Child Development is an essential field of study. As an undergraduate major, it is designed for students who wish to study the physical and psychological changes that children undergo from birth to adolescence. The online Child Development program curriculum blends liberal arts and the sciences while ensuring that students get a clear understanding of the theories, research data, and methodology that are central to the study. While the requirements for admission to the study varies from one online school to another, students are also generally encouraged to choose a specialization to harness their core skills in areas such as special education, youth issues, or adolescent studies.
In addition to understanding the processes that take place during a child’s developmental stages, students and professionals pursuing an online Child Development degree look into the different vital aspects of a child’s life. The study brings to light the circumstances and factors that affect Child Development and have baffled parents and caregivers for years. Students research children’s family and cultural background, as well as peers and environment, to determine how they affect their development. For learners, this field of discipline establishes a strong background in both the social and behavioral sciences.
The field of Child Development has seen progress in many ways; thanks to advancements in neuroscience. An online Child Development program focuses on an infant’s response to distress concerning food, shelter, and care. It also highlights the age-appropriate and essential milestones in the infant’s life and the child’s social and emotional development with an emphasis on early childhood. After decades of research, a child’s language of communication also became an important area of study.
While an excellent undergraduate degree, Child Development is also the best choice for graduate study, especially in the social sciences and a variety of professional fields. It is also a challenging second major for those pursuing Cognitive Studies as their first major. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects in the field is projected to grow by 7% over the next few years.
Our 20 Best Online Schools for Bachelor’s in Child Development for 2020 lists the academic institutions across America that offer online education of the highest caliber.
To determine the online schools that characterize the finest Bachelor’s in Child Development degree programs, we factored in the program’s online coursework, goals, duration, completion requirements, and career options upon graduation based on the following information, listed in random order:
- 100% Online format; however, Experiential Lab, Student Teaching, Field Observation and/or Practicum may be required,
- May be awarded as BS in Child Development, BS in Human Development, or BS in Family Relations,
- Typically focuses on child growth and development ranging in age from birth to eight years old,
- Designed to instruct in infant development, child curriculum, behavioral psychology, parenthood, literacy for the young, in addition to, studies focused on the social, emotional, physical and cognitive well-being of every child, among many other topics,
- Prepares students for positions in Head Start Programs, Child Advocacy and Leadership, Private & Public-School Systems, or Social Services, Non-Profit Agencies, among others,
- Properly Accredited,
- Financial Aid Opportunities.
To learn more about our ranking process, please see our Methodology page.
Appalachian State University
Child Development – Birth through Kindergarten (BS)
Appalachian State University provides a well-structured online undergraduate degree in child development. It is a part-time program that can be completed in about three-and-a-half years, with students taking six to eight hours of coursework each semester. The curriculum blends synchronous and asynchronous schedules, which gives students the flexibility to complete some classes at their leisure, and others under stricter guidance of the expert child development faculty members. The bachelor’s program is designed to develop skills in working with children from birth to kindergarten and incorporates fabulous real-world learning opportunities in practicums that put theories into practice. Graduates leave Appalachian State with “A” licensure in child development, which includes a dual certification in special and regular education.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
BA, Children’s Learning and Development
This Bachelor of Arts in Children’s Learning and Development is one of the most affordable on this ranking, with a tuition rate for distance education students of $390 per credit hour. The program is intended for adult learners who plan on working for programs and agencies that serve young children and their families. Students develop outstanding skills in child advocacy, education, administration, and family and youth programming. The curriculum provides a strong foundation in essential principles of child development while also offering opportunities for students to pursue individual interests through course concentrations. Students attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst through the University Without Walls virtual campus can take comfort in the fact that they are enrolled in one of the most popular and well-decorated online schools in the nation.
University of Washington
Early Care and Education (Online) Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program
The University of Washington’s online Bachelor’s Early Care and Education is a degree completion program that requires students to transfer at least seventy credits from an accredited college or university. The major coursework at UW balances practice with theory in a combination that provides rigorous academic training in the field of child development. It is a highly flexible curriculum in which all of the coursework is asynchronous and can be completed on individual students’ schedules. However, the weekly projects and assignments develop experience and knowledge in leadership and teamwork. The coursework is developed based on the principles and research set forth by the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning. Graduates from the University of Washington go on to make a hugely positive difference in the lives of young children and families in communities across the entire world.
Jacksonville State University
Online Bachelor of Science in Family & Consumer Sciences with a Concentration in Child Development
Students attending Jacksonville State University online have a unique opportunity to major in the distinctive Bachelor in Family and Consumer Sciences degree with a focus in Child Development. The core coursework of the major provides guidance and enhancement in making consumer-related decisions regarding family and homemaking. The concentration classes are geared toward the careers of directors, teachers, and teacher’s assistants in child care facilities, early intervention programs, and kindergarten. Students are encouraged to specialize their degree with a minor in human sciences, nutrition and foods, hospitality and culinary management, or other exciting areas. JSU also offers impressive masters, doctorate, and education specialist degrees for students who are seeking further educational and professional advancement!
Colorado State University-Fort Collins
Online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies Degree
Early Childhood Professions, Leadership, and Entrepreneurial Professions, Prevention and Intervention Sciences, Pre-Health Professions, and Human Development and Family Studies
Colorado State University-Fort Collins is a premier online university offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies degree. The Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) prepares students in assisting families and individuals in all critical stages of human development. It is a highly customizable program which balances online instruction with internship opportunities for practical experience. The general coursework focuses on the various change that people experience throughout their lifetime, taking into account family relations, the environment, and other outside factors.
There are five concentrations that students can opt to take: Early Childhood Professions, Leadership, and Entrepreneurial Professions, Prevention and Intervention Sciences, Pre-Health Professions, and Human Development and Family Studies. After completing the required 120-credit hours, graduates will be able to gain employment in various organizations in the field.
Arizona State University-ASU Online
Online Bachelor of Science in Family and Human Development
Arizona State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Family and Human Development focusing on the different stages of human development. It has an intensive 120-credit-hour curriculum covering critical issues in family relations, such as marriage, divorce, the impact of ethnicity, parenting, and family interactions. More so, the course emphasizes individual development. Students are equipped with specialized knowledge in the field of human development from birth to a certain age. Graduates get to hold jobs in counseling, social work, medicine, law, and graduate research degrees.
Southern New Hampshire University
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Online Child and Adolescent Development Concentration
The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University offers online Child and Adolescent Development as a degree concentration. This Child development curriculum aims to teach students the various developmental stages. It highly emphasizes the practical and experiential application of child psychology and social sciences. Distance students get to participate in online class discussions, research, and other coursework.
San Diego Christian College
Online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development
A Christian academic institution, the San Diego Christian College is offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development. The program prepares students for a diverse career in the field of social services, human resources, and counseling. It strengthens graduates’ interpersonal skills to become productive and impactful child development practitioners in their communities. To graduate, they need to complete comprehensive coursework which includes lifespan development, personality development, mental and cognitive development from birth to adolescence. Additionally, students can opt to minor in education, leadership, psychology, and human resource development. The program can be is awarded after successful completion of 123-credit hours, mostly in five-week terms.
California State University, East Bay
Fully Online Bachelor in Arts in Human Development
The California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) offers a fully online Bachelor in Arts in Human Development. There are three concentrations given under the program, namely Adult Development and Gerontology, Women’s Development, and Early Childhood. Under the online child development program, students develop in-depth knowledge in theories of human development, family relations, and emotional dimensions, among others.
CSUEB online BA in Human Development is specifically designed for students coming from other accredited institutions of community college or has been academically inactive for years. Students engage in comprehensive and in-depth discussion in lifespan concepts and developmental issues.
University of Wisconsin–Stout
Online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), with specialization in Gerontology, and minor in Human Development and Family Studies
The Human Development and Family Studies of the University of Wisconsin-Stout offers groundbreaking online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), with specialization in Gerontology, and minor in Human Development and Family Studies. These HDFS programs focus on research, outreach, and education that strengthens the quality of people’s lives and overall well-being. The online BS in HDFS examines the complexities of child development in connection with the family dynamics and societal interactions. Students enrolled in the program gain exhaustive experiential training and lectures in marriage and family therapy, social work, alcohol and drug counseling, mental health counseling, school counseling, student personnel, health and wellness, and family science. The curriculum requires the completion of 120 credits and students must obtain an average of 2.5 GPA or better.
Vanderbilt University-Peabody College
Online Major in Child Development and Bachelor of Science in Child Studies
Vanderbilt University through the Peabody College can offer an online major in Child Development and Bachelor of Science in Child Studies. The two majors are designed for students who are passionate in pursuing either or both disciplines. Anchoring on family, culture, peers, and the environment, they are trained in all aspects of research, research design and data gathering in children development studies.
One unique offering under the program is the five-year Child Development/Nursing Program, which integrates the undergraduate degree in Child Development with the extensive requirements of Master of Science in Nursing. Graduates are not equipped to solve the most perplexing issues facing children and families today, but they have the expertise to gainfully apply developmental theories and best practices to the real-world problems.
University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Highly Flexible Online Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin has an excellent, and highly flexible online Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies. The program features an exhaustive approach in the field of child development, focusing mainly on various development stages of a child. The curriculum includes core courses, such as Language Development in the Young Child, Family Dysfunction and Substance Abuse, Child/Adolescent Psychology, The Exceptional Child, Motor Development, and Social Stratification. Students are encouraged to minor in Communications Studies, Criminal Justice, History or Management. This will enable graduates to fully maximize their degree in BA in Child and Family Studies and secure a more progressive career. Earning the degree from university entails the completion of 120-credit hours.
University of Alabama
Online BS in Human Environmental Sciences Human Development and Family Studies
The University of Alabama designed the online BS in Human Environmental Sciences Human Development and Family Studies specifically for child development practitioners. Students of the online program are trained to take on leadership roles in Head Start agencies, which provide social and educational support to students coming from low-income families. Through the program, students are exposed to extensive coursework focused on gaining knowledge and in-depth understanding of children’s growth and development. Graduates develop a better understanding of the complex nature of parent/child relationship which in turn, will allow them to design, implement and evaluate programs suitable for preschool-aged children.
The program is offered entirely online through the university’s Bama by Distance platform. After completion of the required 120-credit hours, graduates are equipped with the expertise to aid children in every developmental stage they undergo.
Penn State World Campus
Online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS)
Earn a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) from the nation’s leading online university. Through Penn State’s online HDFS program, students learn the various changes a person undergoes from birth to old age. Additionally, they examine how families and communities impact these stages. Graduates of the program learn how to integrate these factors to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to improve people’s lives. Penn State’s online Child Development degree holders are strong advocates of social welfare programs and initiatives. Graduates of the program emerge with expertise in developing models toward the prevention and treatment of prevalent socials, behavioral, and emotional issues in both children and adults.
Oregon State University
Online Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS)
Oregon State University (OSU) gives online learners the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS). Students get to embrace their passion for helping others through intensive training in social work, especially in developing strong critical thinking, written and interpersonal communication, and research. The program provides the necessary skills as excellent preparation for graduate studies. HDFS students may choose to minor in a wide range of OSU minor online programs, such as public health, psychology, sociology, among others. OSU’s BS in HDFS follows a rigid 180-credit hours curriculum that can be completed in four years.
Washington State University-Global Campus
Online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development Program
The online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development program from Washington State University (WSU) examines the interconnected nature of human relationships in various communities. Students gain the confidence and the interpersonal skills to interact with people of all ages and from all walks of life. It is an essential aspect in the field since graduates of the program will aid individuals, especially children, as they navigate through life.
Students who are pursuing the BA in Human Development degree have the option to earn a certificate in either Gerontology or Early Childhood Education. However, the latter is only available for on-campus students. Following the University Common Requirements (UCORE), online students under the program are required to earn a cumulative GPA of 2.6 or higher. Also, out of the 42-credit hours of required major courses, students must take a minimum of 21-credit hours via the WSU Global Campus.
West Virginia University at Parkersburg
Online Bachelor of Applied Science in Child Development
West Virginia University at Parkersburg offers diverse child development programs, including the online Bachelor of Applied Science in Child Development. The program is outlined following a careful, but rigid approach to understanding the complexities of the subject. It is designed as a career ladder for graduates who intend to serve their community through social services and education. The curriculum includes all courses required by the West Virginia Department of Education in collaboration with and funding from Head Start.
North Dakota State University
Online Child and Adolescent Development
Under North Dakota State University’s Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) department, students get to major in Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Development, Family Science/Social Work, Family Science, Child Development/Elementary Education, and Adult Development and Aging. Courses are divided into four components, namely core courses, child and adolescent development, major electives, and “additional courses” covering all critical aspects of the field.
The online Child and Adolescent Development program includes courses in prenatal, infant and toddler development, child development, and adolescent development. Students learn how to address contemporary issues facing each age group. The variety of employment opportunities for HDFS include education, finance, healthcare, and child protection, among others.
Concordia University-Saint Paul
Online Bachelor of Arts in Child Development
Concordia University-Saint Paul offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Child Development. The online program focuses on advocacy and leadership in the field of Child Development and Child Education. Students may take each course in the program in seven weeks. The online BA in Child Development program from Concordia University emphasizes the developmental stages that a child goes through, specifically from birth to grade 3. Students, however, are encouraged to narrow their focus to a particular age group or topic. This learning technique allows the program to produce career-specific graduates.
Eastern Kentucky University
Online Bachelor of Science in Child Development
The Bachelor of Science in Child Development from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) engages students in immersive coursework. It focuses on both child development and family studies, both of which being central subject in the course. The curriculum is quite flexible following four components – Pre-Child and Family Major Courses, Core Courses, the Childhood development concentration, and electives. EKU is committed to creating a balance between classroom experiences with practical, real-life situations. This set-up will allow their BS in Child Development graduates to find every opportunity to apply their learning through immersions and a practicum.
What can Child Development degree holders do after graduation?
In itself, the Child Development major is designed for individuals who are passionate, and driven to create a positive impact on children and their families. Graduates of the program can pursue a variety of different career paths. They may find working as a preschool or daycare director a fulfilling career choice. For some, a more traditional career path in public or private educational institutions is more appealing. Due to the overwhelming demand for educators and social workers who specialize in child development and youth studies, job prospects for graduates is projected to continue to increase. As an insight into the various career choices in child development, graduates may work as a Child Life Specialist, Special Education Paraprofessional, Parent Educator, Early Childhood Education Consultant, Early Childhood Education Regulator, or Social Worker. All of which are socially impactful and fulfilling.
Will my strong personality hinder my effectiveness as an advocate or children’s welfare?
No. You do not need to have a “child-friendly” personality to work for and with the children. Child advocacy is not an exclusive cause, anybody who is passionate can champion children’s welfare. Of course, there is always that option to work behind the scenes. Become a child development researcher, child policy analyst, or even a software designer for applications devoted to child protection. Additional training may be required, but don’t need to go outside to pursue your passion.
What are the required courses when I major in Child Development?
The curriculum will vary from school to school as well as the number of required credit hours and practicum or internships. Following basic education standards, students will take General Education (GE) courses and comprehensive core courses throughout their stay in the college or university. Check your school’s program catalog for more information.