Top 20 Online Child Development Degrees

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Online Child Development Degrees

Child development is a vast field that pulls from several different disciplines with one goal: to support the development of children throughout their formative years. This type of degree can apply to those who work researching and creating educational programs for children, implementing programs that promote the social welfare of children, or even child psychologists that deal with children in-office with counseling and psychiatric services. This career field has a lot to take into account because children are growing up in a complex world. They look at cognitive and behavioral development, overcoming challenges from autism to dyslexia, and examine the impact of neglect, poverty, and abuse on a developing mind. With a degree in child development, you could fill positions as a social worker, an education consultant, or even work as a teacher for children with developmental disabilities or other special needs.

Degree programs in child development are designed to prepare their students for an incredibly important career, fostering the growth of our future. Some of the subjects that those curriculums may cover include childhood guidance, parenting issues, cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology, and more. There are a variety of different employment opportunities this field like for schools, the government, and a variety of public agencies; there are even some private practice opportunities depending on your focus. Different degree tracks will have concentrations that cater to your specific goals, or you can take a traditional route and study it in its interdisciplinary form. If that’s the degree for you, the 20 schools in this ranking will provide you with a great place to start your search for online child development degrees. In this ranking, you’ll read about the best schools that offer degree programs of the highest quality in this field online whether that is in a hybrid format or in their entirety. All of the schools were ranked according to the following:


Each school in the United States that offers online child developmental degrees was scored out of a possible 200 points to create this ranking. The score was created using the sum of these criteria:

  • 50%: Freshman Retention Rate and;
  • 50%: Graduation Rate

To gather the information that was required to rank each of these schools, the school’s websites were used as much as possible. In the instances where a school did not provide the information that we needed on their website, we used the databases of both U.S. News and World Report and the National Center for Education Statistics. These two rates were added together to get the final score for each institution, and then they were ranked out of 20 based on this score.

In any instance where two or more schools would have tied for a spot in this Top 20, we used the alphabetical ordering of their names as the designated tie-breaker. We chose these two ranking criteria, freshman retention, and graduation rates because when both are taken into account, they provide substantial insight into a school’s overall performance. However, due to incomplete data, some schools may not be represented here.

To qualify to be included in this ranking, schools must not be for-profit institutions. Additionally, no school was given any preferential treatment and the methodology stated will allow anyone else to draw the same conclusion.

20: University of North Florida

University of North Florida

The University of North Florida is a public university located in Jacksonville, Florida. The university, often abbreviated as UNF, is a member of the State University System of Florida. It originally opened in the year 1972 as an upper-division college and didn’t take any freshmen until over a decade after it opened its doors. Students can earn degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with 53 and 28 programs to choose from respectively. UNF has a student body of 15,762, with most of them residing off-campus; however, only about 10% of students are earning their degrees entirely at a distance. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and also has eight specialized accreditations in several different fields. Five academic divisions comprise the university, which are the College of Arts and Sciences; the Coggin College of Business; the College of Computing, Engineering, and Construction; the College of Education and Human Services and; the Brooks College of Health.

The College of Education and Human Services has an undergraduate degree available in this area of study, and it is a Bachelor’s of Education in Early Childhood Development. This is a non-certification program, which means that it doesn’t prepare you for any type of state licensure; however, graduates will have a solid foundation upon which they can build their careers in the early childhood sector. Any field placement that is required for the degree can be completed in a place that is local to you, and may even be able to be completed in the place where you already work! There is a richly varied selection of electives to choose from which gives students the opportunity to tailor the program to their preferred specialization. Some of those electives include assessment of learning behavior, teaching movement skills to children, educational psychology, and many more. Students can choose four electives out of the 13 available. Regardless of specialization, there are three practicum hours required.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 54%
Final Score: 134/200

19: Missouri State University- Springfield

Missouri State University- Springfield

Missouri State University is a public university located in Springfield, Missouri. It is the main campus of the school, also known just as MSU; there is a two-year campus in West Plains, and several other branches and specific program locations throughout the state. It is the second largest university campus by enrollment in the state and currently serves 23,538 students. MSU was founded as a Normal School in 1905, an institution with the primary goal of preparing teachers for the public school system. Because of the way that the school was expanding, the name became Southwest Missouri State College in 1945, and because of the continued growth of the school, it became a university in 1972. There are nearly 200 different programs that students can choose from at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels, with a number of professional certificates in between; all of these are provided through eight colleges and schools that fall under the university. MSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Missouri State Outreach is the academic division that provides online learning opportunities to MSU’s students. The child development online degree that MSU offers is a graduate level program, a Master of Science in Child Life Studies. This is an advanced degree that prepares graduates for certification as a child life specialist. A child life specialist is a pediatric health professional that typically works in a hospital setting; the primary responsibility for this job is to help prepare children and their families to cope with hospitalization, long-term illness, and disability. This is a relatively research intensive program that will help students understand existing research and foster an environment for them to conduct their own. All of the coursework is available online, and students have the option to attend some classes in a face-to-face format if they so choose.

Freshman Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 55%
Final Score: 134/200

18: North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University is the common name of the North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, which is typically shortened to NDSU. It is a public land-grant university in Fargo, North Dakota. NDSU provides extensive opportunities to its roughly 15,000 students; there are currently 170 undergraduate degree programs, 81 masters degree programs, and 47 doctoral degree programs. In the beginning, classes were held in classrooms rented from Fargo College after NDSU was founded in 1891. The university was established as a land-grant university under the name North Dakota Agricultural College and wouldn’t become North Dakota State University until a century after its creation. It was first accredited in 1915 by the Higher Learning Commission and also holds six programmatic accreditations from field-specific agencies like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education among others.

NDSU’s Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science with a concentration in Child & Adolescent Development is a great online option in this area of study. This program focuses on the development of children and young adults and their interactions with their families and the greater society. Students will learn the skills that they need to promote child health and protection, and understanding and meeting the needs of older children. This degree track can be taken full-time, half-time, or part-time depending on the schedule and lifestyle that you have and need to accommodate. Academic advisors are willing to work with you to make this program as flexible as possible so that you don’t have to choose between your obligations. When taken full-time, this is a four-year program, but it can be cut down to just three years if you would like to take more than 15 credits per semester or take advantage of the summer semesters as well.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 55%
Final Score: 135/200

17: Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University is a public research university in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. CMU was initially founded in 1892 and has since grown to become a powerhouse of a university that ranks among the top 100 largest in the nation. There are currently 25,986 students that attend the university, and 27% of them are attending entirely online. CMU offers a total of 200 academic programs at the undergraduate, masters, specialist, and doctoral levels, many of which have been nationally recognized for their academic quality. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission as a whole along with several other field-specific endorsements. There are eight academic divisions of the university, including the College of Business Administration; the College of Communication and Fine Arts; the College of Education and Human Services; the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions; the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences; the College of Medicine; the College of Science and Engineering and; the College of Graduate Studies.

One of the things that sets apart the child development program at Central Michigan University is affordability; tuition is only $417 per credit, and there are no fees beyond the $50 application fee. This degree track is a Bachelor of Applied Arts with a major in Early Child Development and Learning. The curriculum is designed to meet the standards set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This program requires students to choose a minor and the minors currently available online for this program include Coaching, Geography, Political Science, and Psychology. The minor option is excellent for those of you who would like to use this as a foundation for higher education in the field of child development. This program also conforms to the standards of the Michigan Department of Education for licensure as a teacher; however, each state is going to have different licensure requirements, and you will need to check with the state you reside in about any additional requirements that it may have.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 78%
Graduation Rate: 57%
Final Score: 135/200

16: West Virginia University

West Virginia University

West Virginia University is a public land-, and space-grant research university in the city of Morgantown, West Virginia. Through multiple campuses and the WVU Extension Service, the university seeks to provide services in all 55 counties in West Virginia. While West Virginia is typically regarded as a small state, the university serves 28,488 students and still manages to boast a student to faculty ratio of 19 to 1. The university was founded in 1867 as the Agricultural College of West Virginia because of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act. In just one year, it took on the name West Virginia University to represent its goals as a reputable source of higher education beyond its agricultural programs. There are 15 total schools and colleges that comprise WVU, which is accredited as a whole by the Higher Learning Commission. There 24 Rhodes Scholars, 36 Goldwater Scholars, and 22 Truman Scholars associated with the university.

The Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Studies at West Virginia University is available entirely online with the exception of just one; this program requires you to have CPR/First Aid training and certifications as well as field experience, and both of those can be completed at an approved location that is closer to where you live. This program adheres to the standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. There are two areas of emphasis that you can choose from. One is a Preschool Birth to Age 4 that will allow graduates to pursue a Pre-K certification; the other is a Child Development area of emphasis that won’t lead to any certifications. Some careers that this particular degree could lead to include positions as School Social Workers, or a few different levels of elementary school teaching. All of the occupations this degree qualifies graduates for have a bright outlook as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 57%
Final Score: 136/200

15: Texas Tech University

School Profile

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University is a public research university in Lubbock, Texas, and the flagship university of the Texas Tech University System. It opened initially as Texas Technical College in 1923 and was primarily a technical college until the 1960’s. After the academic offerings had begun to branch out from just technical subjects, the gears started turning on changing the name. There were a few failed options purely because the board of directors wanted to keep the Double T; finally, it became Texas Tech in 1964. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. There are a total of 36,551 students at the university making it the sixth-largest in the state. There are now over 150 different courses of study available; the university has also expanded to comprise 13 colleges and schools and operate 60 research institutes.

Texas Tech University offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences, and it is designed to be interdisciplinary. You have the option to select two concentrations from the College of Human Services, and that list includes addictive disorders and recovery studies; apparel design and manufacturing; community, family, and addiction sciences; human development and family studies; interior design; nutritional sciences; personal financial planning; restaurant, hotel, and institutional management; retail management; personal finance, youth development, and family and consumer sciences extension education. Human development and family studies is the child development track for this degree. Lab sciences must be taken in person if your chosen concentration requires any and that can be completed on campus, or you can complete them at a college or university that is local to you. The remainder of the coursework can be completed online in a self-paced and flexible format.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 84%
Graduation Rate: 60%
Final Score: 144/200

14: Washington State University

School Profile

Washington State University

Washington State University is a public land-great research university in Pullman, Washington. There are over 30,000 students and has a student to faculty ratio of 15 to one. The university is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and confers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. Those degrees are granted through any one of its 12 constituent colleges and a graduate school. It was founded in 1890, less than five months after Washington became a state. The first professional programs began in 1899, and the university started to implement graduate degree programs in 1902. There are nearly 200,000 living alumni worldwide, and many of them have gone on to make great strides in research in their respective fields, and one of them is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen; among the ranks are astronauts, authors, and Olympic medalists.

Washington State University’s Global Campus offers a selection of online degrees and certificates, and the child development option is a bachelors degree in human development, with a specialization in early childhood education. The implementation of online programs was an integral part of WSU fulfilling its original mission of making education more accessible. Classes that are included in the child development degree track include Child Development, Adolescent Development, and also Adult Development. Adult development is an often overlooked aspect of this degree, but child development specialists regardless of their careers will be dealing with children in the context of their communities and interacting with families on a regular basis. Having some background in general psychology and adult development can better inform decisions about how to empower children to reach their fullest potential. Washington residents are the only ones eligible for certification after they complete the early childhood development concentration, other students are encouraged to check with their home state about any additional requirements to achieve certification.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 67%
Final Score: 146/200

13: Oregon State University

Oregon State University

Oregon State University of Corvallis, Oregon is unique because it is one of only three universities in the nation that are land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant research universities. The Carnegie Foundation classifies Oregon with the highest research activity, the best distinction that the foundation bestows. There are over 200 undergraduate degrees alone, and the university also offers masters and doctoral level degrees. It is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and has been since 1924. The school itself was founded in the year 1868 but can trace its roots back to 1856 when the area’s first community school for primary and preparatory education opened. The first graduating class of the institution that would go on to become OSU was in 1870, and now there are almost a quarter million alumni in total. Currently, the school serves 30,354 students and is made up of 13 colleges and schools.

OSU has an Ecampus that offers a variety of different degrees. It has ranked here for the Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. This program is entirely online, has four start dates throughout the year, and costs just $288 per credit which is less than half of the national average. Some of the courses that you would encounter as part of this program include parenting research, families and poverty, and infant and child development. There are also a variety of minors available if you would like to specialize your program further or supplement it with another one of your relevant interests. The faculty is experienced and dedicated, recognizing the importance of diversity as they create contemporary global perspectives for a new generation of leaders and professionals in the field of child development.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 83%
Graduation Rate: 63%
Final Score: 146/200

12: Fresno Pacific University

Fresno Pacific University

Fresno Pacific University is a Christian liberal arts university in Fresno, California. When it was founded in 1944, it was the Pacific Bible Institute and only had 28 students. It became an accredited junior college in 1961 and began implementing four-year programs in 1963. Because of the shift in the goals of the institution, the name was changed to Pacific College. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission and was granted university status in 1997. At present, there are almost 4,000 students and the university has degree programs at the associates, bachelors, and masters levels. There are over 100 areas of study that students can choose from, available through the five schools that the university is organized into. These include the School of Business; the School of Education; the School of Humanities, Religion, and Social Sciences; the School of Natural Sciences and; the School of Biblical Seminary.

The online degree in child development that you can enroll in at Fresno Pacific University is a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Development. This program is designed to encompass the environment of the child so that graduates can go on to be well-rounded professionals with all the skills that they need to encourage children to flourish. Tuition for the program includes an iPad to enhance your academic pursuit, and the coursework is available entirely online so that you will never have to commute to campus. This online child development degree prepares its graduates for positions in teaching, childcare, social work, school psychology, and children’s ministry through a Christian perspective. Each student will have an academic advisor that works with you through the duration of the program. Also, FPU allows you to graduate faster, taking just 18 months for your start date to graduation for students that already have two years of post-secondary experience.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 62%
Final Score: 148/200

11: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a public land-grant research university in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was the first university to be established in the state of Nebraska, and it is the largest in its university system. The university was founded as a land-grant university under the Morrill Act in 1869, just two years after Nebraska attained its statehood. The first graduating class of students was only two, in the year 1873. Today there are thousands of alumni, among them, Warren Buffets, Johnny Carson, Tommy Lee, and more. Three of UNL’s graduates have gone on to be Nobel Prize Winners, and more than 50 of them are some type of scholar. The university has 25,897 students enrolled across its 275 available programs of study. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. There are eight colleges that the university is organized into and the Lincoln campus also hosts some programs from other institutions within the University of Nebraska System.

UNL Online offers a range of degrees and certificates in child development, all at the graduate level. Prospective students have the choice of a Master of Education or a Master of Arts in Special Education. The three specializations offered online include a Deaf and Hard of Hearing track, an Early Childhood Special Education track, and a Visual Impairments. The Visual Impairments track will require some face-to-face meetings during the summer semester, but the remainder of the programs and coursework can be completed entirely online. The other offerings are available in a blended format, so you would need to attend campus for at least part of the following programs that are also great child development degree options: a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, a PhD in Educational Studies with a focus on Special Education, and a PhD in Human Sciences with a focus in Communications Disorders.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 82%
Graduation Rate: 67%
Final Score: 149/200

10: Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Colorado State University is a public land-grant research university that has its main campus and flagship of the system in Fort Collins, Colorado. Being the land-grant university of Colorado, it was founded due to the Morrill Act; however, it wasn’t established until eight years after the act passed in the year 1870. At that time, it was called Colorado Agricultural College, and the first term was in 1879. After many name changes, it became CSU in 1957. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and holds five programmatic accreditations. There are almost 32,000 students at the school, which is divided into nine colleges and also operates several research institutes. The College of Veterinary Medicine at the university is the most extensive research program of its kind in the world. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Colorado State University among the top 100 graduate programs in America in 12 different areas.

The Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from CSU is designed to be as flexible as possible. There are five concentrations available, and the one that is likely of the most interest to something that wants to work in child development is the Early Childhood Professions concentration, which approaches child development from multiple disciplines especially education, and diversity. The remaining concentrations are in Leadership and Entrepreneurial Professions, Pre-Health Professions, or Human Development and Family Studies. Students of this program are able to pick two. You also have the option to pursue additional qualifications. Your advisor can help you select electives that will qualify you for director positions in your state, and all graduates are eligible to become Certified Family Life Educators. The program is typically four years in length, but some students may be able to complete it sooner if they have more time to dedicate to their studies.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 67%
Final Score: 153/200
School Profile

9: University of La Verne

University of La Verne

The University of La Verne is a private university located in La Verne, California. It was founded in 1891 by a German Christian sect and was called Lordsburg College at the time because the name of the community was also Lordsburg. Despite the fact that it has its roots in Christianity, the school considers itself to be non-sectarian now. In 1917 when the town renamed itself to La Verne, the college followed suit and was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission shortly after. It added adult learning and graduate-level programs throughout the 60’s and reorganized into the University of La Verne in 1977. Today, the university offers programs at the bachelors through doctorate levels and serves an incredible student body of almost 32,000. The university has been ranked in the top 10 for private schools in California and 18th overall in the state in by U.S. News & World Report.

The University of La Verne offers a graduate level degree in child development, the Master of Science in Child Development. This program is perfect for someone who would like to become a teacher, work in an educational support position, or even seek employment as a social worker. The online option for this program is unfortunately only open to residents of the State of California. There are courses offered at locations all throughout the state, though, so that it can be more convenient for students interested in this particular degree. Any of the on-campus requirements can be completed during evening or weekend classes so that it can fit into the busy lifestyle of someone who has already entered their career, has a family, or has other general obligations. The online courses are designed for student convenience, but you will still be able to receive individualized support from program faculty as if you were there in person.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 88%
Graduation Rate: 66%
Final Score: 154/200

8: University of Alabama

School Profile

University of Alabama

The University of Alabama is a public sea- and space-grant research university in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was originally established in 1820, making it the oldest public university in the state; it is also the largest, with a campus of almost 2,000 acres and a student body of 37,663. In its first decade, there were only typically about 100 students enrolled at a given time. It had a rocky start because of the lack of infrastructure and some severe disciplinary problems. It actually spent some time as a military school because riots and gunfights had become so commonplace. The university, often just referred to as Alabama, didn’t become a coeducational institution until 1892 but it was successfully integrated as early as 1963. There are 13 colleges and schools that make up the university, which now offers degrees at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. Several of the postgraduate programs are only ones provided in the state, such as the programs in anthropology, music, social work, and more. The university is accredited as a whole by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and holds an additional eight programmatic accreditations.

The University of Alabama offers their online programs through what they call Bama By Distance. There is a broad range of programs that would be a good option for someone who wants to have a career in child development. The program in particular that they have ranked for in this article is the Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences, Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Early Child Development. The program is available online in its entirety and costs only $355 per credit hour. The curriculum covers the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of young children but even goes further to add depth to your understanding of parent/child relationships, and more. The program also includes an internship so that you can get some hands-on experience; it is also accredited National Association for the Education of Young Children.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 69%
Final Score: 155/200

7: University of South Florida

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida is a public space-grant research university in Tampa, Florida. It was established in 1956, and it was the first university that was planned and built during the 20th century. Classes didn’t begin until 1960, and the university was very quickly accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges in 1965. The university was extremely quick to expand, implementing masters programs just four years after doors opened. This expansion took place under the president John S. Allen who truly championed an academic environment to the point of even discouraging athletics. As much as that is contrary to the ‘big university’ mindset of today, a lot of the initial growth of USF can be directly attributed to the legacy that he left behind. USF, however, is a very large university. It is the fourth largest in the state of Florida and serves 42,861 students. Degrees are offered through its 14 constituent colleges and schools at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. U.S. News & World Report ranks USF among the top 100 public schools in the nation.

The College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at USF offers a variety of degrees both on campus and online. The Master of Science in Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health online is a great graduate option in the field of child development. It is presented in both a thesis and non-thesis option depending on how relevant your research might be to your future career or education, or if you feel driven to conduct your own research as you pursue your degree. The non-thesis option is also called an Applied track, and it features more practical experience; students of this program will be required to complete six credits worth of field experience in place of the 6 hours worth of thesis research. Students will have an advisor that will help them select a convenient and appropriate location in which they can complete their required hours of field experience, and in some cases, that could be where you already work if your place of employment allows you to conduct relevant work to the field. There are four concentrations that you can choose from including Youth & Behavioral Health, Research & Evaluation, Leadership in Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health, and Developmental Disabilities.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 90%
Graduation Rate: 67%
Final Score: 157/200

6: Point Loma Nazarene University

Point Loma Nazarene University

Point Loma Nazarene University is a private Christian liberal arts college located in San Diego, California. It was founded as a Bible college in 1902, and despite going through more than five name changes throughout its history, it has never strayed from its original mission. It was founded by a group of women who wanted to create a small Bible college, and despite the adversity that they faced in pursuit of that goal, they were able to raise the money with the help of their husbands and open the doors. It is one of only eight institutions of higher learning in the US that is associated with the Church of the Nazarene and has withstood theological disagreements and near bankruptcy throughout its history. PLNU offers more than 60 areas of study and confers degrees at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels. There are just over 4,000 students enrolled. The university is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission.

The Bachelor of Arts in Child Development can be completed in as little as 15 months and is only offered in a blended format. This means that students will be required to participate in some on-campus instruction to complete their degree. PLNU’s program strives to partner with students to help them cultivate the skills that they need to create meaningful differences in the lives of the children and families that they will go on to serve after graduation. Complex social environments, dynamic families, typical and atypical development timelines, and more are all part of the curriculum of this program to give students a broad base on which they can build a career. The program has been designed with the utmost flexibility even though you will need to spend some time at the physical campus. Those classes will build strong relationships with your instructors, advisors, and fellow students. Point Loma Nazarene University does everything it can to educate its students as whole people so that they can go on to do the same.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 71%
Final Score: 157/200

5: Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University of Boone, North Carolina, is a public university that offers degrees at the bachelors through doctoral levels. It was founded as a normal school, or teacher’s college, in 1899. The institution that would become App State was called Watauga Academy and admitted 53 students the first year that classes were held. It operated as a teacher’s college until 1967 when the academic offerings expanded to reflect its transition to a multipurpose regional university. It was granted university status that year. App State is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and has been since the year 1942; it also holds programmatic accreditations in nursing, public health, psychology, and a handful of other fields. There are roughly 18,000 students at the university, and they have the choice of 176 undergraduate majors and 42 graduate majors. App State is organized into nine different colleges and schools and has distance learning initiatives at satellite campuses as well as online.

The distance learning program in child development offered at App State is a Bachelor of Science in Child Development that covers Birth through Kindergarten. Students can transfer in almost half of the credits needed to complete the degree and can pay as low as $163 per credit hour in tuition. It is only offered on a part-time basis, and it is entirely accessible online. If you’re someone who is passionate about becoming a leader and transforming the classroom, home, and community that a child has to grow and develop in, this program is one that will surely advance you on the path to achieving those goals. Academic research meets hands-on practicum in this undergraduate program to ensure that you are getting a thorough, well-rounded experience that will prepare you for whatever lies ahead, whether that is entering straight into your career or pursuing a graduate level education. Practicum can be completed at an approved location in your community. Graduates of this program will have all they need for licensure in both regular and special education.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 87%
Graduation Rate: 72%
Final Score: 159/200

4: University of Massachusetts Amherst

School Profile

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Most often referred to as UMass Amherst, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the flagship university of the University of Massachusetts System. It is a public land-grant research university that is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is the largest public university in the New England region and currently serves 30,037 students. It is categorized with the highest distinction that the Carnegie Foundation bestows upon a school, which is that of a Research University with the Highest Research Activity. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. It was founded under the Morrill Act in the year 1863 as Massachusetts Agricultural College. It did get off to a dismal start, however. By 1867, there had been no students and no buildings completed. The fall semester of 1867 saw the first admission of students; the inaugural class was just 50 students. It did overcome that, though, and became one of the most highly regarded public universities in the country.

UMass Amherst operates the University Without Walls, which is their distance education program. The child development degree that you can get online at UMass is a Bachelor of Arts in Children’s Learning and Development. UMass understand that it takes a village and the program it has created is meant to give you everything you need to be part of it. The courses are designed to strengthen your abilities to match your passion whether that is in the field of education, child advocacy, youth and family programming, or administration. You can bring in up to 100 credits and even have the opportunity to earn college credit towards this degree based on relevant past experience. This online program features asynchronous courses, full- or part-time schedules, and a personal advisor that can help you create a plan of study that fits into your life. You can create a concentration that is going to be exactly what you need for your goals and then achieve it affordably, from an incredible institution.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 91%
Graduation Rate: 76%
Final Score: 167/200

3: University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is the flagship of the University of Minnesota System and sometimes just called UMN. UMN is a public land- and space-grant research university situated in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. UMN is associated with 29 Nobel Prize winners, three Pulitzer Prize winners, and several successful individuals in entertainment, politics, and more. It is categorized as a Doctoral Research University with the Highest Research Activity, is a member of the premier organization of research universities known as the Association of American Universities, and it is regarded as a Public Ivy. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and holds an astounding 21 programmatic accreditations in a variety of fields. Degrees are conferred at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels as well as several different certificate levels in between. There are over 50,000 students currently enrolled across the 19 academic divisions of the university. Of those students, just over 20% are taking at least part of their degree program online.

UMN Online offers a Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development. This degree can be completed entirely online and is a non-thesis option that instead requires you to complete field experience at a location near you instead of conducting research and presenting a thesis. There are three different concentrations or degree tracks that you have the option of. These are an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health degree track, a Child Life degree track, and an Individualized Studies degree track. The individualized studies degree track is helpful to students whose career goals intersect child development but don’t fit perfectly into one of the predesigned tracks. Some of the fields that would be well-matched for this option are law, policymaking, pediatric nursing, and so on. The Child Life track prepares graduates for certification; it includes several relevant courses and requires a 600-hour clinical internship. The final option, in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, covers Infant Observation, Prevention, Intervention, and more. This can lead to careers in psychology, nursing, early care education, etc.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 93%
Graduation Rate: 78%
Final Score: 171/200

2: University of Washington

University of Washington

The University of Washington is a public research university in Seattle, Washington and it is the flagship campus of the University of Washington System. The University of Washington was established in 1861 under the name Territorial University of Washington, and it is one of the oldest universities on the west coast. Seattle is the oldest and largest campus of the system, spanning just over 700 acres and serving 45,591 students. Times Higher Education World University Rankings has designated it as the top university in the world for scientific performance and research output. It is ranked third in the country in terms of receiving research funding which hovers around $1.2 billion per year. Students can earn bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees at UW from almost 150 departments. U.S. News & World Report ranked has ranked UW’s graduate programs in primary care, family medicine, library science, clinical psychology, social work, and biostatistics all among the top five in America. An additional four offerings ranked among the top 10. The university is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

The online Bachelor of Arts in Early Care & Education can be completed at a full-time or part-time pace based on your personal schedule and lifestyle. All of the coursework can be completed entirely online, and you will never have to meet on campus. This degree program brings academic theory, innovative research, and practical training together so that you can view child development from every angle which will help you to be a well-rounded professional and can also prepare you for any aspect of your future education that you would like to expand upon further. Full-time students can typically complete the program in two years. UW’s program uses what it calls an Intentional Teaching Framework that encourages action and reflection by teaching students to know, see, do, reflect, and then create improvement through work based on what has been learned and observed. You can choose from a Core Pathway or a Teaching & Learning Pathway based on whether you would like to work in social work, child protective services, and so on; or if you want to work specifically in an educational environment such as a preschool.

To learn more about the program, click here.
Freshman Retention Rate: 94%
Graduation Rate: 84%
Final Score: 178/200

1: Pennsylvania State University

School Profile

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University is one of only two public universities to be a land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant research university. The flagship of the university system is located in University Park. It was founded in 1855 and has since grown to exist among some of the largest universities in the nation. The main campus serves almost 50,000 students and offers degrees at every level through its 18 constituent colleges and schools. As a whole, the university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Penn State is also one of the original Public Ivies, schools in America that are public but provide an education comparable to that you would receive at an Ivy League university like Harvard or Yale. The university offers almost 200 majors and is considered a research university with Very High Research Activity by the Carnegie Foundation. It consistently ranks among the best schools in America in various publications like U.S. News & World Report and Times.

The online division of Penn State is called the PennState World Campus, and it offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies. The primary focus of the program is to provide students with a reputable education that leads to a career that fulfills their passions and sense of purpose. Courses that students have the opportunity to take include Family Development, Resolving Human Development and Family Problems, Infant and Child Development, and so many more. Students can opt to earn any one of several different certificates in conjunction with this program, the most relevant being the Undergraduate Certificate in Children, Youth, and Family Services. This online degree is available entirely online and asynchronously; however, the program does feature an Applied Learning component that requires an internship and field experience, which can be completed in your own community.

Freshman Retention Rate: 93%
Graduation Rate: 86%
Final Score: 179/200