The sequence of language, thought, and physical and emotional changes that take place 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 masters 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 masters, 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 Masters in Child Development Online Programs

The best master’s program includes some 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 masters in child development degree programs. Teams at OMC have carefully evaluated hundred of them to create a list of the best in the county. Here are some of the online masters in child development programs in the United States:

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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 Masters in Child Development Programs

Masters 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 lesser credits to complete for their coursework. That said, 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.

Masters in Child Development Degree Types

There are two types of masters 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 Masters 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 in that area. Specializing can enhance their industry expertise and have a better impact on their career prospects. Here are some of the masters in child development online specializations: 

  1. 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, and many more. 
  2. Child Life – Students are trained to cope with the stress and uncertainty of disability, illness, hospitalization, and injury. Child Life Specialists work mainly in hospitals but also in other places such as school camps, dental offices, clinics, hospices, and so on.  
  3. 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, and so on. 
  4. Developmental Psychology – Developmental Psychology strengthens students’ foundation in psychology from the period of infancy through adolescence. Developmental Psychologists work in various settings such as schools, healthcare facilities, academia, and government agencies. 
  5. Intervention Strategies – Students learn about traditional and contemporary intervention strategies used in the child development field. After graduating, students can work in various settings such as schools, infant care centers, etc. 
  6. Counseling – The specialization in counseling helps students with group structures, family dynamics, mental health within families, and cultural issues. Graduates can work in careers such as adolescence, school, and child counselors. 

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Child Development Online Programs

The masters in child development online is a combination of 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 certain courses that students will have to take while studying child development. Some of the core courses are: 

  • Human development and theories 
  • Research Methods 
  • Family Processes and theories 
  • Program development and proposal writing 
  • Applications for prevention and intervention 
  • 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 will have to either complete a research project or a capstone project, depending on the coursework requirement. At the end of the program, students gain some essential skills preparing 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 stakeholders at the state, local, and national levels.

Accreditation for Masters in Child Development Online Programs

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

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) 
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC

Find out how and why accreditation is a very important aspect of higher education from the Accreditation Guide

Timeline for graduation from Masters 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. 

  1. 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 on a full-time basis must complete it in two years. A full-time master’s program can have anywhere between 30 to 48 credits. 
  2. 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 masters anywhere between 3 to 5 years.

Masters in Child Development Online Programs Admission Requirements

To get admitted into a master’s program, students must meet certain admission requirements. While some of them are common requirements like test scores and a bachelor’s degree, each program has its own specific requirements. Here are some of the requirements for the masters 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.

Masters in Child Development Online No GRE Programs

Graduate Record Examination or GRE is an exam usually taken by students who are applying for a graduate program. Although it is a mandatory exam that is required for the admission process in most universities, some universities and programs waive its requirement. Here are some masters in child development no GRE programs: 

Cal State La offers a Master of Arts in Child Development No GRE 

San Diego State University offers a Master of Science in Child Development No GRE 

Sarah Lawrence College offers a Master of Arts in Child Development No GRE 

Accelerated Online Child Development Programs

Accelerated programs give students an opportunity to complete their masters in less than two years. Students can earn their degrees faster by choosing credit transfers and fast-track programs. There are integrated programs as well, which combine both bachelor’s and master’s degrees together. A significant advantage of accelerated degrees is that they allow students to finish their masters 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 a total of 5 years, instead of the usual 6 years. Here are some universities that offer accelerated online masters in child development programs: 

Free Child Development Courses Online

Most of the free masters 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, by taking up a free course, students can gain additional knowledge on the subject. Here are a few masters in child development online free courses that can help students on that front: 

Course Offered By Description 
Child Development Courses One Education One Education offers various certificate and diploma courses in child development and child psychology. 
Early Childhood Education Courses Coursera Coursera offers numerous programs related to child development such as the foundations of teaching and understanding child development, and more. 
Child Development Courses EdX EdX offers a few courses in child development such as child protection, early childhood development, etc. 

How to Pay for Masters in Child Development Online Programs

Various factors influence the cost of a master’s programsuch as the location, institution, program format, and so on. Students pursuing their masters online will have to only pay for course material, tuition fees, and distance fees while they save on travel and housing that offline students must pay for. The tuition fee for masters 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 mostly merit-based but can be awarded based on a certain criterion such as the applicant’s traits (veteran status, membership, race, etc.) or chosen field of study. They can be offered by national organizations, industry-related organizations, and private sectors.


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 where they can earn a stipend and get 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 any unmet financial needs. 


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

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

Scholarships 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 masters in child development schools too may provide them. Scholarships help students reduce their tuition fees, making it easier on the pocket. Here are a few scholarships for masters in child development students to explore: 

Financial Aid for Child Development Graduate School Programs | Erikson Institute 

Erikson’s institute gives merit-based scholarships to masters and certificate program students who are admitted to the program and excel in academics.

Amount/Award: Varies 

Deadline: Fall Applicants  – March 15 | Summer Applicants  – November 15 

Ann-Marie Ogletree Child Development Scholarship

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 :$1,200 

Deadline :TBA 

Tulsa Community College Scholarships

Tulsa community college provides scholarships to students studying the field of child development or early childhood education.

Amount/Award : 90% of tuition fee and 100 % for required books 

Deadline : Fall Semester – June 1 | Spring Semester – November 1 

FAQs about Child Development Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a masters in child development degree?

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

How to get a masters in child development degree?

How long does a masters in child development take?

Is a child development master’s degree worth it?

What can you do with a masters in child development?

What is the difference between masters in child development and masters in child psychology?

Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in Child Development Graduates

Apart from a child development online masters 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, and 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
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Childcare Worker
  • Childcare Director

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor of Statistics (BLS), Child Care workers have a median salary of $27,490 per year as of 2021, with a job outlook of 8% between 2020-2023, as fast as average. The list below highlights some of the careers that graduates of a masters in child development can pursue, along with annual median salary and job growth as reported by BLS:

OccupationMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2030)Job Description
Preschool Teacher$30,21018% (much faster than average)Preschool teachers work with younger children between the ages of 3 and 5.
Child Care Director$47,310 per year11% (faster than average)Child Care Directors lead and supervise their staff’s daily activities, design program plans, and prepare budgets.
School and Career Counselors$60,510 per year11% (faster than average)School Counselors help students develop social and academic skills. Career counselors help people choose their career path.

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 in the subject. Although, in most instances, a child development online masters 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: 

  1. Certified Child Life Specialist (CLLS) – 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. 
  2. Certified Child Care Worker (CCCW) – Individuals who want to certify as Child Care Workers must give the CCW Exam to showcase the necessary skills required to work in childcare settings. 
  3. Child Development Associate (CDA) – The Child Development Associate Credential, also known as CDA, is highly regarded in early childhood education. Through this certification, individuals can strengthen and demonstrate their knowledge, practices, and understanding in early education.
    Child Care providers or those interested in opening up a Child Care Center in the United States require a license from the local or state government. 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, it is crucial to stay up to date with all the latest information in child development. 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 masters 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 and language, math and science, the inclusion of 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. Assessment and certification of childcare experts and organizations are the focus of this organization’s policies and procedures.
  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 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 other resources for families. NAEYC also offers webinars, in-person training and accredited training, as well as an annual conference for professional development.
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