Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in child development require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED certificate; some programs have other requirements such as a criminal background check and completion of pre-service training. Undergraduate degree programs call for students to complete general education courses such as mathematics and social studies. Required field experiences give the students real world training.
Master's degree students must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in a related field. These programs usually require about two years of full-time study. Field experience and research are part of the program, too. Students can customize their plan of study through their choice of elective courses, and some schools offer dual degrees that pair the child development major with another area of study, such as social work.
Associate's Degree in Child Development
Associate's degree programs introduce students to child and adolescent development studies, by covering needs, influences, relationships and issues in the lives of children. Students can undertake coursework in theory and methods while obtaining first-hand experience in the field. Coursework may also cover developmental milestones and health. Students who pursue an associate's degree in this discipline may take courses such as:
- Child guidance
- Child wellness
- Educating young children
- Administration techniques
- Student development
- Early literacy
Bachelor's Degree in Child Development
Bachelor's degree programs related to youth development are four-year curriculums that allow individuals to concentrate their coursework towards their career goals. Specialization options include administration and management, childhood and adolescent studies, psychology and preschool studies. Students may take coursework, participate in fieldwork and learn about ethical guidelines in regards to creating safe and positive environments for children. Classes may cover topics such as family relationships, family economics and nutrition. Other topics that may be discussed include:
- Health and Safety
- Language development
- Children's literature
- Special needs children
- Housing environments
Master's Degree in Child Development
A master's degree program in child development can be offered as a singular option or in conjunction with a degree in another subject, like social work. Graduates of these programs are prepared to enter multiple fields working with children of various ages and may also be prepared to teach child development to others. Programs can be completed in about two years and may be composed of about 40 credit hours of study. Master's degree students can expect to study concepts like:
- Human behavior
- Social policy
- Cultural issues
- Personality development
- Social environments
Popular Career Options
Associate's degrees in youth development prepare individuals for beginning careers in advocating for children and adolescents. Since careers in youth development cover a wide spectrum of sectors, graduates might find jobs as:
- Teacher assistants
- Childcare administrators
- Childcare workers
- Family daycare providers
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Individuals who complete bachelor's degree programs in youth development can be prepared for careers in a variety of fields. Depending on personal career goals, individuals may find jobs as education administrators, preschool teachers, childcare workers, social and human service assistants or social service specialists.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social and human service assistants earned an average annual salary of $33,750 in 2018, whereas childcare workers earned an average yearly salary of $23,240 in 2018 (www.bls.gov). Administrators of childcare centers and preschoolers earned an average salary of $47,940 that year.
Continuing Education Information
After completing bachelor's or master's degree programs, students may be qualified to enter doctoral programs in child development. Doctoral programs can focus on both child and adolescent development and can include concentration options in subjects like special needs children, language development, cognitive development and clinical psychology.
Whether you are interested in education or youth advocacy, a degree in child development can provide relevant instruction in the field. The breadth and depth of the curriculum depends on whether you are enrolled in an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree program.