About the Child Development Major
Child development degree programs appeal to students who wish to pursue careers that make a difference in the lives of children. Students learn everything about children's physical, emotional, social, and cognitive growth from infancy until adolescence, and how they develop within their surrounding social contexts -- family, cultural, peer, school, and neighborhood. Depending on their career goals, many students choose child development as a foundation to pursue an advanced degree in medicine, education, law, or social work, among many more advocacy- and service-oriented professions where they can work with and on behalf of children and adolescents.
Students gain a clear understanding of social and behavioral sciences, the theories, major research findings, and research methods fundamental to the field of child development. After obtaining a bachelor's degree, child development majors are prepared for graduate study for clinical and therapeutic counseling positions, teaching, and advanced research positions. Potential social science and professional fields include psychology, medicine, nursing, education, public policy, and social services.
Child development majors focus their studies inside and outside the classroom. Inside the classroom, they complete coursework in psychology, sociology, education, and the humanities. Students apply research, theory, and problem-solving skills to questions about social policy, education, intervention, and practical situations. While learning to observe and assess children, students also apply various research methodologies and examine and evaluate the information.
Because child development is a broad program of study, students are encouraged to pursue fieldwork or an internship in child-oriented settings to supplement their curriculum. Participating in fieldwork or an internship allows students to gain hands-on experience in an aspect of child development that they find interesting. Possible placements include educational settings, pediatric hospitals, child advocacy programs, social service agencies, and state government agencies. Child development majors are also encouraged to participate in research studies supervised by faculty. Gaining research experience is necessary preparation for graduate school.