10 Best Online Master’s in Child Development

Staff picture
Updated September 28, 2022

Child Development programs build students' understanding of harmonious families and healthy communities. Through Grad School Hub's 10 Best Online Masters' in Childhood Development, students learn how to promote the flourishing of modern youth

Best Online Master's in Child Development - Grad School Hub

A deep understanding of human development can intersect with and enrich many professional fields, including education, law, and medicine. Generally speaking, social workers address behavioral, emotional, and mental needs. Those working in youth development specifically address the individual and interpersonal needs of infants, young children, and adolescents. For example, child and family social workers help to protect vulnerable children and families. They may also assist with adoption or foster care services, housing services, financial benefit applications, or even interventions in dangerous situations.

While school social workers plan and strategize to improve students' academic performance and social development, child healthcare social workers help young patients understand and adjust to medical circumstances. On the other hand, mental health and substance abuse social workers help younger populations with addictions or mental illnesses.

How much money do people make with a Child Development degree?

According to the United States' Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2017, the median annual wage for child, family, and school social workers was $44,380, or $23.07 per hour. Social workers generally work full-time and may need to work evenings, holidays, and weekends. Now is a prime time to begin a Child Development degree, as the number of social services jobs is growing at a rate of 16 percent, which is much faster than the national average.

Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Educational Psychology Online

#1 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS
#2 University of Nebraska - Lincoln Lincoln, NE
#3 University of Missouri, Columbia Columbia, MO
#4 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
#5 University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN
#6 The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
#7 University of La Verne La Verne, CA
#8 Missouri State University Springfield, MO
#9 Capella University Minneapolis, MN
#10 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.


The following list of the 10 Best Online Masters' in Child Development presents rankings based on affordability, educational quality, national reputation, postgraduate prospects, and student satisfaction of acclaimed institutions. Readers can learn more about Grad School Hub‘s ranking process by visiting our Methodology page.

Here are the 10 Best Online Master's for Child Development! 

  1. University of Southern Mississippi

    Hattiesburg, MS



    The University of Southern Mississippi‘s main campus resides in the heart of Hattiesburg, MS along with Gulf Park, its larger campus in Long Beach, MS. The school's additional research sites include the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and the John C. Stennis Space Center, which is currently NASA's largest rocket engine test facility.

    The university designed its online Master of Science in Child and Family Studies program for busy working professionals. The program studies the relationship between family, the self, and society and boosts professionals' ability to promote positive changes in various settings. Graduates of USM's MS program have gone on to obtain employment as Sexual Health Educators, Substance Abuse Specialists, or Developmental Play Specialists.

  2. University of Nebraska - Lincoln

    Lincoln, NE



    University of Nebraska - Lincoln is the oldest university in the state of Nebraska and the biggest constituent of the University of Nebraska system. U.S. News & World Report ranks UNL #129 in Best National Universities - tied with Mizzou - and #12 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    The university's Master of Science in Child, Youth, and Family Studies offers two-degree route options. Option I requires a thesis and a minimum of 30 credits, while Option III is a non-thesis route requiring no less than 36 credits. The program also offers six online specialization options, including Family Financial Planning, International Family Studies, and Youth Development.

  3. University of Missouri, Columbia

    Columbia, MO




    Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri was the first public higher education institution west of the Mississippi River and is now the largest university in the state of Missouri. In addition to its flagship campus in Columbia, Mizzou has schools in Kansas City, Rolla, and St. Louis. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university #129 in Best National Universities and #36 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    Through the Great Plains IDEA program, Mizzou offers two online Master of Arts degree options relating to Child Development. The 36-credit Youth Development program focuses on the development of strengths in young people. Required courses include Administration and Program Management, Adolescents and their Families, and Youth Culture. The Family and Community Service program builds an understanding of community, family, and interpersonal dynamics. Required courses include Family Crises Intervention and Family Resource Management.

  4. University of South Florida

    Tampa, FL



    The University of South Florida is a public metropolitan university and a member of the State University System of Florida. It is classified in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. U.S. News & World Report ranks USF #124 for Best National Universities and #46 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    The university's online Master of Science in Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health offers either an applied or thesis-based track for online students. The thesis track is more research-based and ideal for students planning to further their education beyond a master's degree, while the applied track has a field experience component. Students can also choose between four concentration areas: Youth and Behavioral Health, Leadership in Child/Adolescent Behavioral Health, Research and Evaluation, and Developmental Disabilities.

    Any student who is unsure about the program can take up to four courses - or 12 credit hours - as a non-degree seeking student. Students are not required to be accepted into the full master's program before taking these courses. If students decide to commit to the entire program and are accepted, the classes are then applied toward their degree.

  5. University of Minnesota

    Minneapolis, MN



    The University of Minnesota is a public research university which stretches across the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. Classified as one of the country's "Public Ivy" universities, UM offers its students a quality educational experience comparable to that of the Ivy League. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks UMN #76 in Best National Universities, and #88 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    The university's Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development offers three specialized tracks. The first is The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Track, which focuses on the social and emotional development of infants and toddlers. Students following the Child Life Track will learn how to help children cope with disabilities, hospitalization, illness, and injury. The Individualized Studies Track helps prepare individuals for careers in fields intersecting with child development, such as child welfare and law.

  6. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    Greensboro, NC




    The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is one of 16 constituents of the UNC system. UNCG holds Carnegie Foundation classifications as an active research university and an institution committed to community engagement. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university #201 in Best National Universities and #31 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    UNCG's Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development program offers two concentration area options. The university designed its Program Administration concentration for professionals who are hoping to become leaders in early childhood education. The Advanced Teaching Licensure concentration, however, would best fit students with an initial teaching license, and who are seeking advanced licensure. Career prospects include Community College Instructor, Child Care Consultant, and Early Interventionist.

    UNCG is a member of the Gates Foundation Frontier Set focused on pushing low-income, first-generation students to thrive. The university's Career Services Center offers abundant internship opportunities and professional resources to support student success.

  7. University of La Verne

    La Verne, CA



    The University of La Verne is a private university in La Verne, CA. Many of the university's courses are taught 35 miles west on smaller campuses throughout Los Angeles. La Verne serves a diverse community of learners varying in age. The university is ranked #136 in Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.

    Students can complete each course of La Verne's Child Development MS program, both, online and on campus. Students can complete courses online, face-to-face, or a combination of both. All classes are identical in content, difficulty level, and expectations. The 33-semester hour program requires students to take courses including Educational Psychology, Methods of Research, and Human Development. Program-related professional prospects include social service agency leadership, adjunct teaching, and educational program operations.

  8. Missouri State University

    Springfield, MO



    Missouri State University is a public state university with campuses in Springfield, West Plains, and Mountain Grove, MO as well as Dalian, China. In 1995, the Missouri General Assembly granted the university a mission in public affairs. More than 420,000 community service hours are completed on campus each year, and the Missouri State University Foundation has raised more than $325 million and funded more than 1,400 scholarships.

    MO State's Master of Science in Early Childhood and Family Development program is highly customizable. Students may choose to complete their degree online, or take electives residentially on the Springfield campus. They may decide to take as little as one course per semester or to complete the entire degree program in just three semesters. Course offerings include Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Educational Research Methodology, The Educational Role of Play, and Family Literacy.

  9. Capella University

    Minneapolis, MN



    Capella University is a regionally accredited online university. The school's enrollment is composed primarily of graduate students, with 45 percent of students pursuing masters' degrees. Through its Harold Abel School of Psychology, Capella offers a Master of Science in Psychology with a Child and Adolescent Development Specialization. Students can choose between a "GuidedPath" with a structured schedule and deadlines or a "FlexPath" with a self-paced learning format.

    The specialized MS program addresses educational, mental health, and social issues facing modern youth. Its curriculum aims to prepare students to analyze and critically utilize best practices in areas such as education, human services, and behavioral health. Course offerings include Adolescent Psychology, Child Psychology, and Lifespan Development.

  10. Michigan State University

    East Lansing, MI




    Michigan State University is one of the largest universities in the United States by enrollment. U.S. News & World Report ranks MSU #85 in Best National Universities and #22 in Best Graduate Education Schools. In collaboration with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, MSU offers two online Master of Arts programs relating to Child Development.

    The university's Master of Arts in Family Community Services examines family and community dynamics through a research-rooted lens. Core courses include Interpersonal Relationships, Lifespan Development, and Parenting Education. The Master of Arts in Youth Development promotes an understanding of the positive development of young people in their homes, neighborhoods, and society. Core courses include Contemporary Youth Issues, Youth in Cultural Contexts, and Youth Policy.

Latest Posts