Best Online Master’s in Child Development Degrees

With one of these degree programs, you can become an expert in the biological, psychological, and emotional well-being of children.

Child development specialists serve the needs of children and families in a myriad of ways.

These professionals may be teachers, counselors, program administrators, and much more. They could work in nonprofit organizations, social service agencies, schools, community recreation programs, juvenile justice facilities, and other settings where children need the support of qualified specialists.

Use this list to find a graduate program that can help you become a leader in the child development field.

What kind of master’s degree in child development should you get?

There are a wide variety of degree options and specialization tracks available within child development. Choose a degree program that aligns with your professional goals. If you’re interested in child development, you may also want to take a look at our ranking for the Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Degrees.

How much money do people with a master’s degree in child development earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average Child Care Center Director makes $45,790 per year. The BLS projects 11 percent growth for this field.

School Counselors have an average salary of $54,560 per year and an expected job growth rate of 13 percent. Social and Community Service Managers, meanwhile, have a typical annual salary of $64,680. Opportunities for this job position are expected to grow by 18 percent by 2026—about 11 percent faster than the average for all occupations.

What can you do with a degree in child development?

Different master’s degree programs will prepare you for different roles. Depending on the program and specialization that you choose, you may find work as a:

  • Child Life Specialist
  • Social Worker
  • Parent Educator
  • Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
  • Grant Writer
  • Program Administrator in a Nonprofit Organization

What are the requirements for a master’s degree in child development?

If you earned your bachelor’s degree in a field related to child development or social work, you’ll have the largest number of choices for a master’s degree. You may even qualify for Advanced Standing in certain programs.

If you hold an undergraduate degree in another field, you still have plenty of options. Just look for a program that doesn’t require an academic background in child development. Keep in mind, however, that you may be asked to take basic undergraduate coursework such as Introduction to Psychology and Statistics for Social Sciences before you’re officially accepted into a graduate program.

What are the best online master’s degrees in child development?

There are hundreds of programs in Child Development and related disciplines, such as Social Work, Early Childhood Education, and Youth Development.

To determine which of these programs are featured in our ranking, we examine data points such as student retention, graduation rate, student satisfaction, and academic quality. This information comes from a number of reputable sources, including PayScale, U.S. News & World Report, the IPEDS database, and individual college websites.

1. Walden University

Overview

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Walden University offers online programs at every level from certificates to doctoral degrees. Education-related degree offerings include an M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology, in Higher Education, and in Early Childhood Studies. The NCATE-accredited Early Childhood Studies program at Walden allows students to explore the local, state, national, and international facets of early childhood education.

Program Features

The Early Childhood Studies program offers four distinct tracks: Administration Management and Leadership, Teaching Adults in the Early Childhood Field, Teaching Diversity in Early Childhood Education, and Early Childhood Public Policy and Advocacy. Each of these tracks requires 21 credit hours in core coursework, six credit hours in specialization courses, and three credit hours in a capstone seminar. Coursework within the required core includes:

  • Effective Programs and Practices
  • Issues and Trends in the Early Childhood Field
  • Perspectives on Diversity and Equity
  • Communicating and Collaborating in the Early Childhood Field

Notables

Walden offers two degree pathways for online students: the course-based format or the competency-based format. Through the course-based format, students move through the material with a group of peers at a prescribed pace. Through the competency-based format, students set their own pace. This format allows students with relevant professional experience to apply what they already know and accelerate their progress through the program, saving time and money.

 

2. University of Southern Mississippi

Overview

Home to six academic colleges and more than 180 programs, the University of Southern Mississippi is both a haven for the arts and a hub of research and entrepreneurship. Southern Miss offers its highly respected academic programs through two campuses (Hattiesburg and Gulf Park) as well as online. The Child and Family Studies program empowers graduates to promote a better quality of life for all families.

Program Features

Graduates of the M.S. in Child and Family Studies may pursue a career as a foster care coordinator, preschool teacher or director, substance abuse specialist, family program administrator, developmental play specialist, and more. This fully online degree is available through a thesis and non-thesis track. Both tracks require 37 credit hours. Candidates for this degree will take courses such as:

  • Critical Issues in Child Development
  • Parenting Across the Lifespan
  • Adolescence and the Family System
  • Child and Family Life Education

Notables

Students in the Child and Family Studies program who do not complete a thesis will take a comprehensive exam during their last semester before graduation. Most students take seven credit hours during their first semester and six credit hours in all subsequent semesters. This schedule allows students to graduate in two calendar years.

 

3. Grand Canyon University

Overview

Founded in 1949, Grand Canyon University is a Christian institution with a biblically rooted mission. The University embraces an interdenominational identity, offering outstanding academic opportunities to a diverse student body. GCU’s mission to shape students into sound critical thinkers and ethically responsible leaders is at the core of its Professional Counseling program.

Program Features

The Master of Science in Professional Counseling offers an emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders. The program is offered online and on-campus through evening classes. The curriculum incorporates extensive practicum and internship experiences, and graduates will be prepared to apply for state licensure. The M.S. degree requires a total of 74 credits, which students will earn through courses such as the following:

  • Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling
  • Development through Childhood and Adolescence
  • Spousal and Child Abuse, Crisis, and Trauma Counseling
  • Psychopathology and Treatment of Children and Adolescents

Notables

Grand Canyon offers a variety of related master’s degrees through fully online programs. The M.S. in Professional Counseling is also available with emphasis areas in Trauma and in Marriage and Family Therapy. Additional online options include an M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness, in Christian Counseling, and in Psychology (with a number of available specialization tracks).

 

4. Capella University

Overview

A unique competency-based philosophy and flexible online degree programs have made Capella University a top choice for adult and non-traditional students. Capella enrolls a student body of over 37,000, representing all 50 states and 54 countries and territories around the world. Presented by the Harold Abel School of Psychology, Capella offers a renowned Master of Science in Psychology with a specialization in Child and Adolescent Development.

Program Features

This program will prepare graduates to address mental health, social, and educational issues in children and adolescents. The program includes four core courses and six courses within the Child and Adolescent Development specialization. As the culminating experience, students will complete an integrative project. Required coursework within this specialization includes:

  • Human Prenatal Development
  • Lifespan Development
  • Child Psychology
  • Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology

Notables

The Psychology program is available through both the GuidedPath and the FlexPath. The GuidedPath requires students to pay per credit hour while meeting specific deadlines and progress benchmarks as they move through the course sequence. With the FlexPath, students will pay a flat rate per quarter and move at whatever pace they choose toward their degree. Military service members and their spouses may be eligible for a 10 percent tuition discount.

 

5. Northcentral University

Overview

A global online graduate-focused university, Northcentral University offers master’s degrees in business, education, health sciences, marriage and family therapy, technology, and psychology. NCU is renowned for exceptional flexibility, with 52 start dates—one each week—available for its degree programs. The Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Psychology provides students with an understanding of physical, cognitive, gender, and socioemotional development in children.

Program Features

NCU’s degree track is designed to be completed in 20 months. The curriculum consists of 10 courses and 30 credit hours. This M.S. program features an emphasis on child and adolescent psychopathology, particularly ADHD and autism spectrum disorders. Students in the program will have the option of completing a 100-hour internship in the field. Coursework for this degree will include:

  • Child and Adolescent Gender Development
  • Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
  • Prenatal and Early Childhood Development
  • Ethics in Development Psychology

Notables

Northcentral maintains a 100 percent doctoral faculty. Through the one-to-one learning model, NCU students will have the opportunity to partner directly with one of these highly experienced mentor-teachers in every one of their classes. Other available online programs at Northcentral include an M.A. in Psychology, an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and an M.S. in Forensic Psychology. The psychology programs at Northcentral do not lead to licensure.

 

6. University of Minnesota

Overview

The University of Minnesota is the academic home of nearly 31,000 undergraduate students and over 16,000 students in graduate and professional programs. UMN's award-winning faculty members work alongside students on research projects in an array of academic fields. The Institute of Child Development at UMN, an internationally recognized research center, presents an excellent graduate program leading to a Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development.

Program Features

Students in the fully online Applied Child and Adolescent Development program will choose a specialization in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Child Life, or Individualized Studies. All three tracks require 32 credit hours. For the Child Life track, candidates will be required to complete a 600-hour clinical internship. The Child Life track features a 15-credit hour core of classes such as:

  • Child Life Theory, Practice, and Program Development
  • Developmental Perspectives on Illness and Injury in Healthcare
  • Therapeutic Relationships: Supporting Children in Healthcare
  • Childhood Death and Bereavement

Notables

Students who successfully complete the Child Life track (including the internship) will be prepared to sit for the Child Life Professional Certification Examination and the Association of Child Life Professionals Eligibility Assessment. UMN’s Institute of Child Development was founded in 1925, making it one of the nation’s oldest research centers for childhood and adolescent development.

 

7. Kaplan University

Overview

The history of Kaplan University goes back to 1938, when Stanley H. Kaplan began offering tutoring services to immigrant families so that they could expand their educational and professional opportunities. Today, Kaplan continues to offer highly accessible education to help students advance their careers. Students at Kaplan can pursue one of over 180 academic programs. Many of these programs are available both in-person and fully online, such as the Master of Science in Human Services.

Program Features

Graduates of the Human Services program will be qualified for a career as a nonprofit manager, grant writer, community service manager, and more. Two distinctive tracks are available within this degree: Family and Community Services, and Organizational and Social Services. Both concentrations require a total of 45 credits. The following courses are required for both concentrations:

  • History, Multiculturalism, and Diversity in Human Services
  • Human Development and Human Behavior in Context
  • Skills and Practice in Human Services
  • Professional Ethics and Personal Values

Notables

Within the Family and Community Services concentration, additional required courses include Family Resilience Across the Life Span, Developing and Delivering Family Services, and Advocacy for Children and Families. The Organizational and Social Services concentration features required courses such as Research, Grant Writing, and Funding; Program Development and Administration; and Organizational Nonprofit Management.

 

8. University of La Verne

Overview

Established in 1891 by members of the Church of the Brethren, the University of La Verne has flourished into a multi-campus, comprehensive institute of higher learning. Although the University is now independent of church control, it retains a strong commitment to service and values-oriented education. La Verne offers three fully online graduate programs: an MBA for Experienced Professionals (MBAX), a Master of Science in Leadership and Management for Experienced Professionals, and a Master of Science in Child Development.

Program Features

La Verne’s Child Development program features nine credit hours in core courses, 18 credit hours in specialization courses, and three credit hours in a culminating experience. Coursework for this degree is offered both online and through the main campus (about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles). Candidates for the Child Development degree will take the following courses:

  • Language, Reading, and Concept Development
  • Studies in Attachment
  • Assessment in Early Childhood
  • Cognition and Brain Development

Notables

The Child Development program incorporates hands-on classroom experience in teaching community college students. Graduates will be qualified to serve as part-time or adjunct professors at two- or four-year institutions. Other career opportunities with this degree include leadership positions in social service agencies and in public or private educational organizations. Only California students may apply to La Verne’s online degree programs.

 

9. University of South Florida

Overview

In addition to the main campus in Tampa, the University of South Florida also operates separately accredited campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee. The extensive online learning opportunities from USF have been featured among the top Online Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report. Through the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, USF students can earn a fully online Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health (MSCABH).

Program Features

The MSCABH offers four areas of concentration, including Research and Evaluation, Youth and Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Leadership in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health. All four concentrations require 39 credit hours. These concentrations share a core of 12 credit hours (four courses). Coursework within the MSCABH core includes:

  • Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health
  • Cultural Competency in Children's Mental Health
  • Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Policy
  • Evaluation and Research Methods in Community Health

Notables

Students of the MSCABH program will choose between a thesis and non-thesis track. Both tracks require six credit hours for a culminating experience, either in thesis research or in a field experience. GRE scores are only required for students applying to the thesis track. For the applied track, students will work part-time at an outside agency to address an issue relating to child or adolescent behavioral health.

 

10. Ashford University

Overview

Ashford University offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in business, communications, information technology, education, social and behavioral sciences, and more. Headquartered in San Diego, Ashford is an online institution that provides academic opportunities to military members, career changers, and other non-traditional students. The graduate program in Psychology from Ashford will teach students to integrate the latest theory and research into their practice.

Program Features

The M.A. in Psychology can prepare graduates for a career in child and family services, education, social services, and more. Classes for this program are six weeks long, and students typically take one class at a time. The Psychology program requires 36 credit hours, including courses such as the following:

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Learning and Cognition
  • Biological Bases of Behavior
  • Psychological Testing and Assessment

Notables

All candidates for the M.A. in Psychology will complete a three-credit hour capstone course. Ashford also offers fully online programs leading to a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology, Master of Arts in Special Education, Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education Leadership, and many other related degrees. The wide variety of online opportunities at Ashford is complemented by outstanding student support services, including access to 24/7 technical support.

 

11. Southern New Hampshire University

Overview

The main campus of Southern New Hampshire University is located in Manchester. This campus enrolls roughly 3,000 students. The extensive online programs at SNHU, however, enroll an additional 80,000 students. The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) presented SNHU with the 21st Century Distance Learning Award for Excellence in Online Technology for these innovative online programs. Established in 1932, SNHU now offers over 200 academic programs, including an outstanding Master of Science in Psychology.

Program Features

The Psychology program at SNHU offers emphasis areas in Forensic Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, and Child and Adolescent Development Psychology. By taking two courses per 10-week term, students can earn their degree in 15 months. The curriculum for the Child and Adolescent Development Psychology track includes courses such as:

  • Ethical Practice in Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuropsychology
  • Intervention Strategies
  • Measurement and Assessment

Notables

Applicants to the Psychology program do not need to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Students are not required to have earned their bachelor’s degree in psychology, but they must have completed introductory coursework in psychology, social science statistics, and research methods in a social science as an undergraduate. SNHU offers a 25 percent tuition discount for U.S. service members and the spouses of active duty military members.

 

12. University of Northern Colorado

Overview

The online graduate education programs at the University of Northern Colorado are ranked among the top 10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. These programs encourage students to collaborate with distinguished faculty members and to engage with a cohort of peers. The NCATE-accredited program at UNC will help graduates serve the individual needs of diverse children.

Program Features

Northern Colorado offers a unique program that culminates in a Master of Arts in Teaching with a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLD) Endorsement. This program is available exclusively online. The curriculum requires 33 credit hours and can be completed in 20 months. Coursework for this program includes:

  • Methods and Assessment in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
  • Foundations of Language and Linguistics for ESL/Bilingual Educators
  • Language, School, and Society
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in the U.S. Educational System

Notables

The CLD endorsement can be earned in conjunction with a master’s degree or through a standalone program. If taken as a standalone program, the CLD endorsement can be earned in 16 months. UNC also offers online programs leading to an M.A. in Special Education: Early Childhood, an M.A. in Educational Leadership, and an M.A. in Teaching American Sign Language.

 

13. University of the Southwest

Overview

A non-denominational Christian institution, the University of the Southwest was established in 1956 in Hobbs, New Mexico. The University offers 22 undergraduate degrees, with numerous specialties available within these programs, and three graduate programs: an MBA with 10 available specializations, an M.S.Ed. with nine available specializations, and a Doctor of Business Administration. All of these graduate programs are offered fully online.

Program Features

The M.S.Ed. from the University of the Southwest is available with concentrations in School Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, Educational Administration, Educational Diagnostics, and Special Education. The Mental Health Counseling program can lead directly to a Temporary License as a New Mexico Licensed Mental Health Counselor (or equivalent initial licensure in another state). Required coursework for the Mental Health Counseling specialization includes the following:

  • Learning and Human Development
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Child and Adolescent Counseling
  • Psycho-Educational Assessment

Notables

The Mental Health Counseling specialization is available as a 48-credit hour track and as a 60-credit hour track. Certain states require 60 credit hours for programs that lead to counseling licensure, while others require only 48 hours: USW’s flexible program enables students to choose the track that aligns with their state’s specifications. Candidates for this degree will have the opportunity to complete a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internship experiences.

 

14. University of Nebraska Online

Overview

A joint effort of four institutions in the University of Nebraska system, the University of Nebraska Online (NUO) offers over 100 distance learning programs. These programs range from certificates to doctorate degrees in fields such as business, architecture, law, education, the humanities, social sciences, and more. NUO’s Master of Science in Youth Development prepares students to support positive youth outcomes by raising funds, influencing policy, and applying research-based best practices in their work.

Program Features

Candidates for the online Youth Development degree will complete 36 credit hours. The coursework is designed to be highly interactive, and students will have the opportunity to engage with expert faculty members through email, discussion forums, and chat groups. Specific course titles for the M.S. in Youth Development include:

  • Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research
  • Adolescents and Their Families
  • Administration and Program Management
  • Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation

Notables

Applicants to the NUO program do not necessarily need to hold a bachelor’s degree in a field relating to child development or education, but they must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. NUO also offers a Master of Science in International Family Studies and a Master of Science in Human and Family Services Administration.

 

15. University of Missouri

Overview

Established in 1839, the University of Missouri was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. Since then, Mizzou has built a reputation as a world-class institute of higher learning. It is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, making it one of just 60 public and private universities in the nation to hold this honor. Over 300 degree options are available at Mizzou, 89 of which are offered through fully online tracks. One such online program leads to an M.A. in Human Development and Family Science with an emphasis in Youth Development.

Program Features

The Youth Development program at Mizzou requires 36 credit hours. Most students take two classes per semester and earn the degree in two to three years. Elective coursework for this degree program may include classes such as:

  • Youth, Families, and Technology
  • Serving Youth from Small Towns to Big Cities
  • Basic Grant Development and Management
  • Working with Adolescents with Difficulties

Notables

The Youth Development degree is presented through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA), a consortium that includes numerous universities. Depending on which university is offering a class during a given semester, start and end dates for each course may vary. Graduates of this program will be qualified to work in correctional facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs, faith-based youth groups, and nonprofit agencies.

 

16. University at Albany, SUNY

Overview

A member of the State University of New York System, the University at Albany serves over 17,000 students. It is one of the premier institutions in New York’s Capital Region and one of “America’s Top Colleges,” according to Forbes. In addition to a comprehensive array of on-campus degree programs, UAlbany also offers a number of fully online tracks leading to graduate certificates and degrees in public health and education.

Program Features

UAlbany’s M.S. in Early Childhood Education can lead to New York professional teacher certification (birth through grade 2). It is also available as a non-certification track for students who live and work outside of New York. Both the certification and non-certification tracks require 30 credit hours. Coursework will include:

  • Early Literacy Development, B-2
  • Literacy in Society
  • Strategic Intervention to Prevent Literacy Difficulties
  • Language Acquisition

Notables

Students must already hold initial teaching certification to apply for the Early Childhood Education program. Elective coursework in this program may include classes such as Media Literacy, Literacy for English Language Learners, Assessment in Education, and many more classes on related topics. Online programs are also available leading to an M.S. in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology, an M.S. in Childhood Education, and an M.S. in Reading.

 

17. Missouri State University

Overview

The mission of Missouri State University is rooted in ethical leadership, cultural competence, and community engagement. The University operates one primary campus (in Springfield), three additional campuses (West Plains, Missouri; Mountain Grove, Missouri; and Dalian, China), and extensive online programs. The online Early Childhood and Family Development program at Missouri State offers exceptional flexibility and versatility for child development professionals.

Program Features

The Early Childhood and Family Development program allows students to choose one-third of their classes. Degree candidates are encouraged to use these elective slots to customize a course of study that aligns with their professional interests and goals. Students may choose to take all of their coursework online, or they may take some of their electives face-to-face. Coursework for Early Childhood and Family Development candidates may include:

  • Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Programming and Policy Issues for Early Childhood Settings
  • Advanced Human Development Studies
  • Family Advocacy

Notables

Some candidates will take only one course per semester, allowing them to earn their degree over the course of several years. Others will take four courses per semester and finish the entire degree sequence in three semesters. Graduates of the program will be qualified to work in child care facilities; public and private schools; local, state, and federal governmental agencies; and nonprofit organizations.

 

18. University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Overview

Founded in 1891 as the State Normal and Industrial School, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro now offers 85 bachelor’s degrees, 74 master’s programs, and 32 doctoral programs to its 20,000-plus students. The Graduate School at UNCG enrolls roughly 3,600 graduate students in seven academic divisions. Through the School of Education, students can pursue the acclaimed M.Ed. in Birth through Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies for Education and Development.

Program Features

Two tracks are available for the Birth through Kindergarten program. The Early Childhood Leadership and Advanced Teaching Licensure track is designed for students with initial or professional teaching certification seeking an advanced teaching license. The Early Childhood Leadership and Program Administration track is designed for directors, program administrators, technical assistance providers, and others working in early childhood leadership positions. Both tracks require the following courses:

  • Inclusive Family-Centered Practices in Early Childhood
  • Screening/Assessment in Inclusive Early Childhood Services
  • Leadership and Mentoring in Educating Young Children
  • Advanced Curriculum in Early Childhood Education

Notables

The Education and Development program at UNCG is synchronous, meaning that students will sign on at designated times while their classmates and professors are also online. This allows for a higher level of engagement and personal interaction for distance learning students. Class meetings typically take place from 5:00 PM to 6:50 PM.

 

19. Saint Joseph's University

Overview

Saint Joseph’s University is Philadelphia’s Jesuit Catholic institution of higher learning. Founded in 1851, SJU now serves over 4,800 undergraduate students and 3,000 graduate and doctoral students. The fully online degree programs at Saint Joseph’s include an Instructional Technology Specialist M.S., an M.S. in Educational Leadership, and an M.S. in Special Education.

Program Features

The Special Education program at SJU is designed for students who currently hold a Level I Certification in Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle School, or Secondary Education. Upon successfully completing the degree program, candidates will be eligible for special education licensure for either pre-kindergarten through grade 8 or grades 7 through 12. Coursework for this program is offered both on campus and online. Required courses include:

  • Foundations and Current Issues: Special Education
  • Diagnostic Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  • Families, Schools, and Community: Communication and Collaboration
  • Research-Based Models: Literature, Writing, and Oral Language

Notables

This degree track offers several optional endorsements, including a Wilson Reading Program Certification, an Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing specialization, and an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) concentration. These specializations are all available to online students. Fully 100 percent of SJU’s tenure-track faculty members hold a terminal degree (typically a doctorate).

 

20. Stephen F. Austin State University

Overview

Stephen F. Austin State University was founded in 1923 as a teachers college. Today, nearly 13,000 students attend SFA in 120-plus areas of study. Through the M.S. in Human Sciences, graduates can prepare themselves to serve children and families through nonprofit organizations, social service agencies, and more.

Program Features

The Master of Science in Human Sciences is available as a thesis track, which requires 30 credit hours, or a non-thesis track, which requires 36 credit hours. The program offers four areas of emphasis: Interior Design, Healthcare Interior Design, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Human Development and Family Studies. Candidates in the Human Development and Family Studies concentration will take the following courses:

  • Child Development and Parenting
  • Family Studies
  • Adult Development and Aging
  • Sociological Inquiry

Notables

All Human Sciences concentrations share an 18-credit hour core. In addition to this core and the requirements specific to the Human Development and Family Studies track, students will select three or nine credit hours (depending on whether they choose the thesis or non-thesis track) in elective coursework. Students at SFA can also pursue fully online programs leading to a Master of Education in Special Education, a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education, and a Master of Arts in Teaching.

 

21. Michigan State University

Overview

According to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2018, Michigan State University is among the top 100 universities in the world. Additionally, the Higher Education College Ranking 2018, published by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education, places MSU in the top 8 percent of universities in the United States. With these impressive accolades and many more, it’s no surprise that Michigan State offers a world-class graduate program in Youth Development.

Program Features

The online Master of Arts in Youth Development program features 36 credit hours, including 28 credit hours in a required core. The curriculum for this degree does not include a thesis requirement. However, students must pass a final examination or evaluation as their capstone experience. Classes within the 28-credit hour core include:

  • Administration and Program Management
  • Community Youth Development
  • Foundations of Youth Development
  • Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation

Notables

The Youth Development program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA). In addition to Michigan State, the GPIDEA consortium also includes Kansas State University, the University of Missouri, North Dakota State University, Texas Tech University, and the University of Nebraska. Students will graduate with a degree from their home institution, but they will also take online courses through other participating universities.

 

22. Indiana Wesleyan University

Overview

Founded in 1920, Indiana Wesleyan University is a private institution affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. The 320-acre main campus in Marion, Indiana enrolls roughly 3,000 students. Meanwhile, numerous regional campuses (located across Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio) and online programs enroll another 10,000 students. The extensive distance learning opportunities at IWU include a biblically rooted Master of Social Work program.

Program Features

Typically, candidates for the Master of Social Work will take each required course one at a time in a designated sequence. Although the coursework is fully online and asynchronous, this program does require extensive fieldwork and practicum experiences. Candidates for this degree will complete the following courses:

  • Human Behavior and Social Environment
  • Social Welfare and Policy
  • Social Research
  • Mental Health and Psychopathology

Notables

Degree candidates who earned their bachelor’s degree in Social Work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and who graduated with a minimum GPA of 3.0, may qualify for the Advanced Standing track. Students applying to the Standard Track may hold their bachelor’s degree in a field outside of social work, but they are encouraged to have a GPA of at least 2.7. The Master of Social Work from IWU is currently a candidate for accreditation from the Council of Social Work Education. The projected target date for full accreditation is February 2019.

 

23. University of the Rockies

Overview

The University of the Rockies offers graduate degrees in psychology, organizational leadership, and education. These programs are rooted in a common commitment to integrity, service, and diversity. The University serves roughly 1,800 students at its campus location in Denver and through distance learning programs. The Master of Arts in Human Services is available through both of these formats, offering flexibility and convenience for working professionals.

Program Features

The Human Services program allows students to choose from one of three tracks: Mental Health Administration, Nonprofit Management, and the Standard Program. Students who choose either one of the specialization tracks will take at least three courses (nine credit hours) within their concentration. For all tracks, this degree requires 33 credit hours. Coursework may include:

  • Cultural Diversity and Individual Differences
  • Nonprofit Principles and Practices
  • Structure and Function of Nonprofit and Government Organizations
  • Family Systems and Dynamics

Notables

The M.A. in Human Services is not a licensure program. However, it can lead to career opportunities in child protection services, nonprofit administration, volunteer management, and more. The University of the Rockies also offers a fully online Master of Arts in Counseling (which may lead to licensure), a Master of Arts in Education (non-licensure), and a Master of Arts in Organizational Development and Leadership (non-licensure).

 

24. University of Colorado Denver

Overview

Altogether, the University of Colorado system enrolls 65,000 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students. CU Denver alone serves a student body of roughly 15,000. The Denver campus is an established leader in business, engineering, public affairs, computer science, digital media, and education. The Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education (ECE) provides a strong foundation for aspiring developmental specialists, child care center directors, and other leaders in the child development field.

Program Features

The ECE program at CU Denver is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The coursework for this program is available on campus as well as online, and students are welcome to take any of their classes in the format that best suits their preferences and schedule. The curriculum for this degree includes classes such as:

  • Basic Statistics
  • Research in Schools
  • Language and Literacy in Young Children
  • Curriculum in Early Childhood Education

Notables

This program can lead to a license in Early Childhood Special Education Specialist for children birth through age eight. Degree candidates who already hold their initial teaching license can earn the Special Education Specialist certification as an add-on endorsement. Most students complete this master’s degree program in two to three years.

 

25. North Dakota State University

Overview

North Dakota State University is a land-grant research university with top-ranked academic opportunities in numerous fields of study. The National Science Foundation has featured NDSU’s programs in computer sciences, psychology, and social sciences among the top 100 programs of their kind nationwide. The highly acclaimed Human Development and Family Science program at North Dakota State offers three specializations: Gerontology, Family Financial Planning, and Youth Development.

Program Features

The Master of Science in Human Development and Family Science: Youth Development requires 36 credit hours. Graduates of this program will be prepared to work in Boys and Girls Clubs, faith-based organizations, community recreational programs, correctional facilities, 4-H programs, and similar settings. The academic core of the Youth Development degree features classes such as:

  • Community Youth Development
  • Adolescents and Their Families
  • Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research
  • Administration and Program Management

Notables

Students have the option of completing a six-credit hour Master’s Thesis or a three-credit hour Master’s Paper as their culminating experience. The Youth Development program is offered through the inter-institutional Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA). Other GPIDEA programs offered at NDSU include an M.S. or M.A. in Community Development and an M.Ed. in Family and Consumer Sciences Education.

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