The best bachelor’s in human and child development can propel you toward a rewarding career that earns a salary above the national average and has strong projected job growth in the future.
Human and child development is the study of growth from birth through the early years, as well as the family unit. You’ll have the power to change peoples’ lives for the better and improve the overall health and relationships of families in the United States. How many careers do you know of where you can say that?
Related Resource: What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
What Is a Human and Child Development Degree?
While human and child development is a field that’s offered through various minors and majors at U.S. universities, the scope of a program from one institution to another can differ. Some courses focus on early years education or growth, while others look at middle childhood or adolescence. Other programs focus on families. That’s why it’s good to have an idea of the kind of career you’d like to pursue before making your final choice.
Child development concentrations specifically tend to focus on birth through 8 years of age. You’ll explore research methodologies and theory in your early studies, before progressing onto other areas. You’ll look at how a young person’s growth and development can be influenced by society, family, the environment, and other factors. Many institutions also include a practical, hands-on placement to give you valuable experience and skills relevant to your final career.
In some cases, you’ll be able to combine your studies with a professional certification. If you can find such a program—there are many on this list—then you could give yourself a head start when applying for jobs after graduation.
Careers for Human and Child Development Majors
There are a wide variety of careers available to human and child development majors; this is especially true for students who choose to major in something like psychology with child development as a concentration. Some programs focus on training future teachers, while others prepare you for roles in social services, family counseling, or clinics.
Community and social service occupations might include a variety of roles, such as health educators and community health workers, marriage and family therapists, rehabilitation counselors, social workers, and school or career counselors. You’ll typically be working within a local community, applying your knowledge and implementing intervention programs to improve the lives of local residents.
Each state has different requirements for licensure of various professionals. In many cases, universities offer licensure alongside a degree, or align their curriculum to the standards or guidelines set by these organizations. It’s worth exploring whether this is the case, especially if you’re studying out of state but intend on working within the state in which you reside—it could make more sense to remain local when studying toward your degree, for career readiness purposes.
Human and Child Development Salary Potential
Human and child development can lead to a number of roles, though not all have the same scope for salary progression. It’s one of the fields in which the potential salary can vary fairly widely depending on the role you ultimately choose. That said, in many cases, the salaries on offer are still above the median average for all other occupations within the United States.
If salary progression is at the front of your mind, then you should remember that the higher salaries in this field tend to be reserved for senior managerial roles. Many of these will require further study after university at a graduate level, though many of the programs on our list prepare you for subsequent graduate study on completion. However, other senior roles, like child life specialists, can earn up to $60,000 according to the BLS.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2018 reported a median average salary of around $45,000 for professionals in the field of social work and community service. This was above the median annual salary for all other occupations of around $36,690 in the same year. Marriage and family therapists were earning around $50,000, with social workers not far behind. At the lower end, preschool educators had a projected job growth rate of around 7% for the 10 years between 2018 – 2028, so this is clearly a field for job security in the future, too.
What Are the Best Child Development Degrees?
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University of Georgia
Average Net Price
The University of Georgia dates back to 1785 and is a socially responsible institution that has participated in combating infectious disease and improving food chains. They’ve also held the crown for the most number of products derived and released to market based on university research, with nearly 800 individual products created. This is clearly a place of innovation.
Teaching is spread across campuses in five separate Georgia locations, with facilities also based in Washington, D.C., England, and Italy. The university also partners with organizations across more than 50 countries on 6 continents. This institution’s vast reach will prove invaluable for gaining you the experience and networking needed to launch a successful career after graduation.
This Bachelor of Science in human development and family sciences is pretty special; it awards two degrees over the five year duration. When you’ve finished your undergraduate studies, you can continue studying at the graduate-level, as well as prepare for your teaching qualification. You’ll gain hands-on experience through a number of experience-based placements, too.
The average cost of studying at undergraduate level in Georgia is $15,000, but for University of Georgia students who live in-state, it’s around $9550. For out-of-state residents, it raises significantly to $28,000 according to collegecalc.org. The institution has an acceptance rate of 54% for all applicants and 84% of students graduate at the end of their program of study.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
Average Net Price
Michigan State University boasts 34 undergraduate and graduate programs that have been ranked within the top 25 across the United States according to U.S. News & World Report. Students are the ‘Spartans’ and carry a strong personal obligation to make the world stronger and more prosperous. The university is also launching a comprehensive DEI (Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion) plan designed to enhance these principles across campus.
Michigan State offers a number of Big Ten sports programs and access to world-class museums and other attractions. There are more than 900 student organizations to get involved in, in addition to volunteer opportunities that could enhance your employability after graduation. There are also a number of internships and student jobs available, as well as career coaching.
This Bachelor of Arts in child development takes place at the university’s College of Social Science in beautiful scenery. As part of the course, you will choose a concentration in elementary education teacher certification or preschool teaching in an early childhood setting. The former leads to work in early grades within elementary schools, with the latter designed for roles in Head Start agencies or other child-related fields.
Tuition fees at Michigan State University breaks down as follows. In-state freshmen pay $14,524 in tuition and fees and $10,522 in room and board. Non-freshmen pay $39,830 tuition and fees, and the same for room and board. Finally, international freshmen pay $41,330 in tuition and fees, with room and board and other supplies bringing the total to $59,694.
Texas Tech University
Average Net Price
Texas Tech has a number of accolades to brag about. In the past decade, 40 faculty members have achieved the Fulbright Scholar award. Students have won more than 100 national championships, too. Among the past alumni are award-winning opera singers, leaders of Fortune Top 10 companies, and space shuttle astronauts.
You can take part in a number of recreational programs organized through the university, or participate in a wide variety of student organizations including fraternities and sororities. Texas Tech also runs a priority room selection in October and ranked number 6 in the list of top 20 most affordable cities.
Texas Tech offers a Bachelor of Science in human development and family studies that will prepare you for a career in teaching, early years education, and social services, among others. Studies will focus on the environmental, cultural, social, and biological impacts on development that can shape a person.
Undergraduates can expect to pay approximately $11,320 in tuition and fees, in addition to approximately $6236 in housing, and $3,526 in meals. Should you choose to remain at the institution and study at a graduate level after your course is complete, tuition fees are lower for graduate-level study. Non-residents pay over double at around $23,770 for tuition, though the graduate discount applies here, too.
Washington State University
Average Net Price
Washington State University (WSU) has a heavy focus on life-changing research that aims to improve health, promote clean energy, and improve food chains. Advances made by the WSU faculty of scientists have already improved the quality of life worldwide. In total, there is around $360 million in research and development expenditures in the WSU system.
You can choose from 98 majors and take part in other research opportunities and internships on-campus. And while studying at this institution, you might be eligible to receive financial aid from an annual pool of around $380 million.
More specifically, the early childhood education concentration can be taken as part of the Bachelor of Arts in human development, or studied separately, independently of a bachelor’s degree. You’ll gain the knowledge and professional aptitude needed to pursue employment in various early childhood fields, including childcare, pre-school education, and child protective services.
To obtain your undergraduate degree at this university, you’ll have tuition fees of around $10,510 as a WA resident, or $25,088 as an out-of-state student. There are additional mandatory fees of $1,330 for all students, plus housing costs of $6,822 and dining costs of $4,300. Books cost an additional $960.
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina
Average Net Price
The faculty at Appalachian State engage in research that’s essential to understanding environmental change and its impact on the world. They also promote and develop methods for innovation in areas of sustainability. It’s an institution that’s committed to environmental responsibility.
This bachelor’s in child development – family and child studies offers courses that focus on all areas of development, from birth through to adulthood, in addition to family studies. Careers resulting from graduation can include children-focused agencies, education within schools, social services, and adolescent services.
You’ll choose an area of focus from early childhood, child and family support, early intervention, or programs and services for middle childhood and adolescence. As part of the program, you will also undertake two mandatory field experiences, gaining hands-on practical experience in a relevant field. One is a 200-hour practicum and the other is a 400-hour internship.
In-state students can expect tuition fees of $7,710, which is typically below-average for a higher education institution. Out-of-state students pay around $22,517 in annual tuition. Both types of students have standard room costs of $4,620 and standard meal plans of $2,794. There is also a fixed tuition program for some NC residents, which means you’ll be charged the tuition rate of your first semester for the next 8 consecutive semesters.
University of Nevada
Average Net Price
The University of Nevada, Reno is up there with the top research universities in America, holding Carnegie Classification R1. Based in Reno, one of American’s best small cities, there are loads of activities available to students, both on and off-campus, in an area of astounding natural beauty.
UNR’s Bachelor of Science in human development and family studies (HDFS) looks at the full spectrum of development that happens from birth through to teenage years, as well as the family unit. Your theoretical studies will be supplemented by a number of supervised field visits, which will be invaluable in gaining hands-on experience and knowledge that will prepare you for a career in this industry.
As a resident of Nevada, you can expect to pay around $14,000 in tuition, though this rises significantly to $43,800 for out-of-state residents. However, the institution supports a range of financial aid options, including loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study funding. You can learn more about the individual options from the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.
An impressive 46% of UNR students receive financial aid, and even better, 50% or more of students graduate with no student debt. The university participates in the WUE program (Western Undergraduate Exchange), which lets students from participating states pay just 150% of the standard Nevada resident tuition fees. Nevada residents from a low income family are also guaranteed free tuition, free books, and no fees.
Texas Woman’s University
Average Net Price
Texas Woman’s University (TWU) is the largest university in the nation that’s reserved primarily for female students. Programs focus on the liberal arts, health sciences, healthcare, education, and business. There are 3 campus locations in Houston, Dallas, and Denton, as well as a comprehensive e-learning platform for remote distance learners.
TWU’s child development BS can lead to a number of popular careers, including early childhood child care, early childhood education, and parent educators. Alternatively, you may work as an early childhood interventionist or within child services, foster care, and adoption. There are, of course, many other careers open to you as a graduate of this program, too.
Additionally, students enrolled on this course can choose from the occupational therapy (OT) track or the physical therapy (PT) track. By choosing to pursue your degree on one of these tracks, you will be sufficiently prepared for a graduate-level program in either occupational therapy or physical therapy.
Attendance costs approximately $25,440 per year at TWU, with a low tuition fee of just $10,398 annually. The remainder is made up of $10,070 for room and board and $662 for books and supplies; there are no fees applicable. Installment payment plans are also available for those who need a little extra support.
Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Average Net Price
Central Michigan University’s (CMU) began as a teachers’ college, but now the institution boasts more than 235,000 alumni worldwide, as well as more than 24,000 enrolled students across its campus and online programs. It’s among only 5% of U.S. universities within the highest two Carnegie research classifications and offers around 300 academic programs.
The major in early childhood development and learning is aligned with the training guidelines set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC. Coursework requirements are also aligned with the Michigan Department of Education. This makes the major especially well-suited to students who intend to progress to a career in non-elementary, early years education, child care, or a Head Start agency.
Michigan residents will pay around $12,510 per year in tuition, or $417 per credit hour. Non-residents will pay approximately $23,670 per year, or $789 per credit hour. These fees may increase if you’re taking more credits, plus there’s a room and board fee of $5,164 – $10,328 depending on residency.
Central Michigan University’s tuition rate increase has been the lowest in the state for a decade in recent years. It’s also typically lower than eight of the public universities in Michigan. Financial aid advisors are also available to help connect you with scholarships, grants, or other financial awards that could help you afford the cost of your education.
Eastern Kentucky University
Average Net Price
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) dates back to 1906, when it was founded with a faculty of just six staff members. Now, the institution offers nearly 170 degree programs to approximately 16,000 students per year. The university is heavily invested in diversity, with a dedicated university diversity office and committee.
There are a number of options available to those interested in child development at EKU. These include the B.S. in child development, B.S. in interdisciplinary early childhood education, B.S. in family studies, and a minor in child and family Studies. You can also study for a Bachelor of Science and minor in related topics through the distance learning program, online.
The child and family studies B.S. linked above is ideal for students who are problem solvers and critical thinkers. Child & family studies faculty at EKU balance classroom-based learning with practical, real life application. You’ll attend field observations and practical experiences.
For in-state residents, studying here is fairly cheap by comparison to other universities; you’ll pay approximately $9,266 in tuition each year. Even out-of-state students pay below-average, with around $19,338 in tuition. Fees of $540, a room and meals payment of $5,087, and a books and supplies payment of around $600 are applicable to all students.
Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Average Net Price
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers a variety of academic programs that have a focus on career development and employability. There are also a plethora of opportunities to participate in sports programs, internships, volunteering, and student organizations across campus.
Campus is situated just five minutes away from downtown Manchester, NH, and there are around 300 acres of woodland in the surrounding area for you to explore. The university has comfortable new residence halls, well-equipped facilities, and holds regular career fairs on-campus. You’ll have access to more than 3,000 internship and job postings every year.
SNHU offers a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, with a concentration in child and adolescent development. With this concentration, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of the cognitive, social, physical, and psychological needs of people belonging to these age groups. You’ll also have the chance to gain real-world experience through internships, research, or volunteering.
Tuition at Southern New Hampshire University averages at around $30,000, which is approximately 8% more expensive than the national average for private, nonprofit universities. However, you may qualify for additional financial aid based on the information submitted in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Over 90% of students at the university are granted some form of aid.
Average Net Price
Howard University is committed to preparing dynamic teachers, researchers, and leaders in the field of education. The HUSOE (Howard University School of Education) Honors Program will encourage academic excellence by providing unique enrichment opportunities that are tailored to your specific needs and aspirations. Meanwhile, outside of academia, you can get involved in hundreds of different student groups and organizations.
Your first year will focus on core competencies, including psychological sciences, mathematics, and English, plus research methodology, sociology, and a hands-on placement. You’ll continue your program by building on your knowledge and skills, requiring a 2.0 grade average to graduate at the end of your four years.
This BS in human development, consisting of 120 credit hours, allows you to concentrate in infancy, childhood, adolescent or adult development cycles. You’ll look at how your specific age group changes based on influences from the family and other environmental aspects, with a special focus on African-American and other underserved groups.
A typical Howard University student living on campus can expect to pay around $26,464 in tuition costs annually. This is supplemented by housing and needs costs of around $14,180, plus fees of $2,276. Financial aid options include scholarships and grants as usual, but also summer financial aid and tuition remission.
Average Net Price
Vanderbilt University’s faculty specializes in an array of disciplines, including natural science, social science, and humanistic fields, making them well-versed in teaching child development. The institution has produced 13 American Educational Research Association Fellows, 1 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and 3 National Academy of Education Fellows.
This major in child development focuses on children through to adolescence and looks at the outside influences that can affect development in youth. It’s a good preparative course for further graduate study in certain disciplines, such as social science, psychology, medicine, nursing, and education.
There is also an opportunity to pair this program with nursing, extending the time spent at university to five years. Within the first three years of your study on the standard major, you’ll have covered the prerequisites for access to the combined nursing program. If you’re keen on working within a hospital yet working with younger age groups, then this could be the degree for you.
Vanderbilt University is up there with the more expensive colleges on our list. The average cost of attendance per year is $70,146, of which around $48,600 is tuition. The good news is that the figures don’t change regardless of whether you’re a state resident. Around 65% of students receive grants, with around 13% receiving the Federal Pell Grant.
National Louis University
Average Net Price
National Louis University is one of the oldest universities in Chicago, with four different colleges of study. There are more than seven locations spread across Illinois and Florida, and over 8,000 students attend annually. Surprisingly, the average age of the student body is 30 and 84% of the student body are part-time learners.
The early childhood practice degree at National Louis University is suited to students who want to work in child care, toddler care, or early childhood social services. Through this program, you’ll be able to earn up to 3 statewide Gateways to Professional Opportunity credentials. These include the ECL Level 5, the Family Child Care Level 5, and the Infant Toddler Care Level 5.
The University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), having trained thousands of teachers based in the Chicago area. They have also taught more Golden Apple Foundation winners than any other institution in the state of Illinois. What’s more, the program is aligned to standards set by the state’s Professional Development System—the ‘Gateways to Opportunity Credentialing System’.
This is a highly affordable university, with annual tuition fees for full-time students of just $10,260. They also provide a number of financing options that can help to cover the cost of attendance, such as scholarships, federal work-study programs, grants, and other payment options.
University of La Verne
La Verne, California
Average Net Price
La Verne has more than 80,000 alumni across the globe, ranking nationally in the top 5 for the social mobility of graduates. There’s a 14:1 ratio of students to faculty, so you won’t be lost in a sea of faces during your time spent in the classroom.
The child development major is suited to students who plan on progressing to a career in public or private schools, or who want to work in early childhood social services. You’ll look at the development and growth of children in relation to their families, their school, and their wider community. For leadership roles, continued education is essential, with a focus on curriculum design and administrative assignments.
While tuition varies from one program to another, the average cost of attending the University of La Verne full-time is around $61,696 for all students, regardless of whether you’re in-state or out-of-state. This consists of a $41,940 tuition cost, $13,420 for room and board, and $1,916 for supplies.
The Office of Financial Aid is available to provide support to students who are worried about the costs of a higher education program. Counselors provide dedicated support during the admissions process and you may be eligible for outside private scholarships through information provided on your FAFSA. Around $50 million in institutional aid is awarded to students.
Average Net Price
Tufts University’s mission is to dedicate itself to providing transformative experiences for its students. The campus itself is fairly impressive, with 6 libraries, a heritage spanning over 150 years, and a giant elephant called Jumbo acting as its mascot. More than 10,000 students typically enroll each year, with around half of these undergraduates.
Your bachelor’s in child study and human development at Tufts will set you up for a career working with children, adolescents, and their families. You’ll also be capable of carrying out research studies on issues related to improving the lives of these groups of people. You may progress into the field of healthcare and medicine, education, research, law, or public policy.
The cost of tuition at Tufts is above average, with a total of $76,200 accounting for all costs, including meal plans, residence, and supplies like books. More specifically, the tuition itself is $57,324. However, the good news is that there is no difference in tuition fees for both in-state and out-of-state students.
Each year, the university awards approximately $86 million in needs-based financial support, determined via an analysis of family standing. They used information submitted in the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE to make awards. These awards are a combination of loans, work-study funding, and grants.
Grand Canyon University
Average Net Price
Grand Canyon University is a Christian private school that offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs, both on-campus and online. Though it’s a religious institution, GCU encourages students from every background to apply. The university has also been ranked third for housing affordability, sixth for startup survival rates, and second for wage growth.
This degree is a more specialized type than the others—you’ll gain a bachelor of science in behavioral health science with an emphasis in childhood and adolescence disorders’. You’ll be prepared to work as a behavioral health technician or specialist, gaining the knowledge needed to curb negative behavior and development patterns in young adults.
Based in Phoenix, AZ, Grand Canyon University charges approximately $21,403 for tuition, with an applicant acceptance rate of around 73%. The total enrolment in 2019 was 90,253. There are no application fees and books and supplies are charged at $800, which is below average. Psychology and health-related professions rank in the top 5 most popular programs at GCU.
GCU accepts information from all students that’s submitted in the FAFSA form (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Using this information, you may qualify for some additional financial aid from the university, including institution-specific funding like scholarships. You can find out more about these scholarships through their website.
Average Net Price
At Mills College, you’ll be able to get heavily involved with campus life. The College Events Office organizes a breadth of on-campus activities, including weekend getaways in which your family is welcome. The campus is spread across 135 acres and offers a range of housing options, including in historical buildings.
In the child development program at Mills college, you’ll learn how to apply research methodology and design programs and interventions for young children. You’ll learn how to provide services that have a positive impact on young childrens’ growth and development. You could take courses such as Research Methodology for Observing Children, Child Language Acquisition, and Social, Emotional & Moral Development & Learning.
Mills College is a highly affordable option for a higher education course of study. In 2018, they lowered tuition fees by a huge 36%. Despite this drop in tuition, you can still apply for full financial aid. The institution hopes that this will make an education more affordable for a wider group of students from different backgrounds. Undergraduate tuition comes in at approximately $29,340 per year, with the total cost of an education here around $44,760 once you account for fees, and room and board.
Fresno Pacific University
Average Net Price
Fresno Pacific University educates around 4,000 undergraduate students per year. Its main campus is located in southeastern California, with other regional campuses in North Fresno, Bakersfield, Visalia, and Merced. A large portion of the student body are the first of their family to attend college, and more than 6,000 professionals study on continued education programs.
Fresno Pacific is the Valley’s sole accredited Christian institution as an independent and nonprofit university. Learning takes place across five schools: the School of Natural Science, School of Business, School of Humanities, School of Education, and School of Religion and Social Sciences. It has been named in several rankings within the U.S. News & World Report’s published lists.
FPU’s Bachelor of Arts in early childhood development focuses on the growth and development of children from birth through to age eight. The competencies targeted by the course meet the required categories set by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The program also adheres to the California Preschool Learning Foundations set by the State Department of Education.
The estimated cost of tuition, yearly, at Fresno Pacific is around $41,906. This represents $32,954 per annum in tuition fees, a $498 student body fee, and $8,454 for room and board. A number of freshman scholarships, transfer scholarships, and performance-based scholarship programs also range from $500 to $16,000 in financial aid.
Siena Heights University
Average Net Price
Unlike some of the busier institutions, there is a 12:1 ratio of students to faculty at Siena Heights. As a religious institution, they were named a college of distinction and a Catholic college of distinction for the year 2019 to 2020. There are eight locations spread across Michigan and online and more than 50 majors available at a bachelor’s or master’s level.
The child development program at Siena Heights prepares you to work with young children while providing them with quality programs that will improve their and their families’ lives. You’ll gain the knowledge, theory, and experience that you need to enter a number of varied careers in early childhood care or education.
The average cost of attending Siena Heights University full-time is around $40,378 for all students, regardless of the residency chosen. This is made up of $26,558 in tuition fees, with $10,620 for room and board, and an additional $1,566 approximately for supplies such as books, plus fees.
Average Net Price
Berea is one of only nine federally-approved work colleges in the entire country. It’s known nationally for innovation and outstanding academic quality, in addition to boasting numerous Fulbright, Compton, Watson, Truman, and Udall fellowship winners. You’ll also have access to an EDGE Program (Empowering a Dynamic Generation through Education), which hands every student a laptop that they may keep after graduating.
At Berea College, you can take a Bachelor of Arts in child and family studies, with a concentration in child development. You’ll focus on the theory behind how young children develop and grow, including the psychological, social, physical, and intellectual stages of development, and the external influences that can impact these. The program also covers the unique needs of special needs children.
Berea College was named as a ‘2016 Best Value College’, as well as taking the crown for affordability in a ranking by MONEY Magazine. There are at least three other accolades of this type that make Berea a great choice for students who are worried about the financial implications of a college education.
Berea College runs a ‘Tuition Promise Scholarship‘, worth approximately $100,000, which guarantees students that they will not pay for their tuition. Upon graduation, you’ll have significantly less or even no student debt to repay, giving you a large head start in life, financially, over other graduates who have had to borrow student loans to fund their education. And the best part is, every student accepted to Berea receives this scholarship.
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