Best Online Bachelor’s in Child Development

by TBS Staff

Updated September 27, 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.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Child Development Degree Programs

#1 Best Online Bachelor’s in Child Development

Appalachian State University

  • Boone, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A leader in online education, Appalachian State University facilitates distance learning across 26 online degree programs. Undergraduate students from around the globe can connect with Appalachian State University through one of its seven fully online bachelor's programs. From its main campus in Boone, North Carolina, the school supports an online bachelor's in child development program. The child development program allows for full- and part-time study, making it a flexible choice for working professionals and busy students.

Students complete industry-relevant classes throughout their studies, gaining broad and specific knowledge of the child development field. Enrollees also complete general education classes, gaining a well-rounded education. Students can customize their degree through electives, minors, and concentrations.

A bachelor's degree greatly increases one's earning potential. At the college, students can expect to earn a median salary of $34,300 six years after graduation. Typically, undergraduate students pay $10,525 in tuition and fees each year. Students interested in learning more about admission requirements, application materials, and financial aid opportunities should directly contact the child development department.

Appalachian State University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 4,490

Total Online Programs: 26

Online Bachelor's Programs: 7

Admission Rate: 77%

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,242
Out-of-state
$19,049
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
19,280
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Bachelor’s in Child Development

Concordia University, St. Paul

  • Saint Paul, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners seeking competitive online study should consider Concordia University, St. Paul. Students interested in distance learning will find the school's 18 fully online bachelor's degree programs to be attractive options for study. Of these, the BA in child development program stands out as a competitive option for students interested in the child development field.

The program prepares child development students for the demands of the field. Enrollees can work with their academic advisor to make curriculum adjustments. Enrollees can explore educational opportunities such as minors and elective courses to customize their studies.

Undergraduate students can expect to pay $22,800 in tuition. At the accredited institution, students can access external and internal funding opportunities, such as scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid.

Concordia University, St. Paul at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 3,036

Total Online Programs: 57

Online Bachelor's Programs: 18

Admission Rate: 98%

Average Tuition
In-state
$22,800
Out-of-state
$22,800
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
98%
Students Enrolled
5,137
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Online Bachelor’s in Child Development

Point University

  • West Point, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in West Point, Georgia, Point University offers many top-ranked bachelor's programs. The private college supports distance learners across 14 online bachelor's degree programs. The bachelor of science in child development prepares remote learners for the demands of the child development field.

The child development program balances rigor with flexibility. Enrollees can modify their coursework in consultation with their academic advisor. Students can benefit from electives, minors, and other modifications to the program.

Undergraduate students can expect to pay $20,085 in tuition. Students can receive financial aid to offset the cost of their degree.

Point University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 799

Total Online Programs: 37

Online Bachelor's Programs: 14

Admission Rate: 29%

Average Tuition
In-state
$20,085
Out-of-state
$20,085
Retention Rate
63%
Admission Rate
29%
Students Enrolled
2,389
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Best Online Bachelor’s in Child Development

Central Michigan University

  • Mount Pleasant, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Central Michigan University, a public, four-year college in Mount Pleasant, supports online learning across 54 remote programs. Undergraduate students from around the globe can connect with Central Michigan University through one of its 10 fully online bachelor's degree programs. Students looking for a child development-adjacent career can pursue study through the bachelor's in early childhood development and Learning program at their own pace. The child development program supports students from all walks of life through flexible enrollment options.

Throughout the program, students attend industry-relevant lectures while completing child development-specific coursework. The curriculum, which consists of foundational and advanced coursework, equips students with relevant skills needed to succeed in the child development field. Enrollees can work with their academic advisor to individualize their degree by exploring electives, minors, and degree concentrations.

The value of a bachelor's degree is clear. Many graduates increase their job opportunities and earning potential. The school reports a median salary of $37,600 for graduates six years after earning a bachelor's degree. Students preparing to apply to the child development program should consider that the average price after aid for tuition and fees is $15,266. Prospective enrollees can learn more about the opportunities available at Central Michigan University, including admission requirements and financial aid eligibility, by connecting with the child development department.

Central Michigan University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 7,657

Total Online Programs: 54

Online Bachelor's Programs: 10

Admission Rate: 70%

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,383
Out-of-state
$22,881
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
70%
Students Enrolled
19,362
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Best Online Bachelor’s in Child Development

Union Institute and University

  • Cincinnati, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Union Institute and University, a private, nonprofit, four-year school in Cincinnati, Ohio, boasts a robust online learning community. Undergraduates choose from 14 online bachelor's programs. The bachelor of science in early childhood education and adolescent development prioritizes flexibility, making it an attractive option for working professionals and busy students. The child development program accommodates full- and part-time study.

Throughout the program, students attend industry-relevant lectures while completing child development-specific coursework. Throughout their studies, learners gain knowledge and skills applicable to the child development field. Majors choose electives, minors, and concentrations to customize their course of study.

The benefits of a bachelor's degree are varied, including increased job opportunities and higher earning potential. The college boasts a median salary of $64,200 for graduates six years after completing their program. Students can meet with the child development department directly to inquire about admission requirements and application materials.

Union Institute and University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 853

Total Online Programs: 22

Online Bachelor's Programs: 14

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,080
Out-of-state
$13,080
Retention Rate
100%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
860
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
Best Online Bachelor's

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
Preschool Teachers $34,650
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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