Master’s in Child Development require a Bachelor’s in a relating field such as psychology, education, or another specific degree related to children or family development.

Those with an unrelated Bachelor’s can still obtain this degree, provided that they take a few additional general education courses to gain a foundation in child development theories. No other specific admission tests are required for this major other than the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) that most Master’s programs require.

What are the best Master’s in Child Development?

College Choice has ranked the Best Online Master’s in Child Development degrees within the nation. Data was compiled from the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDs database, Payscale, the U.S. News & World Report, and individual college websites.

Institutional excellence was ranked based on the college’s endowment, reputation, student-to-faculty ratio, graduation rate, etc. Overall student success was ranked based on average amount of financial aid received, expected entering salary upon graduation, etc.

Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Southern Mississippi
    Location

    Hattiesburg, MS

    Tuition

    $11916

    Overview

    The University of Southern Mississippi was founded in 1910 and has grown from a small teachers’ college to a leader in academic research. In addition to offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees, the university also has an extensive online education program. According to an AffordableCollegesOnline.org 2015-16 ranking, USM’s online degrees have been recognized among the best in the state of Mississippi.

    Program Features

    USM’s fully online Master's in Child and Family Studies is an interdisciplinary program that is great for students who wish to go to school part-time. Topics include family life education, early childhood development, child development, public health, etc.

    • 37-hour non-thesis and thesis options available; two calendar year estimated completion time
    • Sample Courses: Family Advocacy, Theories in Childhood Development, Intimate Relationship Development, Adulthood and Aging in the Family System, etc.
    • Use of the online system, Canvas, which is used by over 3,000 institutions within the U.S.

    Notables

    Students are able to enter into a variety of careers within academia, human and social services, or child development upon graduation. Some careers that graduates pursue are child life specialist, foster care coordinator, nonprofit manager, etc.

  2. Walden University
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $12075

    Overview

    Grand Canyon University is a private Christian university located in Phoenix, Arizona. Through its strong Christian identity and commitment to faith and education, GCU offers Bachelor's, Master's, and doctoral degrees both in the traditional classroom setting and online.

    Program Features

    GCU’s online MS in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders is geared towards those who wish to pursue a career as a professional counselor. This program will prepare students to serve as advocates for children with behavioral and cognitive health issues.

    • 74-credit eight-week program
    • Sample Courses: Counseling Theories, Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychopathology and Counseling, Developmental Disabilities, etc.

    Notables

    Students will be exposed to a variety of issues through real-life experiences. Upon graduation, graduates will be prepared to act as a professional counselor in various fields such as in the area of mental health, behavior health, childhood development, etc.

  3. Grand Canyon University
    Location

    Phoenix, AZ

    Tuition

    $21168

    Overview

    Capella University is a university dedicated to educating working professionals. The university offers two online experiences, either through GuidedPath (self-paced) or FlexPath (class schedule), allowing students to pick which type of format is best for their own goals.

    Program Features

    Capella’s online MS in Psychology with a Child and Adolescent Development Specialization prepares graduates to serve as a leader in the areas of mental health, social, and education issues. This program offers flexible learning times as well as different payment options.

    • Sample Courses: Child Psychology, Lifespan Development, Human Prenatal Development, etc.
    • Strong emphasis on foundational psychology to ensure professional readiness

    Notables

    Capella University has received numerous recognitions. In 2016, the university was a recipient of the Excellence in Assessment Award. In 2015, the school won the 2015 Eduventures Innovation for its commitment to stewarding higher education.

  4. Capella University
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $16538

    Overview

    The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is among the nation’s most prestigious public research universities and is the flagship university of the University of Minnesota. UMN offers several online undergraduate, graduate, and certificate degree programs that are either fully online, primarily, or partially online.

    Program Features

    UMN’s MA in Applied Child and Adolescent Development is a fully online, 32-credit program offered through the College of Education and Human Development.

    • Three tracks: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Child Life, and Individualized Studies
    • Sample Courses: Prevention and Intervention in Early Childhood, Developmental Perspectives on Illness and Injury in Healthcare, Introductory Statistical Methods, etc.
    • Child Life graduates are eligible for the Child Life Professional Certification Examination and the Association of Child Life Professionals Eligibility Assessment

    Notables

    Depending on the track, students will have access to different scholarships or internships. For example, there is the Irving B. Harris Foundation diversity scholarship for those studying in the mental health track. For the Child Life track, an internship at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital is offered.

  5. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $16242

    Overview

    West Virginia University was established in 1862 as a land-grant university and has since become a leader in innovation, focusing green initiatives. According to the U.S. News & World Report, WVU is ranked among the top public universities for the year of 2017. It was also ranked among the top 1.5% of universities in the world by The Center for World University Rankings.

    Program Features

    WVU’s online MA in Educational Psychology with a Child Development and Family Studies Emphasis prepares students to directly enter into the workforce or into a doctorate program upon graduation.

    • 33-credit program: core courses, electives, and thesis
    • Sample Courses: Statistical Methods, Educational Psychology, Multivariate Methods, etc.
    • Plenty of opportunity for research: WVU Child Development Laboratory (nursery school), Program Evaluation and Research Center (PERC), Peer-to-Peer Learning Lab

    Notables

    WVU graduates of this program have entered into wide variety of careers after receiving their degree. For example, some have become employed by community health care agencies, elementary school teachers, or directors in hospitals.

  6. West Virginia University
    Location

    Morgantown, WV

    Tuition

    $10814

    Overview

    Northcentral University’s mission is to provide education for professionals, mentoring them one-on-one to prepare them to become strong leaders within their community. All courses are at the graduate level and offered entirely online.

    Program Features

    NCU’s online MS in Child and Adolescent Psychology trains graduates to become advocates for children, adolescents, and their families.

    • 30-credit program; 10 courses; 20-month estimated completion time
    • Option of completing a 100-hour internship in the field
    • Flexible Start Dates: classes start every Monday

    Notables

    Graduates may enter into careers in the education, government, health, etc. fields in positions where clinical training is not necessary. Some example careers include early education center advocacy, social services administration, or government policy maker.

  7. Northcentral University
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    Tuition

    $8808

    Overview

    Northcentral University’s mission is to provide education for professionals, mentoring them one-on-one to prepare them to become strong leaders within their community. All courses are at the graduate level and offered entirely online.

    Program Features

    NCU’s online MS in Child and Adolescent Psychology trains graduates to become advocates for children, adolescents, and their families.

    • 30-credit program; 10 courses; 20-month estimated completion time
    • Option of completing a 100-hour internship in the field
    • Flexible Start Dates: classes start every Monday

    Notables

    Graduates may enter into careers in the education, government, health, etc. fields in positions where clinical training is not necessary. Some example careers include early education center advocacy, social services administration, or government policy maker.

  8. Kaplan University
    Location

    Augusta, ME

    Tuition

    $17784

    Overview

    Purdue University Global is an institution of higher learning that offers both campus-based and online programs. Founded by Stanley H. Kaplan in 1938, the university started as a tutoring service and is still part of Kaplan Inc, a company dedicated to preparing students for higher education. Kaplan merged with Purdue University to become Purdue University Global in 2018. Purdue’s mission is to foster learning at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional level.

    Program Features

    Purdue University Global's online MS in Human Services is designed for students who wish to enter into careers that strive for positive change for families and communities.

    • Two concentrations: Family and Community Services; Organizational and Social Services
    • Sample Courses: Developing and Delivering Family Services, Organizational Nonprofit Management, Internship, etc.
    • Three start dates for maximum flexibility

    Notables

    Due to the nation’s rapidly growing senior population, there is an increasing for social services. This degree program is perfect for this growing need, and thus graduates have entered into relevant positions such as a community service manager, development director, or a nonprofit manager.

  9. University of La Verne
    Location

    La Verne, CA

    Tuition

    $22284

    Overview

    The University of La Verne is a private university that was founded in 1891. Valuing improvement and innovation, La Verne is implementing its 2020 Strategic Vision plan, aimed at increasing its educational excellence and opportunities. Its Master of Science in Child Development degree is housed in the LaFetra College of Education, which offers small class sizes and flexible class schedules.

    Program Features

    La Verne’s online MS in Child Development is ideal for those who wish to enter into a profession dedicated to increasing the welfare of children.

    • 33-credit program
    • Sample Courses: Human Development, Assessment in Early Childhood, Cognition and Brain Development, etc.
    • Opportunities to gain classroom teaching experience

    Notables

    The LaFetra College of Education is currently partnered with the Fairplex Child Development Center, where students have the opportunity to serve families and children through teaching. This is a great way for students to have a head-start in their career, particularly if they are heading in the education route.

  10. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $11398

    Overview

    The University of South Florida is a global research university that was founded in 1965 and has three different institutions: USF, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee. USF is currently ranked among the top 100 best public research institutions according to the U.S. News & World Report. USF Tampa’s graduate programs are also ranked among the best graduate schools in the nation.

    Program Features

    USF’s online MS in Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health offers four concentrations and two different tracks to truly direct students into their future career either in the professional or academic world.

    • Thesis and Non-Thesis track available
    • Concentrations: Developmental Disabilities, Leadership in Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health, Research & Evaluation, and Youth & Behavioral Health
    • Sample Courses: Cultural Competency in Children’s Mental Health, Evaluation & Research Methods in Community Health, etc.

    Notables

    USF has several community partners that give students the chance to gain field experience. For students who go the non-thesis track, they will have to complete 60 credits of field experience, or 200 working hours at an agency in the field of behavioral health.

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