Bachelor’s degree in child development program information

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Bachelor’s degree in child development

Child Development is the study of human development from conception to adulthood. A bachelor’s program studies a child’s growth cognitively, physically, socially, emotionally, and linguistically. It takes a deep look into how childhood experiences influence and directly affect adulthood.

I’m interested, what do I need before applying?

There are a few things you need to have before applying to a bachelor’s program at a 4-year university. Depending on if you are applying right out of a high school or community college will slightly dictate what is required by the university. Applications are submitted online and the admissions department of each university you apply at will respond to your application via mail or online in 6-8 weeks.

If you are applying to a bachelor’s program after graduating high school, you will need transcripts showing your grades, and test scores. To get into a 4-year university you need at least a 2.0 GPA, but if you are applying to a competitive, impacted, or selective program you should have at least a 3.5 GPA. Some schools may require a personal statement or essay showcasing your ambitions, experience, and achievements.

When applying for a bachelor’s program from a community college, the admissions department from the university knows you have already completed your general education requirement. You need a minimum of a 2.0 GPA to apply, but for competitive, impacted, or selective programs you should have at least a 3.5 GPA to stand out from other applicants. Because you are applying from a community college, most universities will require that you have taken a few prerequisite courses in child development. These classes could include, Introduction to Child Development, The Family and the Community, Assessment and Observation, and an acceptable elective course or two.

Online bachelor’s degree in child development

Online courses have grown in popularity, and not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are employed, have a young family, live far from your preferred campus, or have any other reason that would make an on-campus course a challenge, then an online program may be your best education option. A bachelor’s degree in child development also has online possibilities. If you decide to go this route, make sure the online program you are interested in is accredited. This will ensure that your course units transfer to a master’s degree program and that they are applicable for both certification and credential programs.

alt"light-bulb-1" Online teaching certification

There are online credential programs available for those who want to become licensed teachers. Before applying for an online credential program, be sure the institution is accredited. Without proper accreditation, after you graduate you will not be qualified to teach at a public school. As with the bachelor’s program, the credential program also needs to be accredited to earn a teaching license.

Cost of a bachelor’s in child development degree


The typical cost of an online degree in child development can range anywhere from around $30,000 to upwards of $54,000.

On campus

In-state students can expect to pay about $9,500 per year for tuition and fees, depending on the state. For out-of-state students, the typical cost per year for tuition and fees is about $23,900.

Careers with a bachelor’s in child development

This degree will provide you with a wide range of options and someone who holds this degree has the choice to work for government agencies, schools, or hospitals. A few of the most common careers are as follows:

A child life specialist works in a hospital alongside children and families to provide support when a child is being diagnosed and treated with an illness, or disability. They collaborate with the health-care team to coordinate care for the patient. They will participate in therapeutic play, provide education to families, give emotional support to children with medical procedures, and plan support programs.

According to The Association of Child Life Professionals, to become a certified child life specialist you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in an ACPL (Association of Child Life Professionals) academic program or have completed 10 courses from their selected list. The required coursework includes a child life course taught by a child life specialist, child development courses, a family systems course, a play course, loss or death/dying course, a research course, and additional courses. Students are also required to complete a 600-hour child life clinical internship which is supervised by a certified child life specialist. You will develop thorough assessments, provide appropriate interventions, and create programs for patients. After completing the coursework and internship, you can submit your documents for verification as part of the certification assessment process. After passing this stage and paying the fee, you have become a certified child life specialist. Certification is for 5 years, after this time recertification is required.


According to Payscale, the median salary for a child life specialist is $19.94 an hour.

A childcare director is the backbone of a child development center. They hire teachers, plan budgets, oversee daily activities, and design educational programs.

The first step to becoming a director of a preschool or childcare center is to earn a bachelor’s degree in child development. After earning your degree, it is necessary to gain work experience. Preschool teaching for an extended amount of time is a typical way to gain work experience. From a period of work experience, future directors can develop an understanding of how programs function, and how to better address the concerns parents have about their children. This hands-on experience can also extend their knowledge about the emotional and physical needs of children, which is fundamental to a childcare service. Before running your own childcare center, most states will require some type of official credentials and licensure, for example, Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and the National Administration Credential (NAC). The CDA is granted upon the completion of 480 hours of work experience and 120 hours of education in childcare, within a 5-year period. The NAC is earned after a 5-day (40 hours) course is completed.


The average salary for a child care center director in 2020, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $49,160.

A preschool teacher helps children, between the ages of 3 to 5, prepare for kindergarten. Children learn essential academic and life skills as a preschooler. A preschool teacher is responsible for designing developmentally appropriate lessons, communicating with parents about a child’s developmental progress or needs, and working with students in a group or individually. Preschool teachers need to have a minimum of an associate’s degree in child development, but generally, a bachelor’s degree is preferred.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a preschool teacher is $31,930.

Common concentrations in child development

When selecting a child development program, it is necessary to choose a concentration. These concentrations narrow your coursework to pertain to your goals. For example, to pursue a career as a preschool teacher, your concentration would be early childhood education. This would incorporate additional classes that would focus on early year development to better prepare and educate you for a career in early childhood.

Early childhood education (ECE or ECCE)

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Learners, learning that takes place between birth to age 8 is called early childhood education. You gain the knowledge of developmental changes during early childhood, and how to teach subjects like math, art, reading, science, and language arts to children in this age group

Social and community

A social and community concentration would educate students on the importance of social welfare and community impact. Social and child welfare workers help protect children and help adults break destructive habits. This concentration will focus on careers in government, community, social, or therapeutic settings. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a master’s program in social work, this concentration will give you foundational knowledge.

Common courses in this program

Human development or child development

As an introductory course, it is likely that you will take this course during your first semester. A human development course will introduce you to the 5 developmental domains, being language, cognition, social, emotional, and physical, as is pertinent to child development. In this course, students learn about the scientists who have made important contributions to the field and the research. This has shaped teaching, learning, parenting, and our understanding of children, from conception to adulthood.

Research methods

This course will teach you about the different types of research methods and their key elements. It will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed to understand academic research that will be introduced and covered in later classes.

Cognitive development

A course on cognitive development generally covers the parts of the brain, the stages of cognitive development and how it relates to behavior and teaching. You can further learn about how/when children develop critical thinking skills, knowledge, and the ability to solve problems.

Social-emotional development

A course covering social development will teach you about a child’s journey from social smiles in infancy all the way to lasting friendships in adulthood. It also covers how social and emotional development progresses over time, and how a child develops their individuality, as well as their place in a family or community.

Language development

This course will teach you about how and when language typically develops. It will also cover parts of speech and give you an understanding how children expand their communication skills during early childhood.

Family and Parenting

One or both of these courses will also be covered in a bachelor’s program. These classes give insight to how parenting styles and family values influence a child’s development and behavior.

Cultural development or diversity

This course will teach you about how different cultures around the world raise children. It will look into factors like birthing practices, family dynamics, parenting styles, values that differ around the world.

Fieldwork in child development

A course in fieldwork will give you hands-on experience working with children. The locations and duration of the fieldwork placement are typically arranged beforehand by the child development department. These additional hours are completed, usually off-campus, to gain real-world experience. Fieldwork locations are numerous and can vary from childcare center to a nature center, to a Head Start program.


A bachelor’s program generally requires you to complete a number of elective courses, which you can select based on your interests and future career goals. The availability, number, and types of courses will depend on the university and your own timetable.

Financial aid

These costs can seem high, even without factoring in the extra cost of books, transportation, and other expenses. There are grants, loans, and scholarships available to child development students. If you meet the eligibility criteria, a common way to cut down the cost of tuition is to apply for federal aid. Federal Student Aid (FASFA) has a free application that gathers financial information about you and your family to determine eligibility and the amount of aid that can be granted. This money does not need to be paid back.

Continuing your education

If you are one of the many students who earned their bachelor’s in child development but longs for more, then a master’s degree program is your next logical step. A master’s program will take you further in your learning journey, and unlock more career options in child development and in related fields. Below are some of the most popular master’s programs that students apply to.

Master’s in child development

During the 2 years it takes to earn a master’s in child development you will further your research and understanding of child development. There will be courses on theoretical approaches, curriculum, and research methods. After you earn your master’s degree, you can apply for careers as a school administrator, academic counselor, or principal.

Master’s in social work

A master’s degree in social work will prepare you for a career as a social worker. You will study the social services system and methods of social work. Social workers are employed in a multitude of settings including schools, mental health clinics, government agencies, hospitals, or community development corporations. After you complete the master’s program, supervised clinical experience, and pass the licensing exam, you will be a licensed social worker.

Master’s degree in occupational therapy

This program combines theory and practice to give you comprehensive knowledge of occupational therapy. Fieldwork is required and must be completed under the supervision of an occupational therapist. After you complete a master’s in occupational therapy you need to pass the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) exam to become a licensed occupational therapist. An occupational therapist treats injured, ill, or people with disabilities by providing rehabilitation therapy and assistive aides to increase independence in daily life activities.

Association of Child Life Professionals

The association provides an in-depth look at child life career options, information about how to get certified, and offers helpful resources.

National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME)

This association provides opportunities for multicultural education and social justice. NAME offers networking opportunities, conferences, and social events in order to connect people from across the country who wish to pursue equality in education.