Best Online Master’s in Child Development

by TBS Staff

Updated October 10, 2022

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An online master's in child development degree gives you the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to play an integral role in organizations committed to meeting children's needs from infancy through adolescence.

Making a meaningful difference in young people's lives requires understanding their mental, social, and educational progress in order to help them grow into healthy, productive adults. Pursuing studies in child development enables you to recognize best practices in social services and education to assess effective programming. This degree affords limitless career options, including becoming a special education teacher, a profession the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will grow 8% by 2026.

The Best Online Master's in Child Development Programs

#1 Best Online Master’s in Child Development

University of South Florida

  • Tampa, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Tampa, the University of South Florida hosts a top-ranked master's in child development program. The child and adolescent behavioral health program emphasizes specialized skills, preparing graduates for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new career path or advance in their current field.

The child development master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. The master's program recommends that applicants bring a background in child development or a related field.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Graduate students expand their professional connections by attending virtual networking events.

University of South Florida at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 48%

Total Online Master's Programs: 27

Program Name: Master's in child and adolescent behavioral health

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,350

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $19,048

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,559
Out-of-state
$15,473
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
48%
Students Enrolled
44,246
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Master’s in Child Development

University of Minnesota

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in child development program at the University of Minnesota, located in Minneapolis, offers a flexible online format. The master's in applied child and adolescent development program helps graduates increase their salary potential and take on more professional responsibilities. Earning a master's degree can also help candidates pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum explores advanced methodologies and research in child development. Learners specialize their course of study to prepare for the job market. The master's program recommends a background in child development or a related field for those applying.

Online enrollees work with the program to arrange professional internships at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional connections by attending virtual networking events.

University of Minnesota at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 57%

Total Online Master's Programs: 3

Program Name: Master of arts in applied child and adolescent development

Graduate Tuition In State: $17,580

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $27,204

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,318
Out-of-state
$31,616
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
57%
Students Enrolled
51,327
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Online Master’s in Child Development

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Based in Manchester, Southern New Hampshire University hosts a top-rated online master's in child psychology and development. The master's program builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. With a master's degree, candidates advance their current career or move into new career paths.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in child development. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants without a background in child development may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees participate in internship programs at approved locations in their area. The child development program hosts networking events and other professional development activities to help graduate students expand their professional connections.

Southern New Hampshire University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private nonprofit, four-year

Admission Rate: 88%

Total Online Master's Programs: 22

Graduate Tuition In State: $18,810

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $18,810

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,756
Out-of-state
$30,756
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
113,514
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#4 Best Online Master’s in Child Development

Missouri State University

  • Springfield, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Springfield, Missouri State University offers an online master's in Missouri State University-Springfield. The master's in early childhood and family development program encourages career training throughout its curriculum, preparing graduates for leadership positions. After completing a master's degree, candidates advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to early childhood and family development. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants without an early childhood and family development background may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees add to their resume by pursuing internship opportunities at approved locations in their area. Graduate students also build professional connections by attending networking events.

Missouri State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 88%

Total Online Master's Programs: 28

Program Name: Master of science in early childhood and family development

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,202

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $10,476

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,540
Out-of-state
$14,850
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
23,453
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Best Online Master’s in Child Development

University of La Verne

  • La Verne, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in child and adolescent development degree at University of La Verne uses a flexible distance learning format. The program emphasizes industry-relevant knowledge and skills, preparing graduates for decision-making responsibilities. A master's degree also helps candidates pursue new career paths.

The master's curriculum blends theory and practice to provide an advanced understanding of child development. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants who majored in child development or a related field typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. The program encourages professional development activities, including networking events, so graduate students can expand their professional connections.

University of La Verne at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, nonprofit, four-year

Admission Rate: 55%

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of science in child and adolescent development

Graduate Tuition In State: $14,256

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $14,256

Average Tuition
In-state
$43,440
Out-of-state
$43,440
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
55%
Students Enrolled
7,396
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Best Online Programs

Online Master's in Child Development Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%

Affordability - 15%

Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Master's in Child Development Programs

Choosing a Program

Your master's degree in child development online coursework allows you to thoroughly examine child development theory, scientific literature, and relevant research. For example, your classes will explore topics like child and adolescent psychology and lifespan development. You should also expect to engage in research design and analysis. This advanced degree demands a firm grasp of subject matter through discussions, projects, and exams. Many programs also offer opportunities to choose a specialization within the degree. Some options for concentrations include family studies, teaching, or a focus on infancy. This enables you to customize your degree to match your academic and career interests.

Degree requirements depend on individual programs. Moreover, course format can be either fully online or a blend of online and on campus instruction. Carefully, review each available program to determine which best suits your interests and scheduling needs.

Online Master's in Child Development Careers

A master's degree in child development online is the ideal credential if you wish to enter a profession such as a child development specialist, afterschool program director, or childcare center manager. These careers require an ability to communicate effectively with a range of ages and demand a strong commitment to ethical practices.

Preschool and Childcare Center Director

This professional develops programming for children, manages staff, and maintains all budgetary aspects of facility operations. In addition, the director works closely with parents to update them on their child's progress. A master's in child development can better ensure your business management skills in a director position.

Median Salary: $45,790 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 11%

Special Education Teacher

These teachers support the development of young people with emotional, learning, and physical impairments by tailoring instruction to meet their academic needs. They ensure students develop literacy and communication skills, assessing and working with those who have mild disabilities or a more serious condition. Some states require additional teaching certification.

Median Salary: $57,910 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 8%

Social Worker

A social worker identifies community needs and assesses intervention options by reviewing clients' concerns. These clients can include families and children that face challenges like illness, homelessness, and abuse. This expert connects people to resources that can help them improve their circumstances. A master's degree in child development permits you to strengthen your case management and clinical assessment skills.

Median Salary: $46,890 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 15%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Featured Image Credit: 3sign | Moment | Getty Images

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