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Master’s Degree Programs in Child and Adolescent Development Overview

Majors Overview November 20, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in child and adolescent development and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and licensure, certification, and continuing education choices.

Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Child and Adolescent Development

A master’s degree in a field such as child and adolescent development can enable daycare administrators, youth advocates, and family counselors to obtain licensure. Program graduates are also ready for careers as educators and policy-makers. Schools offer similar graduate-level programs such as:

•Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Youth Development
•Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in School Counseling
•Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Human Development
•Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Health Education

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Child and Adolescent Development

The program allows the examination by students of the impact of family, culture, society, and school on the development and growth of adolescents and children. Through research experience, students can explore mental health and intervention issues. The program can often help a student develop the ability to work as an advocate and understand the ethical responsibility needed in working with adolescents, children, and their families. Schools may offer similar options in the form of Master of Education (M.Ed.) with child and adolescent development specializations, or Master of Arts (M.A.) in Education programs.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree. Applicants with an educational background in child and adolescent development, or a related field, such as social work, education, and psychology, might get preference for admission.


Program coursework may cover topic areas such as health, social policy, community development, and education. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Early childhood and infancy development
•Language and cognitive development
•Social policy issues
•Multicultural issues
•Adolescent and middle childhood development
•Emotional and social development
•Research techniques

Career Choices

Program graduates may commonly seek roles in research, leadership, and policy-making in environments related to the development of adolescents, including preschools, day cares, elementary schools, secondary schools, kindergartens, and counseling facilities. They may choose from possible career titles such as:

•Parent educator
•Daycare administrator
•Youth Advocate

Licensure and Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education may pursue a Ph.D. program in Child and Adolescent Development. Some master’s degree programs permit the direct transit of students into doctoral programs. Graduates seeking to become educators working within public schools, including middle, elementary, or secondary schools, must meet licensure norms set by their State Board of Education. These may include a minimum number of education credits, supervised teaching experience, and a bachelor’s degree.

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Psychology with a Child and Adolescent Development Specialization
Enrollees in these programs learn about ways of analyzing and treating mental health issues within adolescents and children. A capstone requirement may include the completion of a thesis project. Graduates may seek careers in research numerous settings, including health care centers, social service agencies, or educational institutions. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree.


Students may be allowed to tailor their coursework in accordance with their future career plans. Evaluation of youth programs may be the primary focus of core coursework that could cover topic areas such as:

•Psychology of the Exceptional Child
•Cognition and learning
•Addictive disorders
•Treating and evaluating juvenile delinquents
•Crisis and trauma intervention

Job and Wage Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2014, the median annual salary for clinical, counseling and school psychologists was $74,030. In the 2008 – 2018 decade, clinical, counseling and school psychologists are expected to see an 11% job growth (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

The pursuit of a career as a licensed and certified psychologist requires a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D. in a subject like developmental psychology or child clinical psychology. Alternatively, program graduates seeking continuing education may enroll in a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.).

While every state mandates licensure and certification requirements for psychologists, norms vary by field of practice as well as by state. In addition to the passage of an exam, additional certification may be gained by psychologists through the National Association of School Psychologists or similar organization where a designation recognized in 31 different states is available.

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