What Can You Do with A Master’s in Child Development

If you’re passionate about working with or on behalf of children, you may have considered earning a master’s degree in areas like education, psychology, or social work. But here’s one that may not have crossed your mind:  child development.

A master’s degree in child development instills an advanced level of knowledge regarding the physical, mental, social, and emotional development of children, as well as ways to apply it within education and human services settings.

It’s an incredibly versatile degree, with graduates working in jobs varying from child life specialist to child yoga teacher. Those with a bachelor’s degree in child development are eligible for entry-level positions (like teacher’s assistant), but a master’s degree in child development can pave the way to many more opportunities in a variety of realms.


A child development master’s degree can prepare you to work in teaching administration in public, private, franchised, and corporate day care centers, preschools, extended school programs, and more. It can also open doors in early childhood education and special education, teaching, and curriculum development.

Community and Social Services

Do you have fond memories serving as a camp counselor? Employers such as the YMCA or YWCA and summer camp programs seek graduates of child development master’s programs. Here, as well as within rehabilitative and religious organizations and adoption agencies, degree holders may work in areas including administration, programming, development, and research. In social services entities, child development grads may work in case management or counseling.


Opportunities for child development graduates are plentiful in the public sector at the local, state, and federal levels. The Department of Nutrition or the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, military child care programs, women’s protective agencies, and mental health agencies may hire people with child development degrees to work in program coordination and evaluation, research, legislation, advocacy, and many more.

Health Care

This one may come as a surprise, but having a master’s degree in child development can come in handy at hospitals and other health care facilities, where you may work in child care programs, education, or occupational therapy, or even as a child life specialist, like Erin Morris Gris, who earned her master’s degree in child development in 2001.

“Since graduating, I have worked in several children’s hospitals in the New York area as a child life specialist with various populations,” Gris told Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. “In between child life jobs, I was a director of a daycare for an organization called Hour Children [icon class=’fa-external-link’]. The daycare I ran was for children who had been born while their mothers were still incarcerated. The babies then lived with their mothers in the prison nursery and, when the mothers were released, came to our program.”

[1] Education Portal, “Master’s Degree in Child Development:  Program Overview,” http://education-portal.com/articles/Masters_Degree_in_Child_Development_Program_Overview.html (Retrieved 2 Mar 2013).

[2] Sarah Lawrence College, “Child Development:  Graduate Profiles,” (2013).

[3] California State University, Chico, “Child Development:  What Can I Do With This Degree?” (2013).

[4] Sarah Lawrence College, “Child Development – Graduate Profiles:  Erin Morris Gris,” http://www.slc.edu/graduate/programs/child-development/profiles/Erin_Morris_Gris.html (Retrieved 2 Mar 2013).