Over the last 50 years, there has been an explosion in the research that points to the importance of early childhood development. The fields of neuroscience, genomics, and molecular biology are making clear how early childhood development is extremely important for socially and emotionally healthy individuals and communities. If you are interested in playing a role in helping to form and guide the development of children, then a degree in Child Development is a good place to start.
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of most degrees in Child Development, career options are quite broad. Students who study Child development can go on to become early childhood public policy advocates and experts, early childhood educators, social workers, child life specialists, parent educators, after-school program directors, adoption caseworkers, day care directors, or health care related professionals. There are literally dozens of options.
What’s more, the job prospects for many of these professions are expected to grow either at the average rate of other professions or much faster. For instance, child psychologist positions are expected to grow by 14 percent over the next decade, which is twice the average rate. Social work positions are expected to grow by 16 percent over the next decade.
While early childhood educator positions are expected to grow by around 10 percent. All of these outstrip the seven percent average growth. The reason is simple — now that our society has come to realize how important early childhood really is for growing healthy adults, more and more resources are going to go into making sure that every kid gets a chance at a flourishing life.
Best College Reviews provides degree rankings, such as the 5 Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Childhood Development, from carefully researched data sets published from government and nonprofit organizations across the United States. Five primary factors affect how we rank degrees:
- 25% Student Satisfaction
- 30% Earning Potential
- 15% Retention Data
- 20% Affordability
- 10% Acceptance Rates
For an in-depth breakdown of how we calculate each ranking, check out our Methodology page.
#1 VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN CHILD DEVELOPMENT
A private research university, Vanderbilt University is located in Nashville, TN and enrolls over 12,000 students annually. The Department of Psychology and Human Development in the Peabody College for Teachers offers a Bachelor of Science in Child Development. The degree includes significant exposure to the social and behavioral sciences concerning child development to prepare students as researchers, educators, public policy advocates, and experts or professionals in various psychological, and health-related careers. The major pairs well with other areas like cognitive studies, elementary education, special education, or human and organizational development.
Students are grounded in the liberal arts and sciences through the general education curriculum which consists of 40 credits in areas like the humanities, science, cultural studies, social sciences, and communications. The major itself includes 21 core credits, then an additional nine elective hours from within the major or an adjacent area of studies like education, neuroscience, special education, or psychology. This leaves an additional 50 credits to be used to pursue other areas of study including a second major. Included among the core courses are Cognitive Aspects of Human Development, Statistical Analysis, Social and Personality Development, and Developmental Psychology.
The DPHD also offers an Honors Program in Child Development which is more research focused and allows students to conduct a significant research project in collaboration with faculty as part of their undergraduate career. In addition, there is also a five-year Child Development and Nursing program. This degree brings together the BSCD and links it to a Master of Science in Nursing through the School of Nursing. Students must apply for admission to this program at the end of their sophomore year, and if admitted, takes all of their courses from their senior year on in the SN.
#2 UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA – CHAMPAIGN
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT & FAMILY STUDIES: CHILD & ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT
The Department in Human Development & Family Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Development & Family Studies: Child & Adolescent Development. The degree is technically lodged within the HDFS major and is considered a concentration. The program aims to give students a broad base of knowledge regarding childhood development to prepare for careers in early childhood education or social services.
The degree requires 126 credits overall, and with 48-50 credits for the major. Students are required to complete 32-hours in the HDFS core courses which include classes like Introduction to Human Development, Families in Global Perspective, Contemporary Nutrition, and Introduction to Family Studies. The CAD concentration then requires an additional 16-18 credits. Students take courses like Socialization and Development, Infancy & Early Childhood, and Family Stress and Change.
The DHDFS also works with The Child Development Laboratory which is a licensed and accredited program specifically created to provide child care, support research, and offer training experiences with children. The CDL is considered a lab school which means that it is open for observation to students, researchers, and the public. Students will often complete specific class projects at the CDL, gaining invaluable experience and insight in a living laboratory. The DHDFS also runs the Child Care Resource Center which serves six counties in the Urbana vicinity. The program is specifically designed to provide resources, education, and services to the larger community to help build strong families where children can thrive.
#3 APPALACHIAN STATE UNIVERSITY
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN CHILD DEVELOPMENT
Appalachian State University resides in Boone, NC within the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. ASU has a long and venerable history of teacher training, for a time being named the Appalachian Training School for Teachers. Located in the College of Education, the Department of Family and Child Studies offers a Bachelor of Science in Child Development. Students can pursue the licensure or non-licensure track in the program. The licensure program gives students the proper training to be licensed to teach in Pre-K and Kindergarten programs in the state of North Carolina.
Students must complete a series of requirements in Professional Education totaling 24 hours. The track features four different field experiences including a 150-hour infant/toddler practicum, a 150-hour preschool practicum, an agency internship for five weeks, as well as 12 credits of student teaching. The major itself is 45 credits and includes classes like Variations in Development: Birth through Kindergarten, Administration of Early Childhood Programs, Preschool Curriculum and Instruction, and Child Study and Guidance. The program is 122 credits in total.
The non-licensure program is a similar size, totaling 123 credits. This program includes two field experiences: a 200-hour practicum, and a 400-hour internship. Students are required to complete 30 credit hour in Child and Family Studies, as well as a Professional core, and then choose between four concentrations: Infant/Toddler; Preschool/Kindergarten; Programs and Services; or Research. The program is designed to give students a broad base of knowledge regarding early childhood and family dynamics so that they can work in nonschool settings and agencies where licensure is not required.
#4 MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
EAST LANSING, MI
BACHELOR OF ARTS IN CHILD DEVELOPMENT
Located in central Michigan, Michigan State University was founded in 1855 and is a public research university. MSU regularly enrolls nearly 50,000 students a year. The university consists of 17 different colleges including the College of Social Science which houses the Department of Human Development and Family Studies where students can attain a Bachelor of Arts in Child Development. The BA is specifically designed to meet requirements set by the State of Michigan Department of Education. Students can choose between a concentration in Elementary Education Teacher Certification or Preschool Teaching in an Early Childhood Setting.
The PTECS concentration requires 120 credits, while the EETC concentration requires additional credits to meet state standards for teacher certification. Both concentrations are required to take 27 credits in core courses in the major. Among these are classes like Diverse Learners in Multicultural Perspective, Child Growth and Development, Interaction with Children in Groups, and Infant Development and Programming. There is also a six credit hour requirement for student teaching in a program for early childhood.
The PTECS concentration requires 15 credits which include classes like The Individual, Couples and the Family, Parenting, Ethnic Families in America, and Evaluation of Human Service Programs. For the EETC concentration, students work with the Department of Teacher Education and follow proscribed courses in the Teacher Certification program. These students will be required to complete the Planned Program for Elementary Education, which is 20 to 30 credits, as well as one of the subject matter majors, which required between 36-58 credits. The options include Language Arts, Social Studies, Integrated Science, and Mathematics.
#5 IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN CHILD, ADULT, AND FAMILY SERVICES
Located in Ames, IA, Iowa State University is a public research university that enrolls over 33,000 students annually. ISU is actually the nation’s first land-grant institution with a long history of offering professional degrees. The Department of Human Development and Family Studies awards a Bachelor of Science in Child, Adult, and Family Services. Overall the program is 120 credits and students are required to choose one of three concentrations: the Child Program, the Youth Program, of the Family Program. These different programs subsequently shape the contours of the course of study that students follow.
Outside of the general education courses, students take core courses in the Human Development and Family Studies. Nearly 20 credits are required of all majors which include classes like Individual and Family Development, Health, and Well-being, and Program Evaluation and Proposal Writing among others.Students can also take 15 credits related to the BSCAFS program. These include classes like Personal Finance in Early Adulthood, Parenting and Family Diversity Issues, and Children, Families, and Public Policy.
The remaining credits in the major are then concentrated on the specific concentration that students have chosen. For instance, if students choose the CP concentration then they will take classes like Development in Young Children: Birth through Age 8, or Programming for Children in Early Care and Education. Likewise, students who choose the YP concentration to take specialized courses like Adolescent and Emerging Adulthood.There are also an additional 20-24 elective credits which students may use to pursue a minor or possibly even an additional major. In-state tuition is $3,870 per semester, while out-of-state is $11,072 per semester, and in both cases, there are additional fees. Students can take available classes in the summer which may allow them to complete their major more quickly as well.