Best Online Child Development Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Child Development programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Child development is the study of the physical, cognitive, and social changes that occur in children as they grow. Child development degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers working with children, including teaching, social work, and child psychology.

Child development degrees offer a broad overview of child development, covering topics such as child psychology, human growth and development, and child development theories. Students in child development degree programs learn about the different stages of child development, and the factors that influence a child’s development. They also learn about the different methods of research and assessment used in child development.

How to Choose the Right Child Development Program

When it comes to choosing the right child development bachelor’s degree program, there are many factors to consider. The most important factor is what you hope to do with your degree after graduation. If you want to work in a daycare or preschool, for example, you will need to make sure the program you choose is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. If you want to work as a nanny or in a family child care home, you will need to make sure the program you choose is accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care.

Other important factors to consider include the cost of the program, the length of the program, and the location of the program. Some programs may offer scholarships or financial aid, so be sure to check into that. Also, some programs may be offered online, which can be a great option for busy adults.

Once you have considered all of these factors, you will be able to narrow down your choices and find the child development bachelor’s degree program that is right for you.

Best Online Bachelor’s in Child Development Programs

The best online programs for Child Development ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC

The Bachelor of Science in Child Development – Birth through Kindergarten degree from Appalachian State University is a flexible, online program that prepares students for a career in the child development field. The program combines academic research with real-world practicum to better facilitate children’s success during a pivotal time of discovery, learning and growth. Child Development graduates with “A” licensure, which is a dual certification of both regular and special education, are also eligible to pursue graduate degrees in birth through kindergarten, elementary education and middle grades education.

Rank 2
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Whitewater, WI

The Bachelor of Arts in Early Child Care and Education from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is a non-license early childhood degree, designed for working professionals who have earned at least one credential already and want to stack credential based credits toward a degree. The degree is best suited for those who want to work in child care, preschool, head start or for one of the many organizations focused on supporting young children and families.

Rank 3
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Studies from Arizona State University is an online program designed for students who already hold an Associate of Applied Science degree. With this degree, students will learn about the development of children from birth to age five and gain the skills necessary to positively influence this young age group.

Rank 4
University of La Verne
La Verne, CA

The Bachelor of Science in Child Development from University of La Verne is designed for students interested in careers working with infants to age 8, or in teaching preschool through second grade. The program can be completed entirely online, or through a combination of online and in-person courses at the La Verne and Santa Clarita campuses. The curriculum focuses on studies of the growth and development of children in relation to the family, school, and community, with an emphasis on the importance of the first eight years of life.

Rank 5
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from The University of Alabama covers topics such as human development, infancy and toddlerhood, preschool development, and curriculum planning. The program also includes an internship component, giving students the opportunity to gain real-world experience. Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to apply for teacher certification in Alabama.

Rank 6
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH

The Bachelor of Science in Early Child Care and Development from University of Cincinnati is designed to help working professionals enhance their skills in working with children aged birth to five years old. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. The program offers flexible scheduling and three start dates per year, and provides start-to-graduation support with dedicated academic advisors and student success coordinators.

Rank 7
Concordia University-Saint Paul
Saint Paul, MN

The Bachelor of Arts in Child Development from Concordia University-Saint Paul is a flexible, online program that prepares students for a career working with infants, toddlers and preschool-age children. The program is CAEP-accredited and meets the standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Students will take courses in growth, development, literacy acquisition, ethics, and the education of children with special needs, and complete fieldwork in a licensed child care facility or early childhood learning center.

Rank 8
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KY

The Bachelor of Science in Child & Family Studies – Child Development from Eastern Kentucky University is a 100% online program that prepares students to work with children in educational, institutional, and human service settings. The program is rooted in the latest research and child development best practices and provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work with children from birth to age three. The program also prepares students to pursue graduate and professional school programs.

Rank 9
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK

The Bachelor of Science in Early Child Care and Development from Oklahoma State University prepares students to work with young children in a variety of settings such as childcare centers, homes, and military child development/care centers. The 120-hour program can be completed mostly online, with some in-person practicum experiences required. The program includes coursework in child development, professional development, curriculum development, and child guidance, among other topics.

Rank 10
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV

The Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Studies from West Virginia University is an online program that incorporates the West Virginia Core Knowledge and Core Competencies and the West Virginia Early Standards Framework. Students will learn best practices for early childhood and focus on advocacy and leadership in the field of early education. The program also allows students to complete field experiences and internships close to their home.

What to Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Child Development Program

Students in a bachelor’s in child development program learn about the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development of children from birth to adolescence. The coursework emphasizes child development theories and research and how to apply them in various settings, such as homes, schools, and community organizations.

Most programs require students to complete an internship in order to gain practical experience working with children. In addition to coursework, internships give students the opportunity to develop important professional skills, such as communication, time management, and problem-solving.

A bachelor’s in child development typically takes four years to complete and leads to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. While both degree types prepare students for careers working with children, the B.A. may provide more interdisciplinary training, while the B.S. may offer more specialized training.

Prospective students should possess strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as patience and a genuine interest in working with children.

Common Child Development Courses

Child development degree programs offer a mix of general education, child development, and related coursework. The following is a sampling of common courses for an undergraduate degree in child development.

Child Growth and Development

This course covers the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of children from birth to adolescence. Emphasis is placed on major theories and research related to child development. Upon completion, students should be able to apply child development theories to real-world situations and explain how children develop in each of the four developmental domains.

Children’s Literature and Language Development

This course covers the relationship between children’s literature and language development. Emphasis is placed on the use of children’s literature to support the development of oral language skills, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and comprehension. Upon completion, students should be able to select and use children’s literature to support the development of oral language skills, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and comprehension in young children.

Children’s Health and Safety

This course covers child health and safety, including common childhood illnesses, first aid, and safety in the home and community. Emphasis is placed on identifying and responding to health and safety concerns, and creating safe environments for children. Upon completion, students should be able to identify common childhood illnesses and their symptoms, demonstrate first aid for common childhood injuries and illnesses, and create safe environments for children in the home and community.

Child Psychology Theory

This course covers major theories of child development with an emphasis on their application to real-world parenting and teaching practices. Topics include biological, cognitive, social, and emotional development from birth through adolescence, as well as the impact of nature vs. nurture, family, culture, and society on child development. Upon completion, students should be able to apply child development theories to their own parenting/teaching practices and explain how different theories can lead to different approaches to parenting/teaching.

Dynamics of Parent and Child Relationships

This course covers the major theories and research findings regarding parent-child relationships in the context of family systems and cultural influences. Emphasis is placed on the impact of family relationships on child development, including the development of attachments, temperament, and self-regulation. Upon completion, students should be able to apply major theories and research findings to understand the dynamics of parent-child relationships and their impact on child development.

Career Options for Child Development Graduates

Graduates of child development programs work in a variety of fields and industries, including education, social work, healthcare, and child care. They may also work in fields such as family services, child welfare, and juvenile justice.

Child Life Specialist

Child life specialists work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings to support children and families during medical procedures and treatments. They provide developmentally appropriate play and activities to help reduce stress and anxiety, and they also provide education and support to parents and caregivers. Child life specialists may also work with children who have chronic illnesses or disabilities and their families.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers work with children ages 3 to 5 in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, child care centers, and Head Start programs. Teachers in these programs typically plan and carry out a daily schedule of activities that include both free play and structured time, such as story time, circle time, and arts and crafts. They also work with parents or guardians to support each child’s individual needs and development.

Daycare Director

The director of a daycare is responsible for the overall operation of the facility. This includes hiring and supervising staff, developing and implementing curriculum, managing finances, and ensuring compliance with state and local regulations. Directors also work with parents to ensure their children are receiving the best possible care and education.

Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers work with students in grades K-5, teaching them the basics in a variety of subject areas including math, reading, writing, science, and social studies. They develop lesson plans, administer tests and assignments, keep track of student progress, and communicate with parents and guardians about their child’s performance. In addition to their teaching duties, elementary school teachers often serve as mentors and advisors, and may take on additional roles such as leading extracurricular activities or coaching sports teams.

Family Advocate

Family advocates work with families to connect them with resources and services, and to help them navigate systems such as education, healthcare, and social services. They also work to promote public policies that support families and to educate others about family issues. Family advocates may work in a variety of settings, including social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, and government offices.

Insights From a Child Development Graduate

Gwendolyn Walton is a Lead Teacher at Bright Horizons. She has a bachelor’s degree in child development from the University of Washington. Gwendolyn has over 20 years of experience working with children in various capacities.

ClimbtheLadder: What would you recommend that students do in addition to their degree program, in order to stand out to employers?

Gwendolyn Walton: I would recommend that students get involved in as many different aspects of child development as possible. This could include working in a daycare, nannying, volunteering in a school, working as a camp counselor, etc. The more experience you have working with children, the better.

In addition, I would recommend that students get involved in extracurricular activities related to child development. This could include joining a professional organization, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or volunteering for a child-related cause.

ClimbtheLadder: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career? What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Gwendolyn Walton: The most rewarding aspect of my career is seeing the children I work with grow and develop over time. It’s amazing to see how much they learn and grow in just a few short years. The most challenging aspect of my career is dealing with challenging behaviors. It can be difficult to find the root cause of the behavior and to come up with a plan to address it.

ClimbtheLadder: What misconception(s) do people have about a Child Development degree, and what would you tell them?

Gwendolyn Walton: I think the biggest misconception is that people think you just work with kids all day and it’s easy. But it’s actually a lot of work. You have to be able to think on your feet and be really creative to keep the kids engaged.

It’s also important to be able to understand what the kids are going through developmentally. So, if you’re not good with kids, or if you’re not patient, I would say this is probably not the right field for you.


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