Nikita Nath
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The sequence of language thought and physical and emotional changes in a child from birth to the beginning of adulthood refers to child development. Individuals keen on working with children in their early developmental years can pursue a master’s in child development. The master’s in Child Development online program explores the interaction of emotional, social, intellectual, and imaginative streams. Graduates of this program can prepare for careers in teaching administration, education, community, medical, and social services. This page covers the important aspects of an online child development master, such as accreditation, admission requirements, timeline, and so on.

Masters in Child Development Online

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online MS in Psychology

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master’s in Child Development Online Programs

The best master’s program includes crucial factors such as the quality and experience of the faculty, the institution’s reputation, student services, infrastructure, affordability, etc. Prospective students should consider these factors while choosing online master’s in child development degree programs. Teams at OMC have carefully evaluated hundreds of them to create a list of the best in the county. Here are some of the best online master’s in child development programs in the United States:

Please read OMC’s methodology page for further insights.

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of Minnesota
100 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan 48824
National University
11355 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Ave, Tampa, Florida 33620
University of Missouri, Columbia
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
Walden University
100 Washington Avenue South, Suite 900, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
Capella University
225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
1400 R Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
325 N Wells Street, Chicago, Illinois 60654
SUNY at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12222
University of La Verne
1950 Third St, La Verne, California 91750
North Dakota State University-Main Campus
1301 12th Avenue North, Fargo, North Dakota 58108
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
1400 Spring Garden St, Greensboro, North Carolina 27402
Missouri State University, Springfield
901 S National Avenue, Springfield, Missouri 65897
Stephen F Austin State University
2008 Alumni Drive, Rusk 206, Nacogdoches, Texas 75961
Texas Woman’s University
304 Administration Dr, Denton, Texas 76204
University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive # 0001, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406
Grand Canyon University
3300 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, Arizona 85017
University of Colorado Denver
1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400, Denver, Colorado 80217
Southern New Hampshire University
2500 North River Road, Manchester, New Hampshire 03106

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Child Development Online Programs

Master’s in Child Development online programs focus on different areas such as prevention, intervention, early childhood development, family processes, development across the lifespan, and so on. This program will help students apply theory to practice and help them solve real-world problems. Students can pursue this degree in either offline or online mode. Those opting for an offline mode will have to complete more credits, whereas students who choose the online mode will have fewer credits for their coursework. An online child development degree typically requires between 30 to 48 credits. Through this program, students can further pursue their Ph.D. in areas related to children, development, and families.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master’s in Child Development Online Programs

The master’s in child development online combines practical fieldwork and primary theoretical perspectives that prepare the student to support the developmental needs of children and their families. This program places its emphasis on various topics in child development, such as risk and resilience, intervention, early childhood development, parent-child intergenerational relationships, prevention, development across the lifespan, socio-emotional and behavior support in educational settings, enhancing school readiness, atypical development, and influences of language and culture. There are courses students will have to take while studying child development. Some of the core courses are:

Human development and theories

This course explores a comprehensive study of childhood development, exploring key developmental theories. Participants gain cognitive, emotional, and social insights, enhancing their understanding of children’s growth. The course equips professionals to apply theoretical frameworks in real-world contexts, fostering effective intervention and support.

Research Methods

This course explores research design, data collection, and analysis relevant to child development. Participants acquire essential skills to conduct experimental studies, contributing to advancing knowledge and informed practices in child development.

Family Processes and Theories

This course explores the dynamics of family structures and theories impacting child development. Students learn to analyze diverse family contexts, studying the influence on a child’s cognitive, emotional, and social growth. The course equips professionals to navigate complex family dynamics for effective child-centered interventions.

Program development and proposal writing

This course equips students with essential skills to design effective programs for child development. Students learn to create comprehensive proposals, incorporating evidence-based strategies and ensuring the successful implementation of initiatives to encourage positive outcomes in child development.

Applications for prevention and intervention

This course focuses on practical strategies for preventing and addressing developmental challenges. Students explore evidence-based approaches, equipping them to design and implement effective interventions, encouraging optimal outcomes for children in diverse developmental contexts.

Some of the other common courses across various curriculums are:

  • Analytical Methods
  • Cognition and language development
  • Seminar in Social Development and Resiliency
  • Graduate Fieldwork
  • Advances developmental science

Students will have to choose an elective in consultation with their graduate advisor.  Individuals can choose their electives aligning with their interests and future professional goals. In the final year of their master’s, they must complete a research or a capstone project, depending on the coursework requirement. At the end of the program, students gain some essential skills that prepare them for their careers in child development.

Upon graduating from this program, some of the skills the students will gain are the ability to:

  • Critique and evaluate research and theories of families and human development.
  • Apply research and theory to intervention, promotion, education, and application of equity frameworks and social justice to the understanding of family and child development.
  • Use the knowledge of developmental theory to describe human development across the lifespan.
  • Put theory into practice by gaining field experience and strategies to work with children.
  • Promote awareness of the various needs of families and children to state, local, and national stakeholders.

Master’s in Child Development Degree Types

There are two types of master’s in child development online degrees. One is the Master of Science in Child Development or MS in Child Development, and the other is the Master of Arts in Child Development or MA in Child Development.

Master of Science in Child Development

The MS program in child development has a scientific approach that focuses on developing problem-solving and analytical skills through scientific research.

Master of Arts in Child Development

The MA program in child development is focused on humanities and liberal arts. It typically requires students to complete a research project in the final year of their master’s.

Discover more on MA vs. MS degree types.

Specializations in Master’s in Child Development Programs

Students who wish to broaden their knowledge and go deeper into a specific area within child development can choose a specialization. Specializing can enhance their industry expertise and better impact their career prospects. Here are some of the master’s in child development online specializations:

  • Applied Child and Adolescent Development
    This specialization equips students with the knowledge of developmental science to address the needs of adolescents and children in the community, health care settings, and advocacy. Graduates can work in different positions, such as counselors, college professors, social workers, etc.
  • Child Life
    This specialization emphasizes specialized skills for professionals working with children in medical settings. Students learn to provide psychosocial support, minimize stress, and enhance coping mechanisms for pediatric patients, ensuring their well-being throughout healthcare experiences.
  • Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
    This specialization teaches students to draw on development theory and support the socio-emotional development of preschoolers, infants, and toddlers. Infant and Childhood mental health professionals can work in fields such as psychology, social work, early-care education, family and marriage counseling, etc.
  • Developmental Psychology
    This specialization explores an in-depth study of human growth and behavior across the lifespan. Students explore psychological theories and research methodologies to comprehend and apply insights into children’s cognitive, emotional, and social development in diverse contexts.
  • Intervention Strategies
    This specialization equips students with advanced skills to design and implement effective interventions. Students study evidence-based strategies, addressing diverse challenges in child development and fostering positive outcomes in educational, clinical, and community settings.

Timeline for graduation from Master’s in Child Development Online Programs

The length of the master’s in child development online program depends on the program’s structure and selection. This program is offered both full-time and part-time.

Full-Time: Students who have recently finished their bachelor’s degrees and want to study before entering the workforce usually choose a full-time program. Full-time programs require students to allocate most of their time for classes and a specific number of credit hours. Individuals pursuing the program full-time must complete it in two years. A full-time master’s program can have anywhere between 30 to 48 credits.

Part-time: This master’s delivery program mode is flexible and best suited for students who have full-time jobs. They can study at their own pace and complete their master’s anywhere between 3 to 5 years.

Accelerated Master’s in Child Development Online Programs

Accelerated programs allow students to complete their master’s in less than two years. Students can earn their degrees faster by choosing credit transfers and fast-track programs. There are integrated programs that combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees. A significant advantage of accelerated degrees is that they allow students to finish their master’s at a lower cost. Typically, students who opt for an accelerated master’s program graduate with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in five years instead of the usual six years. Here are some universities that offer accelerated online master’s in child development programs:

Master’s in Child Development Online Programs Admission Requirements

To get admitted into a master’s program, students must meet specific admission requirements. While some are standard requirements like test scores and a bachelor’s degree, each program has specific requirements. Here are some of the requirements for the master’s in child development online program:

  • A bachelor’s degree in child development or any related academic field from a fully accredited college or university
  • Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 in the last 60 semester units
  • At least 2 Letters of Recommendation (varies by school)
  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement
  • Graduate Résumé
  • GRE Scores (Varies by Institution)
  • Completion of the department application form and all supplementary documents

In some universities, students who do not hold a bachelor’s degree in child development or any related field must complete a prerequisite program before they are admitted into the master’s program in child development.

No GRE Master’s in Child Development Online Programs

Students applying for a graduate program usually take the Graduate Record Examination or GRE. Although a mandatory exam is required for the admission process in most universities, some universities and programs waive its requirements. Here are some master’s in child development no GRE programs:

Accreditation for Master’s in Child Development Online Programs

To maintain educational quality standards, higher education institutions undergo an accreditation evaluation process. Accreditation also shows that universities or colleges in the United States meet certain basic educational standards. Several universities offer master’s in child development online accredited programs that may be programmatically or regionally accredited. Where programmatic accreditation is unavailable, regional accreditation from one of the following accrediting bodies will suffice:

Find out how and why accreditation is essential to higher education from the Accreditation Guide.

Free Child Development Courses Online

Most free master’s in child development degree online courses are usually not accredited, nor can they be used in the job market. Moreover, they do not lead to a master’s degree. At best, students can gain additional knowledge on the subject by taking a free course. Here are a few master’s in child development online courses that can help students:

CourseChildcare and Young People Development6
Offered ByAlison
DescriptionThis free course welcomes individuals aspiring to pursue a career in early childcare. Aligned with national and international standards, the curriculum imparts essential skills for entering the child and youth care services field. With no specific entry prerequisites, the program covers comprehensive aspects and responsibilities related to caring for children and young individuals.
CourseEarly Childhood Studies Development and Education7
Offered ByAlison
DescriptionThis course explores the influence of sociocultural shifts on early childhood education, conducting a comparative analysis of international practices and examining diverse cognitive approaches. Additionally, the curriculum addresses subjects such as incorporating hygiene practices in early childhood settings and delves into ethical considerations within the field.
CoursePrinciples of Childhood Development8
Offered ByAlison
DescriptionThis course thoroughly examines different phases of childhood development, emphasizing essential principles and methods for ensuring a nurturing and enjoyable upbringing for each child. Parents and educators are encouraged to enroll, playing a vital role in the healthy development of the children under their guidance.

How to Pay for Master’s in Child Development Online Programs

Various factors influence the cost of a master’s program, such as the location, institution, program format, and so on. Students pursuing their master’s online will have to pay only for course material, tuition, and distance fees while they save on travel and housing that offline students must pay for. The tuition fee for master’s in child development online programs ranges from $5,200 to $23,000. Students can explore various funding mechanisms to get a tuition-free child development master’s online. Here are some of the few financial aid options for graduate school:


Scholarships are primarily merit-based but can be awarded based on a specific criterion, such as the applicant’s traits (veteran status, membership, race, etc.) or chosen field of study. National organizations, industry-related organizations, and private sectors can offer them.


Grants are not focused entirely on academics. They target specific areas such as education, research, or extracurricular activities. Grants are also available to students belonging to a particular region, religion, background, and race and are given out based more on financial need.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Students can apply for assistantships while studying, earning a stipend, and getting a learning opportunity in their field. Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants are the two types of assistantships.

Student Loans

Private institutions such as banks or other private institutions fund personal student loans. They help students pay for their college education and cover unmet financial needs.


FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an application form to check whether an individual qualifies for federal financial support. More information on FAFSA is available here.

Read about Scholarship Scams and learn about graduate students’ various funding options from the Financial Aid Guide.

Accreditation for Masters in Child Development Online Programs

Students with good grades can explore their options for graduate scholarships. External organizations, associations, or individuals provide students with scholarships based on their academic track record and eligibility. Online master’s in child development schools, too, may offer them. Scholarships help students reduce their tuition fees, making it easier on the pocket. Here are a few scholarships for master’s in child development students to explore:

Ann-Marie Ogletree Child Development Scholarship9

The Ann-Marie Ogletree Child Development Scholarship is provided by the Cleveland Foundation Scholarships for students’ higher education in early childhood or any related field.

Amount/Award: $1000 

Deadline: varies

Tulsa Community College Scholarships10

Tulsa Community College provides scholarships to students studying child development or early childhood education. The applicant should be an Oklahoma resident with a valid social security number.

Amount/Award: 100% of tuition fee and 100 % for required books

Deadline: Varies 

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Child Development Online Graduates

Apart from a child development online master’s enabling students to pursue further and higher education such as a Ph.D., there are various jobs for graduates in the public and private sectors. Some of the career settings in which they can work are:

  • Public Welfare and Family Service Agencies
  • Community Programs
  • Hospitals and Hospice Centers
  • Family Planning Clinics
  • Preschools, Day Care Centers, Schools
  • Rehabilitation Organizations
  • Health and Wellness Agencies

Here are some of the typical job titles in the child development domain:

  • Parent and Community Educator
  • Child Life Specialist
  • Consultant
  • Community College Instructor
  • Pre-school Teacher
  • Childcare Worker
  • Childcare Director

The list below highlights some of the careers that graduates of a master’s in child development can pursue, along with annual median salary and job growth as reported by BLS:

OccupationPreschool Teacher11
Median Annual Salary$35,330
Job Growth (up to 2030)3% (as faster as average)
Job DescriptionPreschool Teachers instruct and nurture children under 5, not yet in kindergarten, focusing on language, motor, and social skills. They work with children from different backgrounds.
OccupationPreschool and Child Care Center Directors12
Median Annual Salary$49,690 per year
Job Growth (up to 2030)3% (decline)
Job descriptionPreschool and Child Care Directors manage and guide staff, create program schedules, supervise daily operations, and manage budgets. They oversee their center’s programs, including potential before- and after-school care.
OccupationSchool and Career Counselors and Advisors13
Median Annual Salary$60,140 per year
Job Growth (up to 2030)5% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionSchool Counsellors assist students in cultivating academic and social abilities and creating post-graduation plans. Career advisors guide individuals in skill development, career exploration, and educational program selection for future careers.
OccupationChildcare Workers14
Median Annual Salary$28,520
Job Growth (up to 2032)-2% (decline)
Job DescriptionChildcare professionals cater to children’s requirements, aiding in early development, whether preparing for kindergarten or assisting with homework.

Certifications and Licensing for Child Development Graduates

One of the ways to broaden one’s career prospects and income potential is by getting certifications in their field of work. A certification related to child development will indicate that the candidate possesses the necessary competence and in-depth knowledge of the subject. Although, in most instances, a child development online master’s is sufficient to work in different areas in this field, some careers may require certifications. When such is the case, students can consider certifications like:

  • Certified Child Life Specialist (CLLS) 15
    The Certified Child Life Specialist (CLLS), issued by the Child Life Certification Commission (CLCC), is an exclusive Child Life Certification that helps candidates practice as a professional Child Life Specialist.
  • Certified Child Care Worker (CCCW)16
    Individuals who want to be certified as Child Care Workers must take the CCW Exam to showcase the necessary skills required to work in childcare settings.
  • Child Development Associate (CDA)17
    The Child Development Associate Credential, CDA, is highly regarded in early childhood education. Through this certification, individuals can strengthen and demonstrate their early education knowledge, practices, and understanding.

Child Care providers or those interested in opening a Child Care Center18 in the United States require a local or state government license. They must fulfill all the stipulated requirements and follow the laws and regulations laid down in their state.

Additional Resources for Child Development Professionals

Even after pursuing a graduate program, staying updated with all the latest information in child development is crucial. One can connect with mentors and peers to get more knowledge and learn about the latest advances happening in the field. Here are some resources for students pursuing a master’s in child development online or working professionals:

  1. Child Development Resources for Parents and Providers
    This resource provides knowledge in different areas of child development, such as developmental delay, developmental milestones, early screening, early literacy, language, math, and science, including children with special needs, health and safety, teaching materials, etc. These resources are helpful for parents, teachers, and childcare providers to navigate through different stages of child development.
  2. Council for Professional Recognition
    The Council for Professional Recognition promotes early childhood education professionals, including those who work in infant-toddler care, preschools, family childcare, and home-visit programs. This organization’s policies and procedures focus on assessing and certifying childcare experts and organizations.
  3. Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides information on children’s safety in various areas of life, such as parenting tips, early brain development, security and children, developmental milestones, etc.
  4. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides childcare providers with resources, webinars, and training. It focuses more on children’s safety and healthcare from an environmental perspective.
  5. National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
    The National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) promotes early childhood education innovation and excellence. The association’s website has information on how to help and understand children and family resources. NAEYC also offers webinars, in-person and accredited training, and an annual conference for professional development.

FAQs About Master’s in Child Development Online Programs

What is a master’s in child development degree?

A master’s in child development degree prepares students to apply their knowledge to issues in human development by understanding the relationship between research, theory, and practice in areas of child development, child psychology, behavior, etc.

How to get a master’s in child development degree?

How long does a master’s in child development take?

 Is a child development master’s degree worth it?

What can you do with a master’s in child development?

What is the difference between a master’s in child development and a master’s in child psychology?