Are you interested in how a child’s mind works? Would you like to be properly trained to help children who are dealing with difficult issues? Well, you can; by obtaining a degree in an area of child development psychology. As a child psychologist you will be using methods of therapy that focus on the child and their family members. Depending upon your specific employment, you may be expected to diagnose learning disabilities, develop and administer a treatment plan for said learning disabilities, administer IQ assessments to children, and work with your patients to address behavioral issues that they may be experiencing. It is important to understand that while this profession is sure to be quite rewarding, it may also prove to be challenging at times. Get started on your child developmental degree program today from an accredited university
In order to be properly qualified and trained to work as a child psychologist you will need to begin by completing a bachelor’s degree program in an area of psychology. Once you have completed this degree level, you will need to decide if you want to pursue a master’s level degree or a doctorate level degree; either of these will make it possible for you to work as a professional child psychologist. Within your degree program you can expect to learn about the relationship that exists between biology and behavior, behavioral traits, psychopathology, language development, multicultural concerns, peer relationships, and family influences. You can also expect to learn about the many different theories that are related to how a child grows and develops from infancy through adolescence.
Within these theories you can expect to thoroughly study social development and how it relates to other areas of child development. Your training will be designed to help you learn how to interact with children and their families, how to improve child management skills, how to encourage children to properly express their feelings, how to develop individual treatment plans that accurately address an issue, and how to respond to situations with children in a supervised setting. Take a few minutes and check out the schools that are listed on our site. Feel free to request a complimentary information packet from any of the schools that are particularly appealing to you. This is sure to help you make a more informed decision about your future career path. Once you have completed the degree requirements to work as a child psychologist you will be able to work in daycare centers, child development clinics, or child development centers. In addition, it is also likely that you will be able to gain employment in a school setting.
Interested in entering the field of child developmental psychology? This field is sometimes referred to simply as child psychology, developmental psychology, or clinical child psychology. Joining this field would place you in an industry that is expected to grow much faster than average at 19% between 2014 and 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. This growth will be fueled, in large part, because the the population is aging and there is a growing awareness of the effects of mental health. As awareness increases, demand for psychologists in schools of all levels grows in an effort to protect the youth of the country. Child psychologists can treat infants, toddlers, children, and sometimes even young adults.
Being a psychologist in any field requires large amounts of patience and confidentiality. You must be willing to meet and treat patients over the course of years and you must take a great effort not to share their personal information. Your reasoning and problem-solving must be top notch as you will have to spend time evaluating programs to see if they can help in your patients' treatment, and sometimes you might even have to design research. You must also possess higher than average abilities in observation, communication, and analytical thinking. People with a strong interest in social work, mental health, and academia can find some success in the field of psychology. In this article, we will explore the various degrees and certifications required to become a child developmental psychologist. We will also discuss the various places you can find child developmental psychologists and the work that they will do.
Doctoral Degree in Child Psychology
For a vast majority of positions, you'll need to earn at least a doctoral degree in child psychology. During these educational programs, you'll learn to think about children as both individuals and products of the social factors in their background, like their family life, culture, and community in which they live. You'll learn how to identify normal mental health and become familiar with identifying and diagnosing emerging mental illnesses by observing pathological and abnormal behaviors. These programs employ courses taught in an academic setting, field practicums, and seminars. Staying ahead in the field of psychology often requires attendance at conferences and ongoing continuing education. Graduating these programs requires a dissertation, where the student demonstrates their knowledge of the field by conducting unique research in the field and providing coherent thoughts about the collected data.
To become a child developmental psychologist, you must first earn an undergraduate degree in psychology, then attend a graduate studies program to specialize in child psychology. These programs yield degrees such as master's degrees in psychology, Doctor of Psychology degrees (PsyD), and Doctor of Philosophy degrees (PhD). Most, if not all, employers require a doctoral degree and these doctoral programs generally require a bachelor's degree and a demonstration of expertise in the field of psychology as prerequisites. Though this most often means majoring in psychology as an undergraduate, this is not always the case. A select few programs require a master's degree in psychology as a prerequisite to admission. Below, we will outline the specifics behind the bachelor's degree programs, master's degree programs, and doctoral degrees. We will go over specific subject matter that will be covered in each, the time commitment required, the cost, and specific courses included in each course.
Bachelor's Degree in Psychology – A ton of people are very intrigued with the subject of psychology, and a big indicator that proves this is that psychology is in the top five most popular degree programs for undergraduates. During these programs, students learn the intricacies of the human mind and the science behind human behavior. It's a great way to develop interpersonal skills as well as communication skills that can qualify an individual for a quite varied assortment of occupations. Bachelor's degree programs in psychology are offered at most 4-year institutions. Online degrees are also available, but in general most doctoral or master's programs are going to require a degree from an accredited brick and mortar institution as that will be the setting where you will earn your advanced degree. Bachelor's programs typically take 4 years to complete, on average and are generally offered as a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. Those that want to pursue counseling earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, as this degree requires more liberal arts courses, whereas those interested in the field of research typically pursue Bachelor of Science degrees. The price of a bachelor's degree can vary quite widely based on the college's location, whether it is private or public, and whether you are an in-state student or an out-of-state student, but on average a bachelor's degree in psychology will cost you about $125,000, while an online degree can cost you about $44,000 on average. Core courses cover a variety of topics, but typically fall into the categories of developmental psychology, organizational psychology, common addictions, common mental health issues, and current research.
Here is an example of the courses you will take in the first few years of a bachelor's degree in psychology:
▪ Social psychology
▪ Abnormal psychology
▪ Learning, cognition, and behavior
▪ Research methods
▪ Psychological statistics
▪ Physiological psychology
▪ Introduction to conditioning and learning
Once the core classes are completed, the final years are spent studying higher level courses geared towards specialization. If you want to become a child developmental psychologist, studying child psychology as an undergraduate will greatly increase your chances of being accepted into a master's degree or doctoral degree program. Here is an example of the courses you can take as an undergraduate that will help you specialize in child psychology:
• Child pyschology
• Experimental child psychology
• Experimental social psychology
• Cognitive processes
• Health psychology
• Learning of children
• Quantitative analysis
Master's degree in Child Psychology – A master's degree in child psychology typically takes one to two years if it is pursued full-time. There is also the option to pursue the degree part-time as an individual works to gain experience in the field and make some money. In the case of part-time attendance, these programs typically take two to three years to complete. The cost of these master's degree programs can vary widely, but in-state tuition to an accredited university can cost about $9,000 per year, while out of state students may have to pay upwards of $20,000 per year on average. However, attending a private institution may cost you up to $30,000-$35,000 per year. In general, these are offered as Master of Science degrees at accredited colleges and universities. Master programs specifically for child psychology are rare, but it is much easier to find programs that offer Master of Science degrees in developmental psychology. This broader degree will afford you choices later on in your career should you decide you no longer want to pursue child psychology. Earning a master's degree in developmental psychology or child psychology will qualify you to become a mental health counselor, school counselor, geriatric clinical psychologist, licensed counselor, or research assistant in the field, but most other positions require a doctoral degree. During these master's level programs, you will typically learn about the development of language and learning, neuroscience, the psychobiology of development, social development, and cognitive development in children. The degree may also implement requirements to participate in ongoing research or complete clinical practice. Most programs also require you to complete a dissertation.
Here are some examples of courses you would take while pursuing a master's degree in child psychology:
• Design and analysis for developmental research
• Observation of children's behavior
• Professional issues with clinical child psychology
• Technical writing
• Social cognition and interpersonal processes
• Family Psychotherapy
• Child development
• Culture and trauma
• Psychology of human sexuality
• Social and emotional assessments
• Behavioral interventions
• Hormones and human behavior
• Biopsychosocial mediation of creativity
Once seminar courses are complete, there is typically a clinical practice component or a research project due before graduation, known as a thesis or dissertation. In the clinical practice, a certain number of hours are typically required which must be spent observing child behavior or shadowing other child developmental psychologists that are currently practicing in the field. The practicum typically lasts a full academic year, though some schools only require one semester of practicum experience. The student themselves gets to pick their practicum experience, though the school could have an individual or an office dedicated to helping a student select this experience based on their career goals. As long as the student is putting their knowledge into practice under the direct supervision of a licensed professional, they will receive the credit towards graduation. If you are looking to specialize in a specific field or have a desire for a specific kind of practical experience, it is essential you maintain a high GPA and demonstrate professionalism as these positions can sometimes see high competition for limited space availability.
The dissertation is meant to be an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the conception and design of research principles. As such, you will be required to conduct said research and analyze your findings to come to some thoughtful, well-researched conclusions. Typically, this research and the writing of your findings spans the length of one or two full academics years in your master's degree program. Here are some examples of the titles of theses or dissertations written in master's degree programs for developmental psychology:
• Parental Emotion Regulation: Relations with Sensitive and Engaged Parenting and Psychological Distress
• Assessing children's online behaviour and their experience of cyberbullying: a secondary analysis of the EU Kids Online II
• The Development of Vision and Basic Reading Skills in Handwriting
• Intelligence,Childhood Behaviour, and Locus of Control: Effects on Intergenerational Social Mobiliy.
• Parental Insightfulness and Parenting Behavior: A Two-Dimensional Analysis of Parent Contributions to Child Outcomes
Doctor of Psychology Degree in Child and Adolescent Psychology – Becoming a clinical child psychologist requires a doctorate, so the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) doctorate programs are something to consider. These degree programs investigate clinical psychology theories and intervention strategies and you can attend a program specifically for children and adolescents. A large part of these programs are dedicated to helping you to study and critique psychological theories, in order for you to get comfortable formulating and testing your own theories once you have some real practical knowledge of the field of child psychology. These programs employ lecture-based seminar type learning and a large majority, if not all, require practical experience as well as a thesis or dissertation.
Doctor of Psychology degrees are somewhat new in the field of psychology and are offered at some but not all institutions of higher learning, such as accredited universities. They generally take between four and seven years to complete. The average cost of a PsyD program can vary, but on average programs cost roughly $11,000 per year for in-state students and $24,000 per year for students who are attending a university outside the state in which they live. These programs can be very competitive, so some of them only accept students who already possess master's degrees and some only accept students who already have real world, applicable experience in the field. However, once you are in you will have access to copious amounts of knowledge about subjects like peer pressure, behavioral anomalies, learning disabilities, methodology, experimental design, statistical analysis, and mental disorders.
Here are some examples of some of the courses you can be taught in a PsyD program at an accredited university or college:
• Biological and cognitive bases of behavior
• Ethical and professional issues
• Psychometric theory
• Advanced psychopathology
• Depression assessment and treatment
• Cognition, emotion, and motivation
• Dream analysis
• Structural equation modeling
• Early child language
• Human sexuality
• Reasoning and representation
• Hypnosis: theory and practice
• Computational methods and modeling
In addition to classes taught in the seminar format, students will also need to complete a practical component to their education. They will need to seek out a professional in the field of psychology who will supervise them as they put theory into practice in a relatively safe setting. These experiences are chosen by the student themselves, but the school or program can generally provide recommendations and usually has connections in the field to place students into a good practical experience setting. Some programs even feature on-campus training facilities where you may complete your practicum requirement. The length of the practical experience necessary to graduate varies by state and by university, but in general you will start this practicum in the first few years of your degree and it will continue until the number of hours for state licensure is completed, which is typically around 2,000 hours, or one full year of work. Upon completion of this practicum, it is often required that a hopeful child psychologist find an internship and log another 2,000 hours in this position for state licensure. However, this number does vary by state, and can be as high as 6,000 hours for the practicum requirement in Michigan. As for the dissertation, it is often expected for you to have a topic in mind within your first few years. From there, you can layout your coursework to reflect this interest and the entire experience will culminate in your ability to design, conduct, then analyze a piece of independent research. This is the ultimate goal of a dissertation. A typical dissertation will require roughly 10-20 hours a week for about 12-18 months to complete. Therefore, you should treat your dissertation like a part-time job that you hold for a couple of years rather than just another college paper. Don't try to write it all out in a few all-night fits of work! It requires more attention than that.
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology Degree in Child Psychology – While the PsyD degree is a relatively new program, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs available for psychology across the country have been around a bit longer. A PsyD is ideal for someone looking to do clinical work, but working in research, academia, or administration would place you firmly in the PhD track of education. Earning your PhD in child psychology will qualify you for occupations such as school psychologist, criminal psychologist, learning disabilities specialist, counseling psychologist, research psychologist, and forensic psychologist. There are many more positions for which you will be qualified and possessing a PhD can open a great many pathways towards advancement in your career. Doctor of philosophy programs are offered at most institutions of higher learning, such as universities, and they take between four and seven years to complete. The average cost of a PhD program can vary, but on average programs cost roughly $11,000 per year for in-state students and $24,000 per year for students who are attending a university outside the state in which they live. Private institutions can cost as much as $34,000 per year. These programs can be very competitive, so some of them only accept students who already possess master's degrees and some only accept students who already have real world, applicable experience in the field. However, if you are a curious, research-minded individual, this is the program for you as you will have access to all the tools of higher learning to find out more about advanced inferential statistics, ethics and multicultural issues, qualitative analysis, and quantitative research methods in child psychology.
Here is a small sample of the kind of courses you can expect to take in a Doctor of Philosophy degree in child psychology:
• Child behavior therapy
• Child and adolescent psychological assessment
• Child psychopathology
• Cognition in social behavior
• Social development
• Therapeutic interventions with children
• Empirically supported treatment
• Developmental psychobiology
• Instrumental conditioning
• Psychology of interpersonal relationships
• Biology of chronic disease
A Doctor of Philosophy degree in child developmental psychology also requires a practicum to be completed, usually started within the first few years of the program and completed once the required amount of credit hours has been reached. On average, this is 2,000 hours in role of the practicum, under direct supervision of a certified professional in the field. This comes out to about one full year of work. This is followed by an internship that averages 2,000 hours as well, though the requirements for the practicum and the internship vary state by state and institution by institution. For instance, Michigan requires 6,000 hours for its practicum, though some require less than 2,000 hours. A dissertation is also required, which is a written document that takes approximately 10-20 hours per week for 12-18 months to complete. This is a research paper that asks a question, develops research about that question, then outlines conclusions that can be drawn from that research. It is the crowning achievement in the academic pursuit of a Doctor of Philosophy degree.
Psychology State Licensure
Upon completion of your education, you will be required to apply for licensing in your state, though employment in some government institutions, research laboratories, corporations, or universities may not require this. The licensing program is run by the state's licensing board. In addition to general licensure, nine states also require an additional licensing that designates you as a “health care provider” if you plan to provide mental health services. During the licensing examination, your coursework will be scrutinized as well as your practicum and internship experience to ensure you meet state regulations. Once it is determined that you are qualified to enter the field of psychology practitioners, you must take and pass a 225-question multiple choice assessment called the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Some states may require an oral portion of the test as well. Upon successful completion of this test and the examination of your credentials, you will become a licensed psychologist in your state, but only in the state in which you earned that license. The entire licensing process can cost you between $500-$3,000, so make sure you anticipate the cost.