5 Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Child Development

Did you have a favorite elementary school teacher? Maybe they were the person who got you hooked on reading? Or helped you discover your love of science? It's incredible what an effect an influential personality can have on the life of a person by knowing and supporting them as a child. Children carry inside them an unending potential accompanied by the possibility to be anything they want to be. By giving children the tools to learn and grow we can inspire them to follow their dreams. There is advanced neuroplasticity in children's brains that allows them to form connections and see things in a new perspective. It is by encouraging this creative thinking and problem-solving that the future can be truly influenced for the better. Do you love to see that spark in a child's eyes when they learn something new? Or when someone supports them? Do you have a knack for psychology and find a growing, learning mind fascinating? Then a degree in Child Development could be for you!

Graduating with a Bachelor's in Child Development can lead to careers in Preschool, Kindergarten, or Elementary level teaching; Child Care Work; Social Work; parent education; and much more. There is a high demand for childcare, in all aspects, and the job growth for each of these possible career paths is projected to go up over the next ten years. Kindergarten teachers make an annual median salary of $57,980 and Preschool teachers make a median salary of $29,780. That's with summers off too! This degree can also lead graduates into careers with the Make-A-Wish foundation and Head Start. Additionally, a Bachelor's in Child Development leads into many graduate programs that open up career opportunities even further. Those who choose to go to graduate school can find themselves positions as child psychologists, family therapists, nurses, and more.

Why Become a Kindergarten Teacher or Social Worker?

The main reason to follow these career paths is to make a positive impact on individuals and the community at large. It is highly rewarding to influence others for the better to be their best and contribute to their community. Secondly, the Occupational Outlook Handbook projection for job growth in teaching Kindergarten over the next ten years is seven percent. Social work careers are projected to grow by 16 percent. That means that there will be a lot of positions available which could lead to better pay. Additionally, both of these career paths make positive impacts on future generations. With Social Work, there is a variety of job choices from working in the foster care system, child adoption programs, or running your own practice.

A Bachelor's in Child Development is relevant to students because the world is full of injustices and incredibly complex challenges. The biggest thing we can do to make a difference is to improve the lives of people within our communities and build each other up! Through committing to bring about positive change social workers and kindergarten teachers an influence big change by being advocates and examples to others. Additionally, both career paths work with children, and possibly adults, in disadvantaged populations and areas, giving those individuals the support and guidance they need to go on to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. The potential for job growth in social work is above average, meaning there is a demand for talented workers and potentially higher paying salaries for graduates.

How to Choose a Bachelor's in Child Development

Social Work Degree Guide is here to help you find the perfect program for you. We factor in Student Satisfaction and Affordability as our primary metrics, at 30 percent of the total ranking each. From there Alumni Salaries, SAT Scores, and the school's retention rate each represent 10 percent. For more information on how SWG ranks Social Work degrees, please visit our About Us page.


#5. Michigan State University – East Lansing, Michigan

Bachelor's in Child Development

Program Website

Tuition: $14,460 / $39,766

Score: 92.86

Unique Features

Michigan State University offers over 200 academic programs and 275 study abroad programs. Out of students who graduate from MSU, 95 percent land jobs or go on to advanced degrees right after graduation. MSU is also home to one of the top-ranked Bachelor's in Child Development programs, which combines basic education in child development with family studies and broad general education. This degree program gives students the option to concentrate in an Elementary Education Teacher Certification, or in Preschool Teaching. The Elementary Education concentration requires the student's admission to the teacher preparation program and therefore prepares students to work in the early years of primary school, Kindergarten, and onward through third grade. This concentration also allows students to gain a Special Education Endorsement. The Preschool Teaching concentration prepares students for careers with Head Start and preschools or within policy-writing, healthcare, or administrative sectors. This concentration requires students to complete an independent study experience such as a study abroad program, internship, or undergraduate research program. Both of the concentration options require that students fulfill the university's general education requirements for a bachelor's degree, as well as the requirements of the Social Science College for Bachelor's of Arts which is 27 credits, plus the completion of one of the program's concentrations. The Preschool Teaching concentration requires an additional 15 credits. The Elementary Education program requires students to complete the Integrated Teaching Major, in which the students can choose between the topics of Integrated Science, Language Arts, Mathematics, or Social Studies.

#4. Iowa State University – Ames, Iowa

BS in Child, Adult and Family Services

Program Website

Tuition: $8,988 / $23,392

Score: 93.35

Unique Features

Iowa State University offers 100 academic programs within ten different colleges of study and has been ranked as one of the nation's most beautiful campuses. Within the university's College of Human Science is its Bachelor's in Science in Child, Adult, and Family Services. The goal of this program is to give students the ability to help people of all ages surpass obstacles and lead healthy, fulfilling lives. This bachelor's program offers three concentration options to students: the child program, which prepares the students to work with children from birth to age eight; the youth program, which focuses on adolescents and young adults; and the adult and family program, in which students learn about family development, conflict resolution, and abuse treatment. Each of these concentration options allows students to tailor their learning to their individual career goals. Each concentration consists of 21 credit hours in corresponding classes. Students also must fulfill the Human Development and Family Studies core of 20 credits, the Child, Adult and Family Services core of 15 credits, a Communications and Library core of 13 credits, a Natural Science and Mathematical Disciplines of 11 credits, a Social Sciences core of nine credits, six credits in the humanities, and finally, 25 credits in electives.


#3. Vanderbilt University – Nashville, Tennessee

Bachelor of Science Major in Child Development

Program Website

Tuition: $49,816

Score: 93.84

Unique Features

Vanderbilt University encourages students to study across disciplines and to collaborate for positive world change. The university is home to over 500 student clubs and organizations that allow for this collaboration. Within VU are ten colleges which work together to give students the freedom to follow their interests. The university's Bachelor's of Science with a Major in Child Development is designed for students who want to learn about children from birth through adolescence; the family unit; and the cultural, school, and neighborhood dynamics in which children live. The program provides students with a foundation in social and behavioral sciences as they relate to child development. The Child Development program prepares students for graduate programs in social sciences and professional fields with 36 credits in child studies that draw on courses in psychology, education, special education, and human and organizational development. The courses give students an overview of child development with focuses on cognition, social and personal development, as well as courses related to the major intervals of development such as infancy and adolescence. Within the program, students select an area of concentration which completes the field as a whole. Additionally, the program offers a five-year combined Child Development and Nursing program which fulfills the requirements for the Nursing Master's program. This degree program gives students a pre-professional preparation for graduate school programs in psychology or education as well.


#2. University of Illinois – Urbana, Illinois

BS in Child & Adolescent Development Concentration

Program Website

Tuition: $15,094 / $31,664

Score: 94.28

Unique Features

The University of Illinois offers over 150 undergraduate academic programs from 15 instructional units. The university has over 470,000 alumni and boasts an 89 percent rate of graduates becoming employed or enrolling in a graduate program within six months of graduation. The University of Illinois' Bachelor's of Science in Child and Adolescent Development combines coursework with practical experience and provides students with a foundational knowledge of the physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development of children and adolescents. Students in this program fulfill the university's General Education requirements, as well as take courses in Socialization and Development, Infancy and Early Childhood, Adult Development, Family Diversity, Critical Family Transitions, and more. Starting in Human Development and Family Services 101 the program provides students with opportunities for career exploration and professional development. The Department of Human Development and Family Studies offers students the ability to learn in out-of-classroom experiences in its award-winning programs like the Family Resiliency Center, the Child Development Laboratory, the Child Care Resource Center, and the Autism Project. Students who graduate from this program can enter careers in early childhood education, parent education, adoption casework, after-school program directing, directing daycare centers, and more.

#1. Appalachian State University – Boone, North Carolina

BS in Child Development

Program Website

Tuition: $7,364 / $22,171

Score: 100.0

Unique Features

Appalachian State University offers over 150 academic programs and is ranked at the top for its Bachelor's in Science in Child Development. The university's Bachelor of Science in Child Development program offers students two paths within the major. The first is Birth through Kindergarten and allows the student to graduate with teacher licensure in both regular and special education. The second is Family and Child Studies which gives students foundational knowledge to work with children and families in non-school settings such as intervention agencies and childcare centers. The Birth through Kindergarten program focuses on children from birth to age five and their families. The program requires students to have four field experiences to develop professional skills and offers that experience through the Child Advocacy Club and internships. The major requires students to fulfill 45 credits within the program, 44 credits of general education, 24 credits of professional education, and nine credits of electives. The Family and Child Studies program requires students to fulfill 38 credits of the Child and Family core classwork, an 18 credit professional core, and 11 credits in a related field, such as food and nutrition or personal finance. This program also requires 44 credits of general education and four credits of electives. Both of these programs lead to a Bachelor's in Child Development and fruitful future career for the student.