Earning a master’s degree in any discipline is a significant commitment – both in time and in money. For some, taking a graduate program online affords you the time while working. By continuing your employment, this helps offset the cost of the degree. The tuition may preclude you from pursuing a graduate degree. According to FinAid, the average price of a master’s degree is between $30,000 and $120,000. The time could be less of a deterrent than the expense.

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Logically, less time spent earning your degree should equate to less money expended. An accelerated program could be less expensive, which, in turn, allows you to reap the benefits of your master’s sooner. Of course, you need to weigh the advantages of the degree versus the study hours, personal sacrifices, and the debt it may create. Will you need to borrow funds to pay for the tuition and fees?

Careers where your degree applies directly to the job’s role and responsibilities generally require a master’s degree. There are job postings online that state that an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is sufficient. However, to advance your earnings and stature in child development and childhood education, a master’s degree is advisable.

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The average master’s degree takes two years of full-time study. Some take longer, such as engineering and nursing, which have an average duration of three years, according to US News.

The University of Minnesota Online has a Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development. Offered through their Institute of Child Development, it is available in three specialties. The 32-credits program requires the completion of a clinical internship within two years of completion of the courses. The school states that full-time students take between six and 14 credits per semester. Therefore, you could complete the academic portion in one to three years.

The above example illustrates that a year-round program can save time. If you can commit to a full-time program, this will shave months off your studies.

The University of La Verne in California offers a Master of Science in Child Development on campus and online. Students may select either format or a combination of both. The content is identical for the two. This program of 33 semesters has prerequisite courses from the undergraduate degree. Students lacking one of the required courses, such as Child Psychology and Development, would add additional time to their master’s degree. Those who meet the admission standards could graduate in as few as 18 months. Most students take 24 months.

Transfer credits are another way to reduce coursework. Missouri State, located in Springfield, has a Master of Science in Early Childhood and Family Development. Applicants may transfer up to nine credit hours, subject to the approval of an academic advisor. Distance learners complete courses at their own pace, which allows some students to graduate within three semesters.

Not all programs align with the two-year average. The related degree in childhood education may require more years of study. The University of Colorado-Denver has a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education with Early Childhood Special Education Specialist License. This program prepares individuals to complement early childhood special education teachers. They also work with families and communities whose children have developmental disabilities. This license program takes three to four years to complete.

CU Denver has a degree titled – MA in Early Childhood Special Education Specialist License with a projected completion time of two to three years. There are 36 credits needed for graduation.

Capella University is known for its assortment of online degrees from certificates to doctorates. One of the features at the school is their choice of learning formats. They are the GuidedPath and FlexPath; the latter allows students to take courses at their own speed. This accelerated plan means you can enroll in up to two classes at a time per 12-week billing session. The program can also reduce the total tuition by fifty percent!

Capella offers a Master of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. The degree is available in the fast-pace FlexPath format. It also allows the transfer of university credits. The acceptability of your prior coursework is based on the degree requirements, the grade earned, and how it applies to your chosen degree and its study plan.

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Regardless of the time it took to earn a master’s degree, delays in advancing your career in child development or childhood education may occur. Depending on the position and geographical place of work, you may need to pass state licensing, state certification, or background checks. Licensing and certifications vary by state. Professionals using their degree within a childcare development center require a federal criminal background check. The comprehensive check includes a fingerprint check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI also searches the National Crime Information Center’s National Sex Offender Registry. Additionally, the state in which you work conducts a background check with their child abuse database.

Additional Resources

What is the difference between Institutional and Programmatic accreditation?
Do different states have different versions of certification for jobs in Child Development?
What are the differences between an online and campus Master’s for Child Development?
What are some of the best schools for an Online Masters in Child Development?
What are the professional organizations for people in Child Development?
Are there Master’s programs in Curriculum and Instruction?