Master’s in Child Development

Note: This page provides details on getting a Master's in Child Development, for doctoral degree information please see our Ph.D. in Child Development page. For general program information, please see our Child Development Degree page.

Gaining a Master's Degree in Child Development is right for those who wish to open more career opportunities or plan to go on to the doctoral level. In order to get accepted into a master's level program, there are some typical requirements that colleges and universities may ask for such as, recent GRE examination scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and sometimes even an interview. On average, a master's degree will take between 1 and 3 years to complete depending on term length and requirements. If a master's program is to lead to valid employment in the field of study or future admittance to a doctorate program, then the program must be accredited. A college or university should be able to easily show accreditation through the proper organizations for your degree program.

Many people with a Master's Degree in Child Development will end up as teachers or school administrators, but this degree could also allow you to become a school counselor, social worker, community organizer, child advocate, child home operator, or youth services organizer.

Choosing an Online Master's in Child Development Program

Choosing a college or university is one of the most important decisions we must face. Whether looking at online schools or traditional brick and mortar schools, it is key to know that the school you choose is reputable and nationally recognized. We have gathered some questions that may help you make your decision:

Is the Program Accredited?

Simply put, accreditation is similar to peer review. However, this "peer review" must be done by official organizations representing higher education and child development. Schools and programs are assessed based on standards set by the accrediting agency. Avoid any online school that has a murky accreditation status. Schools should easily be able to provide proof of accreditation upon request. To learn more about accreditation, you can visit:

How Long Has the Program Been Offered?

Knowing how long a program has been around is a good way to gauge its reputation. Although it is very reassuring to know that a program has been around for many years, it is important to note that distance learning is a relatively new offering. You want to look for a school that has been around long enough to gain accreditation from an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

What Technologies Will Be Used to Facilitate Online Learning?

In order to facilitate online learning, teachers will utilize different modes of technology. Every school uses a different technology and learning forums to facilitate learning. These online learning platforms consist of discussion boards, online syllabi, and multimedia lectures. It may be a good idea to research the technology in order to ascertain your future success in the program. Students find some programs to be more user friendly than others.

What Resources Will I Have Access To?

In a master's degree program, you will definitely be required to conduct research. Schools usually provide students with access to online catalogs, scholarly articles, journals, and other research database. Additionally, good schools may also offer technology assistance. It might be useful to find out what online resources will be available for you before committing to a school.

What Skills and Topics Are Covered?

You want to find out what knowledge and skill set you will be equipped with upon graduation. Solid schools have established goals and expectations of what graduates should have learned over the course of the degree program. These goals may come in the form of measurable outcomes. In other words, what will you be able to do by the time the program is over? This will be a good way to see if a program is compatible with your career goals.

Do You Have Job Placement Information for Students Who Recently Graduated from the Program?

Knowing what recent graduates are up to might be a good tell of whether or not the prospective program is in line with your career goals. If given the opportunity to connect with alumni, ask about their online learning experience and if they have any tips or pointers for you. Find out how their online Master's Degree in Child Development has helped them in their career.

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Is an Online Degree Right for You?

Since it can be done on your own time, online Master's Degree in Child Development classes can allow students to spend less time on commuting and more time on career, schoolwork, and with family and friends. This can also be advantageous for those who do not live in an area with easy college access. With online schooling, students are responsible for planning their studies and staying on task. Consider the following when exploring online programs.

Flexible Schedule

One of the reasons more and more students seem to gravitate towards online Master's in Child Development degree programs is the flexibility. With online programs, students are not required to consistently attend class. They have the ability to complete coursework wherever and whenever without having to spend time on commuting. This is especially appealing for students who work full time, since they will not be required to compromise their work schedules. Online degree programs allow working students and those with families to maintain the flexibility they need, so they can keep up with all aspects of their life.

Tuition and Costs

College tuition is known to be quite costly, especially if you are to attend a school that requires you to relocate. As people learn more about online education, they may realize that many of the expenses associated with earning a master's degree from a traditional college are omitted:

  • No fees associated with commuting, parking, or on-campus meals.
  • No costs related to relocating and living on campus.
  • Students can continue to work and maintain a source of income.

Accessibility and Convenience

A great benefit of online Master's in Child Development is the variety of programs a student has to choose from. With traditional programs, students are required to physically attend classes. With online degree programs, learning is done remotely from the convenience of your own home or office. This allows students to choose a school and program regardless of their geographic location. This can be even more beneficial for students with families and careers who do not have easy access to a campus and do not have the option to relocate.

Fast Completion

Online Master's in Child Development degree programs are often self-paced. The self-paced nature of online programs attribute to the possibility of completing a program faster than at a traditional college. With online degree programs, students can take classes all throughout the year and back to back. In many cases, as soon as one set of classes are done, students can quickly begin the next set of classes. At this pace, students can complete program requirements faster than if they had to adhere to strict schedules. It is important to know that many online schools offer accelerated degree programs as well.

Program Curriculum

Respectable online degree programs should be quite parallel to traditional ones, if not more rigorous, when it comes to curriculum. In a good program, you should be able to find:

  • Solid deadlines and liability markers that keep online on the right path. This may include assignments, presentations, quizzes, or reading reflections.
  • Whole class chat rooms or message boards in order to help students network and acquire occupation contacts.
  • Cumulative exam, thesis, portfolio, or project.

Master's Program Course Topics

Designed to hone graduate students' developing skill sets as researchers and practitioners in the field of child development, obtaining a Master's Degree in Child Development allows students to deepen their own knowledge and skill of child development while expanding knowledge in the field through research and study. Two-year graduate study program offerings do vary between institutions; however, students can expect to find the following curricular goals in the master's program of their choice:

  • Learn to advocate for child-centered services and interventions based on research-based developmental, cognitive, and social ages and stages
  • Assess familial, social, educational and environmental stress on development and cognition
  • Strive to repair or remediate familial, social and environmental stress through intervention, care, and legislation of private and community supports
  • Consider the role of the helping professional in promoting appropriate cognitive and developmental milestones
  • Evaluate supports for individuals who require intervention in order to achieve appropriate developmental, social, and emotional milestones
  • Examine critical social issues that may impact the normal arc of development in babies, children, and youth
  • Examine historical and current practices and trends in the field of child and youth intervention
  • Develop techniques for assessing children and youth, as well as their physical and social environment
  • Develop a proactive toolkit for evaluating parents and siblings of at-risk children and youth
  • Develop an ethical framework to deploy developmentally appropriate practices
  • Hone personal and professional accountability when managing babies, children and youth
  • Practice and evaluate leadership and administrative skills for effective programming of services and supports for babies, children and youth
  • Critically evaluate and debate various viewpoints surrounding child and youth-centered practice, from legislative and financial perspectives
  • Articulate theories, models and approaches to childhood development; apply them to children and youth in practice
  • Compare and contrast models and approaches to education based on child developmental ideologies
  • Continually develop one's own emergent philosophy about the success indicators of child development, while being open to new theories and practices
  • Asses the influence of economic, political and social justice policies as they affect child development from a global context
  • Develop a critical understanding of ethics, policy and legislation as they impact child development, the family unit, culture and education
  • Continue to develop a philosophical framework that supports professional decision-making that is in the best interests of the child and their family
  • Analyze aspects of children, families, and professionals; determine best practice for education planning
  • Analyze current and historical trends, legal issues, legislation and policy that could have impacted child development
  • Analyze maternal indicators and practices for their impact on child development

What Can I Do With a Master's in Child Development?

Kindergarten and Elementary Teacher

Many who hold a Master's Degree in Child Development, along with the appropriate certifications needed to teach, work in the field of education as kindergarten or elementary school teachers. These graduates may hold roles as teachers, master or head teachers, as well as administrators. Learn more about this occupation here:

Education Specialist

Graduates can work in public or private schools (K-12) as well as public and private preschool programs. With the right certifications, those with a Master's degree in Child Development can also work with children with special needs in programs servicing children and adults with special needs.

Community Services

There are social service positions available in many communities. These professionals manage child development programs, after-school programs, camp programs, or other social service programs. Such social service positions focus on the organization and creation of extracurricular programs.


Those who have a Master's Degree in Child Development may also choose to work in the field of healthcare. Child development experts in this field are often responsible for assessing children of all developmental levels and writing reports in order to implement treatment plans.

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Professional Associations

Networking and staying up to date with policies that support children can be beneficial for your in the child development industry. It may be a good idea to learn about career associations such as the National Child Care Association. The NCCA promotes the growth of quality early childhood education. Such organizations offer annual conferences and expos - which is a great way to network, develop, and connect with other professionals in the field of child development.