By OPD Staff
Why earn a master’s in child psychology online? Child psychology is a field that focuses on human development in the early stages of the lifespan. Professionals in this discipline act as experts in behavioral issues, social problems, and emotional and cognitive factors that uniquely affect the well-being of infants, children, and adolescents. As such, earning a master’s degree in child development will prepare you for a diverse range of career fields, from early childhood education to social work. If this sounds like it’s right up your alley, then you’ve come to the right place! This ranking of the top child psychology master’s degrees online will help you determine the best school and program to suit your individual needs.
We created this ranking list to highlight the best online master’s degrees in child development psychology. These include programs* in child and adolescence psychology, developmental psychology, human development and education, and other similar fields. We also considered general psychology programs that offer a specialization in childhood/adolescent/youth development. To determine the best schools for child psychology, we rated graduate programs in five categories: affordability (average tuition rate), accessibility, experiential learning, and coursework.
In rating accessibility, we considered what percentage of the program’s classes are available online (not including practicums). Fortunately, almost all the schools on this ranking offer 100% of their classes online.
Experiential learning refers to any opportunities that the program provides for hands-on education. This includes capstone classes, seminars, thesis papers, research opportunities, individualized study courses, and of course practicums and internships (both required and optional). We firmly believe that the more opportunities students have to apply their knowledge to hands-on projects, the better prepared they’ll be for work in the real world.
Lastly, we assessed coursework by looking at what percentage of the program’s classes focus specifically on child psychology. This category serves to differentiate comprehensive, targeted child psychology degrees from those with a broader overall focus (e.g., education or family studies) as well as from general psych programs that only offer child development as a specialization.
After collecting all the data, we assigned points to each program in each category, tallied the totals, and calculated the final scores. The highest possible score was 10 points. Scroll down to find out more about the top online master’s degrees in child development psychology!
*Note that we did not consider private for-profit institutions in this ranking, although there are plenty of for-profit colleges that offer graduate programs in child development psychology.
Ranking Top 15 Child Psychology Master’s Degrees Online
#15. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology – Chicago, IL
Online MA in Psychology: Child and Adolescent Concentration
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers an online M.A. in Psychology with a focus in child and adolescent development. Accepted applicants can opt to take classes full- or part-time and graduate in one or two years, respectively. Once enrolled, you’ll acquire a broad foundation in general psychology topics before zeroing in on subjects specific to your chosen concentration. For those focusing on child psychology, concentration coursework covers family systems and therapy, trauma, and evidence-based programs for adolescents. Before graduating from this accredited online master’s degree in child and adolescent psychology, you’ll also complete a six-credit applied research project on a topic that reflects your career goals.
Average Tuition & Fees: $26,179/yr
#14. Southern New Hampshire University – Manchester, NH
Online MS in Psychology: Child & Adolescent Development Psychology
The MS in Psychology: Child and Adolescent Development at SNHU imparts valuable knowledge in a range of areas, from research methodology and ethical practice to learning theory and personality. In addition to this broad education, you’ll also pick up specialized skills that will prepare you to work with children. For example, a class in “Intervention Strategies” covers both traditional and contemporary approaches and examines real-world scenarios that participants may face on the job someday. While enrolled in this affordable master’s in child psychology online, you’ll also complete two synthesis courses: a “Capstone in Psychology” and a “Child and Developmental Psychology Seminar.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,810/yr
#13. Southeastern University – Lakeland, FL
Online MA in Human Services: Children and Family Specialization
Southeastern University’s graduate program is one of just a few on our ranking of top online master’s degrees in child development psychology that isn’t actually in psychology. However, the school provides an M.A. in Human Services that – when coupled with a Children and Family Specialization – comes pretty close. Core courses like “Multicultural Issues in Human Services” and “Program Planning & Evaluations” work alongside specialized classes in child development, youth services, and parent relationships to ensure that graduates are confident and career-ready. In addition, the curriculum includes a two-part (six credit) practicum and field experience that will teach you how to handle real-world problems.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,719/yr
#12. Bay Path University – Longmeadow, MA
Online MS in Developmental Psychology
Unlike the other schools we’ve reviewed so far, Bay Path University offers an accredited online master’s in developmental psychology (as opposed to child and adolescent psych). However, the curriculum is a perfect match for anyone interested in pediatric mental health. Classes include “Bullying & Coercive Behavior,” “Family Systems,” “Infant & Toddler Development,” and even “Drugs, Medication, & Society.” What’s more, the 36-credit program requires students to complete 160 hours of community-based fieldwork. It’s also worth noting that Bay Path uses a blended/hybrid delivery format, so you should only apply if you live within commuting distance from one of the school’s three campuses in Massachusetts.
Average Tuition & Fees: $22,420/yr
#11. Montclair State University – Montclair, NJ
Online MA in Child Advocacy and Policy
If you’re interested in earning a degree in child psychology because you want to work in the non-profit or political advocacy sectors, consider earning Montclair State’s M.A. in Child Advocacy and Policy instead. This program stands out on our online master’s degrees in child and adolescent psychology ranking for its targeted focus on topics like forensic interviewing, child welfare, and family empowerment. With this strategic training, you’ll graduate fully equipped for work with community organizations, domestic violence and youth mentorship programs, welfare agencies, education advocacy centers, and other similar groups. Also note that MSU’s program doesn’t require any fieldwork, making it a particularly convenient option for busy applicants and those who already have on-the-job experience.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,827/yr
#10. Liberty University – Lynchburg, VA
Online Master of Arts in Applied Psychology: Developmental Psychology
Liberty University’s M.A. in Applied Psychology is among the most convenient, flexible options you’ll find anywhere in the country. In addition to having the most affordable online master’s in developmental psychology on this ranking, Liberty also stands out for its 100% distance ed. coursework, generous transfer credit policy, and manageable class schedule. Taking just three classes at a time for four semesters, you’ll garner all the skills you need for a career as a developmental specialist or rehabilitation counselor. And unlike many programs, Liberty’s developmental psych concentration comprises more classes than its core sequence. This strategy ensures that you get the specialized training you need to be successful in your career goals.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,430/yr
#9. CUNY School of Professional Studies – New York, NY
Online Master of Arts in Psychology: Developmental Psychology
Students who want to acquire a blend of broad knowledge and specialized skills in psychology might find their match at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS). The fully online format opens with a core sequence of classes in behavior, personality, learning, and other academic pillars of the discipline. Next, you’ll move on to a three-course concentration in Developmental Psych. With just three specialized classes, you might think CUNY SPS offers insufficient preparation for your goals – at least compared to other schools on this child psychology master’s degrees online ranking. However, this program enables you to further refine and customize your education through choice electives like “Atypical Development.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,800/yr (as reported by school)
#8. University of La Verne – La Verne, CA
Online Master of Science in Child Development
It may not include the word “psychology” in its degree title, but the University of La Verne’s M.S. in Child Development nonetheless deserves its spot on this list. In fact, it’s one of the best online master’s degrees in child and adolescent psychology that the internet has to offer! This is especially true for students who are considering careers in education or educational consulting. Indeed, most courses emphasize the overlap between developmental psychology and teaching (e.g., “Language, Reading, and Concept Development” and “Developmental Curriculum”). Designed for professionals “dedicated to bettering the lives of children,” La Verne’s program will infuse you with the leadership skills and conceptual knowledge you need to enter the job market with confidence.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,500/yr
#7. Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ
Online Master of Education in Learning, Cognition, and Development
Rutgers University’s graduate program is perhaps the most unique to make our online master’s in developmental psychology ranking. Why? Because it’s the only MEd degree – which means a stronger focus on education than any of the alternatives on this list. This is great news for applicants who are committed to a career in teaching or education policy, as well as those who eventually want to earn a Ph.D. in a related field. As a MEd degree candidate at Rutgers, you’ll amass a wealth of knowledge on topics like motivational learning strategies, language acquisition and memory processes, and even statistical methods.
Average Tuition & Fees: $24,429/yr
#6. Northcentral University – San Diego, CA
Online Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Psychology
If you’re looking for one of the top online master’s degrees in child and adolescent psychology (and have no interest in any alternative programs in human services or education), take a gander at Northcentral University. At this school, what you see is exactly what you get. The curriculum offers a rich overview of child developmental psychology, with courses that cover everything from pre-natal, early childhood, child, and adolescent development to gender development and psychopathology. This comprehensive and robust approach ensures that you’ll graduate a qualified expert in the field; you’ll even acquire knowledge in highly specialized subjects like ADHD and Autism.
Average Tuition & Fees: $17,781/yr
#5. Texas Tech University – Lubbock, TX
Online Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies
Texas Tech University offers an MS in Human Development and Family Services as part of its participation in the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA). This unique collaboration of 19 midwest colleges provides students enrolled at any participating school with expanded access to online education. For example, the Human Development program is available at seven institutions: Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Michigan State, North Dakota State, University of Missouri, and the University of Nebraska. Through the GPIDEA, professors from all seven schools band together to teach courses and offer a robust curriculum that rivals some of the very best online master’s degrees in child development psychology.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,197/yr
#4. University of Southern Mississippi – Hattiesburg, MS
Online Master’s Degree in Child and Family Studies
A career in early childhood education, nonprofit advocacy, social work, or family program administration could be right around the corner – if you earn an MS in Child and Family Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi. This program earns a top spot on this master’s in child psychology online ranking in part for its outsized commitment to hands-on learning. Whereas most programs might offer a single capstone or seminar course, USM triples down on its experiential requirements to ensure your readiness for real-world work. That is, you’ll take a “Seminar in Child Development,” complete a final thesis project, and complete two practica in child development and family studies.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,094/yr
#3. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities – Minneapolis, MN
Online Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development
On this list of the best child psychology master’s degrees online, the University of Minnesota’s MA in Applied Child and Adolescent Development stands out for the depth and specificity of its coursework. Although the degree itself is already highly specialized, UMN goes a step further by offering distinct concentrations, including Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Child Life. The former includes a three-part “Infant Observation” seminar and can lead to careers in social work and early childcare. By comparison, students in the latter concentration complete a 600-hour clinical internship and become eligible for Child Life Professional Certification.
Average Tuition & Fees: $22,175/yr
#2. Western Kentucky University – Bowling Green, KY
Online Master of Science in Child and Family Studies
Western Kentucky University’s robust curriculum is sure to satisfy even the most voracious learners. At the core of the program is a basic sequence of classes like “Child Development Theory and Research” and “Grant Writing for Child and Family Programs.” But beyond these initial requirements, degree candidates wide latitude to transform this MS program into an affordable online master’s degree(s) in child and adolescent psychology that suits their interests and goals. In fact, you’ll fill at least half of your degree requirements through elective coursework. Particularly unique options include “Home Based Positive Behavioral Supports,” “Global Perspectives of Child and Family,” and “Family Diversity.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,860/yr
#1. Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
Online Master of Science in Family & Human Development
Although the scores were close, Arizona State University narrowly clinches the number one spot on our online master’s degrees in child development psychology ranking. Among the program’s greatest attractions are its affordable tuition rate and comprehensive curriculum. In just 15-18 months, you’ll learn all about child development theory, parenting, family relationships and child life, and much more. But perhaps the most impressive feature of ASU’s Master’s in Family and Human Development is its three-part capstone sequence. In this nine-credit culminating experience, you’ll participate in professional development exercises, hone your area of interest and articulate your career goals, and finally put your knowledge to the test through a 40-hour field experience or in-depth investigative paper.
Average Tuition & Fees: $17,841/yr
You’ve reached the end of our list of top master’s in child psychology online.
IPEDS Data Center
Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance