What is the Best Degree for Becoming a Child Psychologist?

Studies in adolescent and infant faculties, both mental and behavioral, fall within the realm of child psychology. Individuals who enjoy the scientific process as well as assisting children with highly specialized needs often find themselves called to this field of research.

Before practicing child psychology, there are certain educational requirements that must be satisfied. Each level of instruction creates new avenues for prospective practitioners. Choosing the best fit is entirely dependent upon the career objectives of each individual student.

Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor of Science in Child Psychology is the building block upon which all other educational stages are built. Serving as a minimum qualifier for those trying to teach or counsel young children, studies focus on the fundamentals of child development and growth. Students are also introduced to basic clinical research methodologies. An undergraduate curriculum provides knowledge of commonplace behavioral triggers, disorders that affect children, and family relations. Participants wishing to analyze the behavior of children or treat psychological disorders find the skills they acquire during their bachelor’s pursuit invaluable.

Sixty credit hours are necessary to complete the Bachelor of Science in Child Psychology curriculum. There are also educational prerequisites for the program. A high-school diploma or equivalent certificate is needed prior to enrollment. Many universities also require a particular math or science course, like statistics, be completed before the admittance process is closed officially. Additionally, a minimum ACT or SAT score, along with referral letters, are commonly requested.

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Emotional and cognitive development is presented in-depth throughout undergraduate coursework. Typical classes include a psychology introduction, personality development, attitude and social behavior, cognitive processes and behavior pattern modification. These courses provide the knowledge needed to acquire entry level work after graduation takes place. Grade-school teachers, secondary school instructors, assistant counselors and behavioral analysts are all commonplace employment opportunities for those with a bachelor’s degree.

Master’s Degree

For graduates seeking knowledge focused on their chosen specialty, a Master of Science in Child Psychology is a logical progression. Many of these programs integrate extensive internships with more traditional classroom instruction. Graduate level studies are specifically geared toward advanced child-centered careers.

A bachelor’s degree in child psychology must be obtained before enrollment in a graduate degree program. A requisite GPA and GRE score must also be supplied to some universities and colleges. Once admission takes place, typical courses offered include educational counseling, developmental sciences, behavioral analysis and psychological law.

A master’s degree provides individuals with much broader and more lucrative career options. With demonstrated skills, grads may seek employment as school counselors, government consultants, and even college or university professors.


The highest academic achievement available in this discipline, a Doctor of Philosophy in Child Psychology emphasizes theory versus practical application. This focus leans heavily toward academia and research roles for doctoral graduates. As a result, professor-led apprenticeships are quite common for this highly advanced degree.

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Not only are a bachelor’s and master’s degree required prior to enrollment, but candidates must also provide extraordinary testing results and highly favored endorsement letters. Coursework such as family psychology, attention disorders, depressions, interventions, patient assessments and developmental science builds theoretical knowledge and prepares doctoral graduates for private practice work, counseling management positions and child research consultation.

The only way to definitively decide which of these educational choices is the best is with an awareness of individual goals and motivations. No matter the decision, each option requires hard work, sacrifice and dedication. With these factors firmly in place, a challenging, truly satisfying career can be achieved.