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Best Online Child and Adolescent Development Degree Programs in 2024

Best Online Child and Adolescent Development Degree Programs in 2024

Are you considering a degree in child and adolescent development? Find everything you need to know about the best schools for earning a bachelor’s in child development right here.

The number of children in the world continues to grow, with the 0-to-15 age group currently accounting for approximately one-quarter of our global population. We’re inching closer to what scientists call “peak child” — the demographic moment at which the number of children in the world is at its peak and presumably won’t increase, which we’re likely to hit around 2057. From a sheer numbers and demand perspective, this is clearly an ideal time to study children and adolescents.

A degree in child and adolescent development can lead to a rewarding career working with children and their families of all backgrounds. This may be the right path for you if you intend to pursue a career in social work, counseling, education, various therapies, or advocacy. Even better that in 2024, many of these programs can be completed 100% online, giving you the flexibility to earn your degree your way and at a pace that works for you.

The information on this page can help you learn more about specific child and adolescent development programs, what classes you can expect to take, career paths with this degree, and more. Keep reading so you can make the right school and program choice for your goals.

Top Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Child and Adolescent Development for 2024

We have ranked the top schools below. Our Rankings Data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES.) Click the About the Ranking link below for more information about our methodology.


    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2024 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
    1. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.
    • For degree-specific pages, ex: Psychology degrees, we list the current number of online programs available at that school for that degree type, as self-reported by the schools.


    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: January of 2024

  • Irvine, CA
    Private not-for-profit $$

    The University of Massachusetts Global offers a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Child Psychology. This program covers development, learning, and treatment options for children with disabilities as well as child development from biological, evolutionary, behavioral, psychoanalytic, cognitive, sociocultural and humanistic perspectives. Students will learn about the major theories and behavior models and how they relate to real-life situations. This degree prepares students for careers as social and human service assistants, research assistants, and community healthcare workers.

    Program Highlights:

    Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a Child Psychology Concentration

    • Credits: 120-132
    • Length: 4 years
    • Cost: $500/credit
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: WSCUC

Bachelor’s Program Spotlights: Child Development Degrees Online

The first step towards earning your degree in child and adolescent development is choosing the right online program. The schools below are a good start in exploring your options, each offering affordable and accredited degree options as well as student support offerings to help you succeed. Keep reading to learn about some of the best-in-class online colleges that offer this degree.

Walden University

This fully online Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development is completed in four years with 181 total quarter credit hours. In the child and adolescent development concentration, you will explore the cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional development of school-age children and adolescents, and you’ll learn strategies for working with these age groups within various cultural populations. Further, you’ll gain an understanding of how to support these age groups through the challenges they face. You’ll benefit from 25 credits in your area of concentration as well as 20 elective credits in psychology topics, giving you a well-rounded understanding of human behavior. 

Southern New Hampshire University

A Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from Southern New Hampshire University is completed in four years with 120 total credit hours. This program will take you through key developmental stages, from birth through adolescence, to give you a deeper understanding of the human experience. You’ll develop the knowledge, skills, and techniques you’ll need to work with young people of various ages in a variety of settings. Featuring asynchronous courses that are 100% online, this program also allows you to earn a Certificate of Data Literacy in Psychology to further enhance your resume.

Liberty University

A BS in Psychology – Developmental Psychology from the non-profit Liberty University can be completed in four years or less with 120 total credit hours. Learn how to address behavioral, psychological, and sociological problems rooted in children’s early developmental years. From birth to middle childhood to adolescence, you’ll take an in-depth look at what influences children’s thinking and behavior. You’ll also have the option to take courses that explore other stages of the human life span. Liberty University is a Christian university, meaning coursework will integrate biblical standards with industry best practices as you work to protect, nurture, and serve children.

Classes for Your Child Development Bachelor’s Degree Online

While each bachelor’s degree program in child and adolescent development will be unique in its specific lineup of courses, many will offer similar classes to set you up for post-graduation success. Before you enroll in any program, it’s important to research a sample schedule to know if the learning objectives are consistent with your career and personal development goals. Start by looking into course outlines for details about each program, then compare course content and learning outcomes. The following five courses are an example of some of the typical classes you’ll find in any of these programs.

  • Introduction to Psychology

    This course serves as the foundation to your psychology degree. In this course, students explore all the complexities of the human mind and the science behind how we think, act, and feel. Within this course, students will also learn a bit about the history of psychology, early schools of thought, and core theories that have shaped how we approach psychology today. 

  • Child Growth and Development

    Also called Child Social and Emotional Development, this course introduces you to the learning and developmental stages children experience at the various points of their life. You’ll learn about different types of development, including physical, emotional, and psychological growth. You’ll also learn practical skills to work with young children in the classroom based on a deep understanding of how they grow and reasons for observable delays. 

  • Developmental Psychology

    Developmental psychology typically provides an overview of human psychological development across the life span. You’ll study theory and research related to physical, cognitive, and socioemotional development. You will also gain the skills you need to examine human behavior with the intent of helping people of any age to cope with the many problems they face in life. 

  • Child and Family Relationships

    In this course, students explore the skills needed to build relationships with families, as well as the cultural, ethical, and legal considerations inherent to those relationships. Human services professional practitioners must be adept at working with a diverse range of families to assess their needs and connect them with appropriate resources. This knowledge is key for any student who plans on working in a career where interaction with a diverse range of families and cultures is in focus.

  • Social Influences on Behavior

    Individuals are often influenced by others and by the social situations they encounter throughout their lives. In this course, students will examine the basic concepts and applications of social psychology. This will likely include things like:

    • Attitudes, beliefs, and behavior
    • Stereotyping 
    • Prejudice and discrimination
    • Interpersonal relationships
    • Group behaviors

    You’ll also learn how bias can impact your opinions as well as how personal ethics can influence research in psychology. Students learn to apply principles and theories to situations in daily life and in their future careers.

Job Outlook: Careers and Salaries with an Online Child Development Degree

The career prospects are strong with this degree, as you’ll find you’re qualified for many different jobs when you’ve earned a degree in child and adolescent development. Keep reading to learn more about three of the distinct career paths you can take with this versatile degree, as well as the median salary for each position.

  • Social Worker

    Social workers in the U.S. are a key component of the social support system in all communities. They help families get access to services they need and help families navigate tough situations like illness, divorce, adoption, addiction, or unemployment. Social workers may also aid or intervene in emergency situations such as abuse or neglect. Clinical social workers typically hold a special license and a master’s degree to be able to diagnose and treat mental health or behavioral disorders. In general, becoming a social worker may require further schooling; however, it’s possible to get started on this path as a non-clinical social worker with a bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median pay for social workers in the U.S. is around $55,000 per year.

  • Behavioral Specialist

    Behavioral specialists help children and adolescents who have behavioral disorders and other behavioral issues. They often work with their patient’s families to identify behaviors that are problematic and determine the best course of action or treatment plan to help. Treatment plans may involve mental and physical health assessments or changes in environment or parenting practices, among other things. The goal of a behavioral specialist is to help their clients or patients live higher-quality lives, improve their communication skills, and learn positive behavior shifts. According to Zip Recruiter, a behavioral specialist in the U.S. makes an average of $23/hour or around $47,800 annually.

  • Non-Profit Work

    There are thousands of non-profit organizations in the U.S. that directly support children and youth, so if you want to work with children and adolescents in a supportive role, this could be the path for you. With this degree, you can fill many positions within a non-profit, including advocacy, grant writing and development, programming, administration and more. National organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girl Scouts, and Boys and Girls Clubs are a few options; however, your local community likely has many more to consider. Because jobs in this sector can vary in description, specialty, and pay, we’re spotlighting a mid-level position as a social and community service manager with its median pay of $74,240 annually. Expect entry-level positions to pay much lower and roles such as development or grant writing to pay slightly higher, depending on experience.

Cost of Earning Your Child Development Degree Online

The tuition for a bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development will vary based on the type of university (public, private, or non-profit) and location. Most state-funded universities are less expensive for residents of the states they serve but expensive for non-residents. While public universities are generally more affordable, their private counterparts are costlier. 

To give you a general idea of cost, earning a child development bachelor’s degree online as a resident from a public university will cost an average of about $7,000 per year; non-residents pay $20,000 on average. Private universities charge at least $25,000. The following table highlights five sample programs and the actual cost of their child development degrees.

SchoolCost Per CreditNumber of Credits
Point Loma Nazarene University$560120
East Tennessee University$316 – $474, depending on residency120
Central Michigan University$458120
Baker University$435120
Touro University Worldwide$400120

What Should I Look for in a Child Development Degree Online Program?

So how do you choose the child and adolescent development program that’s right for you — especially considering that many degree programs in child development and behavioral sciences contain similar core classes? Below are five factors to consider when choosing the best online bachelor’s degree program to meet your individual needs.

  • Cost

    A simple factor to consider at the beginning of your online degree program search is cost. High-quality online bachelor’s degrees come in all range of costs, and there’s sure to be one to fit your financial needs. It’s best to approach your college search knowing your target tuition comfort zone; that way, you can search for schools offering a tuition within that range. Also, keep in mind that financial aid is an option to help you pay for your degree, and you may qualify for additional grants or scholarships.

  • Program Quality

    When it comes to program quality, it can be helpful to look up reviews from current and past students to determine an overall level of satisfaction with academic quality. Additionally, look to see if the school or program page offers any statistics about graduation rates, job placement following graduation, or if the school offers job placement support services. You may also want to investigate if you’ll be able to specialize within your degree program to help you further personalize your educational experience to match your career goals.

  • Faculty Expertise

    If the program you’re considering doesn’t provide insights into the faculty who’ll be facilitating classes, reach out to see if the school can provide you with more information. You can get a better sense of the program’s quality by exploring the credentials of the instructors. Hearing feedback from former students can also help you determine which classes to take from specific professors or instructors.

  • Accreditation Status

    This is one of the most important factors to consider in selecting your degree program. If a university is accredited, it means a third-party certifying institution assessed the college to see if it meets a specific set of standards for quality and effectiveness. All colleges will have their accreditations listed on their website, and some specific programs will have programmatic accreditations as well. Use this guide to learn more about accreditation and the different kinds of accrediting agencies.

  • Format

    Some programs are 100% online, others are 100% in person, while still others may be a combination of online and in person — often called hybrid. If you’re looking at an online school, you’ll also want to check if the classes are offered asynchronously — meaning you complete the coursework at your own pace based on established deadlines — or synchronously, where you’ll logon to classes at a specific time with the rest of your online peers. Some programs may also have an internship requirement. Before you commit to a school, spend some time researching the program’s format to ensure it fits your lifestyle and learning needs.

Questions to Ask About Online Child Development Degree Programs

Still have questions? That’s totally understandable! Below, find six additional FAQs about online child development degree programs.

  • Are online bachelor’s degree programs in child and adolescent development fully online?

    There are plenty of online bachelor’s degree programs in child and adolescent development that are 100% online, which can provide you with the flexibility you need to suit your schedule and lifestyle. However, there are also hybrid programs, where both online and in-person classes are required. Be sure to confirm with the school to which you’re applying if the program has any on-campus or on-ground requirements, including clinical experiences or internships.

  • What does the admissions process look like for this degree?

    The admissions process will vary depending on the program. Some programs have an application fee, while others don’t. Most schools will require an application where you detail information about your prior education, and some require minimum GPAs for consideration. Also, some schools require a minimum standardized test score on the SAT or ACT, while others don’t. You may also have to write a personal statement or answer essay questions to be considered for a program. Research admissions information for each school you’re intending to apply.

  • How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development online?

    The length of your education will depend on the program you choose and the time you can commit. Most bachelor’s degree programs are designed to be completed in four years with full-time enrollment (approximately 15 credit hours per semester or 30 credit hours annually.) Online programs are often self-paced, so how long it takes depends on the number of courses you’re able to take at once. Some programs may be accelerated, allowing you to complete them in less time. Ultimately, how long it takes to complete your degree is up to you and your circumstances.

  • What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development?

    For most online programs, you’ll be able to engage with your faculty via email. You’ll also have digital access to an academic advisor, who is there to help you strategize your educational plan to ensure you’re taking the classes you need to prepare you for the career you’d like to pursue. Depending on the program, you may also have access to career counseling, online library and resource centers, internship and job placement support, and more.

  • What are some of the technical requirements of earning an online degree in child and adolescent development?

    You may be surprised to find you already have much of the technology you’re likely to need to complete your online bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development. You’ll need a laptop or computer as well as a reliable internet connection in order to access classes, download course material, submit homework assignments, and more. Some schools will even provide you with a computer to use while completing your degree. Learn more about the tech that will help you on your higher education journey here.

  • Can I work while pursuing an online child and adolescent development degree?

    Absolutely! Most online bachelor’s degree programs are designed to fit into your busy life and demanding schedule. Part-time course loads and flexible pacing can enable you to study and complete your degree while you’re working. Whether you have responsibilities at home or in your current occupation, online degrees give you the ability to work at your own pace and complete your degree on your terms. Just keep in mind that if you do opt to take a lighter course load, that will lengthen your graduation timeline. But for students who need to work while pursuing a bachelor’s, online options are often the most practical and convenient.

Other Degree Options in Psychology

If you are still unsure which path in computer science you want to take, look at these other bachelor’s degree options: