Masters Degree in Child Development: Program Overview

If you are interested in pursuing advanced studies in the field of child development, you may consider a master's degree in the field. Get more information about application and graduation requirements, as well as job prospects for graduates.

Essential Information

Master's degree programs in child development are designed to provide graduate students and education professionals with an advanced understanding of the emotional, mental, social, physical, cultural, and intellectual aspects of child development. Students are trained to apply this knowledge in leadership positions at organizations that serve the needs of children and youth. Prior to graduation, students must usually complete hands-on practical or clinical experience working with children in supervised settings. They must also submit a thesis based on original research involving the in-depth exploration of a particular aspect of childcare or development.

These two-year programs are typically offered through family studies, human development, education or social work divisions of four-year colleges and universities. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree in elementary education, psychology, social studies, counseling or a related field. Applicants are also generally required to submit GRE scores, transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Master's Degree in Child Development

Master's degree programs in child development primarily feature courses covering theories and principles of child psychology and growth. Other courses train students in the principles and methods of experimental research. Common course titles include:

  • Lifespan development
  • Learning theories in psychology
  • Child and adolescent development
  • Multicultural issues in child development
  • Human prenatal development
  • Child and adolescent psychology

Popular Career Options

Common careers for graduates of these programs include:

  • School administrator
  • Teacher
  • School counselor
  • Social worker
  • Community organizer
  • Child and adolescent policy advocate
  • Child behavioral psychologist
  • Youth services administrator
  • Child home operator

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for school and career counselors is expected to grow 8% from 2014-2024. Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors earned an average yearly salary of $56,490 in May 2015. School, child and family social work jobs are predicted to increase at a rate of 6% between 2014 and 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. These professionals took in an average annual income of $46,610 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education Options

Several professions that graduates commonly pursue, including clinical social worker and school counselor, require licensure by the state. In order to sit for the licensure exam, students must usually hold a master's degree and have field experience.

The most advanced degree available in the field of child development is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Such programs typically take 5-7 years to complete and also require the completion of a publishable dissertation. Doctoral degree students in the field often design their own curriculum, plan research and take coursework that explores a specific aspect or issue within the field of child development.

With a master's degree in child development, students are prepared to pursue a wide range of careers related to youth services, some of which require state licensure. Graduates may also pursue a Ph.D. in the field.

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