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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Child Development

Majors Overview December 17, 2013

Those interested in the study of the emotional, language, behavioral, and physical development of children may want to look into a child development program. This two-year program provides students with the chance to work with children of different educational needs and ages, in order to provide graduates with the needed experience to become a child care worker and educator.

Associate of Arts Program in Child Development

Students enrolled in an Associate’s Degree Program in Child Development are required to complete coursework devised by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Graduates of the program can seek entry-level jobs in the field of early childhood development; alternatively, they could choose to continue their education by earning a bachelor’s degree in the field.

Enrolled students engage in the examination of the emotional and physical growth of children from the time of their birth to the period of adolescence; coursework includes a survey of family dynamics, behavior and child nutrition.

Students who complete the coursework can expect to become adept in developing age-appropriate education plans and utilizing creative arts aimed at fostering learning. A child development practicum is the logical culmination of this associate’s degree program whereby students are given the opportunity to work with young wards in an educational environment. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma; submission of a criminal background check and child abuse screening are also expected of students seeking admission into the program’s practicum phase.


Students who complete the coursework can expect to become adept at working with school-aged, infant and toddler children through classes in various topic areas such as assessment, special needs and language development, among others. Coursework typically includes subject areas such as:

•Child development theories
•Behavior management
•Child safety
•Cognitive development
•Exceptional children

Career Choices

Those who successfully complete a child development associate’s degree program can expect to become trained in working with children in work environments such as preschools, child enrichment centers, and day cares, among others. They may seek job titles such as:

•Preschool teacher
•Daycare provider
•Teaching assistant
•Head Start teacher

Certification Choices

Graduates can seek voluntary certification to enhance their career prospects. For instance, the CDA National Credentialing Program of the Council for Professional Recognition offers the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential which would enable them to acquire the Home Visitor, Center-Based or Family Child Care endorsements. To qualify for the CDA certification, a candidate would require 480 hours of work experience with children, in additional to lead teacher assessment, a professional resource file and parent opinion questionnaires.

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