An online Master's in Child Development is the perfect choice for any professional who wishes to advance in their career of working with children. With social services providing aid to children from a variety of different backgrounds and who need assistance in different ways, there is always room in this growing field for passionate individuals who care about children. And with more and more organizations calling for graduate professionals, it is a good time to consider online programs.
Online programs are the perfect fit for working professionals. Often more flexible and affordable than traditional programs, these degrees offer professionals a freedom they are not yet used to in terms of their education. And with so many professionals seeking affordable online programs that they can complete while continuing to work full-time, it was clear that a ranking was needed.
This ranking used research tools that are publicly available on the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator database. NCES provided 15 schools on the initial list that offered distance learning programs. Nine schools were then chosen based on their in-state graduate tuition rate. They are listed below in descending order according to their affordability.
Ranking Low-cost Child Development Master's
9. University of Minnesota at Twin Cities
Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota
Online Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development
Students at the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities is offering an online Master's in Child Development that builds a professional's understanding of the field with online asynchronous courses; it can be completed in two years with full-time study. This is a 100 percent online degree that comes with three specialization tracks: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Child Life, and Individualized Studies. The Child Life track also comes with the opportunity to sit for the Child Life Professional Certification Examination as well as the Association of Child Life Professionals Eligibility Assessment. Students will be expected to complete 32 credit hours of coursework, a practicum in their community, a final project, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Development and Psychopathology in Early Childhood, Developmental Perspectives on Illness and Injury in Healthcare, Childhood Death and Bereavement.
8. Capella University
St. Paul, Minnesota
Online Master of Science in Psychology, Child and Adolescent Development
Capella University confers a Master's in Child Development online degree that is built for professionals who are working in the field and would like to advance in their careers. This is a fully online degree that can be taken asynchronously in either 10-week or 12-week term schedules; depending on a student's choice, they can expect to finish the degree within 18 months to three years. The curriculum is built from a research and theory standpoint, with specialization courses providing more in-depth knowledge about different aspects of child psychology. Students can expect to complete 55 quarter credit hours, including an integrated project, as well as a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology, Tests and Measurements, and Topics in Child and Adolescent Development.
7. University of La Verne
La Verne, California
Online Master of Science in Child Development
Students at the University of La Verne are offered a Master's in Child Development that is built to give working professionals an intimate education in this field. This is a 100 percent online program that focuses students on teaching at a community college as well as working in social service agencies. Please note that students must have prior child psychology or educational background experience in order to apply for this program; some students without this requirement may be offered admittance under the condition that they take several prerequisite courses prior to entering the program. Courses are delivered asynchronously and the curriculum can be completed in as little as 18 months. Students can expect to complete 33 credit hours of coursework, a culminating activity, a graduate seminar, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Cognition and Brain Development, Educational Psychology, and Language, Reading, and Concept Development.
6. University of Missouri
Online Master of Arts in Youth Development
Students at the University of Missouri have a great option when it comes to earning an online Master's in Child Development. This degree is based on youth development, giving professionals the chance to work with not just children, but adolescents as well. This 100 percent online program offers three tracks: Youth Development, Gerontology, and Family and Community Services. Each concentration has a choice of a comprehensive exam or practicum, which takes place in a student's community, for the final project requirement. Courses are delivered asynchronously and in a 10-week format; full-time students can complete all the requirements in less than 18 months. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework and a practicum or comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Adolescents and Their Families, Federal and State Policies That Impact Youth Development, Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research.
5. University of South Florida
Online Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health (MSCABH)
The University of South Florida offers students a great alternative to the online child development master's. The school's MSCABH program was designed as an advanced professional degree that will provide professionals with the skills and knowledge they need in order to make an impact on their chosen field. This is a 100 percent online program and all courses are delivered asynchronously and synchronously through the school's portal. There are four concentrations for this degree, including Developmental Disabilities, Research and Evaluation, Youth and Behavioral Health, and Leadership in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health. The degree plan also enables students to choose their capstone project: thesis or applied project. The applied project requires a practicum as well as a research project. In addition to the final project, students will need to complete 39 credit hours of coursework as well as a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health, Cultural Competency in Children's Mental Health, and Evaluation and Research Methods in Community Health.
4. University of Southern Mississippi
Online Master of Science in Child and Family Studies
Students at the University of Southern Mississippi will be interested in the school's MS-CFS program. This 100 percent online program was designed specifically for working professionals who don't have the time to go to a traditional program and yet still want to advance their career. This curriculum blends research with theories and experiential learning, ensuring that all students understand the knowledge taught in the curriculum. All courses are delivered asynchronously via the school's virtual portal and in eight-week terms; full-time students can complete all of the requirements with 18 months of full-time study. Students can expect to complete 37 credit hours of coursework, a thesis or creative project, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Child and Family Life Education, Adulthood and Aging in the Family System, and Adolescence and the Family System.
3. University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Online Master of Science in Child, Youth, and Family Studies
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln confers a cheap child's development master's degree online. This degree was created for working professionals who have a strong desire to specialize in the field. The program comes with nine different specializations, including Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Child Development/Early Childhood Education. This degree is offered 100 percent online and courses are delivered asynchronously and synchronously. The term schedule follows the traditional 16-week format. Students will find that the degree requires 30 credit hours of coursework, a thesis or a minor, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Introduction to Advanced Concepts in Youth and Child Development, Research and Evaluation, and Child and Family Studies.
2. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina
Online Master of Education in Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development (BK:ISED)
Students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro will find a great alternative to the online Master's in Child Development. This is an interdisciplinary synchronous degree that is conferred 100 percent online and focuses on children from the ages of birth to five years old. This degree is open to students who have earned a degree in early childhood education or an allied field. The program has two concentrations, including Childhood Leadership and Program Administration as well as Early Childhood Leadership and Advanced Teaching Licensure. The curriculum is delivered synchronously and can be completed in as little as two years. Both degrees require a portfolio and an oral defense of that portfolio prior to graduation. Other requirements include 37 credit hours of coursework, an internship, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Methods of Educational Research, Advanced Curriculum in Early Childhood Education, Inclusive Family-Centered Practices in Early Childhood.
1. Missouri State University
Online Master of Science in Early Childhood and Family Development
Missouri State University confers an online Master's in Child Development that was built specifically for professionals who are interested in working in social services at an advanced level. This is a 100 percent online program that delivers asynchronous courses through the school's virtual portal. The program can be completed in two years with the full-time study; part-time students often complete the degree in three years. The curriculum discusses policy, social justice, diversity, and research in various forms, enabling students to get a well-rounded look at the field of child development. Students can expect to complete 32 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Programming and Policy Issues for Early Childhood Settings, Children and Families in a Diverse Society, and Inquiry in Early Childhood and Family Development.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Master's in Child Development Degree?
An online Master's in Child Development can go a long way to advance a professional's career. It can also open up a professional to various new opportunities, which can span industries and sectors. Some of these options include:
- Social Worker
- Child Development Consultant
- Research Assistant
- Director of Educational Programming
- Preschool Teacher
- Foster Care Coordinator
- Substance Abuse Specialist
- Developmental Play Specialist
- Nonprofit Program Manager
- Child Development Specialist
- After School Program Director
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
The child development field can range from anywhere between $25,000 to over $100,000. This may seem like a large range, but that's because child development professionals have the ability to work in various settings and in both the public and the private sector. This range also takes into account a professional's career position, work experience, the area of residence, and more.
The highest paid positions in child development come from the education sector. Directors of Educational Programs at private schools and even public charter schools regularly make between $80,000 to $100,000 a year. On the lower end are Day Care Directors and Child Development Specialists, each who make around $40,000 after years of work experience.
What are the Various Disciplines of Child Development?
Child development is a multidisciplinary field that focuses mainly on child development. This covers all disciplines, including health, psychology, education, mental health, counseling, social justice, politics, law, and more. It is a field where specialists are often in demand because the number of disciplines at play can be overwhelming.
For instance, a child development professional who works as a social worker will have to contend with political science, accounting, human resources, psychology, nutrition, government, law, and regulations. Another professional who works as an elementary school teacher may have to contend with education, policy, regulations, sociology, diversity, inclusion, and more.
There are far too many disciplines to list here, but professionals will get a sense of what disciplines will play out in their particular position within the field once they start looking at different programs that offer exactly the specialization that they need.
Is Practical Experience Necessary for an Online Master's in Child Development Degree?
Some programs do require practical experience in the form of an internship, clinical hours, a practicum, a field experience, or work placement, but not all do. Students will find that practical experience may be required for only certain concentrations or specializations within a degree. Therefore, they should take the time to check to see if practical experiences are necessary for their degree and specialization track.
Most programs will require at least a semester-long internship that correlates to a part-time job. The majority of these programs are focused on early childhood education and so the internship must be taken within an elementary school; students must also possess a valid teaching license in their state in order to participate.
Other programs require clinical hours should a student be undertaking a degree that has a concentration in mental health. These programs require the hours to take place in a setting approved by the department and under the supervision of a preceptor. For these programs, students must hold a valid counseling license in their home state in order to participate.
There are some programs in this field, however, that does not require any sort of practical experience. While this can be a benefit to many professionals who are working full-time jobs, it comes with some caveats; first, these programs generally require students take on a thesis or applied project instead of an internship and in some cases even extra coursework. Two, because programs don't offer practical experiences, it will be difficult for students to earn any type of specialized certificate or a pathway to licensure with that degree.
Who Should Consider Taking on This Degree?
This is an advanced professional degree that was designed to advance the careers of professionals already working in the field. It is also possible to find programs that offer acceptance to non-child development professionals. So, who should consider the degree indeed?
The most obvious answer is any professional currently working in social services with young children who do not yet have a graduate degree in the field. These professionals most often work with young children and their families, helping them through tough situations. The advanced education would help a professional learn to evaluate a child and their situation and implement a plan that would be a right fit for the child.
Professionals who work in early childhood education are also great choices for this degree. Working with young children in an educational context requires a great deal of patience and understanding, but also a lot of education. Teachers fall into this category as well and often find themselves in online programs that cater directly to them.
Other types of professionals who should seriously consider taking on this degree are child psychologists, therapists, and counselors. These professionals are on the front line of helping children with their mental health or behavioral issues and therefore need an advanced education that centers on their needs. Finding a degree that also provides licensure or certification options is also common in this field, so professionals will be well taken care of.
Child development professionals are in-demand, but most are acknowledging the need for graduate education. Those who work with children understand that education in this field can only enhance their ability to become a positive change agent in the lives of the children they are tasked with helping. An online Master's in Child Development can advance their careers, giving them the career they always wanted.