Online Child
Degrees and Courses

From associate to master’s programs, explore top schools and degree options where you can learn to help children grow up to be their best selves.

Standout Online Child Development Degree Programs for 2020

Do you see yourself working directly with children or in research roles focused on child development issues? Do you enjoy teaching and have an analytical mind that enjoys thinking through learning processes? A career and degree in child development may be a great fit for you. And if you need an option that lets you learn from home or the road, an online child development degree program can be a smart choice. But as with any big decision, it’s crucial to do your research before committing to an online degree program.

In the school spotlights below, we’ve started that research for you by identifying some of the best online child development degree programs with an eye on affordability and flexibility. These programs hold the appropriate accreditations that ensure their students earn valuable credentials that can lead to a rewarding career in the child development field. Here’s a deeper look at three of our top-ranked programs.

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State offers a 120-credit hour bachelor of science degree in child development. With a concentration in the birth-through-kindergarten population, online degree-seekers learn to develop leadership skills that are applicable in the classroom and in their communities. Online students typically take 6-8 hours per semester during the fall, spring, and summer. Classes are delivered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Incoming students can transfer up to 30 credit hours toward the bachelor’s degree, saving time and money. Depending on their transfer credits, bachelor’s degree-seekers complete the program in seven semesters of coursework plus one additional semester of student teaching.

Upon completion of the program, child development graduates exit the program with “A” licensure, which qualifies as a certification for both special and general education in North Carolina and potentially other states. Additionally, this program at Appalachian State prepares students to pursue graduate degrees focusing on the population in birth-through-kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school. Appalachian State grads often move on to careers as preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers, daycare directors, and child life specialists. All programs within Appalachian State University’s department of family and child studies are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Eastern Kentucky University

West Virginia University

How to Choose the Right Child Development Degree Program for You

With so many educational options out there today, especially with the growing popularity of convenient online programs, how can you know which child development program best fits your personal and academic needs? Here are a few important points to consider as you continue your search for an online child development degree program.

Is properly accredited

In addition to checking a college is regionally or nationally accredited at the institutional level, you should make sure that your child development program holds programmatic accreditation from organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Examples include the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Accreditation ensures that the credentials you earn are recognized as legitimate and you’re getting a quality education for your hard-earned dollars.

Fits your schedule and career timeline

Is within your budget

Aligns with your interests

Qualifies you for professional certification

Offers a strong online student support system

What It’s Like to Earn Your Child Development Degree Online

When pursuing an online degree in child development, you get the chance to understand the significance of cultural and familial influence on a child’s environment. You will study the stages of child growth and development, including cognitive, affective, language, and physical development. Depending on your concentration area, you will also engage in specialized classes that further develop your knowledge in a specific topic or area in the field.

The majority of your classes for your child development degree will be online, if not all of them. Depending on the school’s format, you may be able to work on homework and review course content such as recorded lectures on your own time, whenever you wish. Most child development programs, however, require degree-seekers to complete an in-person internship for at least one semester.

As a remote student, you may be able to choose electives or emphasis areas to broaden your coursework beyond the required standard ones in your program. Some common emphasis areas for child development degree-seekers include cognitive studies, environmental management sustainability, public administration, and public relations. Your options for expanding into specialized areas and taking extra electives depends largely on the school and your degree level. There will be fewer options at the associate degree level compared to bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Types of Child Development Degrees You Can Earn Online

In this section, we take a closer look at the types of child development degrees you can pursue online. We will give a detailed explanation of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s programs in this field.

Online Child Development Associate (CDA) Training Programs

Best for … working professionals who want to bolster their resume and increase employment options and those new to the child development field who want to receive training quickly and pursue a job.

Students who complete CDA training possess the skills to foster positive developments in children on intellectual, social, physical, and emotional levels. This is an early career, pre-degree training option that can be a great first step into a career in child development or a way for current professionals to improve their job prospects.

Students choose between four focus areas for their certification: preschool, infant-toddler, family child care, and home visitor. Each concentration area helps students explore eight central subject areas to ensure that professionals become well-rounded leaders for all early childhood education environments.

Subject areas include safety, intellectual development, social and emotional development, relationship skills with family members, teaching effectiveness, professionalism, behavior observation, and basic principles of child development. While it is certainly possible to find a job working in child development without earning a CDA credential or degree, it is a cheaper alternative, with a smaller time commitment, than an associate’s or higher degree.

Program Requirements

Total hours: 120 total hours of formal ECE (Early Childhood Education) training and classes

Other Common Requirements: To apply for the CDA credential after this program, you need 480 hours of work experience and a professional portfolio.

Time to Complete

Part-Time Program: 3-5 months

Full-Time Program: 3 months (complete 10 hours per week)

Popular Career Options

Childcare Worker

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Online Associate Degree in Child Development

Perhaps you’re ready to make a larger investment in your future as an early childhood development professional. The associate degree is an excellent choice. These two-year programs can prepare you with the necessary skills to help young students develop characteristics that will help them achieve long-term academic success. Associate degree programs allow you to delve deeper into supporting children’s emotional, educational, and social needs than the CDA credential. Additionally, you will develop the skills to make informed decisions about curriculum design and effective instructional classroom practices.

You can complete associate degree programs in child development entirely online. During the last semester, online students typically complete a faculty-supervised internship in a childcare setting. This associate degree is an excellent choice for professionals who want to jumpstart their career and pursue full-time entry-level positions in the field.

Program Requirements

Total Credits: ~60-65

Other Common Requirements: Faculty supervised internship in childcare or community setting.

Time to Complete

Part-Time Program: 2-3 Years

Full-Time Program: 2 Years

Popular Career Options

Preschool Teacher

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Teacher Assistant

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Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Child Development

Bachelor’s degrees in child development can prepare you to pursue careers as an educator as well as a manager or administrator in a variety of settings including government agencies, schools, and nonprofit organizations. You may find yourself working with children individually one-on-one, working as part of a team to manage an educational facility, or designing community programs that serve children.

These programs typically require four years of work. During this time, child development students develop advanced communication, research, and critical thinking skills that help them better assist young students today. Degree-seekers typically choose from several concentrations, including early childhood education, child development practitioner, Montessori education, prevention and intervention sciences, or pre-health professions.

An online bachelor’s degree in child development can be an excellent, flexible fit for working professionals who want to make a career change. These programs are also valuable for first-time college students preparing to enter the competitive job market.

Program Requirements

Total Credits: 120

Other Common Requirements: Multiple internships for hands-on experience in classroom or community settings.

Time to Complete

Part-Time Program: 5-6 Years

Full-Time Program: 3.5-4 Years

Popular Career Options

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

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Mid-Level / Late Career

Kindergarten Teachers

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Entry-Level / Mid-Level

Get a closer look at online bachelor’s degrees in child development

Online Master’s in Child Development

Best for … The master’s degree is for those passionate individuals who want to develop a specialty area in the field and seek out higher level careers in managerial and administrative positions.

Master’s degrees in child development build further upon the skills that students acquire in their bachelor’s programs. Master’s degrees allow graduate students to focus on a specialized area of study. In many cases, degree-seekers must produce a final project or traditional master’s thesis based on their original work or research.

Your intended concentration area and research interests are some of the most important factors for you to consider when it comes to choosing a school. Concentration options vary among schools. Popular areas of specialty in master’s programs include adolescent growth, mental health, counseling and family services, and infant and early childhood development.

Master’s degree-holders, depending on their area of specialization, can pursue careers as teachers, social workers, social and community service managers, nonprofit directors, and more. When you apply, you will need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited Institution, prior professional experience working in the field, and at least a 3.0 or higher GPA. Additionally, graduate schools often require applicants to submit letters of recommendation and GRE scores.

Program Requirements

Total Credits: 30-40 credits

Other Common Requirements: Final master’s project or traditional master’s thesis

Time to Complete

Part-Time Program: 2-3 Years

Full-Time Program: 2 Years

Popular Career Options

Social and Community Service Manager

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Job Level

Entry-Level / Mid-Level

Inside Look at Online Bachelor’s in Child Development

It is essential that you get to know a program before you spend the time applying. It can be a good idea to reach out to administrators and professors in the department to answer specific questions that you may have regarding the curriculum, what recent child development grads are up to now, and more. Additionally, you will want to look into the overall cost of each program to ensure that it fits in your budget. The best decision is an informed decision. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions regarding bachelor’s degrees in child development.

What do you learn in an online child development degree program at the bachelor’s level?

While every program will have strengths and weaknesses, and therefore an emphasis on particular types of classes and subject areas, many should have similar foundational courses and intentional learning outcomes. Bachelor’s programs will give you the chance to learn about the essential social, cognitive, psychological, and emotional components of the field, focusing on youth from infancy through adolescence. This coursework will also teach you to examine social and cultural elements that influence young students today.

  • Identify and Utilize Essential Learning Materials: Bachelor’s graduates develop the skills to identify and use the latest technology and techniques in the classroom and in community settings. They know how to play to their own strengths but also what materials best serve their students or clients.
  • Documentation and Assessment Skills: Child development majors learn how to observe and document the actions and developments of their students or clients. This information can then be used to communicate with educators, curriculum designers, parents, school administrators, and more.
  • Adhere to Legal and Professional Standards: Bachelor’s degree-holders understand the foundational guidelines that ensure their students’ and their own safety. They also know when professional, legal, or ethical lines are crossed and can intervene when appropriate.
  • Written, Technological, and Oral Presentation Skills: Graduates of this program possess the necessary communication and technology skills to provide quality instruction, advising, and mentorship for their students or clients and their families.
  • Social Skills and Ability to Foster Community: These trained professionals have the ability to foster community in their classrooms, community centers, clinics, and more. They help create positive environments and relationships for children, which ultimately contribute to their academic and social success as young students.

Common Online Child Development Classes

Early Childhood Skill Sets

Professional Roles in Child Development

Special Education in Child Development

Mental Health Studies in Child Development

Children and Language Development

What are the prerequisites to get into a child development bachelor’s program?

When researching prospective schools to pursue your bachelor’s in child development, make sure you understand all of the admissions requirements and prerequisites before applying. In general, you can expect there to be a handful of admissions requirements at virtually every school, including:

  • Online application and application fee
  • Competitive GPA, usually a 2.5 or higher, varies among programs
  • History of completed coursework in social and hard sciences with a “C” or higher grade
  • Submission of high school transcripts

Depending on the school, there may be additional prerequisites or requirements. You may find that bachelor’s programs in child development also require you to submit:

  • At least one letter of recommendation from a former teacher or employer
  • Standardized test scores such as the ACT or SAT
  • Personal statement outlining career goals and why you wish to attend a particular program

Bear in mind that even though online child development bachelor’s programs may have more “seats” available than on-campus programs, admissions numbers may still be limited and highly competitive. If appropriate, send supplemental materials to help bolster your application and further articulate your desire to attend a particular school or program.

How much do online child development bachelor’s degrees typically cost?

The cost of your online child development bachelor’s program will vary among schools. For the most part, you’ll find cost differences between public and private institutions, and even differences based on location despite a program being fully online. Additional factors that will affect your overall cost include how long it takes you to complete the program and how much funding you’ve secured, often in the form of grants or scholarships, to put toward your education. Here’s a look at the cost of three online childhood development bachelor’s degree programs to give you a better sense of the pricing landscape.


Online Bachelor of Science in Child Development

Total Credits: 120


University of West Alabama

Online Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development

Total Credits: 123



Online Bachelor of Science in Childhood Administration

Total Credits: 180


Ways to Help Pay for Your Online Child Development Degree

The cost of a degree in child development is a significant investment for just about anyone. It is important that you consider all of the ways to help you pay for your education. Whether or not you think you need to do so, it is important that all college students complete a FAFSA® so that they receive consideration for federal funding. Additionally, there are many institutional, private, and public scholarships available for students of all backgrounds, majors, and extracurricular interests. Many students choose to take out student loans to pay for their education. Federal loans typically offer better deals for students compared to private loans.

Check out EduMed’s dedicated guides on scholarshipsstudent loans, and other financial aid to learn more about options for paying for your online degree in child development.

Related Degrees to Consider

As you embark on your search for child development programs, bear in mind that there are related areas of study out there that may be an excellent fit for you.

Social Work Degrees

Degrees in social work can also help you make a difference in the lives of others, especially children. In general, you receive training to help children and adults face daily problems that affect their personal lines, relationships, careers, and more. Social work degrees are available at all levels and can open the door to dozens of rewarding careers.

Child Psychology Degrees

A degree in child psychology is essential for students who wish to work in counseling roles with children or become child psychologists. In order to become a clinical child psychologist, you will need to earn a doctoral degree and certification. There are, however, many alternative careers out there where the doctoral degree is not required and allow professionals to help children and families with their emotional and mental well-being.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Master’s Degree

Master’s degrees in applied behavior analysis allow students develop the necessary skills to help individuals with autism and other behavioral or developmental disorders. Degree-seekers complete evidence-based curricula that help them improve social learning skills and specific behaviors among people with behavioral disorders. Students in these programs typically have a bachelor’s degree in the behavioral sciences or a background working in counseling.