The Most Affordable Online Child & Human Development Programs

If you’re passionate about pursuing a career in education, social work, community outreach, gerontology, counseling or foster care, a bachelor’s in child and human development is what you’ll need to launch your career. A human development degree will provide you with the knowledge and practical experience needed to understand psychology, sociology, and physical and learning development and disabilities in children and adults. The degree can be earned online in four years or less with accelerated learning opportunities. This makes it ideal for students who plan to maintain a full-time job and family life while earning the credentials necessary for career advancement.

As the cost of college tuition continues to rise, many students are concerned about being overburdened with debt upon graduation; an increasing number of students are now turning to online learning for the affordability and flexibility it offers. When searching for affordable online child and human development programs, however, it’s important to note the difference between schools that are simply cheap up-front, and those that offer the greatest value on the whole.

To help get you started in your search, BestColleges.com has created a ranking of the most affordable online bachelor’s in child development programs using its College Affordability Score. Weighing criteria such as graduation rates, student-to-teacher ratios, and financial aid opportunities available, our list determines schools that offer not only affordability, but academic excellence. Explore our ranking of the most affordable online bachelor’s in child development programs, and get started on your degree today.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Receiving Loans Location Description    
1

University of Washington

90.213/534%Seattle, WA

campus-university-of-washington

The University of Washington’s online learning program provides students with a world-class education at one of the nation’s top universities. UW’s bachelor's in early childhood & family studies is unique because it can be completed in two years. The research-based program has cutting-edge courses and curriculum. It is a self-paced program where students can access all classes, assignments, and discussions online. There are two pathways: the Core Pathway, focusing on early childhood topics; and the Teaching and Learning Pathway, which includes the Core and additional coursework focused on early childhood teaching and learning.

This online child development degree program is affordable thanks to low per-credit fees. The school offers traditional financial aid options, encompassing federal loans, scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Since the degree can potentially be completed in two years (full-time), students can halve the cost of tuition compared to a four-year degree program.

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2

Utah State University

75.633/551%Logan, UT

campus-utah-state-university

Students pursuing the baccalaureate Family, Consumer, and Human Development: Child Development emphasis at Utah State University (USU) don’t only engage in theoretical learning about child development, they also have an opportunity to work with internationally recognized faculty on research projects that explore human development and family relationships. Students acquire hands-on experience by completing a practicum with an agency involving child and family welfare so that they are equipped to enter the workforce upon graduation.

To earn this online child development degree, students must complete all required courses in the major -- such as infancy and childhood, preschool methods and curriculum, parenting, and child guidance. USU has a high ranking for its affordability and rigorous education. Regardless of income, students can qualify for some form of financial aid at USU, which offers traditional financial aid, grants, and scholarships.

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3

Colorado State University – Fort Collins

73.133/548%Fort Collins, CO

campus_colorado_state_university_fort_collins

The bachelor of science (BS) in human development and family studies at Colorado State University (CSU) educates students about the development and changes across the lifespan. This human development degree covers topics such as child, adolescent, and adult development; families and relationships; and professional skills development. In addition to the core curriculum, the degree program can be customized by choosing one of five concentrations: early childhood professions, pre-health professions, leadership and entrepreneurial professions, human development and family studies, and prevention and intervention sciences. There is also a gerontology interdisciplinary minor that focuses on understanding the aging process.

Students can also pursue early childhood director qualifications as part of this program, which entails meeting state requirements. The program is fully online and is delivered through Canvas. Courses are offered in fall, spring, and summer, giving students accessibility and flexibility. CSU is highly ranked for its affordability and offers financial aid, grants, scholarships and military discounts. Residency in the state is not considered in online tuition rates.

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4

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

72.082/586%Odessa, TX

campus-university-of-texas-permian-basin

For students planning to work with children and families in various contexts, the bachelor of arts (BA) in child and family studies at UTPB is a degree completion program that provides the education training necessary for career success. The BA in child and family studies--learning and development track focuses on the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of children; family relationships; and atypical development of children. Often, students in this track pursue teacher certification.

This affordable online child development degree is offered in an eight-week format in which students can take courses at their own pace. Traditional financial aid, including federal loans, grants, and college work-study, are available to online students in most cases. UTPB awards a number of scholarships for achievement.

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5

North Dakota State University

67.293/537%Fargo, ND

campus-north-dakota-state-university

A top-ranked institution that combines teaching and research in academically rigorous degree programs, NDSU provides online learning that is affordable and accessible. NDSU’s BS in human development and family science has a child and adolescent development option that focuses on child health and protection and understanding the needs of adolescents. Courses include intro to research methods in CDFS; children, families, and public policy; and children and families across cultures. Students must also complete a five-credit internship in order to graduate, but this can be accomplished in the student’s community.

NDSU’s is one of the cheapest online child development degrees, and uses the Blackboard learning management system. NDSU offers affordability given that tuition is less than many regional institutions. A high percentage of students at NDSU receive financial aid, half of which includes grant, scholarship, or tuition waiver aid.

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6

Washington State University

65.213/551%Pullman, WA

A top-tier university with more than a century of educational excellence, Washington State University’s (WSU) Global Campus offers an online bachelor’s degree in human development for students interested in pursuing a career working with people of all ages. Students are prepared to help young children and the elderly handle the challenges they face. WSU graduates from this program have gone on to work at programs such as Head Start, YMCA, and senior centers. Students in this human development degree program may also earn a certificate in either gerontology or early childhood education. The early childhood education certificate is only available to residents.

WSU offers virtual mentors to assist students if they have problems studying online. WSU is affordable in part because its in-state undergraduate tuition for the 2016/17 academic year is 15% less than the fall of 2014, thanks to the state’s efforts to keep tuition affordable.

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7

California State University – East Bay

62.922/552%Hayward, CA

Students pursuing a human development degree at Cal State East Bay can expect strong academics and a real-world curriculum combined with affordability. The BA in human development explores human development and the attendant social, cultural, physical, and emotional dimensions. The program offers three options: adult development and gerontology, focusing on early, middle, and late adulthood; women’s development, delving into women’s social, psychological, cultural, and biological development; and early childhood development, with an emphasis on the years from birth to age five.

This human development degree program is delivered using the Blackboard learning management system. Cal State East Bay notes that its tuition and fees are among the lowest in the nation for comparable institutions, making it a “best value” in public university education. Financial aid is available, including scholarships that are awarded to those with financial need, while others are given for academic achievement.

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8

Arizona State University

61.883/586%Tempe, AZ

Arizona State University (ASU) is a top-ranking university known for its innovativeness, academic rigor and research. The school notes that many of its professors are Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Fulbright scholars. Studying for the BS in family and human development at ASU educates students about human development from infancy through the lifespan. This online human development degree covers topics such as marriage and family relationships, personal growth in human relationships, and parenting.

ASU Online’s courses are interactive and delivered in a format that fosters collaboration. Whether you are an in-state student on not, ASU provides high value because of its rigorous academics and high retention rates paired with affordability. Using programs such as eAdvisor and Major Maps, a step-by-step education roadmap, the institution works to keep students on track to graduate and on budget. It is a Military Friendly School that provides Military veterans with educational support, including benefits to help fund their education.

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9

University of Wisconsin-Stout

60.213/523%Menomonie, WI

The BS degree in human development and family studies at UW-Stout is designed for students with an associate degree or equivalent. The program prepares students for careers in a number of settings, ranging from child care management to senior living center management and residential treatment facilities. Courses cover topics such as human development at all stages, family dynamics, and sexuality. Students seeking to enroll in this online human development program can transfer credits from UW colleges or any number of community and technical colleges in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

UW-Stout has taken a number of steps to make its programming affordable, including working to ensure that students graduate on time and reducing the number of credits required for graduation in 2013. The school notes that 97.1 percent of the school’s students find employment within six months of graduation, which helps them pay off student debt.

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10

University of Massachusetts – Amherst

58.133/560%Amherst, MA

A nationally ranked public research university, UMass Amherst offers the “University Without Walls” bachelor’s degree, with a number of programs of study to choose from. Among them is the children’s learning and development concentration, designed for those pursuing careers in fields such as education, child advocacy, youth and family programming, and administration. This child development degree covers topics including diversity, observing and assessing young children, LGBT issues in education, and juvenile delinquency.

Online programs are delivered through the Blackboard and Moodle learning management systems. UMass Amherst offers traditional financial aid options, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. The school is one of a number of schools that provide students with the opportunity to use open textbooks, which can save students hundreds of dollars per semester. The number of available textbooks in the Open Textbook Library are limited but accessible to students for free.

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11

West Virginia University

56.882/557%Morgantown, WV

At West Virginia University (WVU), students receive a quality education at an institution with highly ranked programs in a number of disciplines. Students enrolled in WVU’s BS in child development and family studies will learn the best practices in early childhood education with an emphasis on advocacy and leadership. All classes in this child development degree program can be taken online except CPR/First Aid, and the required nine-credit field experience or internship that can be done wherever the student resides under suitable guidance.

The school offers traditional financial aid options, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. WVU is affordable because its tuition rates are among the lowest in the United States. If students live in Ohio or Washington, D.C., or study at Garrett College in Maryland, they may be eligible for reduced tuition. Overall, out-of-state students may be able to pay in-state tuition for some courses offered through the Southern Regional Electronic Campus, regardless of residency.

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12

University of Alaska Fairbanks

56.252/543%Fairbanks, AK

UAF offers a child development and family studies degree program designed for early childhood educators. Students must take the program major and one of four concentrations: administration within the early childhood field; curriculum and teaching; family support; or infant and toddler. Transfer students seeking to enroll in this child development degree online who have an AA or AAS degree in early childhood education from a regionally accredited institution will receive 23 transfer credits.

UAF delivers its online learning through Blackboard. UAF notes that its undergraduate tuition and fees are far less than the national average. There are a number of financial aid options, including grants, loans, fellowships, and benefits for military veterans that can help students afford their education. For rural students living in the state, the school’s Rural Student Services is an academic advising department that helps students navigate academic requirements and financial aid.

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13

University of Alabama

55.833/553%Tuscaloosa, AL

The University of Alabama (UA) has a long history of academic excellence and is leading the way in child life education. UA offers a BS in human environmental sciences, human development, and family studies major with a concentration in child life. The focus of this concentration is to train and educate child life specialists well-versed in the healthy development of infants, children, adolescents, and families, and how to minimize their psychological distress when they are ill, disabled, or hospitalized. Among the courses are: hospitalized children and youth, conceptual and creative experiences for young children, and loss and bereavement.

This online child development degree program combines lab and practicum experiences with theory. Further, when students successfully complete the concentration they can take the child life professional certification examination leading to a child life certification. UA’s Bama By Distance offers affordable tuition to distance learners regardless of whether students live in or out of the state. Traditional financial aid options are available.

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14

Pennsylvania State University

54.794/537%University Park, PA

Penn State University is in the top 1% of institutions worldwide and is known for its academic rigor and high ranking in research. The BS in human development and family studies program prepares graduates to work with children, the elderly, and families in settings where they oversee treatment and interventions, supervise operations, and lead projects. This online human development degree includes topics such as family relationships; the administration of human services programs; and transition to adulthood.

At Penn State’s World campus, courses are delivered via Blackboard Collaborate and are asynchronous, providing students with maximum flexibility. Many World Campus students transfer credits from other institutions and there is no limit on how many credits can be transferred from a regionally accredited institution. This promotes tuition affordability at the institution. Penn State notes that employers hire its graduates because of the institution’s reputation, therefore setting graduates on a path to career success and the ability to pay off loans.

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15

Oregon State University

52.503/555%Corvallis, OR

Enrolling in the BS in human development and family science degree program at OSU will give students a rigorous yet flexible program blending theory and practice together. Students develop critical thinking, communication, writing, and research skills while being prepared for careers in social services, counseling, and education. Among the topics covered are human sexuality, adult development and aging, human nutrition, and family violence and neglect. The program also prepares students for graduate programs in counseling, social work, psychology, education, and others.

This online human development degree is delivered at a school ranked in the top 10 nationally for its online education by U.S. News & World Report. Students enrolled at OSU’s e-campus are charged the same tuition rate as in-state students no matter where they live in the world. Traditional financial aid options are available. Also, OSU offers open online resources such as full courses, course modules, lectures, classroom activities, and pedagogical materials for free.

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16

Southern Oregon University

41.253/5N/AOR

As part of their degree programs that are “challenging, creative and practical,” Southern Oregon State University (SOU) offers a bachelor's in early childhood development degree completion program. Students can complete the required general education and some early childhood prerequisite courses at their local community college and transfer credits into this program. Topics covered in upper division courses include children with disabilities, children at risk, and talented and gifted children. A supervised teaching practicum in a school or community setting is required to apply what is learned in a real-world context.

The school uses the Moodle learning management system to deliver this child development degree online. Students enrolled at SOU are charged the same tuition rate as in-state students no matter where they live. SOU has an agreement with several community colleges in Oregon whereby students can receive financial aid while co-enrolled at these institutions. The institution notes that 75 percent of its students receive financial aid.

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17

Eastern Kentucky University

39.383/541%Richmond, KY

At Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), the BS degree in child and family studies with a concentration in child development opens up many avenues for students pursuing careers in the early childhood field. Graduates can also pursue a career as a child life specialist, in which they work with a team providing care to children and families facing medical challenges in hospitals, community outreach programs, or medical and dental practices. Among the topics covered in this child development degree program are: dealing with family stress, childhood literacy, program planning for preschool children, and special education in early childhood. There are two required early childhood practicums.

The school, ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the best institutions providing online degrees, uses the Blackboard learning management system to deliver this child development degree online. EKU students pursuing online degrees may qualify for federal financial aid such as loans, scholarships, grants, and military benefits.

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18

Concordia University – Saint Paul

38.543/585%Saint Paul, MN

Located in St. Paul, Minnesota, Concordia University is a leading Lutheran university with programming for students of all backgrounds seeking career preparation and a rigorous academic experience. Its online campus offers a BA in childhood development focusing on advocacy and leadership in early childhood education. Each course in this child development degree online is seven weeks long. Content areas include: children’s social and emotional growth, language development and literacy, human diversity and relations, and dual language learners. Students will be required to develop a professional portfolio capping their learning experience.

The institution notes that it provides value to students because its tuition is affordable and a comprehensive financial aid program is available. Among the school’s benefits is a $2,000 military service scholarship for veterans, members of the military, and their spouses. Students can also transfer up to 32 military credits toward their bachelor’s degree. Concordia University notes that 92% of its students find employment after graduation.

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19

Warner Pacific College

37.924/597%Portland, OR

Warner Pacific College is a private Christian liberal arts college located in Portland, Oregon. Its online human development degree is a two-year completion program comprised of 14 courses, most of which are five weeks long. To enroll in the BS in human development program, students must have at least two years of full-time work experience and 48 credits of transferable coursework. The program prepares students for vocations in human services, ministry, and the social sciences. Coursework within the major covers topics such as adult development, human sexuality, cultural studies, and counseling theory.

The school notes that it is ranked by a number of organizations such as U.S. News & World Report for its high-quality programming combined with a commitment to keep tuition and costs low. The school’s Freedom to Flourish loan repayment program has also helped address college affordability and access. The institution is a Military Friendly School, a designation for a select number of schools dedicated to helping America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses get an education.

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20

Stephen F. Austin State University

33.543/552%Nacogdoches, TX

The child development program at Stephen F. Austin University (SFA) is one of the top degree programs at this Texan institution. The online BS in human sciences has an emphasis on child development and family living. The program allows students with credits from other postsecondary institutions to complete the last two years at SFA. Among the areas of study: infant and child development; middle childhood and adolescent development; family, school, and community relationships; and adult aging and development.

This child development degree is delivered using the Desire2Learn course management system. Since students can transfer credits from other colleges to SFA, this allows students to save money on tuition. In addition to traditional financial aid options such as loans and grants, the School of Human Sciences awards the largest number of scholarships compared to any department on the SFA campus.

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