Why This Matters

  • CHOOSE FROM OVER 15 DIFFERENT CAREER PATHS

    A degree in child development will prepare you for an assortment of career options, including education, early childhood intervention, child psychology, advocacy, public policy, and research.

  • 37K NEW PRESCHOOL TEACHERS NEEDED BY 2028

    The number of preschool-age children is expected to increase in the coming decade. Jobs for preschool teachers are expected to continue growing at an above-average pace.

  • DEMAND FOR PSYCHOLOGISTS WILL RISE BY 14%

    An undergraduate degree in child development provides a solid foundation for future study in child psychology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 26,100 new psychology jobs by 2028.

Our Research

Degrees in child development are available at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. Your current education level and career goals will inform which type of program you should pursue. Our list includes child development degrees at all levels.

All coursework for listed programs can be completed online. The list also includes programs that are offered on-campus or in hybrid formats. You can select the program delivery method that best fits your schedule and learning preferences.

We included both regionally and nationally accredited programs on our list. If you intend to transfer credits or pursue an advanced degree, it is recommended that you attend a regionally accredited school, as those credits and degrees are more widely recognized by other institutions.

We evaluated programs on the basis of their reputation, course strength, flexibility, faculty, and cost. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score of each degree on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 86 hours to write this article
  • 134 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 361 education programs we compared

The Top 10 Best Online Child Development Degree Programs

Jacksonville State University

Intelligent Pick

Jacksonville State University’s Bachelor of Science in Child Development program is very comprehensive and prepares you for a variety of careers working with children and families. The curriculum includes coursework in human growth and development, cutting-edge research in child development, and the role of context in child development, as well as classes aimed at improving communication skills and learning how to observe and evaluate children. Because some of the courses involve working directly with children and families, a thorough background check is required. Toward the end of the program, you will complete a field experience to put all the principles and theories to work in a real-world setting.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $377
  • Credits required to graduate: 120
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 46%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 800-231-5291

Learn more

West Virginia University at Parkersburg

Best Scholarships

West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s Associate of Applied Science in Child Development program is “designed as a career ladder with multiple entry and exit points.” This means you can earn a certificate, an associate of applied science, and/or a bachelor’s degree, depending on how long you choose to stay in the program and continue completing coursework. West Virginia University at Parkersburg has earned several distinctions for its online programs, including Most Affordable Online Colleges by OnlineU and Best Online Programs by TheBestSchools.org. The university offers many competitive scholarships to make the cost of attendance more affordable.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $160 to $221
  • Credits required to graduate: 60
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 34%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 304-424-8310

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University of Central Missouri

Best Student Organizations

University of Central Missouri’s Child and Family Development – Minor is a 21-credit-hour concentration in Child and Family Development that you can pair with a bachelor’s degree major. This program is a good fit if you are pursuing your bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as social work, sociology, or psychology, and want some specific coursework in child and family development. As a student at University of Central Missouri, you will benefit from small class sizes, with many opportunities for one-to-one feedback and interactions with your professors. You will also benefit from the school’s emphasis on career preparation: you get to undertake three different internships to build your resume and to engage in hands-on labs and research. Outside the (virtual) classroom, you can choose among 200 student organizations and clubs.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $258.25
  • Credits required to graduate: 21
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 54%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 660-543-4111

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Fort Hays State University

Most Innovative Curriculum

Fort Hays State University’s Bachelor of General Studies,Concentration in Child Development program is a 21-credit complement to a bachelor’s degree. The program is specifically designed with degree seekers, parents, daycare workers, and early childcare providers in mind. The innovative curriculum includes courses like Children’s Literature, The Young Child, and Educating Exceptional Students. Because Fort Hays State University’s Bachelor of General Studies degree is so flexible, you can choose courses in your major that are also related to child development or other topics like the sociology of families and the psychology of human development.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $343.62
  • Credits required to graduate: 120
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 58%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 785-628-5950

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Point Loma Nazarene University

Best Hybrid Program

Point Loma Nazarene University’s (PLNU) Bachelor of Arts in Child Development is a full four-year, 120-credit degree program that can be completed online anywhere in the world or on community college campuses in and around San Diego, California. As a Christian university, PLNU emphasizes holistic development and seeks to support you as you grow not just as a student but as a person. This approach is particularly well suited to the study of child development because the field takes a similarly holistic approach. PLNU offers extensive mentorship and career counseling, and has multiple pathways for helping you complete your degree if you’ve already earned some credits elsewhere.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $560
  • Credits required to graduate: 120
  • Academic calendar: Six start dates per year for the online option
  • Graduation rate: 73%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 619-329-6799

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University of Washington

Best in the Northwest

University of Washington’s (UW) Bachelor of Arts in Early Care & Education is a full, four-year bachelor’s degree program with a focus on child development. The online degree program is hosted by the UW’s College of Education, one of the top schools of education in the nation. The curriculum is deliberately relevant and practice-based, as evidenced by the required Community-Based Learning Experience, where you get to apply knowledge through action, observation, and reflection in real-world early childhood education settings. The program is specifically designed for transfer students seeking to complete their bachelor’s degree in early childhood education online. For this reason, you must enter the program with at least 45 completed academic credits from UW or another school.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $231
  • Credits required to graduate: 180
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 76%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Email: [email protected]

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Arizona State University

Best for Infant/Toddler Development

Arizona State University’s Master of Science in Family and Human Development is geared toward practitioner-oriented professionals who want to deepen their understanding of relationships and development. In addition to the theory- and research-based core curriculum, you have the opportunity to specialize in a particular phase of the life cycle: infant/toddler development, adolescent development, or aging. You also complete a three-part, nine-credit capstone project: part one focuses on professional development, part two focuses on your area of specialization, and part three focuses on applying everything you’ve learned to a field experience geared toward your specific career goals.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $543
  • Credits required to graduate: 30
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 54%

More program information:

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Penn State World Campus

Best Electives

Penn State World Campus’s Associate of Science in Human Development and Family Studies program spans two years and gives students the flexibility to take interesting, specialized elective courses. There are two specialization options: Adult Development and Aging Services or Children, Youth, and Family Services. In addition to this unique opportunity to choose a track/option, you also benefit from the program’s focus on applied learning. As part of your degree, you complete an internship at a human service organization in your community, which provides you with real-world experience and builds connections that could eventually translate into a job after graduation.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $644
  • Credits required to graduate: 60
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 76%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 814-863-5386

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Central Michigan University

Best Advisors

Central Michigan University’s Early Childhood Development and Learning major as part of a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Applied Arts, or Bachelor of Science degree, is a four-year program that prepares you for a career in early childhood education. The curriculum uses training guidelines set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. You get a chance to apply your knowledge in the campus’s Child Development and Learning Laboratory, where you work directly with three- and four-year-olds. Meanwhile, you also get to obtain first-hand experience in local field placements. Program highlights include a poverty simulation, where you experience what it’s like to live as a family in need or work with limited resources, and the student groups Child Life Student Association and Reimagining Early Childhood (REaCh).

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $425 (U.S. residents); $789 (international residents)
  • Credits required to graduate: 43
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 59%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • Email: [email protected]u

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West Virginia University

Best Bachelor’s Degree Program

West Virginia University’s Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Studies is a four-year degree program that combines online courses with in-person field work and internships in your local community. You have the option to pursue pre-K certification alongside your degree. The curriculum follows the standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Courses in the major include Families Across the Life Span, Introduction to Parenting, Stress in Families, and Special Education in Contemporary Society. You are free to choose one of five areas of emphasis: Child Development; Youth and Family Studies; Preschool Education, Birth – Age 4; or Preschool Special Needs.

Things to consider:

  • Cost per credit: $427
  • Credits required to graduate: 120
  • Academic calendar: Traditional semester
  • Graduation rate: 59%

More program information:

  • Accreditation: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 800-253-2762

Learn more

Other Online Child Development Degree Programs to Consider

Best Online Child Development Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

Working with children and adolescents can be rewarding, but it also comes with unique challenges. Individuals who work with children must be patient, compassionate, energetic, and good at communication. Depending on the particular setting or age group you work with, you may be required to help children with meals and basic hygiene.

Earning a degree in child development sets you up for a number of different career paths. As there is no single, clearly-defined path for individuals with a child development degree, it is incumbent upon you to consider what you plan to do with your degree. Certain occupations, like psychologist, counselor, or teacher, will require additional education to make you eligible for professional licenses and most jobs.

If you plan to use your child development degree as a stepping-stone to an advanced degree, it’s important to earn your degree at a regionally accredited institution. Generally, if you are applying to a regionally accredited school for your master’s, you must have an undergraduate degree granted by a regionally accredited college.

Most jobs that involve working with children require a background check and child abuse clearances. If you have any incidents on your record that may prevent you from passing a background check, you should discuss the appropriate course of action with a program advisor as soon as possible.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Child Development programs:

  • How are online courses delivered? Online classes may be delivered synchronously or asynchronously. Asynchronous courses are flexible, as lessons and assignments are available at all times. In synchronous courses, students attend classes remotely, but at set times. Find out how courses are delivered, and decide which format works best for you.
  • How does the school support online students? Online students need the same kind of academic support as on-campus students. Explore what kind of access online students have to advisors, tutoring services, libraries, technical support, and career services to ensure you will have the resources you need to be successful.

In addition to learning about a program’s curriculum, you should also look at its admission requirements and deadlines, which vary from school to school. Gather and submit your application materials well ahead of the deadline to ensure a smooth admissions process.

Now is also a good time to think about how you will pay for your education. Research your options for federal student aid, including loans and grants, as well as scholarships and assistantships. If you are currently employed, find out if your employer offers tuition assistance.