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: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 79%||
Brandman University is a private, nonprofit school based in Irvine, California. With more than 25 campuses in California and Washington, Brandman offers more than 80 online and hybrid programs designed for working professionals and military members. The university offers a 120-credit BA in psychology with a concentration in child psychology entirely online and in a hybrid format, which includes evening classes available at 10 campuses.
The bachelor's in psychology requires 42 general education credits, 33 core psychology credits, and 15 credits in the child psychology concentration. Core courses introduce students to psychological theories, subfields in psychology, research methods, and scientific writing. Students also take a capstone course. Concentration classes, such as child development and pediatric neuropsychology, prepare graduates to work with children with disabilities and other developmental challenges. The program emphasizes the application of psychological theories to professional practice.
Brandman offers undergraduate online and hybrid courses six times per year. Online students can access resources including academic advisers, counseling services, and career services. Applicants must have at least 12 transferable undergraduate credits from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Since students typically enter the program with previous credits, many learners graduate in fewer than four years.
Brandman holds regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
|2||Liberty University Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University offers a fully online BS in psychology with a concentration in developmental psychology that prepares students to serve the needs of children while working from a Christian perspective. Most students complete the 120 required credits in four years or fewer. Students gain a foundation in psychological theory, research, and practice. Liberty also requires coursework in biblical principles.
Students earning the child psychology degree online complete 39-42 general education credits and 15-27 elective credits. Major requirements include 3-12 credits of foundational coursework including biology and statistics, 36 credits of core courses, and 15 credits in developmental psychology across the lifespan. Students explore human development theories; learn about brain function; and become familiar with the psychological, sociological, and environmental factors that can influence child development. Psychology students also complete a three-credit internship.
Applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA, and Liberty students must maintain the same GPA during their studies. Liberty offers tuition discounts to military members, veterans, and their spouses, as well as first responders. The school provides free electronic textbooks to all undergraduate students.
Students must earn at least half of the required major credits through Liberty. Online learners access eight-week, asynchronous courses through Blackboard, and Liberty offers eight start dates per year.
Liberty holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|3||Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
Founded in 1987, Bay Path University is an independent women's college in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Bay Path was the first college in the U.S. to offer a fully online bachelor's degree for women, and the university currently provides more than 20 online and hybrid accelerated degrees. Students pursuing a degree in a hybrid format complete classes online and at one of Bay Path's four campuses.
Bay Path offers an online bachelor of arts in child psychology. Most students earn the degree in 1-3.5 years, depending on how many transfer and prior learning credits they receive. Students can transfer in up to 90 of the 120 required credits. Bay Path supports online learners through data analytics and personalized instruction and coaching. Students earning the child psychology degree online complete accelerated, six-week classes.
The program prepares students for careers working with children. The curriculum introduces students to the psychological, physical, emotional, and social factors that impact child development. Students also explore the crucial roles of parents, families, and schools. Students complete 13 required psychology classes, including courses in child development, child psychopathology, early interventions, and parenting. During a required senior course, psychology in the field, students explore career options and network with professionals.
Applicants must either have at least 12 transferable credits or write a short essay. Applicants must also consult with an admissions counselor and complete a free online application.
Bay Path holds accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.
|4||East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Located in Johnson City, Tennessee, ETSU offers online BA and BS programs in psychology, each with an available concentration in child psychological science. The programs deliver coursework primarily online, with some required on-campus meetings. Psychology majors concentrating in child psychological science also earn a minor in early childhood education and development.
In addition to general education requirements, psychology majors complete 32 credits in core classes including social psychology, abnormal psychology, and research design and analysis. Child psychology courses cover areas like cognitive growth, psychosocial growth, and psychopathology. Learners also study topics related to language development, assessment of young children, and divorce. Graduating seniors must pass a university exit exam and a psychology exit exam.
Students typically earn their BA or BS in four years, and ETSU offers discounted tuition rates to exclusively online students; in-state and out-of-state online learners pay the same rates. ETSU offers courses two or three times per trimester. ETSU accepts transfer credits, but students must earn at least 50 of the 120 required credits through a four-year college and at least 30 credits through ETSU.
Freshman applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores and must have a minimum 2.3 GPA. The GPA requirement for transfer students varies according to the number of transferable credits.
ETSU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|5||Keiser University Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Founded in Ft. Lauderdale in 1977, Keiser boasts additional locations throughout Florida and an online division. The university offers flexible day, evening, and online courses to more than 18,000 students. The nonprofit, independent school offers more than 100 degrees, including a BA in psychology with a concentration in developmental psychology. Students can complete the 120-credit, four-year program entirely online.
Students earning the child psychology bachelor's degree online complete 36 credits of general education classes, such as statistics. They also take 30 credits of core psychology coursework and 21 credits of developmental psychology classes. Concentration courses cover topics including adolescent psychology, positive psychology, and sports psychology. Learners also complete a concentration capstone course. Psychology majors explore the principles of psychological research with an emphasis on the ethical use of human subjects.
Applicants must have a combined SAT score of at least 910, a composite ACT score of at least 17, or a passing score on the university entrance exam. Keiser holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and accepts transfer credits from other regionally accredited institutions.
Distance learners take one, four-week class at a time, which allows Keiser to offer monthly program start dates. Psychology students must complete the final 25% of the program through Keiser. The university provides specialized benefits and services for military members.
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 2018
Rank School Location 1 Brandman University Irvine, CA 2 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 3 Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA 4 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA 5 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
- 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