Many schools offer online programs in child studies at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. While these programs may be available totally online, many are hybrid programs with online and on-campus requirements. Some require a practicum, which involves hands-on work in the field.
Courses in a child studies degree program vary depending on the degree being pursued. In an associate's degree program, students learn the skills needed to work in a daycare center. Courses may include child development and family dynamics. Students studying for a bachelor's degree may take courses in the role of play and in childhood nutrition. Graduates with a bachelor's degree might want to work in a child services agency or become a daycare center director. At the master's level, students take courses in program evaluation and family advocacy. Master's degree students may have to complete a thesis.
Some career fields for child studies majors require licensing or certification. Students should ensure that any online program they are considering meets licensing requirements for education and training.
Associate's Degree in Child Studies
Child studies is a very broad field designed to provide a student with the skills needed to take care of children. The online associate degree programs usually are designed to equip students to work in a daycare and provide basic childcare.
In order to enter an associate degree program, you generally must have a high school diploma or GED. In addition, many states require daycare workers to have current immunizations and a current TB test. Some states also require a criminal background check.
Program Information and Requirements
The associate degree requires a year of basic core educational classes plus a year of classes in child development, basic learning skills, and family life. Completely online programs are available at many schools.
A specialization in child studies generally includes classes in child development, family dynamics, and rudimentary educational processes. Classes are designed for people who wish to work in a daycare or nursery school type program.
Child Development Foundations
Students who wish to work in a daycare need to be able to identify the appropriate stages of child development. Daycare workers observe children regularly and need to be able to spot any problems as they arise.
Part of the child studies curriculum involves how a child functions within a family. This class explains how important a family is to the development of a child.
Children with physical or mental disabilities require teachers with specialized training. In this class, students learn how to care for children that may have special needs.
Bachelor's Degree in Child Studies
Programs in child studies provide the training needed to work in a public or private human service agency. Someone who is interested in work related to child protective agencies, parent education, or child advocacy could seek a degree in child and family studies.
A bachelor's degree could be aimed at someone who wishes to run a daycare or adoption agency. The degree program might include child development, family studies, early childhood education, child psychology, nutrition, and a variety of other topics. People who wish to become social workers might pursue this degree.
Program Information and Requirements
Most bachelor's degree programs are basic 4-year degree programs that follow the school academic calendar. Although some programs do require some form of practicum, there are online programs available for this degree.
For someone interested in teaching, certification requirements may also need to be met. Some programs provide specialized educational coursework, such as Montessori programs. Some schools might also include specialized training in the care of exceptional children.
Depending on the type of program, specialized classes are available in a variety of subjects. Programs are designed to provide training for workers who care for children in professional agencies.
In this class, students learn about the importance of nutrition in both children and families. Proper nutrition is vital to the health and development of children.
The ability to assess the status of a child or family is crucial in any program. This class provides the background and skills necessary to evaluate a child in a home or school setting.
Foundations in Family and Child Studies
This course provides the history and development of programs in family and child studies. Students get a broad overview of how the programs have developed over the years.
The Role of Play
How children play can be an important indicator of growth and development. In this class, students learn about what kinds of play are appropriate and how play can aid in child development.
Master's Degrees in Child Studies
One very common online degree is a master's degree program in family and child studies. Students may come to this program from a variety of backgrounds, including child development, education or public administration.
Many sub-specialty programs also exist. Students may wish to pursue Montessori education, child nutrition, or family development. All of these and more are available as online degree programs.
Program Information and Requirements
Most master's level programs require 36 semester hours of work, but this can vary. Some require incoming students to already have practical experience in the field or may require a practicum as part of the program. Both thesis and non-thesis programs exist online.
The majority of programs are done asynchronously so that students can do the work at their convenience. Some programs include synchronous classes at a specific time, and the student might need a webcam for that purpose.
Many programs include child and family studies as one discipline. Coursework involves child and family development as well as classes geared toward the administration of programs in this field.
Child Study Theories
This is an overview class designed to teach students about the prevailing theories in the development of children within families. It includes critical and current issues in child development.
Advocacy for Families
This course is designed for professionals who will represent families. It would include a study of the prevalent law and policy on the topic.
Evaluation and Assessment of Family Studies Programs
At the graduate level, students need to learn about administering and evaluating programs to help children and families. This course provides the skill set necessary in both evaluating and designing programs to help families.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the median yearly wage in 2015 for childcare workers was $20,320. However, it is important to note that education can increase that wage.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a social or human service assistant can find work in a variety of places, and this kind of work is considered to be a very fast-growing career field. A bachelor's degree would mean more pay and responsibility. Overall, the pay for this kind of work tends to be low; median annual wages in May of 2015 were only $30,830 according to the BLS, but a bachelor's degree would open doors to jobs on the higher end of the scale.
Having a graduate degree can assist in finding higher administrative or policy-making jobs in government or the private sector. Students with this degree would be able to find jobs administering any kind of social service program or agency in addition to daycare or school-related programs. Some programs also include certification classes as well, in order to become teachers or teacher administrators.
Continuing Education Information
While there are usually no specific personal licenses required for daycare workers, many states do require a daycare facility to be licensed, and the employees there must meet certain educational standards. TB testing and immunization requirements must be met yearly.
There is generally no specific certification or licensing for a social or human service assistant, but many states do require a criminal background check as well as basic immunization requirements. Some jobs do require continuing education in the field.
Required courses for the continuing education of teachers or social service agencies usually follow state law. Generally speaking, there are no specific certificates or licenses required for people who run an agency. Self-employed people who run a school or agency might need a business license and there may be rules requiring certain educational levels in order to do business in a state.
Earning a child studies degree online is not overly complicated, as there are many programs available at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. While the nature of the program will vary according to the level of study, students will learn about many topics related to child development and care, including assessment and evaluation, advocacy, nutrition, and the importance of play to growth and development.