Online Masters Degree in Child and Family Development: Program Info

Apr 21, 2021

Essential Information

Several schools offer online master's degree programs in child and family development. In many programs, most courses can be taken online. Some programs are hybrids with online and on-campus classes. Many programs also require a supervised practicum. Previous coursework in family and child development may be required for admission to these programs.

Students get a foundational knowledge of human development, with a focus on children and adolescents. They look at family dynamics and relationship issues as well as courses in research methods. Some programs require a thesis.

Students who complete a master's program in child and family development can work in many fields including daycare centers, social service agencies or in healthcare facilities. Anyone wishing to work as a counselor must meet their state's licensing requirements.

M.S. in Child and Family Development

Graduate students pursuing this degree online gain the skills needed to serve as advocates for families and children. The child and family development degree program trains students to serve children and families in settings, such as daycare programs, juvenile homes or social service agencies. Students examine human development, from infancy through adulthood, and learn about the impact of social policy on families. Students learn to think critically about ethical issues and current practices affecting the development of children and families. Applicants with a bachelor's degree or professionals who are already working in the field are ideal candidates for this online degree program.

Program Information and Requirements

Child and family development master's degrees can be completed in two years and require at least 33 credit hours for graduation. In most cases, students have the option of completing a thesis or a portfolio showcasing their performance throughout the program. Some colleges do not require a thesis due to their focus on providing education to professionals already working in the field of child and family development.

Since this program is a virtual learning experience, students need to have a dedicated computer with Internet service. Many schools offer fully online programs with the option of attending class on-campus. Other schools offer a hybrid learning system that requires both online learning and on-campus meetings with professors. Online child and family development courses require a Web camera and microphone. Students also should have access to software programs, such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Course Topics

Some online master's degree programs require prerequisite courses related to the field of family and child development. Many of the online programs feature a combination of lectures, research and practical experience. A thesis or supervised practicum is often required for graduate students.

Human Development

The human development course addresses the lifespan of humans and how culture and class impact development. In addition to studying how education and society affect development, students learn about various theories of human development, including personality and philosophical theories.

Family Studies Theory

This online course examines the nature of family and its relationship to society and the individual. Students complete research on common family theories and issues affecting family caregivers and counselors. Quality of life and child development are topics covered in this course.


Through this online class, students learn about the relationship between parents and children and the impact of parenting on the development of children. The course covers parenting theory, parenting as an ongoing process and the multiple stages of parenting. Coursework includes current research and parenting programs.

Social Policies and Family

The online social policies course analyzes the impact of public and social policy on the family. Students review state and federal policies and the role child and family development professionals play in implementing these policies. The course covers the responsibilities of family professionals when serving as family advocates.

Career Information

Graduates of the online program may pursue employment in schools, governmental agencies, hospitals, and non-profit organizations. Careers in this field are varied, but job growth is expected to continue as more positions are created. For social and human service professionals, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job growth is rising at the rate of 17% between 2019 and 2029 ( Chief home care executive who work with the elderly or ill can earn more than $170,712, per - their median salary is $307,500.

Graduates who choose to pursue executive and director positions typically earn more than graduates who choose to work directly with children and families. Social services directors can make $41,000 and $84,000 annually, according to The BLS indicates that social and human services assistants earned a median income of $35,960 in 2020. Counselors' median salaries range from $47,660 for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors to $58,120 for educational counselors, based on data from the BLS (

Continuing Education Information

Students who want to further their education can pursue Ph.D. programs in the field of family and child development. Students pursuing careers in counseling or therapy must be licensed by the state in which they work, reports the BLS ( Requirements vary by state, but most states require completion of a master's degree to pursue licensure and certification.

There are several options available for online master's degree programs in child and family development. These programs offer online courses in human development, family studies parenting, and social policies, and may also provide students with the opportunity to participate in a supervised practicum.

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