Earning a Master's in Child Development Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Child Development Online?

Aspiring educational professionals interested in working with children can benefit from earning a master's in child development online. The ideal student for this degree desires to engage with and help children, both developmentally and academically. Graduates with this degree work primarily in education and social work, assisting children in their social and emotional growth. Professionals with an education in child development serve as teachers, childcare coordinators and directors, and case workers, among other positions. This degree is best suited to individuals who want to teach children with mental or physical illness and/or academic and social challenges.

Earning a master's in child development online (rather than on campus) comes with advantages, including the flexibility of completing coursework on your own time without giving up your current career.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Child Development Graduates

Master's in Child Development Salary

Earning a child development master's online provides students with the opportunity to pursue fulfilling careers across diverse industries. Depending on each student's chosen concentration or specialization, he/she may work in education, religious and nonprofit organizations, child and daycare services, or civic or professional institutions.

Professionals in child development tend to earn more as they gain experience in their field. The tables below provide data from PayScale and the Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding typical industries these professionals go into and the average wages and salaries they tend to earn.

Salaries for Preschool and Childcare Center Directors by Setting

Industry Annual Mean Wage
Elementary and Secondary Schools; State, Local, and Private $67,900
Religious, Grantmaking, Civic, Professional, and Similar Organizations $50,710
Child Daycare Services $44,760

Master's in Child Development Careers

Students earning their online child development master's degree want to understand, work with, teach, and help children and adolescents -- tasks that require patience, empathy, and a willingness to listen and learn. The section below outlines careers these students pursue to employ such skills. When exploring career options, students should consider how their personalities and interests align with different job opportunities for child development specialists.

Preschool or Childcare Center Director

Annual Median Salary: $46,890

Preschool and childcare center directors supervise teachers and childcare providers; they also assist in hiring and training any new staff members at the center. The director must create and implement policies, procedures, and budgets while also meeting with parents, keeping the facility in proper maintenance and condition, and adhering to state regulations.

Elementary School Principal

Annual Median Salary: $94,390

Elementary school principals oversee all faculty and staff, and they handle school programs and activities. Principals must ensure that their school's curriculum meets state standards, along with compiling and analyzing student assessment data to monitor academic progress. Principals design and implement policies, budgets, and class schedules.

Child Life Specialist

Annual Median Salary: $41,100

Child life specialists often work in hospital settings with children and their families as they deal with all manner of illnesses. The child life specialist will help families manage major life changes due to the medical issue, providing ways to help families and children cope.

Social Worker

Annual Median Salary: $47,980

Social workers engage with families who need help and connect them with important community resources. Social workers with a master's degree may earn higher licensure and take on more advanced career roles and responsibilities in the field.

School Counselor

Annual Median Salary: $55,410

School counselors work with students to identify and assist them with academic issues. They also assist students in schedule planning, college preparedness and applications, and academic progress. They work with teachers and administrators to create and implement plans to help students succeed.

Source: PayScale

What Can I Expect from an Online Master's in Child Development Program?

The information below covers common aspects of child development master's programs, including coursework, and available certifications and licenses for graduates. As you read, keep in mind that what learners can expect from an online child development master's degree will vary depending on which school and program they choose.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Child Development

The sample curriculum below provides an example of courses you might take in a child development master's online program. Courses may differ depending on the school and program.

Developmental Psychology

This course explores a psychological approach to childhood and adolescent development. It covers developmental processes children and adolescents experience and explores methods for helping young people cope with issues they may face throughout development.

Research Methods

Students pursuing graduate study often take a research methods course centered in their field. This course examines research methods for scholars in child development, including quantitative and qualitative approaches, and common and trending areas of research in the field.

Social and Emotional Development

This course examines societal, familial, cultural, and communal influences on the social and emotional development of children and adolescents. It may explore issues in social and emotional development, such as behavioral issues, social issues in the larger community, and public policy in place to address these issues.

Child Life Theory

This course emphasizes science and theory, offering a theoretical approach to understanding practical and positive coping methods for children as they deal with difficult and traumatic experiences, including chronic and terminal illness. Students explore the history of this field of study and examine current research in the field.

Early Childhood Education

This course explores literacy development, learning processes, the structure of elementary curriculum, and learning disorders or delays. Students explore and discuss current education policies that impact children's development, and they examine relevant research in early childhood education.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Child Development Prepares for

  • Teacher Licensure: A master's in child development prepares students to earn alternative teacher licensure in many states. Those with a teaching license can teach at the grade level for which they earned licensure. Requirements for obtaining teacher licensure vary from state to state, but they generally include taking a subject area exam.
  • Child Development Associate Credential: Provided by the Council for Professional Recognition, the Child Development Associate Credential serves as a transferable and credible credential for professionals working in early childhood education. The credential requires a professional portfolio, a minimum of 480 hours working with young children, and a training course.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Joining a professional organization while earning a master's in child development online degree can provide students with valuable opportunities and resources. Professional organizations offer members services like networking opportunities, members-only job boards and career services, continuing education programs, and annual conferences. The organizations below serve students and professionals studying and practicing in the child development field, including students in online master's in child development programs.

  • Childhood Education International: Childhood Education International provides members with information and a better understanding of children's education around the world. They offer members workshops, continuing education, and special publications.

  • National Association for Family Child Care: The National Association for Family Child Care provides accreditation for family childcare facilities. The association also offers a yearly conference, and it advocates for childcare providers in public policy.

  • Zero to Three: Zero to Three emphasizes the importance of childhood development from infancy to age three. It advocates for providing parents with valuable resources in the community. Members access special events and conferences.

  • Society for Research in Child Development: This society aims to coordinate and expand research in the field of child development, providing guidelines for ethical research and opportunities for contribution. Members have access to publications and special meetings.

  • National Council on Family Relations: The National Council on Family Relations emphasizes families and family studies, with members in social work, education, and childcare. Members have access to special publications, meetings, and conferences.

  • Administration for Children and Families: This sector of the federal government provides information on grants and funding for research in child development, a media center, and resources for finding help for children and families in need.

  • National Head Start Association: The National Head Start Association aims to empower all children to meet their full potential, regardless of disadvantages. Its website offers a knowledge center and information on projects to which the association contributes.

  • ChildHelp: ChildHelp provides resources and help for abused and neglected children. The organization features local chapters around the country, and its website provides other resources for those in need and those looking to help.

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children: This organization provides professional resources and support for professionals who work with and educate young children up to age eight. The website offers digital resources and opportunities for getting involved.

  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America: Students in online master's in child development and family studies may benefit from volunteering with this organization, which connects mentors with kids in need in their local community.