Want to advance your career without putting your life on hold while you go back to school? An online degree could be the answer.
To be effective in serving children and families, child development professionals need cutting-edge advanced study and meaningful learning experiences. In this ranking, we bring you a list of the very best online degrees that offer exactly that.
We’ve included degree programs focusing on a number of different facets of this field, including early childhood education, social work, and youth development.
What are the options for a master’s degree in child development?
The distance learning programs on our list often feature asynchronous coursework, meaning that students never need to be at their computer at assigned times. Instead, they can work through their assignments at any time that’s convenient.
Fieldwork and clinical experiences may require scheduled, in-person participation. But overall, online degrees offer a much higher level of flexibility than traditional programs.
Often, students applying to a graduate program in child development earned their bachelor's degree in a related field, such as early childhood or elementary education. Students who haven't yet earned a baccalaureate degree can visit our ranking of the Best Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education for more information about undergraduate programs.
What can you do with a master’s degree in child development?
With a degree that focuses on early childhood education, you’ll be qualified to serve as a master teacher, curriculum specialist, or instructional coordinator.
A degree in social work or youth development can help you work as a public advocate, program director, or social services agent on behalf of young children, families, and communities.
Some of the degrees on our list focus on child and developmental psychology. These programs can qualify you to work as a counselor, play therapist, or early intervention specialist.
How much can you earn with a master’s degree in child development?
The specialization you choose within child development will have a major impact on your expected salary. Your number of years of experience and your individual workplace will make a big difference as well.
To give you a general idea, here are some of the most common jobs, and the corresponding median salaries, for child development professionals (data courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics):
- Social and community service manager: $64,100 per year
- Preschool or childcare center director: $46,890 per year
- Kindergarten or elementary school teacher: $56,900 per year
- Instructional coordinator: $63,750 per year
- Psychologist: $77,030 per year
What are the requirements for a master’s degree in child development?
The degrees on our list cover a wide variety of specializations and prepare graduates for an array of careers. As a result, there’s no single set of admissions requirements for these degrees.
Many competitive programs will require an undergraduate GPA of 2.8 or higher. Some programs have a specific GRE or GMAT cut-off score. In other cases, these scores will be considered as part of a holistic review of the student’s application. Some programs don’t require students to submit any test scores.
Graduation requirements are just as variable. All certification or licensure programs will require a fieldwork or clinical experience, which often lasts a full semester or more. Non-certification tracks may have another type of capstone experience, such as a master’s thesis or an action research project.
What are the best online master’s degrees in child development?
How do we define “best” in these rankings?
We examine factors such as institutional reputation, endowment size, student-to-faculty ratio, financial aid availability, and student satisfaction. Our data comes from respected sources such as the IPEDS database, PayScale, and U.S. News & World Report.
1. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota is one of the nation’s leading public research universities, enrolling more than 16,000 graduate and professional students. The UMN system is composed of five campuses, including the flagship Twin Cities campus. The College of Education and Human Development, housed at the Twin Cities campus, offers a versatile, fully online program for child development professionals.
The Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development is presented by UMN’s internationally influential Institute of Child Development. This degree offers three tracks: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Child Life, and Individualized Studies. All tracks require a minimum of 32 credit hours. For the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health track, required courses include:
- Development and Psychopathology in Early Childhood
- Infant Observation Seminar
- Early Childhood Assessment
- Prevention and Intervention in Early Childhood: Practice
The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health track will prepare graduates to work in the fields of psychology, family counseling, nursing, social work, and early care and education. The Child Life track requires a 600-hour clinical internship and qualifies graduates to sit for the Child Life Professional Certification Examination and the Association of Child Life Professionals Eligibility Assessment. The Individualized Studies track allows students to choose classes in fields that intersect with child development, such as law, child welfare, the arts, advocacy, nonprofit management, and parent education.
2. University of South Florida
With an annual budget of $1.6 billion, the University of South Florida system ranks 45th in the country for research expenditures among all universities, both public and private. The diverse community of USF includes over 10,000 graduate students and 15,000 faculty and staff members. USF’s innovative Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health (MSCABH) program allows students to choose a track that aligns with their professional interests and goals.
Within the online MSCABH program, students will choose a concentration in Research and Evaluation, Developmental Disabilities, Leadership in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health, or Youth and Behavioral Health. Each track requires 39 credit hours, including 12 credit hours (four courses) in a shared academic core. The four courses that are required for all MSCABH students include:
- Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health
- Cultural Competency in Children's Mental Health
- Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Policy
- Evaluation and Research Methods in Community Health
When they apply to the MSCABH program, students will indicate whether they are applying for the thesis track or the applied track. Applicants are required to submit GRE scores only if they are applying to the thesis track. For this option, students will complete six credit hours of thesis research and defense. For the applied track, students will complete six credit hours in a field experience with an outside agency or organization.
3. Michigan State University
Times Higher Education ranks Michigan State University in the top 8 percent worldwide. Michigan State is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, a distinction held by only 60 universities in the U.S. The Department of Human Development and Family Studies at MSU offers two fully online Master of Arts degrees: one in Family Community Services and one in Youth Development.
The M.A. in Youth Development is a collaborative, multi-institutional program that is presented in association with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA), a consortium that includes Michigan State and five other land-grant universities. This degree track features 36 credit hours and does not require a thesis. The 28-credit hour required core for the degree includes the following courses:
- Administration and Program Management
- Community Youth Development
- Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation
- Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research
Michigan State also offers graduate certificates in Youth Development Specialist and in Youth Program Management and Evaluation. Both certificates are offered through GPIDEA and are available through fully online tracks. On-campus students may also pursue an M.S. in Child Development or an M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies.
4. University of Southern Mississippi
Founded in 1910 as a teachers college, the University of Southern Mississippi is now a doctoral-granting comprehensive university serving more than 14,000 students. Southern Miss is well known for its groundbreaking research initiatives, excellence in the arts, and engagement with the local and regional community. The University remains true to its roots with a number of outstanding programs for teachers and child development professionals.
The highly regarded Master of Science in Child and Family Studies degree from Southern Miss is now offered fully online. This program is available through both a thesis track and a non-thesis track. Both of these tracks require a minimum of 37 credit hours. Required coursework for the M.S. in Child and Family Studies includes:
- Theories in Child and Family Studies
- Parenting Across the Lifespan
- Advanced Family Theories
- Individual and Family Life Cycle Development
Applicants to this program will be asked to submit GRE scores. The academic track is designed with part-time students in mind: Most candidates will continue working while they pursue this degree. Typically, students take seven credit hours in the first semester and six credit hours in each subsequent semester. By following this schedule, students will finish the program in two calendar years.
5. Missouri State University
The student body of Missouri State University is more than 26,000 strong, representing all 50 states and 88 countries around the world. Home to seven academic colleges and one Graduate College, the University offers 180 undergraduate degrees and 100 graduate programs. Sixteen of these graduate options are available fully online, including an M.S.Ed. in Educational Technology, an M.S. in Child Life Studies, and an M.S. in Early Childhood and Family Development.
The versatile Early Childhood and Family Development program allows students to choose one-third of their classes. Degree candidates have the option of taking all of their coursework online, or taking some electives in a traditional, on-campus format. Available coursework for this degree includes:
- Programming and Policy Issues for Early Childhood Settings
- Children and Families in a Diverse Society
- Advanced Human Development Studies
- The Educational Role of Play
This degree can be finished in as little as three semesters. However, students may also choose to take only one course per semester, allowing maximum flexibility for professionals who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree. Graduates of this program will be prepared for careers in child care facilities, public and private schools, governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and other early childhood settings.
6. Saint Joseph's University
Saint Joseph’s University is a Jesuit Catholic university located in western Philadelphia. More than 8,000 students attend SJU, served by over 300 distinguished full-time faculty members. Fully 100 percent of tenure-track faculty hold terminal degrees in their fields. The acclaimed Master of Science in Special Education from SJU is available either on campus or online.
For candidates who already hold a Level I Certification in Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle School, or Secondary Education, SJU’s Special Education program can lead to special education certification for either prekindergarten through grade eight or grades seven through 12. A non-licensure track is also available. Students of this program will have the opportunity to customize their degree path with additional endorsement options. Core coursework for this degree includes:
- Culturally Responsive Teaching
- Special Education Law and Policy
- Design and Technology for Differentiated Instruction
- Cognitive Processes
Online endorsement and certification options within the Special Education degree include an Autism Endorsement, Wilson Reading Certificate, and Applied Behavioral Analysis Concentration. A non-degree, licensure-only graduate program is available for Special Education Certification (prekindergarten through grade eight or grades seven through 12). SJU also offers online programs leading to an M.S.Ed. in Educational Leadership, an M.S. in Instructional Technology Specialist, and an M.S. in Organization Development and Leadership.
7. University of the Southwest
Established in 1962, the University of the Southwest is a non-denominational Christian institution offering 50 undergraduate programs and 15 graduate programs. All graduate programs at USW are available fully online, including the renowned Master of Science in Education program. The M.S.Ed. is available with concentrations in Educational Diagnostics, Special Education, Mental Health Counseling, and numerous other areas of education.
Certain states require a minimum of 48 credit hours for graduate programs leading to counseling licensure, while other states require a minimum of 60 credit hours. The online M.S.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling is available through both a 48-credit hour track and a 60-credit hour track to accommodate students in different states. Both tracks share the same 39-credit hour core, which includes courses such as:
- Educational Research
- Learning and Human Development
- Child and Adolescent Counseling
- Psycho-Educational Assessment
In addition to the required coursework, students will be able to customize their academic track with a variety of electives. Options for elective coursework include Play Therapy, Program Development and Management, Clinical Supervision, and Psychopharmacology. Although the coursework for this program is fully online, students will be required to complete extensive in-person practicum and internship experiences. For these experiences, students will observe and work with licensed therapists in professional settings.
8. University of Northern Colorado
The University of Northern Colorado opened in 1890 with four instructors and 96 students. Today, UNC serves over 12,000 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. UNC is one of the top-ranked universities in the country for online graduate programs in education.
The Master of Arts in Special Education: Early Childhood program is available as a traditional residential track through the Greeley campus. It is also offered as a hybrid program through the Denver campus as well as fully online. The degree track requires 36 credit hours, and full-time students typically complete the program in two years. Courses for this degree may include:
- Typical and Atypical Early Child Development: Application to Early Childhood Special Education
- Research, Policy, and Advocacy in Early Childhood Special Education
- Learning Environments and Cultural Considerations
- Assessment, IEP Development, and Instructional Planning
Students at UNC also have the option of pursuing a non-degree, licensure-only program in early childhood special education, or in both early childhood special education and early childhood education. The School of Special Education at Northern Colorado has been designated by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education as a Center of Excellence three times.
9. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
With a student body of more than 20,000, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is the largest and most diverse university in the Piedmont Triad. The academic options at UNCG include more than 74 master’s programs and 32 doctoral programs. UNCG offers a cutting-edge online program leading to a Master of Education in Birth through Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development.
Two concentrations are available within this program. The Early Childhood Leadership and Advanced Teaching Licensure concentration is designed for students who hold a Standard Professional I or equivalent initial teaching license. Meanwhile, the Early Childhood Leadership and Program Administration concentration is suitable for administrators, technical assistance providers, and program directors as well as teachers who serve as leaders for early childhood professionals. The following courses are required for students in both concentrations:
- Inclusive Family-Centered Practices in Early Childhood
- Screening/Assessment in Inclusive Early Childhood Services
- Leadership and Mentoring in Educating Young Children
- Advanced Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
This degree path does feature some synchronous classes. Class meetings are typically scheduled from 5:00 to 6:50 PM. Several courses in the Advanced Teaching Licensure concentration require in-person observation or student teaching components. The Program Administration concentration does not feature any classroom-based practicum requirements, although it does include a final leadership internship project.
10. University of Nebraska Online
Over 125 programs are available through the University of Nebraska Online (NUO). NUO is composed of four individual institutions: the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Each of these institutions offers distinctive expertise and regionally acclaimed academic opportunities in a wide array of disciplines. The Master of Science in Youth Development from NUO is offered by the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.
The M.S. in Youth Development is a 36-credit hour program. This degree track focuses on preparing graduates to collaborate with agencies, schools, families, and other youth and childhood professionals. Through this program, students will develop skills in budgeting, grant writing, fundraising, and policymaking. Coursework for this degree will include:
- Youth Professionals as Consumers of Research
- Administration and Program Management
- Program Design, Evaluation, and Implementation
- Youth Policy
Students applying to this program should have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.50. All candidates for this degree will complete eight credit hours in a culminating activity. This activity may be in the form of a practicum, project, or thesis. NUO also offers fully online programs leading to an M.S. in International Family Studies and an M.S. in Human and Family Services Administration.
11. University of Missouri
The four campuses of the University of Missouri System serve more than 75,000 students. Mizzou Online, the University of Missouri’s distance education division, offers more than 1,000 online courses and over 100 degree and certificate options. Through Mizzou Online, students can earn a Master of Arts in Human Development and Family Science with an emphasis in Youth Development.
Graduates of this M.A. program will be qualified to work in juvenile correctional facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs, faith-based groups, non-profit organizations, and other youth settings. The degree track requires 36 credit hours. The majority of students in this entirely online program take two courses per semester and finish their degree in two to three years. Candidates may take classes such as:
- Federal and State Policies that Impact Youth Development
- Youth, Families, and Technology
- Serving Youth from Small Towns to Big Cities
- Basic Grant Development and Management
This degree program is offered in collaboration with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA), a consortium of several land-grant universities. Depending on which university is teaching a course during a specific term, the start and end dates for courses may vary. Based on current tuition rates, the total estimated cost for this program is $20,340.
12. Purdue Global
The Purdue University system is a multifaceted institution, with a flagship campus in West Lafayette, Indiana and numerous regional campuses and technology centers across the state. In April 2017, the University acquired Kaplan University and incorporated it as part of Purdue Global. Today, Purdue Global offers 35 bachelor’s degrees and 26 master’s degrees, including a unique graduate program in Human Services.
Purdue Global’s Master of Science in Human Services offers two areas of emphasis: Family and Community Services, and Organizational and Social Services. Both emphasis areas can prepare graduates to serve in leadership roles in nonprofit, governmental, or private agencies that work with children, families, and communities. For both concentrations, a minimum of 45 quarter credit hours is required. Core classes for all Human Services candidates will include:
- Human Development and Human Behavior in Context
- History, Multiculturalism, and Diversity in Human Services
- Skills and Practice in Human Services
- Professional Ethics and Personal Values
Students in either concentration may choose to complete an internship as part of their program. After graduation, alumni may pursue careers as a social or community service manager, program director, grant writer, or nonprofit manager. This program is a member of the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (although it does not hold accreditation from this agency).
13. Chicago School of Professional Psychology Online
With seven locations around the country and an extensive online presence, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology has been a leader in psychology and behavioral science since 1979. TCSPP presents more than 20 highly acclaimed degree programs. The versatile, fully online Master of Arts in Psychology offers concentrations in Forensic Psychology, Public Health, Social and Community Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration, Organizational Leadership, International Psychology, and Child and Adolescent.
The Child and Adolescent concentration for the M.A. in Psychology requires 36 credit hours. This will include 21 credit hours in foundational psychology, nine credit hours in the Child and Adolescent concentration, and six credit hours in an applied research project. Coursework for this degree may include:
- Psychology of the Life Span
- Trauma and Crisis Intervention
- Family Systems and Family Therapy
- Evidence-Based Programs for Children and Adolescents
Applicants to this program should have at least two years of post-baccalaureate work experience. Full-time students can complete this program in one year, while part-time students will earn their degree in two years. Graduates will be prepared to work in an array of settings related to the mental health of children and youth, with career opportunities in education, counseling, social work, treatment centers, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies.
14. University of La Verne
The University of La Verne has been preparing administrators, counselors, and teachers for over 75 years. With a main campus in La Verne, nine regional campuses throughout southern and central California, and extensive online options, the University offers accessible programs for students throughout California. Graduate programs at La Verne are available in Child Life, Social Justice Higher Education Administration, School Psychology, and Child Development.
The Master of Science in Child Development is available both on the main La Verne campus and fully online. This degree incorporates hands-on classroom experience for teaching community colleges and prepares students to serve in part-time or adjunct teaching positions at two- or four-year institutions. Graduates will also be qualified to serve in leadership roles in public and private educational or social service agencies. Required coursework for this 33-credit hour program includes:
- Assessment in Early Childhood
- Teaching Adults
- Cognition and Brain Development
- Developmental Curriculum
This is a competitive program: Applicants are required to have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above in all Early Childhood courses. Once accepted, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate with this degree. Because of new revisions to the Higher Education Act, the online degree programs at La Verne are only open to California residents.
15. University at Albany, SUNY
Home to nine colleges and more than 150 academic programs, the University at Albany, SUNY is one of the Northeast’s leading public research universities. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the online graduate education programs at UAlbany as the best in New York State and eighth in the nation. These top-ranked programs include master’s degrees in Reading, Childhood Education, and Early Childhood Education.
The Master of Science in Early Childhood Education is available as a certification track, which leads to New York professional teacher certification in Early Childhood Education, and as a non-certification track. Both tracks require a minimum of 30 credit hours, and both are available on campus as well as online. This degree focuses on data-based decision making, strategic literacy instruction, and family partnerships. Available coursework for the M.S. in Early Childhood Education includes:
- Classroom Literacy Instruction
- Teaching Mathematics in Elementary Schools
- Literacy for English Language Learners
- Integrated Literacy Instruction, Birth through Grade Six
An initial teaching license in Early Childhood Education is required for admission to both the certification track and the non-certification track. For online students, this program is available only on a part-time basis (with a maximum of two courses per semester). On-campus students may enroll either part-time or full-time.
16. Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University is committed to its mission of developing students into global citizens, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. Drawing on its Christian heritage, GCU offers academically challenging, values-based programs for baccalaureate, graduate, and doctoral students. Within the GCU College of Humanities and Social Sciences, graduate students can pursue degrees in Mental Health and Wellness, Christian Counseling, and Professional Counseling.
One of the many acclaimed programs at Grand Canyon University leads to a Master of Science in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders. Upon successfully completing the program, students will be prepared to apply for state licensure. This program requires a minimum of 74 credits. Core coursework for the degree will include:
- Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling
- Counseling Skills in the Helping Relationships
- Development through Childhood and Adolescence
- Psychopathology and Treatment of Children and Adolescence
This degree may be earned entirely online or through evening classes at numerous GCU campuses, including the University’s main campus in Phoenix. Students who choose an on-campus program will attend class meetings one night per week and will move through the program as part of a cohort. The curriculum for this degree aligns with the standards of the National Board for Certified Counselors.
17. Ashford University
As an innovative online institution, Ashford University offers flexible and convenient degree programs for nontraditional students. One-quarter of the students at Ashford are military members and 68 percent are Pell Grant recipients. Many are adult learners who are returning to school after pursuing a career or starting a family. The fully accredited, highly respected programs at Ashford include master’s degrees in Early Childhood Education Leadership, Teaching and Learning with Technology, and Child Development.
Ashford offers a fully online Master of Arts in Education degree with a specialization in Child Development. The degree track consists of 24 credit hours in a core that is required for all M.A.Ed. students and 12 credit hours within the Child Development track. The four courses required for the Child Development specialization include:
- Children and Families in a Diverse Society
- Language, Physical, and Social Development in Young Children
- Cognitive Development of Infants and Young Children
- Assessment and Intervention in Early Childhood
Other available specializations for the M.A.Ed. include Family and Community Services, School Leadership in the 21st Century, and numerous other areas of education. The classes at Ashford last six weeks, and students take only one class at a time. Ashford is known for exceptional student support services, including 24/7 technical support.
18. Stephen F. Austin State University
With nearly 13,000 students, Stephen F. Austin State University is a 100 percent independent university and one of the premier institutions of higher education in Texas. First established in 1923 as the Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College, SFA now offers more than 120 fields of study. The James I. Perkins College of Education carries on SFA’s rich tradition of exceptional teacher education.
The Perkins College of Education offers a fully online Master of Education in Early Childhood Education requiring 36 credit hours. This degree is intended to allow current early childhood professionals to become specialists in their field. During their first semester, each student will work with an advisor to plan their program of study. Candidates for this degree may take courses such as:
- Early Childhood Creativity and Social Learning
- Language and Literacy in Early Childhood
- Leaders and Advocates in Early Childhood
- Assessment in Early Childhood
Applicants should have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or above, and a GPA of 2.8 or above on upper division undergraduate coursework. GRE scores are not required. Students at SFA may also pursue an M.S. in Human Sciences, which is available fully online. The Human Sciences degree offers concentrations in Interior Design, Healthcare Interior Design, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Human Development and Family Studies.
19. North Dakota State University
As a top-ranked land-grant institution, North Dakota State University provides a student-centered environment with a dual focus on teaching and research. The Distance and Continuing Education division of NDSU offers more than 25 fully online options, including bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and graduate certificates. Online options include master’s degrees in Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Science; Community Development; and Human Development and Family Science.
The program at NDSU culminates in a Master of Science in Human Development and Family Science: Youth Development. This degree requires 36 credit hours, and students typically finish the program in two to three years. Candidates for this degree have the option of completing a master’s paper or thesis as part of their program. Core coursework includes:
- Community Youth Development
- Youth Development
- Youth in Cultural Contexts
- Administration and Program Management
Students will be able to customize their program of study with electives such as Youth and Appearance, Understanding Normative Behavior in Immigrant and Minority Youth, Promoting Positive Mental Health in America's Youth, and many others. All candidates for this degree will complete a practicum experience. This degree is presented through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA), a collaboration between numerous institutions to offer high-quality, web-based academic programs.
20. University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado system includes four campuses (Boulder, Colorado Springs, Anschutz Medical Campus, and Denver) as well as CU Online, the University’s distance education division. CU Online, in collaboration with CU Denver, presents more than 450 courses. All of these courses have been specifically designed for an online format by expert faculty members and distance education specialists. Through CU Online, students can pursue 21 online and hybrid degrees, including a regionally ranked program in Early Childhood Education.
The Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education is available both on campus and online, and students are welcome to take classes in both formats. Graduates of this program will be prepared to succeed in early childhood classrooms as well as childcare facilities, early intervention programs, and other educational and child development settings. Available coursework for this degree may include:
- Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
- Basic Statistics
- Language and Literacy in Young Children
- Research in Schools
This online program is accredited by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). CU Denver also offers a fully online program leading to a license or endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education Specialist for children birth to age eight.
21. Winthrop University
U.S. News & World Report ranks Winthrop University eighth among public universities in the South and 24th among all Southern regional universities, both public and private. Located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Winthrop has an enrollment of roughly 5,000 undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students. The suite of online programs at Winthrop includes a Master of Arts in Arts Administration, a Master of Education in Special Education Intervention, and a Master of Social Work.
Winthrop’s Master of Social Work is available as a Traditional Program, which requires 60 credit hours and is designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field outside of social work. The degree is also available through an Advanced Standing Program, which features 39 credit hours and requires that students hold an undergraduate social work degree. For the Traditional Program, the following courses are required:
- Human Behavior in the Social Environment
- Psychopathology and Empowerment Practice
- Interpersonal Helping Skills
- Leadership and Empowerment Practice
Both the Traditional Program and the Advanced Standing Program are available online as well as on campus. Students who hold a baccalaureate degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program are not guaranteed admission to the Advanced Standing Program. The Traditional Program can be completed in three years, while the Advanced Standing Program can be completed in two years.
22. Capella University
Headquartered in Minneapolis, Capella University is an innovative online institution enrolling more than 37,000 students. Capella specializes in serving the needs of nontraditional learners: The average age of Capella students is 39 (although ages range from 19 to 86). The highly respected Harold Abel School of Psychology at Capella offers an online Master of Science in Psychology, with concentrations available in Evaluation, Research, and Measurement; Educational Psychology; and Child and Adolescent Development.
The program at Capella includes four core courses, six courses within the Child and Adolescent Development specialization, and an integrative capstone project. In total, 55 program credits are required to graduate with this degree. Coursework within the Child and Adolescent Development specialization includes:
- Human Prenatal Development
- Lifespan Development
- Child Psychology
- Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology
The Child and Adolescent Development degree is available through both GuidedPath and FlexPath. Through GuidedPath, students pay per credit hour and complete weekly assignments and discussion posts. Through FlexPath, students pay a flat rate per quarter and complete assignments at whatever pace they choose. Capella also offers a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology, which is available with specializations in Applied Research, Clinical Counseling, Sex Therapy, and Forensic Psychology.
23. Southern New Hampshire University
The 300-acre campus of Southern New Hampshire University, located in Manchester, enrolls over 3,000 students through traditional residential programs. The extensive distance learning programs at SNHU enroll another 90,000 students. As a private, nonprofit, fully accredited institution, SNHU offers highly respected associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in business, the arts, psychology, and many other academic disciplines.
SNHU offers a fully online Master of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development Psychology. This degree path is highly flexible and does not require any synchronous classes: All course material and assignments can be accessed 24/7. Although the program does not lead to licensure, graduates will develop a strong understanding of research methods, social psychology, and learning theory which can be applied in a variety of professional settings. Candidates for this degree will take classes such as:
- Measurement and Assessment
- Ethical Practice in Psychology
- Cognitive Neuropsychology
- Intervention Strategies
This program does not require GRE or GMAT scores. Admissions to the program are rolling, and students may begin in any one of five terms. Prospective students may apply at any time and receive an acceptance decision within days of submitting the required materials. By taking two courses per 10-week term, students can complete this degree in 15 months.
24. Indiana Wesleyan University
Established in 1920 as Marion College, Indiana Wesleyan University is now the largest member institution of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. As a comprehensive university, IWU offers 80 undergraduate degrees, 38 graduate degrees, and five doctorate degrees. At IWU, graduate students can pursue a social work program that offers a biblical perspective on social, economic, and environmental justice.
Students with a bachelor’s degree in social work from a qualifying institution can enroll in the Advanced Standing track, while students with a bachelor’s degree in any field can pursue the Standard track. Typically, candidates for this degree take each course one at a time in a designated sequence. The Standard track requires the following courses:
- Generalist Practice With Communities and Organizations
- Mental Health and Psychopathology
- Advanced Practice With Families and Groups
- Social Welfare Policy and Program Development
For the Standard track, applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 2.7 or above. Students with a lower GPA may be accepted on a probationary basis. For the Advanced Standing track, applicants need an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. This program is currently a candidate for accreditation from the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE).
25. University of the Rockies
The University of the Rockies presents graduate programs in psychology, organizational leadership, and education through online programs and through its campus in Denver. These programs are anchored in the University’s core values of Integrity, Service, Excellence, and Diversity. The Master of Arts in Human Services offers concentrations in Mental Health Administration and Nonprofit Management.
Both of the available concentrations for the M.A. in Human Services require at least three courses (worth three credits each) specific to the area of specialization. Students may also choose a Standard track. For the Mental Health Administration track, required coursework will include:
- Cultural Diversity and Individual Differences
- Professional Ethics, Standards of Practice, and Law
- Contemporary Issues in Mental Health Care Compliance
- Fiscal Administration in Mental Health Care Systems
All three tracks for the M.A. in Human Services require a minimum of 33 credit hours. The classes for the degree are offered in an accelerated six-week format. To successfully complete the program, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above. All candidates for this degree will complete an Integrative Project for Human Services as their capstone experience. The program at the University of the Rockies is not intended to lead to licensure or certification.