Best Master’s in Child Development Degree Programs

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Updated August 17, 2023 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Grad School Hub's 25 Best Master's in Child Development are not only ideal for educators, but for those aspiring to work for government agencies and nonprofit organizations as well. In fact, popular careers for folks with a child development degree include counseling, social work, teaching, and more. 

Childcare workers on average earn just over $22,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, earning an advanced degree with an area of specialization will increase your salary potential. Here are a few other annual salary estimates, as cited by the BLS:

Explore Master’s in Child Development Degree Programs.

Best Master’s in Child Development

  1. University of South Florida

    Tampa, FL



    The University of South Florida awards students with a Master's of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in either reading, teacher leadership, positive behavior support, or interdisciplinary studies. USF's degree program requires a minimum of 33 graduate-level semester hours. Required courses include Foundations of Educational research, Behavior Theory and Classroom Learning, and Historical Foundations of American Education.

    Graduating students must complete a written, six-week comprehensive exam the fall or spring term of their senior year. Prospective students are considered for admission during the fall, spring, and summer terms.

  2. University of Dayton

    Dayton, OH



    Instead of awarding the typical MS, MA or M.Ed. degree, the University of Dayton's School of Education and Health Sciences offers a Master's of Science in Education for Ph.D. candidates in the Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy program.

    Students can earn their MSE online or residentially, and enroll part-time or full-time. Required courses include Becoming a Master Educator, Advocacy in Early Care and Education, Collaborating with Families, and Professionals and Agencies.

    Graduates of UD go on to become professional program administrators, supervisors, and teacher leaders. U.S. News and World Report have ranked UD at #53 for the Nation's Best Value Schools and #36 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

  3. Biola University

    La Mirada, CA



    Biola University's MA Teaching degree with the concentration in Early Childhood is a 30-unit program that can be completed in just 18 months. BU's MA program is ideal for future professionals within public and private organizations serving children ages 1 – 9 and in transitional classrooms.

    Required courses include Philosophy and Values in School and Society, Early Childhood Curriculum, and Observation and Assessment of Young Children. All MA candidates are required to complete a thesis-based capstone involving childhood learning intervention and performance improvement.

    Prospective students must pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test or Basic Skills Test and have a minimum GPA of 2.75. Biola accepts applicants during the Fall, Spring, and Summer.

  4. Pacific Oaks College

    Pasadena, CA



    The Master's in Early Childhood Education degree program at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California offers a 30-credit degree for students interested in professional leadership roles. Target professional environments for POC graduates include public schools, child care programs, state agencies, and nonprofits that serve children and their families. Applicants with a GPA lower than 2.5 will need to provide a letter of recommendation for acceptance.

    POC's M.Ed. is available online and residentially, and can be completed within 2 – 4 years depending on student course load. Graduate students have the option to specialize in Special Education as well. POC's MA offers courses such as Public Policy and Its Impact on Children and Families; Learning Theories and the Social, Political, and Economic Factors that have Influenced Education; and Creating Responsive Communities for All Families.

  5. University of La Verne

    La Verne, CA



    The Master of Science degree in Child Development at the University of La Verne is offered both on-campus or online and enables students to later teach for a community college in the state of California.

    Graduating students must complete 33 semester hours with required courses including Studies in Attachment, Teaching Adults, and Cognition and Brain Development. La Verne semesters are 16 weeks long and graduate students typically graduate within two years. Students may enjoy La Verne's small online classes, which average around 20 enrolled students. Prospective students should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher in order to apply.

  6. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH



    Southern New Hampshire University offers grad students an opportunity to earn their M.Ed. in Early Childhood and Special Education while preparing them for upcoming state licensure exams after graduation. The state of New Hampshire awards licensure in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education, which differentiates childhood education expectations for children between the ages 1-9.

    SNHU's M.Ed. is a full-time, 36-credit degree program that can be completed in just 15 months. Graduate students are offered 44 weeks of clinical experience and complete required courses such as Classroom and Behavior Management, Early Childhood Mathematics, and Intervention in Literacy. Unlike other M.Ed. programs, SNHU does not require GRE or GMAT scores for admission.

  7. Erikson Institute

    Chicago, IL



    Erikson Institute's Master's of Science in Child Development is a residential degree program offering students an opportunity to complete a tailored internship experience during their senior year. Graduate internships require students to work approximately 15 hours a week during their final fall and spring terms.

    In addition, Erikson offers specializations in either: Administration, Child Life, Children with Special Needs, Children's Law and Policy; Infancy, Infancy and Administration, or Infancy and New Language Learners. Erikson also offers a dual degree program in Child Development and Jurisprudence in Children's Law and Policy.

  8. University of North Dakota

    Grand Forks, NC



    The University of North Dakota offers a 32-credit Master of Science degree in Early Childhood Education in a residential, online, or hybrid-classroom environment. Required courses include Foundations of Reading Instruction, Language Development and Cognition in Children, and Collaborative Relationships, and more.

    UND's MS program can be completed in 18 months as a full-time student, or within 24 months while attending part-time. Prospective applicants should have a minimum GPA of 2.75 and an undergraduate degree in a related field.

  9. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

    Minneapolis, MN



    The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education at the University of Minnesota is for students pursuing their first Minnesota teaching license. As a graduate student, you'll have the opportunity to student teach at the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School, the university's on-campus preschool.

    Required courses include Cognitive Development, Foundations of Reading, Linguistics for Teachers, and Technology for Teaching and Learning. Additionally, all graduate students are expected to complete a capstone on how to improve early childhood education teaching methods. Admission is available for fall, spring, and summer sessions.

  10. Grand Canyon University

    Phoenix, AZ



    The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education at Grand Canyon University leads to initial teacher licensure. Offered through GCU's College of Education, this 48-credit M.Ed. is available online and can be completed within six weeks.

    Required courses include Typical and Atypical Behaviors of Young Children, Creating and Managing the Early Childhood Environment, and Advanced Methodologies. Students may transfer in up to 12 credit-hours upon admission. Graduates of GCU often pursue careers as preschool teachers, daycare directors, education advocates, and other related fields.

Jobs for educators are expected to grow from now until 2026, so start your advanced degree program today! Here are the 25 Best Master's in Child Development.

  • Preschool and Childcare Center Director: $46,890
  • Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: $56,900
  • Special Education Teacher: $58,980

Top 10 Best Master's in Child Development Programs

#1 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
#2 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
#3 Biola University La Mirada, CA
#4 Pacific Oaks College Pasadena, CA
#5 University of La Verne La Verne, CA
#6 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#7 Erikson Institute Chicago, IL
#8 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, NC
#9 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
#10 Grand Canyon University Phoenix, AZ


The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 25 Best Master's in Child Development 2019 for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:

  • Alumni Feedback: 20%
  • Continued Enrollment: 20%
  • Degree Selectivity: 10%
  • Graduate Expenses: 25%
  • Projected Annual Salary: 25%

A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page.

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