master’s in child development california

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

Child development professionals make sure that children and adolescents reach their developmental milestones. These professionals shape children’s social, intellectual, and emotional development through education, healthcare, counseling, and social work. Most positions in these fields require an advanced degree.

A master’s degree in child development can propel graduates into meaningful and impactful jobs in growing fields. Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13% job growth for social workers and 25% job growth for behavioral disorder and mental health counselors.

Should I Get a Master’s in Child Development?

Earning a master’s degree in child development is ideal for students who are passionate about understanding and advocating for children. Courses in child psychology and human brain development help students grasp the multiple dimensions of child development, and research courses help students add to the intellectual conversation in the field.

While many students in these programs come from a teaching background, graduates can pursue careers in diverse fields.

While many students in these programs come from a teaching background, graduates can pursue careers in diverse fields. Social workers who focus on helping children can benefit from a child development master’s, as can professionals who work in child welfare or advocacy. Additionally, graduates can go onto a variety of education-related positions, including school counselor, instructional coordinator, and special education teacher.

Many of these positions are in high demand. Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects 13% job growth for social workers, 8% job growth for school and career counselors, and 6% job growth for instructional coordinators.

Because many students who decide to pursue a master’s degree already work full time, an online master’s degree in child development can help professionals get ahead without leaving their current job. Online master’s programs typically offer a level of flexibility that on-campus programs cannot.

While these programs generally take two years of full-time study, online students may be able to finish their degree ahead of time, depending on their pace, previously earned credits, and work experience.

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Find the best online master’s in child development programs. 

What Will I Learn in a Child Development Master’s Program?

An online master’s in child development helps students build an understanding of key theories and research methods in the field. Required courses often focus on physical growth and development in children, language and cognition development, child and adolescent psychology, and research methods.

Master’s in child development programs are usually offered as a master of arts or a master of science degree. Both degrees are similar in course content. Students can further specialize their degrees by pursuing a concentration, such as early childhood development, counseling, education, or healthcare.


CounselingCounseling concentrations prepare students for careers as child, adolescent, and school counselors. Coursework examines family dynamics, group structures, cultural issues, and mental health within families. Students learn techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and behavior modification.Intervention StrategiesThis concentration covers contemporary and traditional intervention strategies used in the child development field. Courses delve into practical interventions used to treat child behavioral and developmental issues, such as hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, and lack of attention. Students may participate in roleplay, applying these strategies to practical situations.Infant and Early Childhood Mental HealthThis concentration focuses on the mental and emotional development of children from infancy through age five. Students examine developmental milestones in early childhood, such as the ability to form relationships with adults and peers and the capacity to express and manage emotions.Child LifeThis concentration prepares graduates for work as certified child life specialists within the healthcare industry. Students learn how to best serve pediatric and adolescent patients during times of injury, illness, and hospitalization by providing emotional, developmental, and psychological support. Degree-seekers are often required to participate in an internship at a healthcare facility.Developmental PsychologyThis concentration provides students with a foundation in psychology from infancy through adolescence. Learners delve into the various developmental stages children go through as they age, focusing on social, emotional, and personal growth.

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How to Get Into a Child Development Master’s Program

All master’s programs in child development require prospective students to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Although a bachelor’s degree in a field closely related to child development may be preferred, applicants with an unrelated bachelor’s degree can often earn admission if they have relevant work experience.

Most schools prefer students with a minimum 3.0 GPA and may require letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and GRE scores.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions 

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Child Development?

Earning a master’s degree in child development can lead to careers in fields like education, social work, healthcare, and child welfare. Degree-holders can apply their expertise to careers as school and mental health counselors, teachers, and community social workers. They may also work closely with children’s families to provide coping strategies and communication techniques that can be used at home.

Students who earn a master’s degree in child development can also apply to related doctoral programs.

Popular Career Paths

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How Much Money Can I Make With a Master’s in Child Development?

Salary potential depends on career, experience, and location. According to the BLS, school and careers counselors earn a median annual salary of $58,120, while social workers make $51,760 per year. Additionally, childcare center directors make a median annual salary of $49,160.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master’s in Child Development Programs

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What is child development?

Child development refers to the growth process from infancy until adulthood. The study of child development centers around physical, mental, emotional, and language development and how genetic and environmental factors can influence development in these areas.

Is a master’s in child development worth it?

Earning a master’s degree in child development can be worth it for students who want to make a difference in the lives of children. While earning a master’s degree can be a big investment, graduates who are passionate about impacting the youth in their communities may feel that this investment is more than worthwhile.

How much money can I make with a master’s in child development?

It depends on the field. Most child development careers offer median salaries ranging from $50,000-$60,000 per year.

What can I do with a master’s in child development?

Graduates with a master’s degree in child development can pursue careers as social workers, community service specialists, public school teachers, child life specialists, school counselors, and mental health workers.

What’s the difference between a master’s in child development and a master’s in early childhood education?

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