Understanding the complexities of cognitive, social, physical, and emotional growth is critical to helping children succeed. An online associate in child development is useful for individuals interested in pursuing work within the field of teaching, psychology, and administration. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of preschool teacher jobs is projected to grow by 7% between 2014 and 2024; this is about as fast as the national average over that period. Additionally, jobs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers are expected to grow by about 6%, while jobs for school counselor positions are expected to grow by 8%.

What are the best child development programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 Northern Oklahoma College Tonkawa, OK
2 Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AR
3 Western Oklahoma State College Altus, OK
4 Walters State Community College Morristown, TN
5 Roane State Community College Harriman, TN
6 Dakota County Technical College Rosemount, MN
7 North Central Missouri College Trenton, MO
8 Redlands Community College El Reno, OK
9 Murray State College Tishomingo, OK
10 Tulsa Community College Tulsa, OK

What Are The Best Online Associate in Child Development Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Northern Oklahoma College

Tonkawa, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 33%

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

Russellville, AR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

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

Altus, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 29%

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

Morristown, TN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 24%

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

Harriman, TN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 28%

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

Rosemount, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

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

Trenton, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 45%

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

El Reno, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 31%

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

Tishomingo, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 29%

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

Tulsa, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 18%

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.

What Else can I Expect from an Online Associate in Child Development Program?

The specific details of your child development curriculum depend on the program and school that you choose. For example, several schools allow you to choose a concentration, such as special education. However, all of the best online associate childhood development programs emphasize a few common concepts and skillsets. Below, you can find more information about the common curriculum for this degree.

Curriculum for an Online Associate in Child Development

In general, an associate in child development teaches you how to create and implement age-appropriate curriculum to encourage creative, emotional, social, and verbal competence in children. You can also expect to learn the basics of cognitive and language-related development. Below are a few sample courses you can expect to take while earning this degree.

  • Foundations of Child Development: This course prepares students for careers in education. Students learn the basic philosophies and practices in the field of child development. They also cover the cultural, social, and class-related factors that contribute to each child's individual development. The class examines how teachers utilize effective communication and management strategies in the classroom.
  • Health, Safety, and Nutrition: Students in this class learn the best practices and theories for keeping children safe and healthy at school, as well as how to respond to children with special health concerns. These skills prepare graduates to work as both teachers and administrators, who are responsible for managing the health and safety policies in childhood education environments.
  • Dynamics of the Family: Many cultural, social, class-related, and ethnic factors contribute to child development. This class prepares students to understand family systems and parenting styles in order be more effective educators who can communicate clearly and compassionately with parents.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Associate in Child Development?

Several factors affect the length of time it takes to earn your online associate in childhood development. These include your enrollment status (i.e., part-time or full-time) and whether or not you enroll in summer classes. The time it takes to earn this degree also depends on a program's teaching style. For example, programs with cohort learning require students to begin and complete classes at the same time with a group of their peers. This format still relies on online coursework, but students often work together to complete classwork. They are also required to log in to “attend” class at specific times. Alternatively, individually-paced programs allow students to progress through the program at their own pace; these usually feature asynchronously taught classes. If you choose a full-time schedule, you can expect to complete a 60-credit online associate in child development program in about two years.

Accreditation for Online Associate in Child Development Degrees

While searching for online degrees in child development, you will most likely see programs referring to their accreditation status. Accreditation is a process of rigorous evaluation that determines whether or not a university complies with certain academic standards. Two different kinds of accreditation exist: regional and national. Regional accreditation is more widely known and respected, while national accreditation is less widespread and often awarded to career-focused or for-profit schools. You should look for a regionally-accredited online program.

Additionally, online associate in child development programs are sometimes accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) or the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The CAEP promotes quality and growth in preschool through 12th grade student learning, while the NAEYC is the primary source of accreditation for early childhood educator programs.

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

Educational Paths for Child Development Associate Degree Graduates

Earning an online associate in child development can provide access to a multitude of employment opportunities. This degree is also an excellent professional development opportunity for individuals who already work in the fields of childcare or education. While an associate degree provides a valuable education, some individuals go on to earn a bachelor's or master's degree in order to boost their career opportunities. According to PayScale, individuals with a bachelor's degree generally earn $4,000 to $10,000 more each year compared to those with just an associate degree. Below is a list of common degrees that graduates with an associate degree in child development pursue.

  1. Bachelor's of Science in Early Childhood Education: A BS in early childhood education focuses on research, theories, and practices for educators working with children from birth to pre-K. Depending on the school or program, this degree can also prepare graduates to complete their licensure in kindergarten to third grade education.
  2. Bachelor's of Arts in Elementary Education: A BA in elementary education prepares students to earn their licensure in kindergarten through sixth grade education. Most programs require students to complete at least one semester of student teaching at a local school.
  3. Master's of Education in Early Childhood: This degree is designed for educators interested in exploring curriculum and instruction, pedagogy, advocacy, and policy. A master's in early childhood prepares students for careers as administrators, policymakers, and advanced educators.

Career Paths for Child Development Graduates

Most individuals who earn an online associate in childhood development work as teachers, assistants, and paraprofessionals in classroom environments. However, many students also pursue careers in administration, education policy and advocacy, and counseling. In general, successful early childhood teachers and professionals are highly patient, creative, and flexible individuals who are passionate about helping children. Professionals in this field should also have strong communication skills and an awareness of the cultural, social, racial, physical, and emotional factors that affect individual students.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers typically teach beginning literacy and math, motor skills, and social skills to students between three and five years old. The preschool classroom involves a wide variety of play-related and problem-solving activities and prepares children to enter kindergarten.

Median Annual Salary $28,790
Projected Growth Rate 10%

Childcare Worker

These professionals work in afterschool programs, daycare centers, and private households to care for children's basic needs, oversee play, and help with schoolwork. They may also organize social activities to keep children occupied while their parents work.

Median Annual Salary $21,170
Projected Growth Rate 7%

Special Education Teacher

These teachers work with kindergarten through high school students who have learning, emotional, physical, and/or other kinds of disabilities. Special education teachers often adapt standard lesson plans to better serve children with disabilities.

Median Annual Salary $57,910
Projected Growth Rate 8%

Kindergarten Teacher

Kindergarten teachers work in private and public schools, teaching basic literacy, math, and social skills to prepare children to enter first grade. These educators are communicate with parents about each child's progress.

Median Annual Salary $55,490
Projected Growth Rate 7%

Social Worker

Social workers work in a variety of environments to support individuals with emotional, physical, and financial challenges. An associate degree in child development is helpful for professionals interested in social work focused on aiding families and young children.

Median Annual Salary $46,890
Projected Growth Rate 15%

Associate in Child Development Salary

Your location, employer, and type of degree affect how much you earn in your child development-related career. Additionally, your level of experience influences your salary. The table below shows data for entry-level, mid-career, and late-career employees in five common roles held by graduates with degrees in child development.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees Median Salary for Late-Career Employees
Preschool Teacher $30,193 $29,366 $30,789 $32,505
Childcare Worker $18,644 $17,905 $25,500 $34,124
Special Education Teacher $45,411 $40,685 $45,836 $59,246
Kindergarten Teacher $40,935 $38,119 N/A $60,681
Social Worker $44,807 $40,984 $47,325 $56,861

Financing Your Online Associate in Child Development Program

In order to fully understand your funding opportunities while pursuing an online associate in child development, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Many students rely on scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study opportunities to help fund their degree. Additionally, there are specific scholarships available to child development and early education students, such as the Bright Horizons scholarship for individuals interested in pursuing early childhood education. Your university may also offer additional scholarships for child development-related degrees.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.