Child Development

Five children stand next to each other waiting their turn during a children's camp.


The Department of Child Development offers opportunities for students to learn about current child development theories and research, and to observe and apply this knowledge during practical field experiences. 

Our program focuses not only on prenatal, infant, and early child development, but also middle childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood. We offer a comprehensive approach to

  • learning about children’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and neurodevelopment,
  • assessing children and environments (developmental needs, behavioral guidance, home, school, community),
  • analyzing developmental contexts (including gender, ethnicity, social class, culture),
  • understanding how relationships (e.g., family, peer, romantic) shape development, and
  • internship courses that allow students to apply knowledge, learning experiences, and critical thinking skills in professional settings.

In addition to developmental period courses (i.e., prenatal/infancy, early and middle childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood), we offer courses on dating, marriage, parenting, family relations, children’s gender and sexuality, risk and resilience, social and emotional intelligence, and global perspectives of childhood.  

We have exceptional faculty with expertise in a wide array of child development topics and areas of professional work related to children and families. Our advisors and faculty are highly involved with students, helping them develop their academic and career goals. 

Child development majors have the opportunity to participate in three internship courses that are embedded in the major, each one offering students diverse opportunities to gain important work-related knowledge, experiences, and applied skills under the guidance and supervision of staff and faculty. Some students may complete honors in the major, gaining essential research-related skills and opportunities. Additionally, we offer several unique 1-unit courses to help students further explore their professional and academic interests. 


Child development provides a wide variety of courses and internships designed to prepare students for work in careers focused on children and families. For example, students gain knowledge and experiences that can help prepare them to pursue a teaching career, work in human service agencies that support children and families, engage advocacy, and conduct research. Faculty assist and support students’ professional development by fostering collaborative learning environments that integrate high-quality teaching, mentoring, promoting scholarly activities, guiding relevant practical experiences, and modeling leadership. 

We have a very active Child Development Student Association (CDSA) which is advised by one of our faculty members. Attending CDSA meetings provide opportunities to:

  • meet other peers who are taking or have taken child development courses and may be interested in pursuing similar careers,
  • learn from professionals about their work in related fields, and
  • develop leadership skills/experiences for those who are interested in becoming an officer. 


Students in the Department of Child Development understand how development and environments affect children and families and apply this knowledge in a variety of personal and professional settings. Graduates of the program are knowledgeable and reflective professionals who have gained valuable field experience and who recognize and value the uniqueness and diversity of children and families within and across multiple contexts.

Our graduates work in a variety of professional fields including public and private education (pre-K–12), childcare staff and administration, early intervention and other human service agencies, community programs (e.g., YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, youth development), behavioral assessment, family resource and referral specializations (e.g., foster care and adoption), and parent support programs. Many of our graduates obtain additional degrees to work as child life specialists, social workers, counselors, school psychologists, researchers, and program or agency directors.