Your Go-To Guide to Majoring
in Childhood Psychology

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For centuries, children were viewed as nothing more than little adults. It was not until Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist known for his work on child development, came along that people began to realize childhood differs greatly from adulthood and needs to be treated as a distinct phase of human development.

Once researchers came to this realization, they begin looking into children and how they grow and develop. The information gleaned from this research has led to advances in the treatment of children with regard to human services, mental health, education, and more.

Individuals who are interested in children and how they grow and learn may wish to pursue a child psychology major. Individuals who do so find they can influence the youngest members of society and provide them with better lives.

The global pandemic affected children in ways that are yet to be fully seen. As a result, the need for child psychologists will increase in the coming years. Now is the time to enter this field and change the world for the better.

Education Requirements

Before applying to a child psychology program, a student needs to have a high school diploma or the equivalent and their high school transcripts. In addition, they may need ACT or SAT scores, depending on the college or university they choose to apply to.

Many schools often require letters of recommendation and college transcripts if the student wishes to transfer credits between schools. A student wishing to pursue a bachelor's degree should expect the program to take four years to complete.

They will spend additional years in school if they choose to pursue a higher degree upon completion of the bachelor's degree program. The amount of time required varies by the field of study.

Advanced Degrees

A person who wishes to pursue an advanced degree may choose to get a Master of Arts in Psychology. This allows them to provide counseling or therapy to patients. A Master of Science in Psychology is ideal for individuals who wish to carry out psychological research or plan to continue their studies.

A Doctor of Psychology or Doctor of Philosophy is the highest degree a person can achieve in psychology. Individuals who want to serve as child psychologists in private practice need this degree in most situations.

Licensure Requirements

Before practicing as a child psychologist in private practice, an individual typically must get a state-issued license. In the U.S., most states require licensure candidates to have a Ph.D. or Psy.D., but certain states will license individuals who have a master's degree.

When applying for this license, the applicant must show proof of their educational qualifications and professional experience. They must also successfully pass an exam that tests their skills. In addition, to maintain their license, the child psychologist must complete continuing education requirements annually.

Each U.S. state establishes the requirements for licensed child psychologists. It falls on the student to know what these requirements are.

General Coursework

Students typically take general courses related to psychology before moving on to degree-specific classes. These courses provide an overview of the human experience and the factors that affect it.

General psychology classes cover a range of topics, including prominent theories, assessments, and treatments. In addition, they provide an overview of psychological research, how scientists conduct this research, and how they interpret it. The classes provide a basic understanding of child psychology. If the classes interest the student, the student may choose to pursue their degree in this field.

Specialized Coursework

When a student decides to pursue a degree in child psychology, they will delve further into a range of topics. This may include genetics and their role in personality, mental health issues that affect children, adolescent development, research methods, and statistics.

Graduate schools offer more advanced courses. These courses may include ethics, psychopathology, data analysis, and assessments. Many undergraduate programs require students to write a research paper or conduct an original experiment, which allows the student to explore a topic that interests them further. Graduate students are usually required to write and defend a thesis.


The average salary for a child psychologist in the U.S. is $78.809, as of August 2022. The salary range is very broad, though. Some people make as little as $67,131, while others make as much as $94,757. However, many factors play a role in how much a person will make working in this field. This depends on the level of education, the employer, the location, and more.

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What Can a Person Do with a Degree in Child Psychology?

A person who secures a degree in child psychology will find they have many job opportunities. They may choose to work in child development or another field that involves young kids. This job may be in a school, a counseling facility, or a mental health practice.

As the student learns valuable research and analytical skills during their pursuit of this degree, they may find they can transfer to a different field with ease. In addition, they may choose to work as a child advocate, a childhood education specialist, or a caseworker.

A number of individuals choose to serve as substance abuse counselors for children and teens, as they know how this age group has been impacted by drugs and alcohol. However, a person might choose to pursue a career as a market research analyst. They work with companies to determine what children and teens want and how best to provide these goods for them.

Non-profits and governmental agencies often hire individuals with a degree in child psychology. The graduate may be asked to handle administrative tasks, coordinate services for clients, assist clients with paperwork, and ensure necessary services are being received.

Thanks to the many fields open to individuals with a degree in child psychology, a person should consider this option if they wish to help others grow and succeed. This is a very rewarding career that pays off in countless ways.

The need for child psychologists is expected to increase in the coming years. Now is the time to get into the field. Men and women who do so find they make the world a better place one child at a time. There is no better feeling than that.

About the Author

Amelia Hendricks is an educational consultant and mother to three growing children.