2019 Best Online Colleges for Child Development Degrees
Online child development degrees are available at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral, and certificate levels. Child development is a particular branch of developmental psychology that analyzes the psychological, emotional, and perceptional changes within children. Our list of the best online bachelor's degrees highlights 16 excellent options, based on tuition rates and alumni salaries from PayScale.
Students should make sure that the schools they attend are regionally accredited, and doctoral students should look for accreditation by the American Psychological Association.
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Child Development Degrees (98)
Annual Tuition: $10,632 - $13,400
|Full List||Accreditation||Annual Tuition||Recommend Rate|
|Full List (97)|
|HLC||$6,880||71% (146 reviews)|
462 Programs, 2 in Child Development
|SACS COC||$22,109||100% (4 reviews)|
47 Programs, 1 in Child Development
8 Programs, 2 in Child Development
|HLC||$15,691 - $27,372||71% (88 reviews)|
226 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|WASC WSCUC||$10,632 - $13,400||67% (646 reviews)|
212 Programs, 6 in Child Development
|HLC||$25,942||100% (4 reviews)|
160 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|NECHE||$33,557||100% (1 review)|
107 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|HLC||$36,210||100% (1 review)|
59 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|WASC WSCUC||$38,448||Add Review|
45 Programs, 6 in Child Development
|NWCCU||$22,642||100% (1 review)|
49 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|SACS COC||$25,600||Add Review|
23 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|WASC WSCUC||$32,256||80% (5 reviews)|
52 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|HLC||$14,250||65% (581 reviews)|
232 Programs, 2 in Child Development
21 Programs, 2 in Child Development
|HLC||$5,760 - $23,770||100% (1 review)|
53 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|HLC||$23,670||67% (3 reviews)|
85 Programs, 2 in Child Development
|WASC WSCUC||$24,514||100% (1 review)|
32 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|HLC||$13,530||0% (3 reviews)|
46 Programs, 4 in Child Development
|SACS COC||$36,058||100% (2 reviews)|
27 Programs, 2 in Child Development
87 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|HLC||$21,750||75% (4 reviews)|
40 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|HLC||$28,600||67% (3 reviews)|
100 Programs, 1 in Child Development
29 Programs, 1 in Child Development
|SACS COC||$18,250||33% (3 reviews)|
102 Programs, 4 in Child Development
|MSCHE||$14,668||100% (2 reviews)|
30 Programs, 1 in Child Development
2019 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Child Development Degrees
On this list are the 16 best online child development programs in the country. University of Massachusetts - Amherst tops the list for 2019, with a Bachelor of Arts in Children's Learning and Development degree for $11,700 per year. Child development graduates of the school report earning a median salary of $88,100. Fort Hays State University, at #10, has the lowest tuition on the list, at $6,560 per year for a Bachelor of General Studies-Child Development degree.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Median Salary|
- Annual Tuition: $11,700
- Median Salary: $88,100
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst features an online Bachelor of Arts in Children's Learning and Development. This is a degree completion program. Admission requires a minimum of 12 credits with a 2.0 GPA and up to 105 credits may be transferred. The focus is on education, advocacy, and administration. This program allows students a choice in course selection; for example, a student interested in running a children's program might select some business courses. The program encourages Montessori teachers to apply and will accept their training for academic credits. Sample courses include LGBT Issues in Education, Survey of Children's Literature, and Embracing Diversity. Tuition in core courses from UM's University Without Walls is $390 per credit.
- Annual Tuition: $12,064
- Median Salary: $83,400
Jacksonville State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences, with a concentration in Child Development. Freshman admission requires a 2.0 GPA and either SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students must have at least 24 credits and a 2.0 GPA. A background check is also required. The B.S. requires a total of 128 credits, with 36 credits coming from the major and 18 credits coming from the concentration. Typical courses include Family Life Education, Exceptional Children, and Parent Child Relations. The program is designed to prepare students for careers working with families and children, but does not lead to teacher certification. Tuition is $377 per credit in fall and spring terms, and $324 per credit in the summer. JSU is located in Jacksonville, Alabama.
- Annual Tuition: $9,600
- Median Salary: $78,300
Southern New Hampshire University Online offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. The overall degree is 120 credits, and the program itself requires 24 credits in psychology and 12 more in the concentration. Admission is holistic, but usually requires a high school diploma and a 2.5 GPA. Transfer students are welcome, and up to 90 credits may be transferred. The academic format is six, 8-week terms per year. The program gives students a solid liberal arts education and background in the field. Classes include Introduction to Psychology, Adolescent Development, and Disorders of Children and Adolescents. Tuition is $320 per credit, with a 30% discount for military members.
- Annual Tuition: $9,600
- Median Salary: $71,800
Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies with a concentration in Child Development and Family Relations. Freshman students need a 2.0 GPA and ACT or SAT scores, and transfer students need a 2.0 GPA and a minimum of 18 credits. The major requires a minor, typically Social Science, and some courses may not be offered online. Two courses require substantial requirements for observation and internship. Among the courses in the program are Professionalism in Child and Family Studies, Child Nutrition, and Developmental Psychology. Online tuition for all students is $375 per credit unit. The program does not lead to teacher certification. A new concentration in Advocacy and Intervention will begin in the fall of 2019. NWSU is military friendly.
- Annual Tuition: $16,110
- Median Salary: $60,400
The University of Wyoming offers an online Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences with a Professional Child Development option. This is a degree completion program designed for students who already have an AA or AS degree. Applicants apply to UW first, then are considered for admission into the program. They must have at least 30 transferable credits, and must have taken courses in psychology, sociology and early childhood education. A background check is also mandatory. Courses in the program include Child Development. Parent/ Child Relationship, Oral and Written Language Acquisition, and Developmental Psychopathology. Cost of attendance is $15,900 for state residents and $27,990 for non-residents.
- Annual Tuition: $18,188
- Median Salary: $55,300
Western Michigan University features an online Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development. This is a 59 credit program and the degree is a total of 122 credits. Transfer students must have a 2.0 GPA. The program’s focus is on career advancement, and enhancing skills and credentials in the field. Among the courses in the major are Early Childhood Assessment and Curriculum, Raising Children in Contemporary Society, Fluency With Information Technology and Infant and Toddler Development. Graduates are automatically eligible for provisional status as a Certified Family Life Educator. Upper division undergraduate online tuition (which includes courses in the major) for residents is $511.78 per credit and $639.57 per credit for non-residents.
- Annual Tuition: $12,270
- Median Salary: $52,400
Eastern Kentucky University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies-Child Development and an online Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Family Psychology. Admission requires high school graduation, a minimum GPA of 2.5, and either ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students must have at least 24 credits with a 2.0 GPA, and may transfer up to 90 credits. The Psychology major takes 39 core credits and 12 credits in the concentration. The Child and Family Studies program has 21-24 core credits and 36 credits in the concentration. Some of the courses offered are Family Stress and Resilience, Diversity Awareness in Professional Practice, and Early Childhood Literacy. Online tuition is a flat $409 per credit, with a discount offered to military members.
- Annual Tuition: $10,633
- Median Salary: $50,900
SUNY Empire State College offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development-Child Development. The programs are 50-54 credits out of the 124 credits required for the bachelor’s degree. Admission requires a high school diploma, and transfer students need a 2.0 GPA and may transfer in 93 credits. Two certificates may be added to the degree: Children's Program Administrator Credential and Infant Toddler Care and Education Credential. Among the courses offered are Moral Development, Adolescence and Identity, Biology of the Brain, Human Diversity, and Abnormal Psychology. Online tuition is $256 per credit for New York residents and $343 per credit for out-of-state residents. Empire State College has a number of locations in New York; its administration is located in Saratoga Springs.
- Annual Tuition: $11,700
- Median Salary: $49,200
Liberty University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Psychology- Developmental Psychology. On average, students complete the degree in 3.5 years. Admission requires a high school diploma and a 2.0. GPA. Transfer students also need a 2.0 GPA and may transfer in up to 90 credits. The focus is on development from infant to adolescence. Among the courses in the program are Psychology of Childhood, Psychology of Adolescence, and Physiological Psychology. The program does not lead to licensure. All Liberty University programs reflect the school's strong Christian worldview. Tuition per credit hour is $455 for part-time students, $390 for full-time students, and $250 for military members and their spouses.
- Annual Tuition: $6,560
- Median Salary: $47,600
Fort Hays State University offers an online Bachelor of General Studies in Child Development. Freshman admission requires a diploma and a 2.0 GPA, and transfer students must have a minimum of 24 credits with a 2.0 GPA. The BGS degree requires 120 credit hours, with the concentration in Child Development taking 21 credit hours. The program is designed for parents and childcare providers and includes classes such as Educating Exceptional Students, Children's Literature, Diverse Learners, and The Young Child. A minimum of 30 credits must be taken through FHSU and the program does not lead to licensure. Virtual College undergraduate tuition is $218.67 per credit hour. The school is located in Hays, Kansas.
- Annual Tuition: $12,150
- Median Salary: $47,500
New England College features an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology. Admission for incoming freshmen requires a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Transfer students also need a 2.0 GPA and may transfer in up to 90 credits. The major and the concentration each require 20 credits of the 120 required for the B.A. degree. The program focus is on understanding changes in identity over a lifetime. Courses include Childhood and Adolescence, Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Adulthood and Aging. Credits may be given for life or military experience. Online tuition is $405 per credit and military members qualify for a substantial tuition discount. The school is located in Henniker, New Hampshire.
- Annual Tuition: $12,000
- Median Salary: $46,600
Bay Path University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology: Child Psychology. The program is available through Bay Path's The American Women's College, which exists to help women reach their goal of earning a college degree. Up to 90 transfer credits are accepted and they also offer credits for prior work, volunteer, and military service. Admission requires a high school diploma, or a GED plus 12 college credits. Applicants may also substitute a written essay for those credentials. The program explores all aspects of childhood. The degree can be completed in three years and includes courses such as Critical Reading and Response, Marital and Family Systems, and Social Psychology. Online tuition per credit is $400, or $350 for military members.
- Annual Tuition: $8,218
- Median Salary: $41,800
The University of Southern Mississippi offers an online Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies. Freshman admission requires a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA, and either ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students also need a minimum 2.0 GPA. The degree is a total of 124 credits, with 55 credits in the major. Students choose one of two emphasis areas: Child Development or Family Relations. The Child Development option has a nine credit hour practicum during the final semester. Among the courses offered are Children, Families and Technology, Parenthood, Sexuality in the Family System, and Advanced Child Development. Tuition is $355 per credit for all students. The university is very military friendly.
- Annual Tuition: $12,245
- Median Salary: $41,700
Wayland Baptist University offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Development. This BAS degree is designed for people who have completed technical or occupational programs or have graduated from a vocational or technical college. The BAS is a 124 credit program with 36 credits in the major. The curriculum's classes include Principles of Caring for Preschool Children, Emergent Literacy and Phonics, and Partnering With Parents. Up to 12 credits may be granted for qualified work experience. Tuition per credit is $395, or $250 for active military members. Wayland is located in Plainview, Texas, and the school is very military friendly. Wayland is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and all of its programs reflect the school's Christian values.
- Annual Tuition: $7,500
- Median Salary: $39,100
Central Methodist University features an online Bachelor of Science in Child Development. The major is 36 hours of the total 120 credit hour program. Freshmen admission requires a diploma and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Transfer students need a minimum GPA of 2.0. The degree has two emphases: Early Childhood and School Age Children. The program is designed for people interested in working with children and families in areas outside of the school system. It does not lead to teacher certification. The curriculum courses include Infant Toddler Curriculum, Funding Education, Motor Learning, and Motor Development. Undergraduate online tuition is $250 per credit. Central Methodist is located in Fayette, Missouri, and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
- Annual Tuition: $12,600
- Median Salary: $33,200
Concordia University-St. Paul offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Child Development. This major takes 42 credits and the degree itself is 120 credits. Freshmen admission requires a high school diploma and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students need a minimum GPA of 2.0. The program focus is on advocacy and leadership in early education and is geared toward children from birth to grade three. It also focuses on involving families in the education of their children. Sample courses include Growth and Development of Children, Children's Play and Learning, Young Children with Special Needs, and Infants and Toddlers. Some courses may require extensive fieldwork. Tuition is a $420 per credit.
Online Child Development Degree Overview & Career Information
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, those who choose to earn an advanced degree will have many more opportunities to choose from in the child development field.
An online associate degree in child development will help provide the foundations necessary to understand, interact with, and teach young learners.
Typically requiring about two years of schooling, an online child development associate degree is a good way to begin a career in the education field. 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 which are beneficial for 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 in the field and for careers as childcare professionals in licensed centers, assistant teachers, and even lead teachers in some preschool programs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Academic Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.aacap.org.
- National Association of Environmental Professionals. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.naep.org.
- National Association of School Psychologists. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.nasponline.org.aspx.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Department of Labor. Accessed March 8, 2018. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/childcare-workers.htm.