Best Online Child Development Programs

Our experts have ranked the top online bachelor's in child development programs. Use the information below to compare schools by cost, convenience, and academic quality. Find your path forward today.
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Earning a bachelor's in child development can lead to career opportunities in this field and in many related positions.

For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 12% growth for community and social service occupations from 2020-2030 and 10% growth for education, training, and library positions.

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Most bachelor's in child development programs require approximately 120 credits and take around four years of full-time study to complete.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduate students at a four-year public institution was $9,400 in 2019-2020. The average cost at a nonprofit private institution was $36,700 during that same academic year.

However, students can often save money on tuition and fees by enrolling in online programs.

Read on to learn more about bachelor's in child development programs, including admission requirements, coursework, and potential careers.

Online Child Development Degree Overview

An online bachelor's in child development program suits empathetic, patient learners. They should enjoy working with children and want to help them reach their full potential.

Throughout the program, learners can develop the practical communication skills and the theoretical knowledge they need to advance in their child development careers and help children thrive.

Most online bachelor's in child development programs take four years of full-time study to complete. Most curricula consist of approximately 120 credits.

The coursework pulls from various fields like biology, psychology, and sociology to delve into the cultural, social, and medical factors that can affect the ways children develop and learn.

Possible concentrations within child development programs include counseling and family services, early childhood education, and juvenile delinquency.

Many programs include a practicum, internship, or fieldwork experience in a child development setting. Students who enroll in online programs can usually arrange to complete these experiences at sites in their local communities.

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Featured Online Bachelor's in Child Development Programs

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

Courses in a Child Development Online Bachelor's

Growth and Development of Children

Students in child development programs often take this survey course during their first semester. Learners study development processes from prenatal stages through early elementary school.

Child Social and Emotional Growth

This course explores children's social and emotional growth from birth through early elementary school. Covered topics may also include forming relationships with peers and attachment.

Children's Play and Learning

This course focuses on different theories and historical perspectives concerning the effects of play on learning.

Infants and Toddlers

Learners study the development of toddlers and infants. Covered topics in the course may include best developmental practices, creating autonomy, and the effect of environments on development.

Children's Literature

In this course, future educators learn to create a curriculum of developmentally appropriate children's books. This course includes a review of different authors and children's literature.

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What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Child Development Degree?

Career Outlook

Education is an in-demand and popular field. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 10% growth for all education, training, and library occupations. This rate eclipses the average projected growth rate for all U.S. careers (8%) during that period. For preschool teachers, the BLS projects 18% job growth between 2020 and 2030.

Students usually don't pursue degrees in child development for money. In most cases, they seek a career where they can have an impact on children's lives and help them thrive. According to the BLS, preschool and childcare center directors earned a median annual salary of $49,160, as of May 2020.

See where a bachelor's in child development can take you. Learn more about education careers.

Graduate Programs

Many graduates with a bachelor's in child development choose to pursue the CDA credential. This professional certification demonstrates competency in the field. It may improve your chances at landing preschool teacher and childcare center director jobs.

Degree-holders who want to work with slightly older children or earn higher teaching salaries can pursue master's degrees in teaching and elementary education.

School districts generally pay higher salaries to teachers who hold advanced degrees, so a relevant master's degree may provide a significant return on investment.

Job Outlook and Salaries for Graduates

Preschool or Childcare Center Director

These professionals manage daily operations at preschools and childcare centers. Possible duties include managing staff, creating programming, and handling budgets. These directors often need a bachelor's degree, experience working in child development, and the child development associate (CDA) professional certification.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $49,160

Kindergarten Teacher

Kindergartners are often the oldest students child development degree-holders work with. Kindergarten teachers prepare lesson plans that provide students with the basic skills and knowledge they need throughout elementary school. Kindergarten teachers who work in public schools need a state-issued teaching license.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $60,660

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers work with students younger than 5 who have not yet started kindergarten. They prepare lesson plans and curricula to help young learners develop foundational skills. These professionals need at least an associate degree, so a bachelor's in child development may provide an advantage when applying for these jobs.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $31,930

Special Education Teacher

These professionals create lessons for students dealing with learning, emotional, and mental disabilities. Special education teachers who work in public schools need a state-issued teaching license. They also need a relevant bachelor's degree.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $61,500

Social Worker

These professionals help clients face challenges in their daily lives. They work in schools, healthcare facilities, governmental organizations, and nonprofit agencies. A bachelor's in child development can provide the first step toward a career as a social worker who primarily works with children. These positions also require a state-issued license.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $51,760

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

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Child Development Program?

Cost

According to NCES, the average cost of tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates at a four-year public institution was $9,400 in 2019-2020. The average cost at a nonprofit private institution was $36,700 during that academic year.

In addition to tuition and required fees, make sure to factor in the true cost of each program by considering all other associated fees.

For example, online students avoid paying campus room and board costs. And many programs allow out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition rates. But online students may have to pay additional technical fees.

Program Format

When choosing between online programs, prospective students should decide whether they prefer synchronous or asynchronous course delivery. Synchronous programs require students to attend live, online sessions, while asynchronous programs do not. Students can also choose to enroll part time or in accelerated programs.

Location

Part of the appeal of distance learning is that prospective students feel they don't have to consider location when choosing a college. However, it might still make sense to go to a nearby school. Most online bachelor's in child development programs include a practicum or fieldwork. So it may be easier for your school to help you find a placement site for these experiences if you live nearby.

Accreditation

Accreditation demonstrates that a school has completed a third-party review process verifying the quality of its programs and services. You should only attend schools that hold accreditation. Otherwise, you cannot receive federal financial aid. And employers may not recognize your degree during the hiring process.

Student Support

Student support can provide a major boost in making the most out of a program, especially for online students. Before you enroll at a school, make sure to research advising, mentorship opportunities, internship placements, tutoring, and networking opportunities.

Admission Requirements

In most cases, admission requirements are the same for on-campus and online bachelor's in child development programs.

In rare cases, in addition to the requirements listed below, some schools may ask prospective students to complete an interview with a program alum or a member of the admissions department.

  • Application
  • All programs require that prospective students fill out an application. Schools use these forms to collect basic information like names and addresses. Many schools that offer child development bachelor's programs use application systems like the Common App or Coalition App. They allow prospective students to apply to multiple schools at once.

  • Test Scores
  • Fewer schools now require standardized test scores for admission. However, for many programs, you will still be asked to submit ACT or SAT scores. Others maintain test-optional policies, allowing applicants to submit scores if they feel that those scores will strengthen their chances of admission.

  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Undergraduate programs may require applicants to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation. In most cases, you should ask former high school teachers for these letters. Make sure to ask potential recommenders several months in advance to give them enough time to write a strong letter and meet deadlines.

  • Essays
  • Many child development programs require applicants to submit an essay explaining why they are interested in the field. Through the Common App, prospective students can also submit a general statement of purpose that goes out to every school where they are applying.

  • Official Transcripts
  • Prospective students must submit official transcripts from prior schools. For online bachelor's in child development programs, you should submit official high school or GED transcripts. If you have already completed some college coursework, you should submit transcripts from the school you attended since you may be able to earn transfer credits.

#1 Best Online Child Development Programs

Appalachian State University

  • Boone, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Appalachian offers an online bachelor of science in child development - birth through kindergarten for students interested in working with young children. This program serves as a degree completion pathway. Graduates can pursue work as preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers, and daycare directors.

Students earning their bachelor's in child development complete 63 credits at Appalachian. Participants take 6-8 credits per semester and graduate in four years. Each enrollee must also complete a clinical internship through one semester of student teaching. Instructors deliver courses through a blend of asynchronous and synchronous formats.

Transfer applicants must submit college transcripts, and they can access an online transfer equivalency course search tool to make sure their previous credits will count. Appalachian is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,242
Out-of-state
$19,049
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
19,280
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Best Online Child Development Programs

Eastern Washington University

  • Cheney, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

EWU offers an online bachelor's degree in children's studies that provides an interdisciplinary perspective on child development. The curriculum combines coursework from the disciplines of education, psychology, geography, and social work. This program prepares graduates for careers as adoption counselors, after school program directors, juvenile justice workers, and child life specialists.

This online bachelor's degree requires 60-70 major credits, along with general education credits. Core courses include research methods for studying children and childhood, children and the family, the geography of childhood, and child and adolescent development.

Each applicant must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. In addition, learners must have taken two years of foreign language in high school or one year of foreign language in college. EWU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,543
Out-of-state
$24,074
Retention Rate
70%
Admission Rate
96%
Students Enrolled
12,410
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#3 Best Online Child Development Programs

Point Loma Nazarene University

  • San Diego, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

PLNU's hybrid bachelor of arts in child development provides students with an understanding of developmental and cognitive processes in children from birth through adolescence. This is a degree completion program designed for students who already possess an associate degree or some college coursework.

This child development degree requires 120 credits and can be completed in 15 months. Core courses include adolescent development in the family context, child and adolescent nutrition and health, development of infants and toddlers, and writing for child development professionals. At least 36 credits must be completed through PLNU.

Applicants must have completed at least 40 credits of college-level coursework with a minimum 2.75 GPA. PLNU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Average Tuition
In-state
$36,350
Out-of-state
$36,350
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
4,567
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#4 Best Online Child Development Programs

Central Michigan University

  • Mount Pleasant, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online bachelor's in early childhood development and learning program at CMU prepares students for careers in early childhood settings, such as preschools, childcare centers, and Head Start programs. This program meets the Michigan Department of Education's coursework requirements for early childhood education and teaching.

This online bachelor's degree in child development requires 43 major credits, along with general education and university requirements. Core courses include lifespan development, infant and toddler development, and developmental assessment of children. Each enrollee must complete an infant and toddler practicum, as well as a teaching capstone. Participants must maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA to graduate.

Each candidate must be enrolled in or have completed prerequisite courses for the major and possess a minimum 2.0 GPA to gain admission. CMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,383
Out-of-state
$22,881
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
70%
Students Enrolled
19,362
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#5 Best Online Child Development Programs

University of North Florida

  • Jacksonville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

UNF features an bachelor of arts in early childhood education with a concentration in early childhood development. Much of this concentration is available online. This program prepares learners to become educators who specialize in working with preK-6 children.

Core courses include educational psychology, family-school partnerships, measure and evaluation of young children, and foundations of literacy. Students also complete a six-credit practicum, which can be carried out at a variety of locations.

First-year applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students with at least 30 college credits need not submit standardized test scores, although they must have a minimum 2.0 GPA. UNF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,996
Out-of-state
$16,799
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
17,117
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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#6 Best Online Child Development Programs

Fresno Pacific University

  • Fresno, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

FPU offers an online bachelor of arts in early childhood development to individuals who want to work with children from birth through eighth grade in a professional care or educational setting. This program serves as a degree completion pathway. Instructors deliver coursework entirely online in a cohort structure. Each cohort of 12-24 students progresses through coursework together.

Students pursuing their bachelor's in child development complete 39 credits of major coursework. Core courses include advanced child growth and development, children's play and learning theory, and curriculum development of early childhood education.

Applicants must have completed at least 60 credits of bachelor coursework with a minimum 2.4 GPA for admission. FPU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,458
Out-of-state
$32,458
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
4,300
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#7 Best Online Child Development Programs

Kansas State University

  • Manhattan, KS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

K-State's online bachelor's degree in early childhood education prepares students to work in early education settings as administrators or teachers. Graduates can also apply for the early childhood unified teaching licensure in Kansas.

This online bachelor's degree in child development requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Core courses include family relationships and gender roles, exceptional development in early childhood, language development, and reflective practice. Enrollees can complete field experiences at accredited schools near their homes. Out-of-state students pay higher tuition rates.

First-year applicants must submit high school transcripts showing a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students can bring in up to 60 credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. K-State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,735
Out-of-state
$25,251
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
95%
Students Enrolled
21,719
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#8 Best Online Child Development Programs

Concordia University-Saint Paul

  • Saint Paul, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

CSP offers an online bachelor of arts in child development for those who want to work in the early education field. Instructors deliver courses entirely online through seven-week terms.

This BA degree requires 42 credits of major coursework, in addition to general education and university requirements. Core courses include child social and emotional growth, infants and toddlers, children's play and learning, and ethics in early childhood.

This program accepts candidates who already hold an associate degree from an accredited institution, as well as first-year students. First-year applicants must submit high school transcripts, and transfer applicants must possess a minimum 2.0 college GPA. Ninety-five percent of CSP graduates receive job offers within one year of graduation. CSP is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Tuition
In-state
$22,800
Out-of-state
$22,800
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
98%
Students Enrolled
5,137
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#9 Best Online Child Development Programs

Washington State University

  • Pullman, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

WSU offers an online bachelor of arts in human development with optional certificates in early childhood education and gerontology. Graduates are eligible to work in many settings, including Head Start programs, childcare centers and preschools, social service agencies, and the YMCA.

This degree requires 120 credits, including 42 major credits, and can be completed in four years. Of the 42 major credits, at least 21 must be taken through WSU. To obtain a certificate in early childhood education, students must take classes like parent-child relationships, child development, guidance in early childhood programs, and curriculum for early childhood programs. Students must maintain a minimum 2.6 GPA in major and certificate courses to graduate.

Out-of-state distance learners pay slightly more per credit than in-state students. WSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,953
Out-of-state
$24,531
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
31,607
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#10 Best Online Child Development Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

SNHU offers an online bachelor of arts in psychology with a concentration in child and adolescent development. During this program, students study how children develop and grow from birth through adolescence. Participants also learn how to meet the needs of children in a variety of education and childcare settings.

The curriculum requires 120 credits, including 24 major credits and 12 concentration credits. Participants can graduate in four years. Core courses in the concentration cover topics like lifespan development, disorders of childhood and adolescence, child development, and adolescent development.

Applicants must submit their transcripts, although SAT/ACT scores are not required. There is no set GPA minimum for admission but higher GPAs will qualify students for scholarship options. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,756
Out-of-state
$30,756
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
113,514
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
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Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Child Development Programs

Is a bachelor's in child development worth it?

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The value of any college degree depends on the student. However, many graduates find that a bachelor's in child development is worth the investment.

A bachelor's in child development can provide a pathway to rewarding, stable, and in-demand careers for students who want to work with and help children. Graduates can pursue entry-level employment in several educational settings.

They can also prepare to pursue master's and doctoral degrees that may lead to managerial and other leadership positions in the field.

What can I do with a bachelor's in child development

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Degree-holders can pursue work in preschools, childcare centers, and elementary school classrooms. With additional education and licensure, they can also pursue careers as child welfare social workers.

Bachelor's degree-holders in child development can also pursue master's or doctoral degrees in child development or education. These degrees may lead to teaching careers, as well as academic, social science, and research positions. Most of these positions pay higher salaries than jobs that bachelor's degree-holders in child development can pursue.

Are child development majors in demand?

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Yes. The BLS projects above average growth for nearly every child development career between 2020 and 2030. For example, the BLS projects jobs for preschool teachers will increase by 18%. This projected growth rate translates to approximately 86,400 preschool teacher positions across the nation during that decade.

Keep in mind that demand varies by school district, location, and individual school. Some school districts might list openings but may be slow to respond to applications because of staffing or budget shortages.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in child development?

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Most students do not pursue bachelor's programs in child development for the money. However, many degree-holders can earn salaries above the median annual salary of $41,950 for all U.S. workers.

According to the BLS, as of May 2020, kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn a median annual salary of $60,660, while preschool and childcare center directors made $49,160. Preschool teachers earned $31,930, but the projected job growth for these professions (18%) is higher than the projected job growth for all U.S. occupations (8%) from 2020-2030.

Salary potential for child development professionals depends on employer, location, experience, and professional certifications. Earning CDA status can also help maximize your income and qualifications.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in child development?

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The highest-paying job with a bachelor's in child development is special education teacher. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $61,500, as of May 2020. The top 10% of earners in the field made more than $100,570 a year.

Keep in mind that salary potential depends on several factors, including education level, experience, employer, and location. Special education teachers who work in public schools can find out their exact salaries by checking their district's salary schedule.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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