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 calculated the Intelligent Score of each degree on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online child development degrees are respected and affordable.(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 31 Child Development Degrees Online

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Working with children and adolescents can be rewarding, but 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? EOnline 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.