Why This Matters


    Around 23% of U.S. childcare workers report an associate degree as their base level of education.

  • 19,500 MORE OF YOU ARE NEEDED BY 2029

    There’s a consistent demand for childcare workers in preschools and childcare facilities across the country. The profession is expected to grow 2% within the next decade, with 19,500 additional open U.S. childcare positions predicted by 2029.

  • EARN UP TO $18.13 PER HOUR

    The median hourly wage for all childcare workers is $12.24, with those working in local schools earning a higher wage of $13.73 per hour. The top 10% earn more than $18.13.

Our Research

This list focuses on associate programs in child development. Some programs award an Associate of Applied Science or an Associate of Science, and others award an Associate of Arts degree. We reviewed programs that are offered online or in blended formats.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education oversees teaching programs in the United States, including those focused on early childhood development. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission oversees online programs nationwide, and this list also includes programs offered by regionally accredited schools. Credits and degrees from all listed programs are generally transferable to other institutions.

  • 57 hours to write this article
  • 45 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 83 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Associate in Child Development Programs

Best Online Associate in Child Development Programs Badge
Intelligent Pick
Purdue University Global
Best in the Mid Atlantic
Penn State World Campus
Best in the Midwest
The Ohio State University
Best in the South
Central Texas College
Best for Adult Learners
Concordia University, St. Paul
Best in the West
Umass Global
Best for Vets
Liberty University
Best Part-Time Option
Post University
Best in the Southwest
University of Arizona Global Campus
Best Hybrid Option
Oklahoma State University
Most Flexible
University of Cincinnati
Most Affordable
Penn Foster College
Best for Transfer Students
American Public University
Best for Articulation
Muskegon Community College
Best Accelerated Option
State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota

What You Should Know About This Degree

Similar degrees include an associate degree in child psychology or early childhood education. While an online associate in child development opens you up to many careers working with children, the others focus specifically on roles as a social worker or teacher. You can still achieve this with an associate in child development, although your education will cover well-rounded topics like nutrition, family dynamics, teaching methods, and working with children with special needs.

Seek out programs from regionally or nationally accredited schools. If you’re interested in becoming a preschool teacher or educator, look for accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Childcare workers are always needed with each upcoming generation, so the job outcome remains consistent, with a 2% growth rate projected within the next decade.

Many licensed facilities and schools require an associate degree to work in childcare, along with a cleared background check and fingerprinting.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online associate in child development programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Online child development associate programs accept students with a high school diploma or GED. Because you’ll be working with children, these programs also require a criminal background check, child abuse screening, and fingerprinting prior to admission. Contact the school’s admissions department to learn how and when you can complete these requirements.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? An online associate in child development requires approximately 60 credits to complete; one of our listed programs requires 90 credits, and others require 62 to 67 credits. For full-time students, this degree takes about two years to complete, but accelerated options are available.

While researching, keep an eye on application deadlines and materials. This information is accessible on each program’s website.

Since financing is such a vital consideration, submit all financial aid applications on time. Many scholarships and grants are available for those seeking childcare careers.