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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Early Childhood Development

Majors Overview November 20, 2015

Those with an interest in working with children in various clinical, counseling, or educational settings should look into Master of Science (M.S.) degree programs in Early Childhood Development. This article talks about these programs and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs in Early Childhood Development

Graduate students seeking a broad overview of the mental, social, and emotional development of children would benefit from enrolling in a master’s degree program in early childhood development. This degree often leads to careers as elementary school administrators or teachers. It can also enable individuals to pursue careers as social workers, child psychologists, and family therapists. State licensure is a requirement for some career fields such as therapy, social work, and teaching.

The program includes participation in seminars and on-site research projects. Completion of a proposal or thesis paper exploring a particular aspect of childhood development is also in the coursework of many programs. Students complete most programs in 3-4 semesters.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a baccalaureate degree, in addition to submitting a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, Graduate Record Examination scores, and previous grade transcripts.


Program coursework predominantly covers the emotional and psychological development of children below twelve. Coursework is devised to teach students about the stages of childhood development. They also learn about the philosophical, historical, and social foundations of childhood education, aimed at better developing and executing effective curriculum plans at the elementary level. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Young children and community relationships
•Educational research
•Curriculum development for early childhood education
•Developmental theories and research
•Foundations of early childhood education
•Seminar in child development
•Child abuse prevention
•Teaching communication arts
•Children in a diverse society
•Homeschooling theories

Career Choices

Program graduates can choose from many potential career opportunities, mainly of an academic character, including:

•Youth Counselor
•Social worker
•Elementary school administrator
•Elementary school teacher
•Child development research associate
•Elementary school counselor
•Family counselor

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a 12% job growth rate has been predicted for elementary school teachers while preschool teachers can expect a 17% growth (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, elementary teachers brought in an average annual wage of $53,090 while preschool teachers earned $27,130 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education could pursue doctoral degree programs such as a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Intervention and Literacy or Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education. Students typically complete such programs within 5-7 years, and they are required to complete a publishable dissertation. Many doctorate degrees lead to jobs working for private and public research agencies or as university professors.

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