Do you enjoy working with children and their families? Maybe you’re interested in psychology, communication, and social sciences and want to help make a positive impact on the lives of children and in communities. Earning a bachelor’s degree in child development allows students to explore all of these topics while focusing on advocacy and leadership in early education.
So if you imagine yourself a future child life specialist, preschool teacher, daycare director, or in some other role working with children, keep reading: This guide explores some of the best online child development programs in the United States and provides insights into the courses you’ll take, enrollment and tuition costs, and career prospects.
Spotlight on Online Child Development Degrees
Many accredited colleges offer child development bachelor degree programs online. While coursework varies, each program must adhere to certain content and education standards to receive and maintain accreditation — which is important if you want to pursue a career in the field and earn licensure in your state.
An accredited online child development degree program will introduce you to the skills you’ll need to work as an early childhood educator, preschool administrator, special education teacher, and more. Online child development degree programs offer the flexibility to also work around busy schedules, allowing you to take courses at your own pace.
Let’s explore three colleges that offer accredited online bachelor’s degree programs in child development.
The online Bachelor of Science in Child Development – Birth through Kindergarten program at Appalachian State University is a part-time program that combines synchronous and asynchronous learning to prepare students to work as preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers, daycare directors, and child life specialists. The program spans 120 credit hours, and tuition costs $204 per credit hour for North Carolina residents; out-of-state students pay $912 per credit hour. Appalachian State University is located in Boone, North Carolina, and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC), with programmatic accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). While courses are online, students are required to complete multiple student teaching experiences at a North Carolina public school throughout the program, including a full-time internship during the last semester of the program.
Central Methodist University’s online Bachelor of Science in Child Development program is intended for students interested in a career in an early childhood setting that does not require public school certification. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The child development degree can be earned on campus in Fayette, Missouri or online. As part of the online curriculum, you’ll choose electives from two areas of emphasis: early childhood or school-aged children. Coursework in this program focuses on general education and major-related education classes, preparing you for careers working and managing a daycare center or within commercial and non-profit childcare organizations. The program spans 120 online credit hours and costs $270 per credit hour.
University of Arizona’s Bachelor of Arts in Child Development, offered through its Global Campus (online), trains students to be an advocate for children while having a direct impact on their future development. With five- to six-week accelerated courses, the online program focuses on the biological and psychological progression of children from infancy through adolescence. You’ll complete 120 online credits (tuition is $510 per credit) studying critical topics like language acquisition and the role of play in children’s development and education. The University of Arizona Global Campus is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Inside Coursework for Child Development Degrees Online
While each school’s online child development degree program is slightly different, many programs have a similar curriculum and course offerings to ensure each student is properly skilled and trained to excel in the field. It’s important to understand the inner workings of a program before enrolling so you can make sure your interests align with the required coursework. Scroll down to read five courses that are typical in an online bachelor’s degree program in child development.
This course will take you through the stages of a child’s developmental growth, from conception to early childhood. Coursework will examine the physical, motor, intellectual, social, and emotional development of a young child and how biological and environmental factors impact learning and development into adulthood. Additionally, you may be required to complete 10-12 hours of clinical, hands-on experience working and researching children and appropriate practices to help support healthy growth and development.
Curriculum Development & Methods
When working with children, it’s important to plan out a proper curriculum suited to their needs. This course provides an examination of the essential elements to plan, design, and execute a curriculum for young children in diverse settings. You’ll explore teaching assessment strategies and create individualized objectives for lessons to strengthen motor skills, creative abilities, communication, math, and literacy skills.
The skills for reading start at a young age. In this course, you’ll learn how to understand the literacy development of young children and develop a curriculum to integrate literacy, reading, and writing in the classroom to help children develop oral language skills and understand reading lessons.
Exceptional Learning & Teaching
Not every child is the same, so it’s crucial for child development specialists to learn a diverse range of behavior management and curriculum techniques. This course provides an examination of educational approaches and learning environments for children with exceptionalities. You’ll apply evidence-based methods and strategies to support children of diverse levels of learning to foster an inclusive and engaging learning environment.
Foundations of Play and Learning
Playing and learning go hand in hand, so this course examines the value of both and how the concepts intersect. You’ll evaluate the impact of current issues, trends, and cultural factors that impact play with children in the classroom. Additionally, you’ll develop appropriate play activities in the classroom and at home that foster an engaging learning environment for diverse children.
Cost of Earning Your Child Development Degree Online
To give you an idea of the range of costs you’ll encounter, we’ve researched cost per credit for five online child development degree programs, which you’ll find in the chart below. Keep in mind that while the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree in child development can vary dramatically from institution to institution, when you earn a degree online, you may save money compared to traditional on-ground programs. The reason: Many schools don’t charge more if you live out of state, and you likely won’t have to relocate in order to attend school.
How to Pay for an Online Child Development Degree
Having resources in mind to help pay for college can put your mind at ease when you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree. According to the Education Data Initiative, tuition at the average four-year institution has increased over 136% since 2000, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to help pay for school. If you intend to work in education and want to obtain a child development bachelor degree online, below are some options to help you pay for your college, including teaching grants and scholarships. But don’t forget to also learn about traditional financial aid options as part of your research.
A Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is different from other federal student grants. This requires you to agree to complete a teaching service obligation as a condition for receiving the grant. If you don’t complete a teaching service obligation, the TEACH Grant will be converted to a loan that you must repay with interest. To apply for one, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Not all schools participate in the TEACH Grant program, so you’ll want to make sure your school does if you want to receive one to help pay for your online bachelor’s degree in child development.
There are plenty of scholarships and grants available specifically for those who want to work in the education and child development field. With scholarships, you typically must meet qualifying criteria such as minimum GPA, while a grant is usually awarded based on need. Teacher.org outlines various scholarship and grant opportunities for different child development and educator roles, including for prospective art teachers, preschool teachers and educators, kindergarten teachers, and more. Here are links to just a few available options found using the resources at teacher.org:
State-Specific Grants for Education
According to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), almost every state education agency has at least one grant or scholarship available to residents. When choosing an online bachelor’s program for child development, you’ll want to research specific grants and scholarships tailored to students in your state of residence.
You’ll also want to spent time investigating if your state offers state-specific grants for education. For example, students in Nevada can apply for a Teach Nevada Scholarship (TNVS), which is awarded to qualifying students who are pursuing initial teacher licensure programs through state-approved universities. This scholarship is worth up to $24,000 and can cover 75% of the scholarship for reimbursement of tuition, books, and fees.
The state of California offers a similar scholarship called the Golden State Teacher Grant Program. This grant is for Californians who are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in education in California. Eligibility is determined by the FAFSA.
Local and Community Foundations
Many local and community foundations offer scholarships for future educators, some of which are listed on the Praxis Exam website. The American Montessori Society, for example, awards scholarships to students who aspire to become Montessori teachers. The Florida Retired Educators Foundation awards students with community experience who demonstrate financial need and plans to teach in Florida. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation also awards scholarships to students pursuing social justice and education degrees.
What Can You Do with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions working in child development and care are projected to increase 6% from 2021 and 2031. A bachelor’s degree in child development will prepare you for a wide range of roles working as a preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school teacher, community service manager, childcare center director, and special education teacher. Below are a few popular career titles pursued by students who earn an online child development degree.
A preschool teacher is someone who educates and cares for children younger than 5 years old. Preschool teachers help young children learn basic skills such as identifying colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, as well as develop social and communication skills. An associate or bachelor’s degree is needed for this role, as well as a license to teach in a specific state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow 15% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all other occupations. The average median pay is $30,210 per year, and the highest 10% of positions earn more than $58,530.
Preschool and Childcare Center Director
A preschool and childcare center director supervises and leads staff, designs program plans, oversees daily activities, and prepares budgets for child daycare organizations. A bachelor’s degree is often required as well as direct field experience as an early childhood educator. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of preschool and childcare center directors is projected to grow 8% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all other occupations. The average median pay is $47,310 per year, and the highest 10% of positions earn more than $78,350.
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. Most work in public schools and can teach preschool to high school-aged children, developing general education lessons to fit the needs of their students and track progress with parents, teachers, and counselors. A bachelor’s degree in child development or a similar major is required as well as a state-issued certification or license. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 4% from 2021 to 2031. The average median pay is $61,820 per year, and the highest 10% of positions earn more than $100,040.
FAQs About Online Child Development Degree Programs
Here are five of the most pressing questions according to our readers.
Are online bachelor’s degree programs in child development fully online?
Many accredited schools and universities offer online bachelor’s degree programs in child development. While these courses are taken primarily online, many programs require an in-person capstone field experience for graduation — either on/near the school’s campus or in the student’s region of residence. For example, Appalachian State University’s online child development bachelor degree program requires students to complete a Student Teaching Capstone Experience, which has students enrolled in a teaching experience under the supervision of a licensed educator for one semester.
What accreditation should I look for in an online bachelor’s in child development program?
Online bachelor’s degree programs in child development should be accredited by agencies recognized by either the Department of Education or the nonprofit Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to ensure quality education standards. When looking to enroll in an online child development degree, check to see if it has programmatic accreditation by agencies like the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
What does the admissions process look like for this degree?
The admissions process for an online child development degree is comparable to most other bachelor’s degree programs. Most students must hold a high school diploma or GED with a minimum GPA, typically 2.75 or higher. Additionally, some programs may require submission of SAT or ACT test scores for consideration. Prior to acceptance, you may also be asked to answer questions about your degree goals or be interviewed by a panel or admissions counselor.
How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree in child development online?
Completing a bachelor’s degree in child development online typically takes an average of four years to complete the standard 120 credits. Various factors can affect the overall time it takes to complete this degree, including if you choose to take classes part time or full time. Part-time programs will take longer than four years — typically six to eight years to complete. An accelerated online program is the fastest way to earn your bachelor’s in child development and can be completed in about two years.
What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their bachelor’s degree in child development?
Many higher education institutions offer specific academic and career support services to online students. This may include support from:
- Admission specialists to help make informed choices about online schools and degree programs
- Financial advisors to assist with methods for funding your degree
- Academic advising services to assess and personalize online learning courses
- Technical support services for borrowing or renting laptops and equipment
- Networking programs through online or campus activities
- Career counselors to help you prepare for your post-graduation job search
When researching online schools, be sure to investigate the support they offer students, and consider factoring that into your selection criteria.
More Education Degrees to Explore
Are you still undecided which bachelor’s degree in education you are going to choose. Check out these other education degree options: