Best Online Bachelor’s in Child Development
Updated September 7, 2022
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If you have ever wanted to work with young children as an educator, social worker, or advocate, consider pursuing a bachelor's in child development.
When searching for the best online bachelor's in child development degree program, consider whether your career goals require you to specialize as an undergraduate or pursue an advanced degree. A child development bachelor's is more broad than a bachelor's in early childhood education or a bachelor's in early childhood and family studies, focusing on children's emotional, mental, and psychological development.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that child, family, and school social workers will see a 12% employment growth rate from 2019 to 2029 -- much faster than most occupations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, they will likely grow to help meet the needs of parents and organizations. An online child development bachelor's offers an affordable route to this and other fast-growing occupations that help young children.
Read on for our ranking of the best online bachelor's in child development degrees in the nation.
|#1||Appalachian State University Boone, NC|
|#2||Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN|
|#3||Point University West Point, GA|
|#4||Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI|
|#5||Union Institute & University Cincinnati, OH|
|#6||Fresno Pacific University Fresno, CA|
The Best Online Bachelor's in Child Development Degree Programs
Online Bachelor's in Child Development Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.
Featured Online School
What Is an Online Bachelor's in Child Development Degree?
An online child development degree produces early childhood teachers, child care workers, and specialized child and family social workers. In this degree, students study stages in the emotional, physical, and psychological development of children through courses in psychology, sociology, and pedagogy.
Students in a child development bachelor's program refine their skills in communication, teaching, and emotional intelligence, giving them the tools to help young children develop healthily. They learn how to identify deficits and strengths in a young child's development and guide that child toward healthy emotional, mental, and physical behavior.
Choosing an Online Program
When choosing an online child development program, there are a number of factors to consider that will influence your educational experience. For instance, it's best to choose a program form a regionally accredited school, to ensure educational quality. From there, you can filter programs based on concentration offerings, cost, faculty, format options, and curricula.
What to Expect From a Child Development Major
Just as a child development degree can lead to varied careers, the curricula of these degrees can also vary. For example, some programs offer concentrations that prepare you for work as a teacher, while others focus more on the skills needed to become a child life specialist.
Master's in Teaching and Education Curriculum
- Early Childhood Education: Students get a broad overview of strategies and theories used in educating children in early childhood programs. The course usually requires 10-20 observation hours in a pre-approved early childhood learning setting, like a preschool.
- Physical Well-Being and Motor Development: This course investigates the stages of healthy motor development among young children. Students learn about how children grasp and manipulate objects, maintain balance, and engage in physical activity.
- Social and Emotional Development: Students explore the socially and emotionally complex stages of children's development. Course topics include friendship, relationships with authority figures, and family relationships.
- Children's Play and Learning: This course explores aspects of children's play and its relationship with learning. Course materials typically include classic theory from Vtgotsky and Piaget, as well as ideas from contemporary theorists.
- Language and Literacy: In this course, students study the stages of language acquisition and literacy in young children. Course materials give equal time to social constructivist, maturationist, and emergent literacy theory.
- Health, Safety, and Nutrition: This course teaches students how to support children's healthy development through proper health practices, safety precautions, and nutritional guidelines in child care and early childhood education environments.
Certificates and Licenses
A bachelor's in child development can lead to professional certificates and licenses, though qualifications vary by role and state. For instance, kindergarten, elementary school, and special education teachers need certification in most states, requiring candidates to complete additional coursework and pass content exams. State reciprocity agreements often allow certifications and licenses to transfer across state lines.
Other certifications, such as the Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) and the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) certificate, can help graduates gain employment in specialized roles. For instance, the CCLS credential can help child development graduates secure work as child life specialists in a hospital or other healthcare facility.
Unlike teaching jobs, some childhood development roles do not require certifications; only a bachelor's in a relevant field, such as child development, is necessary. However, earning an optional certification can greatly boost your chances of securing a job, as they demonstrate mastery. Certifications have varying requirements for education level and clinical experience hours, and some require you to join a professional organization.
Child Development Careers
Most graduates with a child development degree opt for careers in education, where they work as preschool and elementary school teachers or special education teachers. Others use their child development degree to pursue work as child, family, and school social works or in other childcare-related fields.
Below are the most common careers pursued by child development graduates, along with each career's median annual wage.
|Career||Annual Mean Wage|
|Preschool and Daycare Education and child care Administrators||$53,690|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||$51,030|
|Elementary School Teachers||$63,930|
|Kindergarten and Elementary School Special Education Teachers||$64,420|
Child Development Organizations
Several professional operate in the field of child development, many of them tailored to members in a particular geographic region or area of specialization.
Joining a professional organization can give you access to networking opportunities, discounted continuing education resources, and a sense of community. Here are a few popular child development professional organizations:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Child Development Degree Worth It?
A child development degree can greatly increase your chances of gaining employment in early childhood education and childcare roles, either as a teacher or in more specialized roles.
What Can You Do With an Early Child Development Degree?
An early childhood development degree typically leads to work in early childhood education or child-focused counseling positions, such as child life specialist.
What Is a Child Development Degree vs. an Early Childhood Education Degree?
A child development major explores the physical, emotional, and psychological development of children in greater depth than an early childhood education degree, which focuses more on pedagogy. However, they are similar degrees and cover many of the same topics.
What Are the Different Child Development Degree Types?
Child development degrees can offer different concentrations, helping learners pursue niche careers. Some common specialization options include early childhood education, child development practitioner, and Montessori education.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Early Childhood Development Degree?
It typically takes four years to earn a bachelor's in early childhood development, though accelerated programs can take as little as two years to complete, especially for students who have transfer credits.
Image Credit: mmpile | Getty Images
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