Associate Degree in Child Development: Program Summary

Associate's degree programs in child development focus on various physical, psychological and behavioral aspects of the growth and development of young children. Read on for program requirements, the course curriculum and what to expect after graduation.

Essential Information

An associate's degree in child development prepares students for entry-level careers or for transfer into bachelor's degree programs in early childhood development. The courses in this program typically examine the physical, emotional, language and behavioral development of infants, toddlers and school-aged children. The courses also cover child nutrition and family dynamics and prepare students to develop age-appropriate education plans and utilize creative arts to foster learning. The program includes a child development practicum as well.

Aside from a high school diploma or GED certificate, the two-year program requires a criminal background check and child abuse screening prior to admission.

Associate's Degree in Child Development

The coursework prepares students to work with infant, toddler and school-aged children through studies in language development, special needs, assessment and more. Courses typically include:

  • Child safety
  • Child development theories
  • Cognitive development
  • Exceptional children
  • Behavior management

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a child development associate's degree program are prepared to work with children in settings such as day care and child enrichment centers, preschools and more. Graduates may work as teaching assistants, preschool teachers, Head Start teachers or daycare providers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a job growth of 5% for childcare workers from 2014 to 2024, while preschool teachers could see 7% growth in that same period. In 2015, childcare workers earned a mean salary of $22,310, while preschool teachers earned a mean annual salary of $32,500 (www.bls.gov).

Certification Information

Voluntary certification is also available for individuals looking to advance in this field. Graduates may obtain the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, offered through the CDA National Credentialing Program of the Council for Professional Recognition. CDAs can obtain the Center-Based, Family Child Care or Home Visitor endorsements. CDA certification requires 480 hours of experience working with children, a professional resource file, parent opinion questionnaires and a lead teacher assessment.

Associate's degree programs in child development train students for positions in preschools and childcare centers through such courses as child safety, child development theory and cognitive development. Graduates can also pursue a Child Development Associate credential to advance in the field.

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