Human Development Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Course Info

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Associate's and bachelor's degrees in human development can lead to careers in the field of human services and care. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your human development degree.
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Studying Human Development: Degrees at a Glance

An associate's degree in human development prepares you to work as a preschool teacher, childcare worker, aide or assistant and as an orderly in a mental health or elderly facility. Additionally, with this degree you would work as an assistant in public welfare and family service organizations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 25% job growth for pre-school teachers and 20% job growth for childcare workers between 2010 and 2020 ( The agency predicts 20% growth for elderly care facility workers during this same time period.

A bachelor's degree in human development can lead to advanced careers in child and family services or in public service. The BLS predicts 18% job growth for probation officers during 2010-2020, as well as 28% growth for social and human service assistants and 19% growth for camp directors during that same time.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Students looking to pursue entry-level positions in human service and care Individuals who would like to advance in their current careers, enter a new field, or prepare for social work or psychology graduate studies
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Pre-school teacher ($30,000 - may require additional certification)*
- Childcare worker ($21,000)*
- Nursing/mental health facilities worker/aide ($24,000)*
- Probation officer ($52,000)*
- Social/human service assistant ($31,000)*
- Camp director ($25,000)*
Time to Completion Approximately 2-3 years, full-time Approximately 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - 60 course credit hours
- Internship/practicum
- 125-180 course credit hours
- Internship/practicum
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED
High school diploma or GED
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's Degree in Human Development

Human development is a popular undergraduate major for aspiring psychologists, therapists and counselors. Human development associate's degree programs generally offer concentrations in either child development and family studies or adult development and aging services. Associate's degrees in of child development or human services are also common.

Pros and Cons


  • Human development and service positions generally involve looking after and helping others, which can be rewarding and fulfilling
  • Job growth outlook for most positions related to human development degrees is faster than average*
  • There are programs available that are designed for working individuals; this means that you can take classes online, in the evenings or on the weekends
  • An associate's degree in human development in conjunction with some experience in the field can satisfy requirements for some national certifications associated with potential careers of degree holders


  • Some positions only require a high school diploma; therefore, a degree may not improve your salary opportunities
  • Working with children, the elderly, or individuals with mental health issues can be stressful and include unpleasant job responsibilities
  • Some of the positions associated with this degree are very physically demanding and have a high-risk for injury
  • You may be expected to work evenings, overnight, weekends, and even holidays

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Courses and Requirements

Coursework in these programs differs depending on your chosen concentration. Regardless of concentration, you will likely complete psychology and human development courses as well as a practicum or internship. Additional courses may include:

  • Family development
  • Adult development and aging
  • Healthful living
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Nutrition
  • Health services organization

Online Degree Options

Online associate's degree programs in human development are available. Aside from internships or practicums, no campus attendance is required in these programs.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Even if certification isn't required in your state, obtaining national childcare certification can help you stand out against your competition. The National Child Care Association offers the Child Care Professional certification, and the Council for Professional Recognition offers the Child Development Associate certification. Becoming certified, which may include completing a specific number of internship hours and passing an exam, demonstrates your commitment to working in the field. This commitment can help you stand out to employers.

Bachelor's Degree in Human Development

Bachelor's degree programs in human development often provide many concentration options to students. Examples of commonly offered concentrations include counseling, human sexuality, nutrition, psychology, and public health. Some careers in human development require special certifications like first aid and CPR, or national certification relevant to your career. Certification may be a requirement or part of your degree program, or something you must obtain outside of your degree program for potential employment positions.

Pros and Cons


  • Obtaining a bachelor's degree can increase advancement opportunities in many social and human services positions
  • Human development is an applicable degree to many career paths as well as many graduate programs should you decide to continue going to school
  • The altruistic nature of careers associated with this degree can be very rewarding


  • While some employers may prefer a bachelor's degree, many jobs only require a high school diploma
  • There are frequently additional requirements and exams required for certain professionals (such as probation officers); additionally, there are national certification(s) associated with many other career paths
  • For camp directors and other recreational workers, a bachelor's degree in a more related field, like leisure studies or parks and recreation, may be more desirable to some employers than a human development degree

Courses and Requirements

Credit hour requirements for human development degrees vary widely. Usually, there may also be internships or other field work and practicum opportunities associated with these programs. Classes you will likely take at the bachelor's degree level are:

  • Epidemiology
  • Family violence and neglect
  • Families and poverty
  • Human sexuality
  • Marriage and family interaction
  • Family law and policy
  • Effects of divorce

Online Degree Options

Human development bachelor's degree programs are available online. These online programs may require completion of more credit hours than on-campus programs. Some programs require that at least one course is taken on campus.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Some programs allow you to add a minor to your degree program studies. Adding a minor, such as sociology or any other concentration that may applicable to your particular career goal, can boost your resume and make you more appealing to potential employers.

Some degree programs may allow you to also obtain a certificate in early childhood development and care in conjunction with your degree. This can save you time if you intend to specialize in early childhood development and anticipated needing to earn this certification before beginning your career. Additionally, it can set you apart from the crowd if it isn't a requirement in your state or for your intended career.

Popular Schools

Featured Schools

Pacific Oaks College

  • B.A. Human Development

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New England College

  • BS in Human Services
  • BA in Humanities

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Purdue University Global

  • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership

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Walden University

  • BS in Psychology - Human Services for Psychology
  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) - General

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