Child Psychology & Child Development Degrees

Child Psychology & Child Development Degrees

Child development and child psychology are related disciplines that can sometimes be confused with one another. However, child development focuses on the physical and mental changes between birth and adolescence, whereas as child psychology is a branch of psychology that studies the emotional and behavioral development of children and adolescents. Despite somewhat of an overlapping curriculum at the undergraduate level, the two degrees will typically lead to differing career paths.

Differing Career Paths

Child development degrees often result in careers in education, teaching at the early childhood or elementary level, as well as careers in academia, community program development, social services, and child care services in both public and healthcare settings. Child psychology degrees typically lead to careers as child or adolescent psychologists, researchers or college professors. If you are fascinated with human development and behavior and enjoy working with children, explore child development and psychology programs to determine which is the right choice for you.

Child Development and Child Psychology Education Overview

Degree Level Options

Child development degrees are most commonly available as certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. Although child development programs are also offered at the graduate level, often individuals will choose to pursue master’s or doctoral degrees in related areas, such as social work, early childhood education, and child psychology.

Even though there are child psychology programs at the undergraduate level, the most common child psychology programs offer master’s and doctoral degrees, which allow students with undergraduate psychology degrees to pursue specialized study in order to become a child psychologist.

Prerequisites and Program Length

Certificate degrees can typically be completed in less than a year. Associate’s degrees take two years to complete, and bachelor’s degree programs take four years to complete. The prerequisites for entry to associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs are usually a high school diploma or GED, minimum required GPA, and minimum required SAT/ACT scores.

The prerequisites for entry to master’s degree programs are typically a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, competitive GRE scores, letters of reference, and a minimum required GPA. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) programs generally require applicants to have a master’s degree in psychology, competitive GRE scores, letters of reference, and a minimum required GPA. Master’s degrees take two years beyond the bachelor’s, and doctoral programs take five to seven years to complete.

Curriculum for Child Psychology and Child Development Programs

In both child development and child psychology programs, students learn about the mental, emotional, and social development of children from the prenatal period to adolescence. Many degree programs are available in an online format to accommodate the busy schedules of working adults. The coursework might cover the following subjects:

  • Developmental psychology
  • Parenting & family relations
  • Applied research methods
  • Psychology of middle childhood
  • Psychology of adolescent development
  • Cognitive development
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Behavior modification
  • Learning & motivation

Students may learn how to work with children of all ages, including infants, toddlers, and teens or they may focus on a specific age group. The goal of child development programs is to produce graduates with an in-depth understanding of how children grow and develop. as well as psychological theories and their application. Students are also required to complete internships in order to gain practical experience in the field.

Jobs for Graduates of Child Development & Psychology Programs

Graduates of child development and child psychology programs can be found working at hospitals, juvenile detention centers, schools, government agencies, and private offices. They may work directly with children and families or support them indirectly via administrative, research, and advocacy roles, as well as develop prevention programs, such as bullying and teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Child Development Careers

With an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in child development, you could work as a childcare provider, join a family as an au pair, serve as a teacher’s aide or work in an afterschool program. In order to become a teacher at the preschool or elementary level, state teaching certification will generally be required, and in some cases, additional coursework. Careers in community program development and social services will typically require a master’s degree, whereas positions in academia and research will require a doctoral degree.

Child Psychology Careers

If your goal is to pursue clinical or therapeutic counseling positions, you will need at least a master’s degree in child psychology. Either a PhD or PsyD is required to work as a licensed clinical psychologist or college professor. The responsibilities of child psychologists typically include diagnosing and treating mental disorders; cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems; and learning disabilities through individual, family, and group therapy. Child psychologists may also administer psychological tests and create unique treatment plans for patients.

Employment Outlook for Child Psychology and Early Childhood Education

Child Psychology Employment

The demand for child psychologists will continue to grow as parents turn to them for help in solving and managing their children’s psychological problems. The need for child psychologists in the healthcare industry is also increasing, because child psychologists often help healthcare practitioners develop comprehensive, interdisciplinary treatments. The employment of clinical psychologists is expected to grow 22% from 2010 to 2020. In 2102, the median annual wage of clinical psychologists was $67,650.

Early Childhood Education Employment

Due to rising enrollment and the increased importance placed on the value of early childhood education, employment for preschool teachers is expected to increase by 25% from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than average for all occupations. Employment for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is projected to grow about as fast as average. In 2012, the median annual salary for preschool teachers was $27,130.  Kindergarten teachers earned $50,120, and elementary school teachers earned $53,400.

If you would like to help children, families, and communities, consider enrolling in a child development or child psychology programs. Extend your expertise and gain skills that are valuable in a variety of professions by pursuing your education today.