Psychologists are trained to analyze human thoughts, behavior, emotions and interactions with other people. Child psychology is a specialized branch of this field dedicated to subjects ranging in age from infancy to late adolescence. Some child psychologists observe and evaluate children in a private practice setting, and may recommend medication and other treatment measures for subjects exhibiting certain symptoms. Child psychologists may also find work in schools, hospitals and government agencies.
'Psychology' and its subfields (including child psychology) are among the most popular majors for bachelor's degree-seekers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 114,000 bachelor's degrees in psychology were conferred during the 2012-13 academic year.
However, an advanced degree ― typically a doctorate ― is considered the minimum educational requirement for child psychologists. Furthermore, child psychologists who work in public practice must be fully licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia; licensure requirements vary by state, but typically include a comprehensive exam and a set number of supervised post-degree training hours. The best bachelor's in child psychology programs will prepare students for the demands and challenges of receiving an advanced degree and obtaining a license. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their bachelor's degree in child psychology online, rather than in a classroom. Online students follow the same rigorous curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, often leading to the same number of employment opportunities after graduation. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare commitments and other responsibilities that tend to interfere with campus-based learning.
Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor's degree in child psychology and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE CHILD PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
An online bachelor's in child psychology will equip students with foundational knowledge and skills needed to advance into graduate-level studies, earn licensure and eventually launch a successful career. The coursework will cover topics like child growth and development, childhood and adolescent disorders, assessment and testing, behavioral analysis and experiential learning, as well as the various laws and ethics guiding the field of modern psychology. Many bachelor's in child psychology online programs are supplemented with internships and/or clinical residencies; these onsite courses allow students to receive supervised training from experienced professionals. Comprehensive capstone projects are often required, as well.
WILL AN ONLINE CHILD PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online child psychology degree programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional classroom coursework. Students are able to access course readings and lectures, participate in virtual discussions with fellow students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors on their own schedule. The latest learning technology also allows them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable Wi-Fi devices. For added convenience, online organizational psychology students can normally coordinate internships and practicum courses at sites near their current residence.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR'S IN CHILD PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?
A bachelor's in child psychology will not be sufficient a career in child psychology. The educational minimum for most psychologist positions is a master's degree, and many also require a doctorate; many states will not issue licensure to candidates without a graduate degree. However, the bachelor's will serve as a critical stepping stone for advanced studies in this field. Alternatively, some careers are attainable with a bachelor's in child psychology. These roles include child and family social workers, community health coordinators and social service assistants.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN CHILD PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor's degree in child psychology programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online bachelor's in child psychology, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific bachelor's degree requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Bachelor's in Child and Adolescent Psychology Programs
|1||Brandman University Irvine, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Brandman University has offered higher education programs since 1958 across the school's many campuses in Washington and California. Brandman’s online child psychology degree requires 120 credits to graduate and includes diverse courses like physiological psychology and preferred behavior enhancement. The program can be completed entirely online, with classes also offered on 22 different campuses.
Distance learners at Brandman University enjoy the same tuition as on-campus students. The school allows students to transfer credits from any regionally accredited college or university, though specific requirements vary from school to school. Some transfer students may be eligible for Brandman’s Early Advantage Program, which offers comprehensive planning services and a 10% tuition scholarship. Applicants must have 12 or more transferrable college credits, or an equivalent, to be considered.
|2||Liberty University Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
Liberty University provides quality education with a foundation in Christian values to students at their Lynchburg, Virginia campus and online. Liberty's online bachelor’s in developmental psychology is one of seven concentrations in the psychology program. The program provides students with an overview of child growth and development all the way through puberty. The curriculum includes 120 credit hours and can lead to a career as a children’s program counselor, group home manager, social case worker, or church administrator.
In addition to accepting transfer credits from any other accredited institution, Liberty offers students the chance to earn credits for previous professional training and life experience, including military experience. Applicants to Liberty’s online bachelor’s programs must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered. All students at Liberty pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of their residency.
|3||Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
Founded in 1899, Azusa Pacific University provides accessible higher education for individuals who want to make a difference in their communities. APU offers several online programs, including a bachelor of arts in applied psychology with an emphasis in child and adolescent psychology. The APU program teaches students fundamental and applicable psychological skills, like qualitative reasoning and empathetic decision making, necessary to pursue graduate school or enter the workforce as child welfare advocates, Christian counselors, and probation officers.
Totaling 120 units, the degree plan consists of major coursework in topics like psychopharmacology, fundamentals of testing and assessment, and crisis counseling and intervention. Degree candidates must also complete a practicum consisting of guided fieldwork, specified readings, and in-depth reflective writing assignments. The affordable tuition for this online bachelor degree in child psychology program is based on course level and not residency status. Application materials for this online adolescent psychology degree include academic credentials with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Azusa Pacific University holds accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
|4||Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
Located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Bay Path University offers degrees available entirely online, including a bachelor of arts in child psychology. Focused on the holistic development of the child through various life stages, the BPU option prepares graduates for education at the master’s level or entry-level positions as school counselors, foster care specialists, and social workers. The BPU child psychology degree online program also emphasizes family dynamics and the importance of an equitable educational system to a child’s wellbeing.
The curriculum totals 120 credits. In addition to required courses like Theories of Personality and Behavioral Research Methods, students must fulfill a capstone requirement. The Leadership in Practice course tasks students with applying skills in a community setting, either through research or a service-learning project. BPU welcomes all applicants, but candidates with 12 or more applicable transfer credits receive special attention. All distance learners pay a flat and affordable tuition rate, and financial assistance is available.
Bay Path University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and College's Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
|5||Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
Keiser University is Florida’s third-largest nonprofit university, with 18 campuses located throughout the state. Keiser's asynchronous class scheduling allows students to enroll in one class at a time for four-week periods. The online developmental psychology degree is one of four concentrations offered within the psychology major. The program requires 120 credit hours and is usually completed in just over three years. The curriculum includes courses on forensics, positive psychology, and sports psychology, and prepares graduates for a range of possible careers in criminal justice, public relations, social services, and education. Keiser University is a Yellow Ribbon Program participant, approved for veterans training. The university also offers scholarships to qualified active-duty military personnel, retirees, and dependants. The school places no limit on the number of credits a student can transfer from other institutions.
What Else Can I Expect from an Online Child Psychology Program?
|Timeline||4 to 5 years|
|Program Costs (when available)||$10,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition|
|Concentrations||General Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Behavioral Psychology, Educational/School Psychology, Youth and Family Counseling|
|Accreditation||There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.|
Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Child Psychology Graduates
The job outlook for graduates with a bachelor's in child psychology is somewhat mixed. On one hand, professionals in fields related to child psychology often enjoy relatively strong job placement. The table below looks at current unemployment projections for some of the most popular careers in child psychology.
|Occupation||Unemployment Rate (2016)|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||0.6%|
|Clinical Social Worker||2.1%|
|Child and Family Social Worker||2.1%|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||2.8%|
|Mental Health Counselor||2.8%|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
As the table shows, unemployment rates are low in careers pertaining to child psychology. By comparison, the unemployment rate for all occupations is currently set at 4.8%.
However, it's important to note that individuals pursuing a career in child psychology with only an undergraduate education will have a hard time competing for jobs against candidates with a master's or doctorate. For this reason, bachelor's degree-holders in child psychology are encouraged to pursue an advanced education in order to boost their career standing.
Earning a Living
Earning potential for graduates with a bachelor's in child psychology will greatly depend on their specific job title. Other factors that impact earnings include experience level, licensure status, employer size and city/state of employment. The following table looks at career salary expectations for five common careers related to child psychology; all five of these job titles are attainable with a bachelor's degree or less.
|Occupation||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist||$32,797||$37,493||$42,268||$45,781|
|Child, Family, or School Social Worker||$37,000||$40,000||$41,000||$45,000|
|Case Manager, Social Services||$35,139||$38,286||$40,220||$47,890|
All five careers listed on the table reported a salary growth rate of at least 21% after 20 years in the workforce. Behavior specialists experience the highest rate of growth: a 47% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Behavior analysts and ABA therapists tied for second with 39.6% career salary growth, followed by social services case managers with 36.3% growth.
Career and Further Education Opportunities
Students who leave school with an online bachelor's in organizational psychology will be prepared for the demands of successive master's and doctoral degree programs. However, many bachelor's recipients choose to enter the workforce immediate after graduation without pursuing graduate-level credentials. Three common career paths for candidates with a bachelor's in organizational psychology are outlined below.
Child, Family and School Social Workers: This specialized branch of social work is dedicated to the financial, academic and psychological well-being of children and their parents. The duties of this job may include supporting children who have been neglected or abused, coordinating adoption and foster services, arranging legal and medical care and providing client advocacy.
Healthcare Social Workers: These social workers assist adults and children dealing with chronic injuries and illnesses. They help their clients coordinate, receive and pay for various medical and healthcare services. They also work within communities to promote nutrition, safe sex, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices.
Social and Community Service Managers: These managers coordinate various projects, programs and other activities designed to reach entire communities. They often oversee groups of personnel working in different areas of health and social services.
Social and Human Service Assistants: Social and human service assistants provide a wide range of services for children, families and other clients. Their often coordinate appointments with psychologists, behavior specialists and other mental health professionals.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary|
|Child, Family and School Social Workers||$46,610|
|Healthcare Social Workers||$54,020|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$63,530|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||$30,830|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in child psychology often go on to pursue a master's degree in the same field. For more information about opportunities for grad students and more advanced careers in this field, please visit our Guide to Online Master's in Psychology Programs.
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to child psychology is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for child psychology professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
- American Psychological Association: The nation's leading organization for professional psychologists, the APA today boasts more than 117,000 members. The website features a vast online library, a job board, continuing education opportunities, and a Psychology Help Center with links to blogs and articles about various psych-related topics. The APA also serves as the official accreditation agency for collegiate psychology programs.
- American Board of Professional Psychology: Established in 1947, the ABPP oversees the standards and criteria used to certify and license practicing psychologists. The board awards certification to qualifying applicants in 15 different niche areas, including clinical psychology, couple and family psychology, and school psychology.
- Division 53: The Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology: This branch of the APA was created to "encourage the development and advancement of clinical child and adolescent psychology through integration of its scientific and professional aspects". The society publishes bi-monthly and quarterly journals, as well as an online newsletter.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Child Psychology Program
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
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.
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 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.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
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.
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.
- Best Online Bachelor's in Child Psychology Programs of 2017
Rank School Location 1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 2 Florida International University Miami, FL 3 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH 4 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL 5 Azusa Pacific Online University Glendora, CA 6 Mary Baldwin College Staunton, VA 7 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY 8 Brandman University Irvine, CA 9 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL 10 City University of Seattle Seattle, WA