Jul 20, 2024  
2023/2024 University Catalog 
2023/2024 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Child Development, M.S.

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(Major Code: 08231) (SIMS Code: 330909)

Program Mission and Overview

The M.S. in Child Development’s mission is to prepare anti-racist child and family development professionals who will advance the socio-emotional development and welfare of children, families, schools, and communities. This mission is accomplished through educational preparation that is culturally relevant, equity-minded, and committed to racial and social justice. The M.S. in Child Development program is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on social and emotional development, inclusion, and equity. Our core assumption is that development takes place across the lifespan in the context of diverse families, communities, cultures, and public policies. The program promotes professionalism and emphasizes the importance of consuming and conducting research, including the ability to translate both theory and research to practice in settings such as education, prevention, and intervention. 

Child and family development is an interdisciplinary area of study. The Master of Science degree, administered by the faculty from the Department of Child and Family Development, draws on the expertise of a multidisciplinary faculty who are committed to the study of children within the context of diverse families and communities. 

Faculty areas of study include socio-emotional development, attachment, early childhood education, continuity of care, early adversity, developmental disabilities, inclusion of families in child services, child and adolescent mental health, families and culture including Latine families, child abuse and relationship violence, couple relationships, mindfulness in relationships, coparenting, social justice, diversity, microaggressions, immigrant families, and parent education and involvement in education. Faculty work in collaboration with community agencies and programs are to include but are not limited to: SDSU Children’s Center, Head Start, First 5, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego County Health and Human Services-Office of Violence Prevention, San Diego County Health and Human Services Child and Adolescent Services, Children Mental Health Services, YMCA, Exceptional Family Resource Center, Home Start, among others. Capstone options for students include both Plan A) research thesis or applied project with evaluation component, or Plan B) comprehensive exam. In addition to the research focused thesis, students have the opportunity to develop projects in the community and implement best practices of developmentally appropriate practice, continuity of care, family-focused programs, etc.

Graduates with the Master of Science degree qualify for administrator, coordinator, or service provider positions in preschools, day care centers, schools, hospitals, hospice centers, public welfare agencies, family service agencies, family planning clinics, community programs, business and industry, and government agencies. Graduates with an advanced certificate offered by the Department of Child and Family Development also qualify for positions related to early childhood mental health and behavioral health. Graduates from the Master of Science degree program also qualify as community college instructors, university lecturer positions, and can continue their education for the doctoral degree in human development or a related field.

General Information

The Department of Child and Family Development (CFD) offers interdisciplinary graduate study leading to the Master of Science degree in child development. Graduate teaching assistantships and graduate assistantships in child development may be available to a limited number of qualified students.

The Master of Science degree in child development is one of only four child development programs available in the CSU. With 101 community college child development programs 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.

Admission to the Degree Curriculum

Students will be admitted to the graduate program in child development only after careful consideration of their qualification by the child development faculty. All students must satisfy the general requirements for admission to the university with graduate standing as described in General Education Requirements . Students who do not fully meet the requirements for admission with classified graduate standing may be considered for conditionally classified graduate standing upon recommendation of the admissions committee and the graduate adviser. In addition, a student applying for admission to the graduate program in child development, including those who hold an advanced certificate offered by the Department of Child and Family Development must meet the following graduate admission requirements.

To qualify for admission to the master’s degree program in child development, the student must have:

  1. A bachelor’s degree in child development or related fields or consent of the Child Development Faculty Governing Board.
  2. Completion of prerequisites for the program of study. If students’ undergraduate preparation is deemed insufficient, students will be required to complete specified courses (CFD 375A , CFD 375B , CFD 375C , and two units from CFD 378A , CFD 378B , CFD 378C , CFD 378D ) in addition to the minimum 30-32 units required for the master’s degree in child development.
  3. A grade point average of 3.0 in the last 60 semester units attempted.
  4. Completion of program application form.

Advancement to Candidacy

All students must satisfy the general requirements for advancement to candidacy, as described in Requirements for Master’s Degrees . Additionally, a student who has selected Plan A must have identified a thesis adviser and have taken CFD 790  with a grade of B (3.0) or better. If the student has been approved to follow Plan B, they must complete ED 690  with a grade of B (3.0) or better.

Standards for Admission

Students enrolled in the Master of Science degree in child development program with a concentration in early childhood mental health must complete the following for admission:

  1. Background check. Students must successfully pass a background check in order to be placed in educaational and community settings. Red flag issues that prevent placement may impede progression and successful completion of degree requirements;
  2. Tuberculin clearance. Evidence of a negative tuberculosis (TB) test must be provided periodically for community- based classes;
  3. Proof of up-to-date immunizations. Proof of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and current tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) immunizations must be provided periodically for community-based classes. Clearance statements may be secured from SDSU Student Health services, private physicians or HMOs, or public health agencies.

Specific Requirements

In addition to meeting the requirements for classified graduate standing and the basic requirements for the master’s degree as described in Requirements for Master’s Degrees , students must complete a graduate program of 30 units, to include at least 18 units of 600- and 700-numbered courses.

3. Culminating Experience

(6 units)

Upon completion of sections 1 and 2 above, students may select either:

Plan A

Thesis or Project


Plan B

Comprehensive Exam


Students who completed the certificate program in Early Childhood Transdisciplinary Education and Mental Health (EC-TEaMH) will have earned units that can be counted as the required electives towards the Master of Science degree in child development. Students pursuing the concentration in early childhood mental health will select Plan B and take a culminating comprehensive examination based on the courses outlined in the section describing this concentration (rather than the courses outlined above).

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