2017 Accredited Online Child Development Degree Programs

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Quick Facts
Accreditation: APA
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $21,410
Avg Salary: $66,335

Online child development degrees are available at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral, and certificate levels. Students in an online child development degree will receive education in monitoring the cognitive development of children as they grow older. Child development is a particular branch of developmental psychology that analyzes the psychological, emotional, and perceptional changes within children.

Students should make sure that the schools they attend are regionally accredited and that the child development programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association. For more help choosing an online program in child development, browse our 2017 top colleges ranking list for child development degrees.

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Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Child Development Degrees (27)

Child Development-Top Online Colleges-2017-Badge

2017 Top Online Colleges Offering Child Development Degrees

The online child development degrees offered at these schools are both affordable and academically rigorous. University of Alabama, ranked #2, has the highest academic strength score of the schools on this list, at 69%, and offers a BS in Human Environmental Sciences with a focus on child development for $10,380 a year. The lowest tuition of these ranked schools is $8,340 for Eastern Washington University's top-ranked Bachelor of Arts in Children's Studies.

All schools considered for this list offer fully online child development degrees at the bachelor's level. View our top ranked master's degrees, read about our methodology for more details, or learn more about SR Education Group.

Rank School Annual Tuition Academic Strength
#1 #1 Eastern Washington University Annual Tuition $8,340 Academic Strength 60%
#2 #2 University of Alabama Annual Tuition $10,380 Academic Strength 69%
#3 #3 Southern New Hampshire University Online Annual Tuition $9,600 Academic Strength 60%
#4 #4 Western Michigan University Annual Tuition $11,330 Academic Strength 64%
#5 #5 Liberty University Annual Tuition $11,700 Academic Strength 64%
#6 #6 Indiana Institute of Technology Annual Tuition $11,880 Academic Strength 57%
#7 #7 Eastern Kentucky University Annual Tuition $12,400 Academic Strength 62%
#8 #8 Concordia University - Saint Paul Annual Tuition $12,600 Academic Strength 63%
#9 #9 Bay Path University Annual Tuition $13,600 Academic Strength 60%
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Which Child Development Degree Level Is Best for Me?

Online child development training can take anywhere from one to eight years, depending on the level of education desired. Degree programs in child development are available at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate level. Common courses in these degree programs include brain and behavior, cognitive psychology, human memory, childhood and adolescent development, and human sexuality. Graduates at the bachelor's level and higher can go on to become child advocates, social workers, teachers, and social services managers.

Prospective educators will learn a variety of hands-on techniques that will help them monitor, teach, and design positive learning environments for children. Most programs require at least one internship in a related field. In addition, educators must gain certification in the state in which they teach. They must also complete additional units each year. While graduates fresh out of high school can find positions in after school programs and assisting, those who choose to earn an advanced degree will have many more opportunities to choose from in the child development field. 

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Online Associate Degrees in Child Development

An online associate degree in child development will provide the foundations necessary to understand, interact with, and teach young learners. Typically requiring about two years of schooling, a child development degree is the perfect way to begin a career in the education field. Many become childcare professionals in licensed centers, working as assistant teachers and even lead teachers in some preschool programs. In addition to completing the required background checks and tuberculosis test that are almost always necessary when working with children, a prospective early childhood educator must also have a high school diploma or GED. Some of the coursework that will be taught at this level includes infant and toddler development, family dynamics, nutrition, and safety of young children. Some important traits are beneficial for the child development students to have are patience, creativity, physical stamina, and organizational skills. An associate degree in child development is a solid stepping stone for more advanced degrees.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees in Child Development

An online Bachelor of Arts (BA) in child development provides students with an understanding of the mental and behavioral development of children; it is often used as a stepping stone in the process of earning a master's degree.

Program Requirements

Applicants to online child development bachelor's programs must have a high school education or GED. They will need to provide transcripts from high school and from any college courses they have already taken. Some schools may require SAT or ACT scores and/or personal statements. Online bachelor's degrees generally take four years to complete.


The undergraduate child psychology curriculum contains a broad overview of the major facets of child development. Students study the developmental, behavioral, and learning disorders that can affect children at various stages in their lives, and they learn how a child's social or cultural environment affects his or her development. In addition to a foundation in psychology, bachelor's degree students also take courses in English, history, math, science, foreign languages, and other humanities areas before narrowing their focus during the last two years of the program. Many child psychology programs require students to complete an internship in a setting where they can observe child behavior, such as in a school or day-care setting.

An online child development bachelor's degree is quite flexible and will prepare students for many different career paths. Graduates may find themselves working in fields such as teaching, social work, child psychology, family counseling, and administrative positions within educational institutions. Other graduates work as social and human services assistants or go on to earn master's degrees in counseling.

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Online Master's in Child Development

A master's program in child development will help prepare students for careers as social workers, case managers, and child advocates as well as school administrators and counselors. Although educators can enter the field as certified teachers with a bachelor’s degree, many educational institutions do require teachers to obtain a master’s degree within five years of their employment. These are the top online colleges offering master's degrees in child development. View our methodology for more details about these rankings.

Top Online Master's in Child Development

Rank School Annual Tuition Academic Strength
#1 #1 Clemson University Annual Tuition $10,260 Academic Strength 75%
#2 #2 Ball State University Annual Tuition $11,800 Academic Strength 66%
#3 #3 University of La Verne Annual Tuition $12,070 Academic Strength 64%
#4 #4 University of South Florida - Main Campus Annual Tuition $16,448 Academic Strength 72%

Program Requirements

An online master's degree in child development usually takes between two and three years to complete. Students must obtain a bachelor's degree prior to enrolling in a master's program and will need to submit transcripts as part of the application process. In addition to transcripts, students can expect to submit some combination of a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores. Some schools also have minimum GPA requirements.


Child development coursework often includes learning how to assess behavioral, emotional, and learning difficulties in children as well as identifying which tools can help them improve. Students will also take classes on language development, adolescence, infancy development, care giving techniques, poverty issues, and family dynamics before taking a final comprehensive exam.

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Online Doctoral Degrees in Child Development

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) programs in child development are intensive, research-based degrees that prepare graduates for a career as a licensed child psychologist or professor. The PhD includes training in psychology research as well as professional practice, while the PsyD focuses more on professional psychology practice.

Program Requirements

Many doctoral programs require that applicants have a master's degree along with previous foundational coursework in psychology and statistics. Transcripts from all previous college coursework may be required as part of the application. Other application requirements may include interviews with faculty members, personal statements, letters of recommendation, resumes or CVs, writing samples, and/or written work history/prior experience in the field. Students may spend between three and six years completing their degree, with the latter years of the degree focused on conducting a research project and writing a dissertation. Students will defend their thesis conclusion before a panel of professors and/or professionals.


The curriculum of a doctoral program in child psychology and development explores high-level theory, as students are expected to already have a broad knowledge base. The curriculum will introduce students to various approaches used to deal with children in psychology. Many accredited colleges have developed online psychology doctorate degrees so students can study psychological theories and research via online courses. These programs may require short, intensive residencies, in which students come to campus to do clinical practicums and work on research projects. Online students still have to complete a clinical internship, which lasts at least one year; the school helps students set up an appropriate supervised internship in their local community.

The most important thing to keep in mind when completing an online doctorate is whether the program is recognized by your state's psychology board. Attending an accredited program is necessary for earning a state psychology license.

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Online Certificates in Child Development

Child psychology certificates provide clinical practitioners with a deeper understanding of child development and behavior. Most online certificates require four to eight courses. Many programs require that applicants possess a bachelor's or master's degree in counseling or a related area, as well as a counseling license. Other programs are open to social workers, teachers, or noncertified child care professionals. Child psychology certificates geared toward licensed counselors focus on treatment strategies for working with children, adolescents, and their families. These classes focus on topics like family treatment, interviewing skills, and other applied techniques. Other courses explore topics like abnormal child psychology and developmental psychology.

Other certificates focus on child psychology and interventions that are appropriate for professionals without a clinical counseling background. These certificates might touch on topics like child and adolescent trauma, research in child psychology, and support services for young populations. Graduates typically use these certificates to support current careers in counseling or the helping professions. Current counselors and clinical social workers can use the program to shift the focus of their practice to better serve children and adolescents. Professionals in non-profit organizations, public service, child care, or similar settings can use the certificate to deepen their understanding of the motivation and behavior of children in order to better serve them.

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The Importance of an Accredited Online Child Development Degree

While it is important to ensure that a school has earned institutional accreditation from a respected regional or national agency, those interested in a career in psychology should also verify that their degree programs of choice have been accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). The Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes the APA as the accrediting authority for schools offering training in psychology. The American Psychological Association (APA) Commission on Accreditation (CoA) endorses programs in professional psychology, clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, and combined professional-scientific psychology. In the same way that institutional accreditation reflects the quality of the school, programmatic accreditation from the APA helps to ensure that postsecondary psychology degree programs conform to national educational standards.

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Child Development Credentials and Licensure

The Council for Professional Recognition administers the Child Development Associate (CDA), a credentialing program for those interesting in working with children as educators. Some states require CDA credentials to work as early childhood educators. Regardless of whether a state requires it, earning a CDA credential is good preparation for a career in early childhood education.

There are four key components to gaining CDA certification.

  • To begin, students must earn their high school diploma or GED and be at least 18 years old.
  • A considerable amount of experience is also necessary, including 120 hours of approved childcare preparation, with specific focus on child development and learning, professionalism, creating safe learning environments, effective family relationship techniques, and how to observe child behavior.
  • Students also need at least 480 hours of practice in either an educational or childcare-related field. Both the directed instruction and the prior experience must have been within the last five years.
  • Once eligible, potential candidates can order the CDA packet that is precise to their specific area of study.

The CDA credential needs to be renewed every three years.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation is another credential available to those working with children. It is designed for those working with kids from birth through eight years old, and it is a highly respected and thorough accreditation process. The NAEYC focuses on improving educator resources and early childcare centers across America.

Child Development Careers

There are a variety of careers paths open to graduates of online child development programs. Work environments include public and private schools, day care centers, preschools, and churches. While positions vary, people who work in this field are often on their feet all day, bending and lifting, as well as observing, reading to, and playing with small children. Those with advanced degrees may go on to work as psychologists or conduct research among other options.


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