Aspiring psychologists pursuing a child psychology degree study the psychological, social, and biological factors that affect human development in infants, children, and adolescents. Many psychologists looking to practice in this area -- as well as social workers, school counselors, and child development specialists -- pursue degrees in child psychology. Clinical psychology programs often offer child psychology as a concentration option, ideal for students seeking eventual licensure and possible certification in this specialty. Learners who study child psychology often go on to pursue careers providing assessment and treatment services for a variety of issues affecting young people.
A bachelor's degree in child psychology can prepare graduates for further study in the field, potentially culminating in a doctoral degree, the licensing requirement for clinical psychologists in most states. However, child psychology bachelor's degree programs can also prepare students for careers in social work, education, and childcare. As the first step toward earning a terminal degree and meeting licensure requirements in the field, earning a bachelor's degree provides the foundation a child psychologist needs for their professional development. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that positions for clinical child psychologists will grow 11% through 2026.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Child Psychology?
A student pursuing a child psychology degree should have a strong sense of ethics, patience, and integrity, combined with essential communication, problem-solving, and observation skills. Aspiring child psychologists often take an interest in both psychology and education, especially in topics like early childhood and cognitive development. The best child psychology degree programs introduce students to a variety of foundational concepts that can be applied directly to an entry-level career, or built upon in an advanced degree.
Child psychology schools offer a diverse selection of programs to serve a variety of student needs. An online psychology degree, for example, may suit a student with a full-time job, or appeal to someone seeking a career change. Conversely, an aspiring child psychologist looking to begin their career and achieve the on-campus college experience may choose a traditional program. In any case, recent enrollees can benefit from their program's networking opportunities, and students closer to graduation may receive help finding internships and securing a job through their school. The biggest draw of a bachelor's degree in child psychology, however, is that the credential can help qualify you for a top job in the field.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Child Psychology?
Graduates from a bachelor's child psychology degree can enter the fields of social work, counseling, or childcare, or go on to earn an advanced degree and become a licensed clinical psychologist. Those seeking entry-level employment immediately after graduation might consider earning a bachelor's degree in child psychology to become elementary school teachers or childcare workers. Others aspiring to clinical practice in psychology, counseling, or social work may view the bachelor's as the first step on the path toward earning a master's degree, and eventual licensure and/or certification in child psychology. Below are just a few of the careers that aspiring child psychologists may consider:
- Child Psychologist
Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents, child psychologists must earn a doctoral degree and pursue a license for clinical practice in their state. Graduates of a bachelor's program may go on to earn a master's degree, which qualifies them for select psychologist assistant positions.
Median Annual Salary: $97,740
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- School and Career Counselor
Most school counselors must hold a master's degree in counseling to obtain mandatory state-issued licensure, and some states also require licensure for career counselors. Child psychology students aspiring to school or career counseling should consider going on to earn a counseling graduate degree.
Median Annual Salary: $55,410
Projected Growth Rate: 13%
- Social Worker
While clinical social work jobs require a master's in social work, graduates of a bachelor's in child psychology may qualify for some entry-level social work positions, as much of the curriculum overlaps both fields. A graduate of a child psychology bachelor's may go on to study social work at the master's level.
Median Annual Salary: $47,980
Projected Growth Rate: 16%
- Childcare Worker
Students with a bachelor's in child psychology may qualify for a variety of advanced childcare positions, as requirements for entry-level employment in the field vary from state to state, but do not always include postsecondary education. Aspiring childcare workers might consider obtaining the child development associate credential through coursework, training, and supervised work experience in a childcare setting.
Median Annual Salary: $22,290
Projected Growth Rate: 7%
- Elementary Teacher
Aspiring teachers with a child psychology degree often pursue advanced positions in education. While teachers must hold licensure in their state, and many employers prefer a degree in early childhood education, graduates from a bachelor's in child psychology may earn a teaching certificate in order to qualify for kindergarten or elementary school teaching positions.
Median Annual Salary: $57,160
Projected Growth Rate: 7%
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Child Psychology Program
Students must compare completion time, location, and cost to find the program that best suits their needs. Additionally, whether you want to complete the program on campus or online can affect your choice significantly, as some online programs also require on-campus courses or residencies.
When beginning your search, you should always look for accredited schools, which ensures that the child psychology degree in question meets industry education standards. In addition to institutional accreditation, some child psychology schools receive accreditation from field-specific agencies.
A student must also consider their goals for a study schedule and their projected completion time. For example, students completing a full-time program may graduate and begin their career sooner than part-timers. However, a student with a full-time job may not realistically entertain this option. Students looking to keep costs low may choose to take one course at a time on a part-time schedule, or may choose an online accelerated program to lower costs even further. Many schools also provide discounted tuition rates for in-state and online learners.
Location can also affect which child psychology degree is right for you. Students looking to complete their degree in person should research the quality of life, cost of living, and employment opportunities in the town or city surrounding the school's campus. Online students should also do their research, especially if their degree requires any on-campus visits. Regardless of whether a student chooses to complete their degree on campus or online, they should explore potential sites for completing their practicum or internship requirements, which most child psychology degrees include. Some components of a degree, such as a thesis or final project, may vary by state.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Child Psychology Programs
First and foremost, a student should only consider accredited child psychology schools. While institutional accreditation through a national or regional agency remains the gold standard, some child psychology degrees may also receive programmatic accreditation through the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). Beyond the assurance that a program meets industry standards set by these accrediting agencies, in most cases, students must earn a degree from from an APA- or CPA-accredited program in order to earn licensure to practice clinical psychology or obtain certification in a specialty. A school should openly disclose their accreditation credentials on their website.
Bachelor's in Child Psychology Program Admissions
The process of applying to a child psychology degree requires patience and persistence. Whether applying to an on-campus or online program, some advice remains universal in helping applicants avoid becoming overwhelmed by admissions requirements. Some online programs require students to submit a request form with contact information through its website before completing an application, whereas most traditional applications do not include this step.
A student who narrows their choice of programs down to just one may choose to apply for early decision, which provides accelerated notification of the school's decision, and requires the student to enroll if accepted. Students planning to apply to more than one school should consider a non-binding method, such as regular decision or early action. While each student may approach the process in their own way, experts recommend high school students apply to between four and eight colleges, beginning in the summer between their junior and senior year.
- Minimum GPA: Generally, child psychology schools prefer applicants with a minimum GPA of 3.0, though some programs focus instead on an overall letter grade, or the student's percentile ranking. Some schools accept applications from students with a GPA below the minimum requirement, considering other qualifications, such as honors and advanced placement courses.
- Application: Though many schools still welcome applications by mail, the majority of schools offer online applications for both on-campus and online programs. Some schools require students to complete an online application. The Common Application, used exclusively for college admissions, allows students to fill out one application for multiple schools. While this software can help shorten the overall application process, students should still plan to dedicate ample time to writing essays for each school.
- Transcripts: Students should plan to submit transcripts as part of their college applications. Most schools require students to request the transcripts from their former high school and/or any colleges previously attended, and have them sent directly to the admissions office. Typically, the student pays only for shipping.
- Letters of Recommendation: Generally, students should consider asking counselors, teachers, or mentors for two or three letters of recommendation for college applications. Sources of recommendations should provide a testament to the student's academic and personal achievements and accolades, relative to their course of study. Applicants should give their sources at least two months to prepare their recommendation letters.
- Test Scores: Many undergraduate child psychology degree applications require SAT or ACT scores. Students without a high school diploma can typically submit GED scores instead. Additionally, students who go on to apply to a master's program may need to take the GRE psychology subject test.
- Application Fee: While bachelor's degree application fees vary, ranging from $25-$80 per submission; high-profile schools may require a higher fee to apply. In most cases, students who meet low-income requirements qualify to waive the application fee.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Child Psychology Program?
While each school and program may approach child psychology degrees differently, most programs emphasize the psychological and biological aspects of child development. Child psychology remains among the most common concentrations of clinical psychology degrees, especially at the undergraduate level, which explains why it tops the list below. Related concentrations explore child psychology in the contexts of neuroscience, family studies, and human development.
|Child Psychology||The child psychology concentration prepares students to perform research, conduct interventions and assessments, and diagnose and treat psychological issues in children and adolescents.||Clinical child and adolescent psychologist;
child psychology professor;
|Developmental Psychology||Developmental psychology focuses on the evolution of an individual's psyche, including cognitive skills, personality, language, and emotions throughout their lifetime.||Developmental psychologist;
adolescent development specialist;
|Human Development||Covering similar topics as the developmental psychology concentration, the human development concentration may also emphasize interdisciplinary studies combining sociology and psychology.||Developmental psychologist;
adolescent development specialist;
|Child and Family Studies||Child and family studies explores the intersection of child psychology and social services. The concentration focuses on family dynamics and child welfare in the context of the family.||Child and adolescent psychologist;
child protection case manager
|Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology||This concentration explores the biological causes of psychological behavior, such as neural abnormalities, memory disorders, and cognitive aging.||Clinical behavioral and cognitive psychologist;
clinical neuroscience psychologist;
Courses in a Bachelor's in Child Psychology Program
Coursework in a bachelor's in child psychology program introduces students to cross-disciplinary psychology, education, science, and sociology concepts. While child psychology schools may offer their own unique approach to undergraduate education in this speciality of psychology, the following list demonstrates a sampling of common introductory courses in a bachelor's-level program in this subject.
- Child Psychology
This course explores how children grow, behave, and develop from infancy through adolescence. Coursework in child psychology also covers how children interact, as well as their emotional, physical, and social well-being, through a comprehensive survey of field research and case studies.
- Adolescent Psychology
This course explores the psychology, sociology, and biology of young adults, from childhood through the transition into adulthood. Topics include normal and abnormal morality, intellect, emotion, and judgement.
- Children's Rights and Child Advocacy
This course introduces students to the full scope of community services targeting children, from infancy through adolescence, as well as the privileges, rights, and responsibilities as citizens of society who have not yet reached adulthood. Topics include education, sociology, and law enforcement.
- Educational Psychology
Essential for students considering a career in education, this course explores the fundamental concepts of child psychology in the context of the classroom. Topics include methods of learning and learning inhibitors, learning theory, teaching-learning relationships, and creativity.
- Introduction to Cognitive Science
This course introduces students to broad, foundational concepts in cognitive science, including computational thinking and the mind-body connection. Students also explore basic linguistics, anthropology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Child Psychology?
Students may need more or less time than their peers to complete a child psychology degree depending on the time frame of the program, how long it takes to complete their practicum or internship requirements, whether the student completes the program on campus or online, and if they study full- or part-time. In most cases, a student can complete a bachelor's degree in child psychology in four years. Some of the best online child psychology degree programs provide increased flexibility and tuition savings over traditional on-campus degrees, as online students can often choose to attend school part time, or take accelerated courses, which allows them to graduate faster. A bachelor's degree in child psychology typically comprises 120 credits, including a practicum or internship requirement.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Child Psychology?
Many factors affect the cost of a child psychology degree for undergraduate students. Tuition and fees vary from one student to the next, depending on the school they choose, their residency status, the method of delivery (on campus or online), and the amount of financial aid they receive. Many schools offer lower tuition prices for in-state students, enrolled in either on-campus or online programs. Others set low tuition rates for all online learners, regardless of their geographical location, or extend them special offers in the form of scholarships or equipment discounts.
Online child psychology degrees can also help students save money on additional costs, such as housing, commuting to and from campus, and using campus facilities. While prices vary, a 2016 National Center for Education Statistics report showed that the annual average cost of attending a four-year school was $26,120.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Child Psychology Prepares For
- Licensed Clinical Psychologist (LCP)
Clinical psychologists (in any specialty) must obtain licensure through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) by meeting education, supervised experience, and exam requirements to practice in their state. Some states also require a jurisprudence exam. Specific requirements include a doctoral degree in psychology, at least two years of supervised professional experience, and a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.
- Certified Clinical Child and Adolescent Specialist
The American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology grants specialty certification to applicants with an ACA- or APA-accredited doctoral degree in child psychology, or a certificate of professional qualification in psychology from the ASPPB, and a current state-issued clinical psychologist's license.
- Certified Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist (CCBT)
Candidates may apply for CCBT certification from the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists (NACBT) if they hold a master's in psychology (or a related field) from a regionally accredited school and have completed an NACBT-recognized introductory certification program and a minimum of six years of postgraduate supervised experience in cognitive-behavioral therapy.
- National Certified Counselor (NCC)
Graduates of a master's in counseling from a regionally accredited program with at least 100 hours of supervised postgraduate counseling experience in a 24-month period can apply for NCC certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors. Applicants must also submit a professional endorsement with their application, and complete at least 3,000 hours of postgraduate work experience in counseling in a 24-month period. Students must also pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).
- Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC)
Students who already have the NCC credential may apply for certification as a clinical mental health counselor. Applicants must complete at least 60 semester hours of graduate-level counseling coursework at a regionally accredited university, 100 hours of supervised postgraduate clinical experience, and 3,000 hours of postgraduate clinical client work experience. Certification also requires a professional endorsement and a passing score on the NCMHCE.
Resources for Child Psychology Students
A helpful resource for students in any discipline requiring clinical experience, Internships.com allows students to search for internships and employment specifically geared toward those with a child psychology degree. While this resource offers a variety of internship opportunities for students completing a child psychology bachelor's degree, the site also provides field-specific postgraduate options for students pursuing licensure and/or certification.
A well-known career services site spanning multiple fields and industries, Indeed also provides tools to help students find internship opportunities geared toward their major, including offering specialized options for those pursuing a child psychology degree. Students can also search for jobs based on salary, experience level, or location.
Among the leading resources for scholars, academics, and mental health professionals online, the National Register offers exclusive industry resources, as well as scholarships, grants, and applied funding opportunities to emerging professionals in the field, including students completing a degree in child psychology.
Intended to supplement a formal degree in psychology or counseling, Therapist Aid offers interactive worksheets, tutorials, and publications specifically designed to enhance the professional skills of child psychologists. The site also features searchable continuing education tools in a variety of other specialties and common therapeutic topics in the field.
This resource emphasizes a personal perspective on child psychology, featuring articles, editorials, and how-to guides for a variety of clinical practitioners, as well as those simply interested in learning more, such as parents, educators, and school administrators.
Professional Organizations in Child Psychology
Aspiring child psychologists should maximize and expand their professional network, especially early in their career. Becoming a member of a professional organization enables recent graduates with a child psychology degree to access the industry through continuing education courses, exclusive networking opportunities, mentorships, and career services, including employment and externship opportunities. Most established organizations offer student memberships, designed to better address the needs of emerging professionals just entering the field.
The APA is the industry standard. The organization accredits psychology education programs, hosts nearly 116,000 members, and recognizes 54 official subfields of psychology. The APA's "affiliate and associate" membership caters to psychology students and teachers, promoting academic scholarship and career advancement.
The SCCAP governs Division 53 of the APA, promoting advancements in the study and clinical practice of child and adolescent psychology. Members of Division 53 can access predoctoral and postdoctoral internship and employment opportunities.
As the accrediting agency for behavior analysis programs, the ABAI promotes the science and practice of this field, which is closely related to child psychology. The organization holds seminars and conferences around the world, and circulates industry publications for specialists in topics like developmental disorders and education. The ABAI also offers a student membership and hosts its own student committee.
The AACAP provides comprehensive training, financial support, and networking opportunities specific to child psychology students pursuing clinical practice in the field. Members can enjoy exclusive job board access, mentorship opportunities, and CPT training.
The AERA comprises 12 divisions focused on the study and practice of educational research, including counseling and human development. The organization offers advocacy, networking opportunities, meetings and conferences, and career services to its members.