Best Online Associate in Child Development Programs

Earning an introductory degree in child development can prepare students to become educators, social workers, and family and child advocates. Read on to learn more about this field of work...

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by Sharon Wilfong

Published on March 23, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Samantha Fecich

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An associate in child development prepares students for careers such as teacher assistants, preschool teachers, or childcare workers. Professionals can earn between $23,000 and $47,000 per year. Plus, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the need for preschool teachers to grow from 2020-2030.

Like an on-campus degree, an online associate in child development typically requires 60 credits and two years of full-time study. Many students find that attending a community college is an affordable route to earn an associate degree. Community college programs also prepare learners for a bachelor's degree and high-paying careers.

Additionally, the top online schools make college more accessible than traditional options. However, online degrees are not easier than their on-campus counterparts, and they might not cost less. Online program costs vary depending on part-time or full-time enrollment status.

Calculating the true cost of an online program includes technology, books, supplies, and other expenses. Residency status may also affect the price.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Child Development Program?

Child development professionals need excellent speaking, listening, interpersonal, and decision-making skills. These jobs also require patience and a lot of physical energy. Ultimately, child development careers focus on education and advocacy.

Full-time students can complete an online associate degree in two years. However, many students have other obligations which make attending part-time classes easier to fit into their lives. But part-time learners need more time to graduate.

Most associate in child development programs require a supervised practicum or field experience. Students may also specialize in areas such as:

Students can pursue different tracks, including an associate of arts (AA), associate of science (AS), or associate of applied science (AAS). An AA is a foundational degree that typically suits transfer students. The AS is best for students who want to start their careers and continue their education after gaining experience.

An AAS focuses on specific skills and knowledge to prepare graduates for work. However, all credits earned from an AAS may not necessarily transfer to another program.

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Popular Online Associate in Child Development Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Child Development Program?

Family, School, and Community

Studies include fostering and developing relationships between the child and their family, community, and educators. Students develop effective listening and communication skills and learn about working with diverse families and communities.

Early Childhood Behavior Management

Students explore age-relevant behaviors and classroom management strategies to create developmentally appropriate rules and expectations. They also develop and learn to model positive behavior specific to early childhood education.

Child Growth and Development

Coursework focuses on holistic child development, including cognitive, language, physical, emotional, and social skills. Students learn to identify and analyze childhood growth and stages from birth to adolescence.

Special Topics in Child Development

This course explores education and child development trends. It covers current events, professional development, and assistive technologies. Course topics may focus on a specific childhood development aspect, concept, or problem.

Curriculum and Instruction

Students learn how to plan and teach a developmentally appropriate curriculum. This course meets the Council for Professional Recognition CDA credential standards to foster social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online College Students The Student's Guide to College Loans The Student's Guide to Financial Aid and the FAFSA

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Child Development Program?

Admission requirements vary depending on the program. However, some items, such as a college application, are standard. An application essay allows applicants to describe academic achievements, strengths, and goals.

Likewise, degree-seekers need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Plus, applicants may need to take college entrance exams that measure math, verbal, analytical, and writing skills. Students may also receive credit for work or life experience. Over 2,900 colleges and universities grant college credit for the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).

Additionally, applications usually require 1-3 letters of recommendation from teachers, school counselors, and former employers. Colleges use these letters to assess an applicant's ability to succeed in college. A recommendation from a college professor may provide one of the most substantial endorsements.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Child Development Degree?

Career Outlook

The BLS projects employment of preschool teachers to grow 18% between 2020-2030, faster than the average for all occupations. This projection amounts to about 59,600 openings on average each year over the decade.

Similarly, the BLS projects job openings for social and human service assistants to grow 17%, with about 59,100 openings during the same period. Median salaries for associate degree-holders in child development vary by industry, experience, certifications, and licensure.

Professionals in child development can work in education and social welfare. They may find employment in public and private schools, individual and family services, local governments, and state governments.

See where an associate in child development degree can take you. Learn more about child development careers.

Career Paths

Childcare Worker

Childcare workers' requirements vary by state, setting, employer, and job title. For example, childcare workers in a Head Start program must meet specific certification requirements, which vary by job title. An associate in child development and a CDA credential could qualify professionals for higher-level positions.

Median Annual Salary: $25,460

Teacher Assistant

Teacher assistants in public schools need an associate degree and may also need to pass a state or local assessment. Some jobs require CPR, first aid, and other certifications. Professionals who pursue additional education, training, and a license or certification could secure teaching jobs.

Median Annual Salary: $28,900

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers typically need an associate degree. Some states require preschool teachers to obtain the CDA credential. Teachers must hold a license to teach preschool through third grade in public schools, although requirements vary by state. Most states also expect teachers to continue their education and to maintain licensure.

Median Annual Salary: $31,930

Social and Human Service Assistants

Human services agencies often focus on working with children, such as in child welfare and school social work. Requirements vary for social and human service assistants, although some employers prefer workers with relevant experience or education. A certificate or an associate in child development may increase a candidate's chances of being hired.

Median Annual Salary: $35,960

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree or postsecondary coursework in early childhood education. However, requirements differ by state and may include CPR, first aid, and CDA certifications. Candidates with an associate degree in child development plus experience may qualify, especially if they plan to continue their education.

Median Annual Salary: $49,160

Child Development Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Child and Adolescent Psychology Careers Teaching Careers Social Work Careers

Continuing Education

Graduates with an online associate in child development often use it as a starting point for their career. An associate degree can prepare learners for a bachelor's degree in child development.

CDA certification helps early childhood educators meet state and national professional requirements and learn best teaching practices. Many associate in child development programs include CDA preparation, focusing on the eight subject areas needed for certification.

Some of the study areas include how to plan a safe and healthy learning environment and to observe children's behavior. The CDA certification also requires 480 hours of work experience with children matching the age group in the application. Additionally, it's good practice for child development professionals to hold CPR and first aid certification.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Child Development Program?

Cost

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition and fees at two-year public schools cost $3,377 for in-state students in 2019-20. Out-of-state students paid an average of $8,126. However, online versus on-campus tuition varies based on program length and the cost per credit. Other factors that affect the true cost of a program include fees, books, supplies, lost income, and work-life balance.

Program Format

Students looking for flexibility should consider part-time versus full-time classes, as both offer benefits and pose challenges. For example, taking part-time classes could mean losing financial aid opportunities. Learners should also consider the flexibility of asynchronous classes versus synchronous ones, which feature virtual classes that follow a set schedule.

Location

Location is an important factor when deciding between an on-campus or online associate in child development. Online students who live close to campus can take advantage of student services such as mentoring. Students may also need to complete an internship or practicum locally.

Accreditation

Accreditation is an evaluative process that ensures community colleges and universities meet federal, state, and other quality educational standards. Without proper accreditation, there are no guarantees students will receive adequate academic or professional training. Credits also typically only transfer between accredited institutions or those with articulation agreements.

Student Support

The student services a school offers play an integral part in student success. The best online associate in child development programs offer on-campus and online student services. These services can include tutoring, advising, mentorships, career services, and internships. Students can also find counseling and accommodations that help remove barriers to reaching academic goals.

Best Accredited Online Associate in Child Development Programs

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Best Online Associate in Child Development Programs

  1. Northern Oklahoma College
    Location

    Tonkawa, OK

    Tuition

    $6504

    Northern Oklahoma College delivers an associate of arts program in child development that prepares learners to enter the childcare field upon graduation. Students can complete classes online. Graduates may pursue positions like childcare assistant, Head Start teacher, and public school teacher's aide.

    This 61-credit associate degree takes two years to complete. In addition to general education requirements, courses focus on child health, infant/toddler programming, and behavior and development of children. Students can also attain two certificates as part of the AA program: a certificate of mastery in child development and a certificate of administration of childcare programs.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts or GED documentation and ACT or ACCUPLACER scores. Competitive applicants have a minimum ACT score of 19. Northern Oklahoma College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  2. Arkansas Tech University
    Location

    Russellville, AR

    Tuition

    $11674

    Arkansas Tech University offers an online associate of science in early childhood education that prepares graduates to serve children in public and private sectors. This program meets guidelines for the child development associate credential. Additionally, the general education credits earned in this program can be applied to the school's bachelor of professional studies in child development.

    This online associate degree requires 60 credits and can be completed in two years. Coursework includes child growth and development, foundations and theories in early childhood education, curriculum for early childhood education, and developmentally appropriate practices and activities for young children. Students also complete a nine-credit practicum.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts or GED documentation. Arkansas Tech University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. Western Oklahoma State College
    Location

    Altus, OK

    Tuition

    $6969

    Western Oklahoma State College offers an online AAS in child development that prepares learners for entry-level positions in Head Start programs, daycare programs, and public schools. This program is designed for graduates who want to enter the early childhood workforce upon graduation (rather than pursue further education).

    This online child development associate degree requires 63 credits and can be completed in two years. Core coursework covers topics like behavior and guidance, health and safety, children's literature and language, and socialization and support of young children. The curriculum culminates with a capstone practicum.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Students who have an ACT score lower than 19 are required to take the ACCUPLACER exam. Western Oklahoma State College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. Walters State Community College
    Location

    Morristown, TN

    Tuition

    $4073

    Walters State Community College's online associate of applied science in early childhood education prepares learners to work with infants, toddlers, and young children up to the age of eight years. Graduates are eligible to apply for the child development associate credential and pursue work at childcare centers and preschools.

    This associate degree requires 61 credits and can be completed in two years. Coursework includes classes like safe healthy learning environments, early childhood curriculum, development of exceptional children, and developmental assessment. Students also take two practicum courses, which require the completion of supervised clinical experience in early childhood education settings.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts (or the equivalent) and ACT or SAT scores. Students over the age of 21 years who have not taken college-level math and English courses must take the ACCUPLACER exam. Walters State Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  5. Roane State Community College
    Location

    Harriman, TN

    Tuition

    $4293

    Roane State Community College offers an online associate of applied science in early childhood education for graduates who want to work with children during their early developmental years. This program leads to a child development associate credential and allows students to begin working toward a bachelor degree. Roane State Community College's job placement rate after graduation is 97%.

    Participants must complete 64 credits, which takes two years. Core courses cover developmental assessment, lifespan development psychology, and language and literacy in early childhood. To graduate, students must also complete a practicum and an exit exam.

    Roane State Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. Dakota County Technical College
    Location

    Rosemount, MN

    Tuition

    $10993

    Dakota County Technical College's online associate of science in early childhood education program prepares students to transfer to an early childhood teacher licensure program. Coursework develops competencies related to child development theory and educational practice, nutrition and safety, and cultural sensitivity.

    This 60-credit associate degree takes two years to complete. Courses include child growth and development, interpersonal communication, learning and creativity in early childhood, and observation and assessment. Students must earn a "C" or better in all major courses in order to graduate.

    Applicants should submit high school transcripts and take the ACCUPLACER exam. Students who have completed college-level math and English courses or have earned competitive ACT or SAT scores may be exempt from taking the ACCUPLACER exam. Dakota County Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. North Central Missouri College
    Location

    Trenton, MO

    Tuition

    $8131

    North Central Missouri College offers an online associate of applied science in early childhood development that prepares graduates to work with young children after graduation.

    This two-year AAS in child development requires 60 credits, including 15 credits of general education coursework and 45 credits of major coursework. Core courses cover topics like child development, creative expression and play, observation and assessment, and emergent language and literacy.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT test scores. If test scores are more than three years old, students may need to take placement testing. North Central Missouri College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  8. Redlands Community College
    Location

    El Reno, OK

    Tuition

    $6679

    The online associate degree in child development offered by Redlands Community College prepares learners for rewarding careers in childcare. This program easily transfers to bachelor's tracks at the University of Central Oklahoma and Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Graduates can also obtain the child development associate credential.

    Students who work more than 30 hours a week may qualify for scholarships. Among these scholarships opportunities is the Scholars for Excellence in Childcare award, which provides financial aid for childcare workers.

    To qualify for this program, applicants must work in a one-star plus OKDHS or tribal-licensed childcare facility as a teacher or childcare provider; they must also have been employed at that location for at least six months before enrollment. Redlands Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. Murray State College
    Location

    Tishomingo, OK

    Tuition

    $11109

    Murray State College's online AAS in child development program prepares learners for careers in child developmental services. Graduates can pursue positions as childcare teachers, Head Start teachers, and early intervention specialists.

    This online associate degree in child development includes 30-31 credits of general education courses and 33 credits of courses in child development. Students typically graduate in two years. Core courses include infant and toddler programs, curriculum and planning, cognitive activities, and administration of childcare centers.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT scores. Students may be required to complete transitional English or math courses prior to being admitted into college-level courses. Murray State College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  10. Tulsa Community College
    Location

    Tulsa, OK

    Tuition

    $6128

    Students at Tulsa Community College can complete an AAS in child development entirely online. Participants prepare to work in settings with preschool-aged children or pursue a bachelor's degree at a four-year college or university.

    Child development enrollees must earn 60 credits, including courses in programming for infants and toddlers, children with special needs, and child and family in the community. They also complete a practicum in an appropriate setting and six credits of electives, choosing from classes like American sign language and introduction to psychology.

    Distance learners must participate in an online learning orientation before enrolling in classes. Students can access online tutoring services through Blackboard, as well as IT and library support.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Child Development Programs

Is an associate degree in child development worth it? true

People who want to make a difference in children's lives often find an associate in child development valuable. Graduates can gain entry-level employment as preschool teachers, teacher assistants, and social services assistants. An online associate is worth it because it prepares learners for obtaining higher-level degrees, essential certifications, and better wages.

Many child development occupations feature strong job outlooks. Plus, professionals can specialize in various areas, from STEM fields to family social services. Child development careers also offer continuous professional growth and opportunities in education, child welfare, and administration.

How fast can I get an associate in child development degree online? true

An online associate in child development typically takes two years for full-time students. However, some factors could lead to earlier completion, such as CLEP credits for foundational courses like English and math. Some programs offer accelerated tracks, with shorter, intensive semesters and reduced completion times.

On the other hand, many students who pursue their associate degree online also work full time. Asynchronous online classes offer more flexibility for students with other commitments. But part-time programs take longer to complete and may reduce financial aid, resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs.

Is an online associate degree in child development credible? true

No matter the institution, the top online schools hold institutional accreditation. Accreditation ensures an online degree meets standards for quality education. Accreditation can also affect whether a student will qualify for federal financial aid because it ensures the training meets employer standards in a specific field.

Credits may not transfer between accredited and nonaccredited institutions. Individual programs may also hold accreditation, such as the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation.

How much money can I make with an associate in child development?

In May 2020, preschool teachers in the top industries such as local, state, and private elementary and secondary schools earned median annual wages of $48,410. An associate in child development builds a foundation for a career that includes lifelong learning, increasingly more responsibility, and higher salaries.

Salary potential with an associate in child development varies by experience, position, location, and employer. For example, childcare workers only made a median annual wage of $25,460. However, that work experience, plus earning certifications and pursuing a bachelor's degree, can lead to preschool or childcare center director roles. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $49,160 in May 2020, exceeding the national median salary.

Is an associate degree in child development in demand?

Yes. An associate in child development is in demand. The degree is an essential first step to various careers in early childhood education and advocacy. Most states require the CDA certification, and professionals need 120 clock hours of early childhood education. This education includes 10 hours in each of the eight CDA subjects.

Associate degree-holders also qualify for entry-level positions that can help them gain the experience and certifications they need to grow their careers and increase their salaries. Additionally, many of these positions feature a faster-than-average job growth outlook between 2020-2030.

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