Best Online Master’s in Child Development

Invest in the future by transforming children’s emotional, intellectual, and physical potential. Earn one of the Best Online Master’s Degree in Child Development.

So much of success in life is rooted in our beginnings, specifically the developmental opportunities at a young age. Quality education and counseling in early childhood programs is proven to positively impact long-term holistic health significantly, as supported by studies from the Brookings Institute.

Who do we look to for this life-changing work? Child Development Specialists are advocates for children as they grow, paving the way to better futures for us all.

What is an Online Master’s in Child Development degree?

Child Development specialists provide support in all sectors of education, health, and social services. Their expertise in developmental growth contributes to the way we understand and support children throughout their formative years and into adulthood.

A Master’s Degree in Childhood Development provides the training and tools needed to support children as they grow, every step of the way. Whether providing education or counseling, evaluating physical and cognitive development, or conducting research and managing programs, specialists in Child Development are critical to the successful future of every child.

Check out OSR’s Best Online Master’s Degrees in Psychology for a more general course of study.

How much can you earn with an Online Master’s in Child Development degree?

With Child Development specialists critical to many facets of both private and public services, earning potential varies depending on position. Opportunities in the private and medical sectors often result in a higher pay scale, while compensation in public or government services tend to be dependent on funding.

For example, Child, Family, and School Social Workers in community services earn an average of $48,430 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, Child Life Specialists in a clinical setting earn an average of $60,380 per year, according to the same source. Program administrators and experts who gain experience in their fields easily go on to earn higher salaries throughout their careers.

What is required for an Online Master’s in Child Development degree?

Basic requirements for the majority of online Master’s degree programs in Childhood Development include an application, a resume or CV, professional references or letter of recommendation, and a letter of intent. GRE requirements vary, as do course prerequisites.

Some programs require an undergraduate degree of some kind, though others will provide alternative solutions. Of those that do require undergraduate work, some look for a relevant prior degree, such as education, psychology, or child and family studies, while others accept a broader range of experience.

Depending on program focus and career track, you will likely complete between 30 and 50 credit hours. Most programs center around a core set of basic classes, and branch off to provide more focused coursework in a variety of specialities and certifications.

What are the best Online Master’s in Child Development degrees?

OSR uses six data points: three school-wide and three program specific. For school-wide, OSR uses Student Satisfaction, Admission Rates, and the number of programs the school offers online. For program specific, OSR checks the Median Debt of graduates from that program, how many degrees are offered within that program’s umbrella department, and what percentage of students at that school graduated from that department.

The six statistics are displayed by each school. The sliding bar under each statistic represents how that school compares to other US institutions. “Not reported” means a school did not release that information to the US Department of Education. A more detailed description of the OSR process can be found on the methodology page.

  1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,518(in state) / $22,425(out of state)
    • Thesis and non-thesis options available
    • No minimum GPA requirement for acceptance
    • Access to resources from an array of institutions

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction72.40%
    Admission Rate64%
    Programs offered online1

    Program Level

    Median Debt$24,494
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School8.10%
    OSR Score

    The MS in Child, Youth, and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln is offered through a consortium of regional universities participating in a joint distance learning effort. With a variety of tracks and specializations, the Child Development programs rank among only 9 percent in the nation that are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Requirements are between 30-36 credit hours, with three options for structuring coursework.

  2. University of Missouri-Columbia

    University of Missouri

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,640(in state) / $23,659(out of state)
    • Adjustable schedule and completion timeframe
    • GRE not required for admission
    • Access to resources from a network of universities

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction72.20%
    Admission Rate78%
    Programs offered online8

    Program Level

    Median Debt$25,816
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School4.50%
    OSR Score

    The flexible, online graduate program at the University of Missouri offers MA degrees in Youth Development, Gerontology, and Family and Community Services. Each 36-credit hour program requires a core set of classes plus electives and advanced courses in your specialty, along with an internship component. Classes are taught in partnership with regional universities with final degrees awarded by the University of Missouri.

  3. University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,219(in state) / $18,937(out of state)
    • Evening classes to accommodate working schedules
    • Professors actively involved in field research
    • Program prepares for wide array of career paths

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.80%
    Admission Rate78%
    Programs offered online7

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School6.10%
    OSR Score

    A Masters of Education in Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development is available from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Fully online, the degree is offered with cooperation from both the School of Education and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. With a primary focus in Early Childhood Leadership, the program offers concentrations in Program Administration or Advanced Teaching Licensure, both requiring 37 credit hours.

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  5. University of Southern Mississippi

    University of Southern Mississippi

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,108(in state) / $8,108(out of state)
    • Well-suited to part-time schedule
    • Opportunity for hands-on experience in the field
    • In-state tuition for online students, and special funding for military

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction77.40%
    Admission Rate98%
    Programs offered online18

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department2
    Popularity at School3.10%
    OSR Score

    The 100 percent online MS in Child and Family Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi is designed for professionals and working individuals looking for a flexible school schedule. A total of 15 courses, each between 1-3 credits, is required for a total degree program of 37 credit hours. Thesis and practicum options round out the curriculum. Typical degree completion is two years.