Online Masters Degree in Child Development: Program Info

Learn about online master's degree programs with child development courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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Essential Information

Child development is often a specialization of a Master of Science in Child, Youth and Family Studies, a Master of Science in Psychology, or a Master of Arts in Education, which are all available online. Although this program can be completed entirely through distance learning, some schools may require an in-person practicum. Required courses explore topics such as prenatal development, adolescent psychology, ethical issues in psychology and lifespan development.

The minimum admissions requirement is a bachelor's degree in a related subject. Students who complete a master's degree in this field may work as kindergarten or elementary teachers, child development specialists, juvenile corrections officers, recreation workers or social workers. However, many of these jobs require additional training or state licensure.

Master's Degree in Child Development

Candidates for an online master's degree program in child development must have first completed a bachelor's degree in a similar area with a minimum GPA. Students enrolled in a master's degree in child development learn how to apply child development ideas and research to developmentally appropriate practical uses with children.

Program Information and Requirements

A master's degree program in child development generally consists of 36-44 credit hours. The online materials are presented asynchronously. Students view lectures at their convenience and turn in assignments to meet deadlines. They can interact with professors and colleagues through online message boards, chat rooms and e-mails.

List of Common Child Development Courses

The curriculum of the master's degree program in child development is composed of a combination of core major, specialization and elective courses. Most schools also require some thesis, practicum or capstone project credits.

Child and Adolescent Psychology

This course identifies the stages of development from birth until adolescence. Students study the physical, cognitive and psychological growth of children and the sexual and moral development of adolescents. Extra attention is given to Bronfenbrenner's system and how it relates to topics in child and adolescent development.

Family, Culture and Community

The symbiotic influences of families on child development and children on family development are highlighted. Working with families from different cultures is studied, as well as the effect of environment on child and adolescent development. Current designs, ideas and research in community involvement in youth development are analyzed.

Early Childhood Development

How children obtain language skills and grow physically, mentally and socially is the focus of this course. The important developmental landmarks that children experience are identified, as well as the demands and aptitudes that children have at each level. Research on the brain of a child is used to further illustrate the cognitive development of children from the age of 0-8.

Career Information

The career pool for graduates with a master's degree in child development can include education, youth organizations, juvenile corrections and social services. Choices can depend largely on the field in which child development is a specialization. Careers such as kindergarten or elementary teacher, recreation worker or social worker are attainable.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 158,150 kindergarten teachers and 1,381,430 elementary school teachers with yearly average salaries of $54,510 and $57,730 respectively in 2015 ( In May 2015, the BLS also reported 336,150 recreation workers with a yearly average salary of $26,610 and 294,080 child, family and school social workers with a yearly average salary of $46,610. The BLS projected an occupational growth of 6% for kindergarten and elementary school teachers, 10% for recreation workers and 6% for child, family and school social workers over 2014-2024.

Continuing Education

Though scarce, doctoral degree programs in child development are attainable online through a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology. A doctoral degree is intended for people who want to work as a child development professor, educational psychologist, researcher or consultant.

There are several online master's degree programs that include coursework in childhood development; students can choose between programs depending on whether they want to direct their careers toward education or social services. These programs offer considerable scheduling flexibility, so working professionals can earn a master's degree without giving up their jobs.

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