Rankings

10 Best Child Development Programs – Online Master’s Grad Schools

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Updated: March 11, 2024, Reading time: 19 minutes

Online Master's in Child Development - featured image

An incredibly diverse and dynamic discipline, the field of child development allows students to get an in-depth look into the developmental stages of children and how they can be impacted by the diverse society around them, including their family, peers, society, and culture.

Educators and other working professionals who seek to expand their child development knowledge in this field or transition to a different career path may want to consider an online Master’s in Child Development degree.

In this child development online master’s degree, they will explore the physical, gender, cognitive, and socioemotional development of children by utilizing critical analysis of research and the theories of development.

While most master’s in child development programs may culminate in the completion of a thesis, capstone project, or comprehensive exam, there are some that provide students the option to complete internships that will equip them with practical, hands-on experience.

Overview

An online program in child development can open a wealth of professional development opportunities to prospective students with a child development background. These career opportunities often include leadership roles for those who work as:

If your passion lies in child development, then earning this master’s in child development online program will enhance your professional portfolio and boost your earning potential.  

Methodology

Careers that involve working with children and adolescents are especially crucial since these are at the formative stages of a person’s life and have impacts that resonate throughout the rest of that person’s life.

Students are thus well-served to choose the best degree programs that provide the best and most advanced education & preparation that ensure their success as effective, ethical, and impactful professionals.

We’ve got you covered! We’ve put together ten graduate schools that offer the best online Master’s in Child Development programs, with each selected according to the following characteristics:

Read our Methodology section for details.

Best Online Master’s in Child Development Programs

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Master of Arts in Applied Child & Adolescent Development

The University of Minnesota has been committed to providing high-quality education for more than 150 years. It currently serves over 50,000 students across a wide range of academic programs. The University of Minnesota is home to the Institute of Child Development (ICD), which was established in 1925.

Standout Features:

To help students build a more solid foundation in the field of child and adolescent development, the program offers three specialization options. This includes Child Life, Individualized Studies, and Infant and Early Childhood. Having a specialization will help them hone their skills and take on courses that can better align with their professional needs and goals.

Did You Know?

Considered one of the prestigious public research universities in the country, the University of Minnesota houses a medical school, engineering school, veterinary medicine school, and agricultural school in the Twin Cities campus alone.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Durant, Oklahoma

Master of Early Intervention and Child Development

Established in 1909, Southeastern Oklahoma State University started out as a higher learning institution that provides quality education for teachers in Oklahoma. It eventually grew into a four-year college and later on as a state university. It is home to four academic schools, including Education and Behavioral Sciences, Arts and Sciences, John Massey School of Business, and Graduate and University Studies.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers the online Master of Early Intervention and Child Development to help interested students develop essential tools that can better serve children from birth onward.

Standout Features:

Students who want to specialize and acquire knowledge and skills essential to their professional goals will be able to do so by choosing two emphasis courses among three options. This includes Teaching Students with Autism, Counseling Children and Adolescents, and Crisis and Disaster Counseling.

Did You Know?

While Southeastern Oklahoma State University is primarily catering to undergraduate students, there are selected graduate-level programs provided to serve the needs of students in the region. The university has a Higher Learning Commission accreditation.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University

San Diego, California

Master of Science in Child Development

Founded in 1897, San Diego State University admits more than 36,000 students. It is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution known for its advancing diversity and inclusion. Students can choose among bachelor’s degree programs in 96 areas of study and 23 doctoral degree programs. 

Standout Features:  

Students have the option to choose among three capstone options – capstone project, thesis, or comprehensive exam. The former involves designing and implementing a program for children, families, or professionals, making it an ideal choice for applied professionals who want to develop programs in the field.

The thesis option requires students to conduct research on a topic related to children and families with the guidance of experts in the field. Students will also need to complete a comprehensive exam on material from the courses they have taken within the program. This option will need a specific set of electives. 

Did You Know?

In 2022, San Diego State University has secured a record-breaking funding amounting to $192.2 million, registering a 17% increase compared to the previous fiscal year. Some of its funding sources include the Department of Defense, the National Institute of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

University of West Alabama

University of West Alabama - Online

Livingston, Alabama

Master of Education in Early Childhood Development

Located in the heart of Livingston, the University of West Alabama has grown from a church-related female academy into an accredited regional university, offering more than 50 online programs and serving over 2,000 online students. Students can earn competitive degree programs in various relevant fields, including accounting, management, marketing, psychology, education, and so much more.

Standout Features:

In the online Master of Education in Early Childhood Development, students can acquire a unique online experience because they will be linked one-on-one with a mentor. On top of learning from a comprehensive curriculum, they can also depend on their mentors to help them build their network and develop their skills to become better professionals and leaders in their chosen field.

Did You Know?  

At the University of West Alabama, approximately 80% of students receive financial aid such as loans, grants, scholarships, and more. Students are often encouraged to apply for Federal Financial Student Aid to help them determine the kind of financial aid option they are eligible for.

University of La Verne

University of La Verne

La Verne, California

Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Development

A private, non-profit university, the University of La Verne was founded in 1891. It is home to numerous colleges, including the College of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, the LaFetra College of Education, and the College of Law and Public Service, among others.

The university system is spread out throughout Southern California across seven regional campuses. It offers more than 50 undergraduate programs, over 20 master’s degrees, and five doctorates.

Standout Features:

The courses in this master’s program are offered both on-campus and online. There is no distinction between the two delivery methods. Students enrolled in the program may take the courses on campus, online, or combine the two.

Did You Know?  

The University of La Verne consists of 200 full-time professors. It has always kept its class sizes to a minimum, with an average class size of 16 students. The low student-to-faculty ratio provides students with more opportunities for guidance and mentorship from the professors, largely contributing to academic success.

Missouri State University

Missouri State University

Springfield, Missouri

Master of Science in Early Childhood & Family Development

Missouri State University is a public university in the city of Springfield, Missouri. It was originally the Fourth District Normal School, a teacher-training institution, and was established in 1905. Because of opposition from the University of Missouri, the name change to Missouri State University only came about in 2005 despite being originally proposed in 1985. At present, Missouri State University is composed of 10 colleges and schools and has a population of almost 25,000 students.

Standout Features:

The program features a high degree of flexibility, letting students choose around a third of the courses they take to fit their career goals. The program also features a range of degree plans, letting students finish in 3 to 4 semesters, or take an accelerated path that lets students take master’s level courses while they finish their bachelor’s degree.

Did You Know?

Missouri State University also offers a number of related graduate degree programs, including the MSEd in Early Childhood Special Education, and the Master’s Degree in Child Life, a unique online program designed for working with hospitalized kids. 

Texas Woman’s University

Texas Woman’s University

Denton, Texas

Master of Science in Child Development

Texas Woman’s University is a public university in the city of Denton, Texas. It was established in 1901 as an industrial, arts & sciences institute for girls, becoming a university in 1957. Despite the name, however (which was changed in 1956), it has been coeducational since 1994. At present, Texas Woman’s University is composed of 6 colleges and schools and has a population of over 15,000 students.

Standout Features:

This program emphasizes developing practical skills that relate to critically consuming research and applying these to professional practice. The program also develops students’ skills in developmental assessment, written communication, and critical thinking.

Did You Know?

Prospective students who are interested in pursuing further education in the field once they earn their Master’s degree may be interested in Texas Woman’s University’s Ph.D. in Child Development and Early Education program.

National University

National University

San Diego, California

Master of Science – Child & Adolescent Developmental Psychology

National University has campuses throughout California, and a satellite campus is located in Nevada. It was established in 1971 and specializes in providing education for adult learners, offering a large number of fully online and blended on-campus degree programs. At present, the National University is composed of two colleges and four professional schools, which together host a population of almost 24,000 students.

Students have the option of completing a 100-hour field internship (non-clinical) at the tail end of the program. 

Standout Features:

National University’s programs are designed to be highly flexible and truly self-paced for online students: they use a one-to-one learning model that gives students personal support and guidance, and there are no residency requirements or group projects.

Did You Know?  

National University offers a wide range of Master’s programs in Social Sciences and Psychology, aside from the MS in Child and Adolescent Developmental Psychology. These programs include the MS in Educational Psychology (MSEP) and the MS in School Psychology with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Hooksett, New Hampshire

Master of Science (MS) in Psychology – Concentration in Child & Adolescent Psychology

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private university that straddles the city of Manchester and the town of Hooksett, New Hampshire. It was established in 1932 as a business-focused school known as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science, eventually becoming a university in 2001.

At present, SNHU is composed of 7 colleges and schools and has one of the country’s largest populations: of its over 138,000 students, around 135,000 are enrolled in online programs.

Standout Features:

SNHU is lauded for its innovative curriculum, and New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)-accredited. SNHU is also known for continuously offering one of the lowest tuition rates in the country, on top of a 12-credit hour transfer policy and the possibility to earn credit for applicable previous work experience. 

Did You Know?

Aside from Child and Adolescent Psychology, Southern New Hampshire University’s Master of Science in Psychology is also offered with concentrations in Forensic Psychology and Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Capella University

Capella University

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Master of Science (MS) in Psychology, Child & Adolescent Development

Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is owned by publicly traded Strategic Education, Inc. (along with Strayer University). It specializes in offering online degree programs. It was established in 1993 as The Graduate School of America, eventually receiving regional accreditation in 1997, and offered its first bachelor’s degree programs in 2000.

Capella University currently has a population of over 38,300 students, with a majority of these being enrolled in master’s programs (around 47%).

Standout Features:

Capella University is known for FlexPath, its own model of self-paced online learning that affords students a high degree of flexibility to complete their coursework and finish sooner. FlexPath also features a more cost-effective billing cycle, as well as transfer credits that help students further reduce their costs. The MS in Psychology is offered with the FlexPath option.

Did You Know?

Aside from the Child & Adolescent Development concentration, Capella University’s MS in Psychology is also offered with concentration areas in Educational Psychology, Sport Psychology, and Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the admission requirements to the online Master’s in Child Development programs?

Usually, the admission requirements vary from university to university. Some schools require students to have at least a bachelor’s degree in education, child development, or other related disciplines. There are universities that set a minimum GPA for completed undergraduate coursework, often at 2.0.

Other admission requirements for an online education in child development include an updated resume, personal statement, recommendation letters, standardized test scores, and official transcript.  

If an online Master’s in Child Development program doesn’t seem to be the best fit, what other related options can students possibly explore?  

Master’s in Child Development programs are typically anchored on the field of Psychology and may be offered as concentration areas of Master’s Degrees in Psychology. It can also be in the form of related online programs such as Early Childhood Mental Health, Child and Family Studies, and Birth-Kindergarten interdisciplinary studies.

Other closely related degrees are Master’s in Educational Psychology/School Psychology, or Master’s degrees that lean more towards Counseling. Some Master’s in Child Development degrees are also offered as certificate programs for those who may not need to go for the full master’s degree and seek reduced child development degree cost.

Master’s in Child Development degree programs are often offered along with other related programs birth kindergarten interdisciplinary studies that have the same starting point in Psychology, so it is best to directly consult with a particular university you have in mind to see the full range of academic offerings they have.

Online Master's in Child Development - fact

Summary Points

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