M.S. in Child Development

The focus of the program is on social and emotional development and on child development in context (e.g., early childhood education programs, schools, families, communities). This program can help students move on to Ph.D. programs in related areas, and to further their professional expertise and credentials in areas related to children and families.

The Master of Science degree in child development is one of only 2 child development programs available in the CSU. With 101 community college child development programs, following the mandate of the Ryan Act, in California and 17 undergraduate programs within the CSU system, the M.S. program in child development plays a major role in training professionals for the State and region. The Department of Child and Family Development plays a leadership role in integration of curricula for community colleges and the CSU.

Areas of Emphasis

Areas of emphasis in the program include: early childhood development, prevention, intervention, family processes, risk and resilience, development across the lifespan, parent-child intergenerational relationships, enhancing school readiness and preparing teachers to work with families, socio-emotional and behavior support in educational settings and homes, influences of language and culture, and atypical development.

Program Features

  • 2-year academic program of 30-32 graduate credits (Spring and Fall semesters)
  • Program of study meets the educational requirements for administrator, coordinator, or service provider positions in
    a variety of agencies, including:
    • Preschools, day care centers, and schools
    • Hospitals and hospice centers
    • Public welfare and family service agencies
    • Family planning clinics
    • Community programs
  • Designed for working professionals as well as full-time students
  • Furthers professional expertise and credentials in areas related to children and families

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree (Child Development or related fields preferred)
  • Grade point average of at least 3.0 in the last 60 semester units attempted
  • Completion of the TOEFL (if international applicant)
  • International coursework documents (if international applicant)
  • Completion of entire application package and all supplementary documents
  • 3 letters of recommendation

How to apply

Course Content and Degree Learning Outcomes

  • Human development and theories
  • Family processes and theories
  • Applications for prevention and intervention
  • Research methods
  • Program development and proposal writing
  • 30 – 32 units total required

Please see Degree Learning Outcomes document for our degree learning objectives and curriculum alignment matrix.

Choosing a Capstone for your Degree

The M.S. in Child Development program at SDSU allows you to choose the capstone option that is best for your interests and professional goals.


  • Conduct research on a topic related to children and/or families with the guidance of experts in the field (our tenure track faculty) and a report on this work for your thesis
  • This is a great capstone for students interested in building academic expertise and applying for a Ph.D. program upon completion of this degree
  • Publish this research and/or present it at professional conferences


  • Design and implement a program for children, families, or the professionals who serve them (e.g., early childhood educators, teachers, service providers). This work would also be mentored by a CFD faculty expert.
  • This is a great capstone for applied professionals who would like to develop programs in the field.
  • Students who conduct a quality evaluation of their project can also publish their results, and this can help students move on to Ph.D. programs.

Comprehensive exam

  • Complete a comprehensive exam on material from courses you have taken in the M.S. in our Child Development program.
  • This is a great option for students with an applied focus on helping infants and young children.
  • Note that you must take a specific set of electives to choose this option.

Review of graduated MS students

View a list of our graduated master's students (PDF), including their thesis/project titles.

Note: Students who have completed the EC-TEaMH Certificate will have earned 12 units towards the Master of Science degree that can count as the electives needed for plan A or the part of the additional required courses for Plan B.

Contact Us

Alyson Shapiro, Graduate Advisor
Email: [email protected]