Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Child Development: Guide to Online Programs for 2023

Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Child Development: Guide to Online Programs for 2023
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Child development professionals play a crucial role in the growth and maturity of children, helping to nurture their minds and bodies as they become young adults. With expert guidance throughout these formative years, kids can learn how to succeed socially and academically while preparing for life’s challenges.

These professionals help us understand and make sense of specific behaviors displayed within the stages of this process. For students who see themselves taking on this role, the online bachelor’s degree in child development will open doors for them in this field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 12% increase in job opportunities for social service workers between 2019 and 2029, which is three times greater than the national average (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). With this comes the need for child development experts. Whether you want to concentrate on becoming an undergraduate or seek a specialization in child development, you might want to consider online programs offered by most colleges and universities.

An online bachelor’s degree in child development is more general than a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. However, it is more specific than a degree in education or psychology. In this article, you will explore the specifics of taking an online bachelor’s program in child development.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development
  5. How much does an online bachelor’s degree in Child Development cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an online bachelor’s degree in Child Development?
  7. Courses to Expect in Online Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development
  8. Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development

Can you get a degree completely online?

In online degree programs, you will generally have a greater selection of courses and programs to choose from. Today, every sort of degree is possible to get online: certificates, associate degrees, and even graduate degrees. Online programs are flexible, so students may adjust their schedules to accommodate them, especially if they are helping out in the family or caring for an elderly relative. The content is always up-to-date because it is available online. Another benefit of online education is that students may pursue their studies while advancing in their present jobs or using it to prepare for a new profession.

In 2019, there were already more than 700,000 professionals working in the social services industry (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). With the availability of online degrees in child development, workers with social workers can gain further academic training and experience without these affecting their job schedules. Similarly, the increasing popularity of distance learning makes it easier for anyone interested to pursue an online degree in child development. In 2018, there were 6.9 million students enrolled in some form of a distance learning program, most of which are conducted online (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020).

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

Employers respect a college degree from a regionally approved university. They appear to consider traditional and online degrees similarly at the moment. This is especially true if the prospective employee holds a degree from a regionally accredited college. This should come as no surprise, given that many businesses only recognize degrees—even traditional degrees—acquired at authorized universities.

Many companies see online degrees as evidence that individuals lead busy lives and are capable of balancing several responsibilities. It is quite impressive, and it will not go ignored that you could raise your family and work full-time while finishing a degree program. Many companies will be pleased by your commitment to study, as well as your time management abilities. This implies that they may consider your online degree as a significant asset when reviewing your application for employment.

Additionally, the number of students taking online courses is also beginning to normalize online programs. In 2018, about 30% of students in the United States were taking at least one online course.

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

The increasing popularity of online programs has made it considerably acceptable around the world. Employers are generally not particular about where and how you earned your degree. However, they consider the reputation of the institution that granted the degree. The worldwide acceptance of online education, especially during the pandemic, is resulting in an increasing number of enrollees.

In fact, as early as 2015, online education has been gaining traction among students and employers alike. According to the 2015 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in Babson College, “institutions with distance offerings remain as positive as ever, but there has been a retreat among leaders at institutions that do not have any distance offerings.”

A recent survey by EducationData projects that the online learning industry will continue to grow to up to $370 billion by 2026. While there is a slight decrease in overall enrollment in online programs, potentially due to the effects of the pandemic, the number of enrollees is “still significant.”

Source: Education Data, 2021

Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development

One-fifth of children starting kindergarten show abilities at least two years behind their predicted level of skills, according to the Children’s Reading Foundation. The foundation says that less than 12% of children with this difficulty will go to university in the future (The Children’s Reading Foundation, n.d.).

Developmental requirements of children can have long-term social and educational repercussions. Child development professionals monitor a child and young person’s education and well-being in different environments. These graduates can work in schools, kindergartens, state agencies, and non-profit institutions.

Based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, the social services and social work industry is expected to grow by about 13% between 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the national average (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). There will be around 90,000 new jobs available to new graduates of online courses in child development between the same period.

The need for child development experts is also expected to grow due to the pandemic. According to a research titled “Child Development During the COVID-19 Pandemic Through a Life Course Theory Lens” published in Child Development Perspectives, scientists must focus on the unfolding and continuous effects of the pandemic on the overall development of children and youths.

Experts “must pay attention to developmental timing and unfolding developmental trajectories following this global pandemic, as well as to the factors that protect or exacerbate the pandemic’s detrimental effects,” the researchers said (Benner & Mistry, 2020).

“Life course theory can aid developmental scientists’ research inquiry to inform policies and practices that mitigate the adverse consequences of the pandemic on children and adolescents.”

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Tuition Fee and Financial Aid

The cost is typically the most crucial factor in choosing a bachelor’s program. As tuition is lower, travel expenses are not involved, and no lodging is required, online institutions are generally cheaper. New college students also have the opportunity to continue to live with their families, which further reduces the overall cost of attending university. Additionally, these students do not pay for meal plans or activity tickets.

In most cases, traditional institutions are far more expensive than online universities. In certain circumstances, conventional degrees may be less expensive per credit hour than online degrees. However, when miscellaneous fees and other on-campus living expenses are included, students eventually spend far more.

It is also necessary to take into consideration financial assistance. A small number of institutional scholarships are available at online institutions. Many students will get external assistance, but without institutional bursaries based on merits and needs, the vast majority of students would pay for the majority of their education out of their own pockets.

Class Schedule

Because of flexibility, some students choose online institutions over traditional universities. It is not necessary for students to be physically present in classes. And, the courses may be held online and adapted to their hectic calendars.

It is noteworthy that certain online universities provide synchronous classes at particular times. These class sessions are often reserved for more interactive learning opportunities as well as collaborations with the instructor.

Students can graduate sooner since online programs provide them with a high level of flexibility. This is another reason why full-time students prefer to select online schooling. Parents who are taking care of children can attend lessons, do homework, and finish projects on their children’s schedules.

Full-time employees have the opportunity to study on breaks or after work. Students who take online classes are eligible for tuition assistance from businesses and organizations. This type of training for professionals helps students apply their education to the workplace. Such flexibility is seldom found in traditional classrooms.

Even practical training is relatively flexible in online child development courses. Institutions typically partner with organizations and schools where students can gain practical experience in child development. Just like their online classes, these are usually flexible and scheduled ahead of time.

Curriculum and Delivery of Instruction

The curricula of online and traditional colleges are usually the same or equivalent. Most degrees from traditional schools are also available online, and vice versa.

Institutions primarily focusing on online learning may be perceived as less rigorous than regular universities. But, online lessons have to balance knowledge-sharing with the ability to reach students in a non-traditional way. Some online colleges may even share more information than in-person classes since the online approach ensures that students have access to resources all the time.

When an institution is able to deliver its education both online and on-site, it almost always employs the same curriculum for online and on-site sessions. This is ideal for students who want to ensure they receive the best education possible.

Learning Resources and Supplementary Materials

A typical college campus features a library, study center, counselors, and computer labs to assist students in getting the most out of their education. The physical environment allows students to seek the support of their classmates and mentors. Typically, online universities do not offer these resources.

In many ways, online schools enhance education further. Most of them feature social media networks and message boards to help students study together. They even allow students to meet face to face if they are within the same city or region. Most online universities have digital libraries of their own, which include all available materials in a physical library and sometimes, even more. Many provide counselors and tutors through text, email, and video chat.

Likewise, major universities sometimes establish satellite campuses that provide particular training programs online. These regional universities sometimes provide their online students with conventional learning tools. Students, for example, can schedule in-person appointments with counselors or tutors on an as-needed basis. Academic activities, such as internships, practical examinations, and laboratory work that necessitate a personal appearance, also occur in these satellite venues. Often these events are planned in advance in terms of the availability of students.

Is an online degree cheaper?

Online college degree programs are often cheaper than traditional brick-and-mortar schools for a variety of reasons. Online institutions that provide exclusively online degrees tend to have lower costs to meet. This means that they generally do not have to deal with a wide array of real estate, land, and structures. There are no long-term support positions or staff to pay every month. This may allow for lower tuition rates in online schools and universities than conventional colleges and universities.

According to a survey by the U.S. News, the average in-state fees for online degree courses is about $40,000 in 2020. These programs typically require around 120 credits for students to graduate, averaging $300 per credit (Kerr, 2021).

Other public schools are even considerably cheaper than large universities. In many affordable online colleges for early childhood education, the average total cost of online degree programs is about $16,000 in 2020. This is around $130 per credit on average.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

The fact that graduates of online programs earn the same degree as traditional pupils is sometimes forgotten. Unless you mentioned it during an interview, a potential employer would barely notice the difference. Employers are likely to evaluate the reputation of the institution when assessing their qualifications. They are wary of diploma mills and the institution’s reputation. As such, it is best to explore online programs in large universities to ensure quality education. Similarly, examine your school’s links to the local business community to ensure that future employers will take your degree seriously.

How much does an online bachelor’s degree in Child Development cost?

A variety of factors determine the cost of an online bachelor’s degree in child development. It is crucial to examine where you live because many schools and universities charge higher tuition to students who live outside of their home states. On the other hand, some institutions charge a fixed tuition rate for online students regardless of where they live. Another important consideration is the payment of technology costs; these fees are sometimes charged to online students but not to their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Students pursuing an online bachelor’s degree in child development generally require four years to finish their curriculum. The majority of institutions need students to complete 120 credits to receive an online child development degree.

In most cases, the cost per credit of an online bachelor’s degree in child development is between $250 and $450. In total, students could anticipate paying somewhere between $30,000 and $54,000 in tuition (U.S. News, n.d.). This is consistent with the national average tuition fee, which is anywhere between $28,000 to $45,000 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020).

Is an online bachelor’s degree in Child Development worth it?

Each student must determine whether or not pursuing a degree is worthwhile, although a bachelor’s degree in child development can provide graduates with excellent career opportunities. With specialized training that combines psychology, education, and social work, those studying child development have a multitude of career paths to choose from. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, kindergarten teachers receive a median annual wage that is about $20,000 more than the national average.

What are the requirements of an online bachelor’s degree in Child Development?

When selecting an online child development program, several things must be considered as these will impact your educational experience. Choose, for example, a program offered by a regionally approved institution to assure the highest possible educational quality. Using this information, you may narrow down your search for programs based on available specializations, tuition costs, professors, format options, and curricula.

Admission Requirements

Before applying for an online bachelor’s program at a four-year institution, there are a few requirements. Applying directly from either high school or community college will have a minor impact on the requirements of the university.

  • Minimum Grade Point Average. Many programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0 depending on the number of applicants that the institution receives. Students who do not meet this requirement may be given conditional admission status.
  • Proven Coursework. For students transferring from another institution such as a community college, a transcript of relevant coursework should be provided in order to transfer credits.
  • Letter of Intent. An intent letter summarizes the applicant’s details, such as desired major and academic accomplishments. Some institutions evaluate this letter to ensure that your goals and objectives align with theirs.
  • Letters of Recommendation. Recommendation letters provide evidence that professionals and community members support the student’s education. This also serves as your proof of experience and accomplishments.

Source: American College Testing

General Requirements

A career in child development combines skills in education, social work, and psychology. While not required, you will set yourself apart from other applicants if you possess the skills and experience in the following:

  • Written and oral communication
  • Experience working with children
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Patience and passion for educating children, parents, and the community
  • Knowledge of psychology or related topics
  • Teaching experience

What are the technological requirements of students for online learning?

The majority of online special education degree programs do not require any specialized equipment or software. To access your lectures and materials, you will, of course, require a desktop computer or a laptop. Internet connectivity is also necessary to accomplish the majority of course obligations, including exams, assignments, and even group work. You will require a microphone and a webcam to connect with your teachers and classmates for programs featuring synchronous courses.

Numerous online institutions conduct their lectures using freely accessible software, ranging from video conferencing programs to learning management systems. Additionally, the majority of schools employ online solutions, which means that you will not be required to install any special software to attend your courses unless otherwise specified in the course.

Courses to Expect in Online Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development

While the courses offered in each bachelor’s degree in child development differ, the majority of programs address comparable fundamental subjects. The following section highlights five popular core courses to offer prospective students a sense of what to anticipate in these programs.

  • Child Psychology – Students in child psychology courses learn about the typical phases of child development as they go through the years. In this lesson, students investigate important elements that impact child psychology, such as the environment and family.
  • Early Childhood Education – Students enrolled in early childhood education courses learn about the best surroundings and instructional approaches for training young children. Curriculum design, child behavior, and contemporary issues in the area are some of the subjects covered in this course. In addition, students learn how to include their families and communities in the educational experience.
  • Social and Emotional Development – Students will get an understanding of how children navigate their social settings in this course. In this lesson, students study the importance of emotions in a child’s life and how a variety of variables may impact their emotional and social growth. The students also develop knowledge and abilities in guiding children through their journeys of self-discovery in a variety of environments.
  • Language Development – This course instructs students on the process through which children learn to communicate. Learners take note of the many phases of language development as well as the various forms of language, including oral and written communication. Multilingualism and language problems are two more things to consider as well.
  • Assessment and Intervention – These courses examine evaluation methodologies and intervention strategies in the contexts of schools and social service organizations. Raising concerns, recognizing difficulties, and ensuring that children’s needs are met as efficiently as possible are all covered in this course. During this course, students will investigate particular behavioral or learning difficulties and the origins and consequences of these issues.

In many cases, students with an online bachelor’s degree in child development also touch on topics in special education. With 14% of public school students experiencing some form of learning difficulties, those in child development careers will need training and experience handling specialized education (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020).

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2021

As child development professionals often work in the public sector, some programs include courses that deal with policy-making as well as topics in economy, social development, and more. According to the research, Building capacity in health and education systems to deliver interventions that strengthen early child development, “building capacity within health and education systems of low- and middle-income countries to deliver high-quality early childhood services requires coordinated efforts across sectors, effective governance, sufficient funding, an adequate workforce, reliable data systems, and continuous monitoring, evaluation, and improvement cycles.”

“In addition, building capacity requires leadership, innovation of strategies to fit into existing structures, evidence-based intervention models, and effective partnerships that help make interventions more culturally relevant, help finance them, and help create institutional long-term support and sustainability for them,” the study highlighted (Nores & Fernandez, 2018)

Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development

Just as a degree in child development may lead to a variety of occupations, the curriculum for these degrees can also differ. Concentrations in teaching are available in certain programs, while others emphasize the abilities required to function as a child life expert (also known as a child life specialist).

Tuition Fee and Other Costs

For many students, the expense of schooling is the most pressing concern. Traditional students must pay for tuition, books, housing, and transportation; online students frequently pay less since they do not commute. Out-of-state students often pay a higher tuition rate than students from within the state. The financial condition of a student influences the amount of money it costs to attend college as well. In most universities and institutions, online bachelor’s degree programs cost between $30,000 and $54,000 on average, depending on the curriculum.

Source: U.S. News, 2021

Transfer Policies

The transfer policies of a college may be a factor for students who have earned credits from another accredited institution. Transfer credits are commonly recognized by universities that have transfer agreements with other schools in the same region as the credits that were earned at the receiving university. Transfer agreements may also be used to restrict the number of out-of-state fees that students must pay and provide out-of-state students with in-state tuition reductions.

On-Campus Requirements

Students pursuing online special education degrees are typically not required to travel to a campus. Some teachers, on the other hand, may need students to meet in person on occasion. Students may also be required to perform practicums or internships that must be completed on campus or in person at certain locations as part of their degree program.


Colleges are either regionally or nationally accredited, depending on their location. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation for two- and four-year colleges and universities and technical and vocational institutions. Furthermore, vocational and technical schools are frequently recognized on a national level for their achievements. It is via the accreditation process that the quality of education given by institutions or programs is validated. Accreditation assessments are conducted on a voluntary basis at participating schools.

The choice of a regionally recognized online special education degree allows students to qualify for federal financial aid as well as transfer credits. It is also possible that regionally accredited universities will not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited colleges.

The following bodies typically review and provide accreditations to various child development programs:

  • The National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment
  • National Early Childhood Program Accreditation
  • American Montessori Society
  • Association of Christian Schools International

Starting Your Career in Child Development

An online bachelor’s degree in child development prepares students to become early childhood educators, child care professionals, and specialist child and family social workers, among other childhood development careeers. Students in this program learn about the stages of children’s emotional, physical, and psychological development through courses in psychology, sociology, and pedagogy, among other subjects. In some cases, child development is offered under programs such as education and psychology.

A child development degree typically requires four years of full-time study. Infant and toddler development, abnormal child development, and early childhood education are common subjects covered by students. As such, if you are passionate about educating and working with kids, their parents, and their community, an online bachelor’s degree in child development is right for you.

With up to 350,000 new jobs in the industry within the next decade, graduates of child development programs have a multitude of career options. These have yet to include managerial and administrative positions that open up once professionals earn years of experience and academic training. With online degree programs offered in most higher educational institutions, professionals in the industry can pursue higher learning by taking up master’s degrees in psychology, school administration, general education, and the like without affecting their current careers.



  1. Benner, A. D., & Mistry, R. S. (2020). Child Development During the COVID‐19 Pandemic Through a Life Course Theory Lens. Child Development Perspectives, 14(4), 236–243. Retrieved from
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2019–2029. Bernan Press. Retrieved from
  3. National Center for Education Statistics (2020). Distance learning. Retrieved from
  4. Kerr, E. (2021, February 2). 10 Affordable Online Colleges for In-State Students. U.S. News. Retrieved from
  5. National Center for Education Statistics (2020). Tuition costs of colleges and universities. Retrieved from
  6. Nores, M., & Fernandez, C. (2018). Building capacity in health and education systems to deliver interventions that strengthen early child development. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1419(1), 57–73. Retrieved from
  7. U.S. News. (n.d.). Online bachelor’s degree in child development. Retrieved July 12, 2021, from
  8. The Children’s Reading Foundation (n.d.). What’s the Impact. Retrieved July 12, 2021, from

Newsletter & Conference Alerts uses the information to contact you about our relevant content. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.