Skip to main content

Major in Child Development

The child development major is designed for students who wish to study children (infancy through adolescence) and the major family, cultural, peer, school, and neighborhood contexts in which they live. The major is designed to provide a strong background in the social and behavioral sciences related to child development, a focused understanding of the scientific study of children and the contexts in which they develop, and opportunities for supervised and independent research on aspects of child development in ways that enable students to link theories and prior research to research design and data on children's development.

The major is excellent preparation for graduate study in selected social science and professional fields (e.g., psychology, medicine, nursing, education, public policy) and offers an excellent complementary (or second) major for undergraduate students simultaneously pursuing a major in cognitive studies, education (early childhood or elementary), human and organizational development, or special education. The child development curriculum is designed to ensure that students develop a background in the liberal arts and sciences; a clear understanding of the theories, major research findings, and research methods central to the field of child development; and an area of focus or expertise in child development.

Development of background in the liberal arts and sciences occurs within the context of the Liberal Education Core, composed of required and elective courses in communications, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. A clear understanding of theory and research central to the field is developed through the major core courses. These include an overview of child development, courses focused on the domains of psychological processes central to human development (cognition; social and personality development), courses related to major epochs of child development (infancy and adolescence), and courses devoted to the major research methodologies in the field (experimental, observational, psychometric).

Students select an area of concentration (major elective area) to complement the field as a whole.

Honors Program

The Honors Program in Child Development offers qualified majors the opportunity to conduct individual research projects in collaboration with faculty members. This research experience culminates in the writing and public presentation of a senior thesis. Students who major in Child Development are eligible to apply for the Honors Program at the end of their sophomore year if they have an overall grade point average of at least 3.3 and at least a 3.3 in Child Development courses.

Students who complete the program successfully and who have a final grade point average of at least 3.3 will receive Honors in Child Development. The program should substantially aid those intending to do graduate work. More specific information concerning admission to and the requirements of the Honors Program is available here, from the Director of the Child Development Program, or the Department Educational Activities Coordinator.

Related Links

Vanderbilt Links