Child Psychology Degree Overview

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Updated May 28, 2024 · 2 Min Read

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Child psychologists play a vital role in child mental healthcare. Learn how to earn a child psychology degree and what you can do with a child psychology education.

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Child psychologists help children recover from loss or trauma, respond to mental health conditions, and develop healthy coping strategies. Explore different child psychology degrees and potential careers in this guide.

Popular Online Psychology Bachelor's Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Degrees in Child Psychology

A doctorate in child psychology, which includes an internship and a period of supervised practice, qualifies you to become licensed and work as a child psychologist. A bachelor's or a master's degree helps you pursue related jobs in counseling and therapy, administering child care programs, or performing other work with children.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Child Psychology

Many schools offer child psychology bachelor's degrees in online, on-campus, or hybrid options. These degrees include courses in

  • Introductory psychology
  • Psychology research methods
  • Developmental psychology
  • Cognition
  • Behavioral psychology

Students can take specialized courses in child and adolescent psychology, child psychology assessment, responding to child trauma or abuse, and family psychology. Other classes include the ethics of child psychology and how to conduct experiments ethically with child subjects.

If your school does not offer a specific child psychology bachelor’s degree, related bachelor’s degrees, such as education and developmental psychology, that include child psychology coursework, can help prepare you for master’s programs.

Master’s Degrees in Child Psychology

Master's in child psychology degree programs prepare graduates for counseling careers or doctoral studies. Students can take courses online, on campus, or in a hybrid format.

The curriculum varies by program, but course topics typically include child and adolescent treatment approaches, developmental psychopathology, and foundations of child and adolescent developmental psychology. Programs may also require practicum and internship hours, often allowing online learners to complete them in their local communities.

Admission to master's in child psychology degree programs generally requires a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field, prerequisites in developmental psychology, statistics, and research methods, and, possibly, GRE scores.

Doctoral Degrees in Child Psychology

All states require a doctorate to become a licensed child psychologist. There are two types of psychology doctoral degrees: a practice-based doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) and a research-focused Ph.D. in psychology. Courses may include development in the digital age, gender and development, pediatric psychology, and psychological assessment. Ph.D. candidates spend much time researching, writing, and defending their dissertations.

Online programs allow doctoral students to take classes via distance learning, but students must complete their clinical internships in person. State licensing boards specify the number of internship hours they must log as doctoral students and additional post-doctoral supervised clinical training requirements. Doctoral programs may also include comprehensive exams, and licensure requires passing a national examination.

What Does a Child Psychologist Do?

Most child psychologists act as clinical psychologists, diagnosing and treating child mental health conditions and advising parents and family members on how to support their child's mental health. Child psychologists work in:

Child psychologists can specialize in a particular field of child psychology, such as recovery from trauma; specific mental health conditions, such as autism or eating disorders; or a specific age or demographic. While rewarding, this work can be very challenging. Certain specialties like recovery from abuse or trauma or when working with children experiencing serious mental health conditions can be more challenging than others.

What Else Can I Do With a Child Psychology Degree?

In addition to working as a clinical psychologist, degrees can apply to any field that involves children or promotes their well-being. For example, you can use your child psychology degree full-time or as a consultant in jobs, such as:

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Psychology

What is the study of child psychology?

Child psychology studies the behavioral, emotional, and mental development of children from birth to adolescence. Psychologists evaluate children's cognitive functions, language development, and motor skills. They also diagnose and treat children with mental and developmental conditions.

Child psychology is a subfield of development psychology, which studies human growth and development throughout the lifespan. Development psychologists focus on cognitive, emotional, intellectual, personality, and social development of people of all ages. Child psychologists focus on those areas of development in children from infancy to young adulthood.

Becoming a child psychologist comes with many benefits. Child psychologists are in demand due to a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. The average annual salary for child psychologists is $79,760, according to Payscale data from May 2024, with a total pay range of $51,000-$111,000.

People may gravitate towards child psychology because they love children and want to help them, but child psychologists tend to see children in distress. Their patients may be on the autism spectrum or experiencing abuse, emotional and behavioral problems, psychological disorders, or trauma.

Page last reviewed on May 22, 2024

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