When you serve children, you serve families. And the key to success in your field is to understand the entire development cycle within the broad context of familial and societal systems, from birth to adolescence.

If you have college credits but not a bachelor’s degree, PLNU’s new child development degree completion program is designed for you. We’ll partner with you, and together we’ll help make a meaningful difference for families of all types, including yours.

Completing your bachelor’s degree in Child Development at PLNU will give you a strong understanding of typical and atypical development and how to help meet the needs of children and families. You will become the best possible champion for children because you will understand the complex family and social systems that surround them.

PLNU offers a convenient format tailored to accommodate your work and life commitments – so you can earn your Child Development degree in as few as 15 months. 

Prepare for your dream job

By covering the full cycle of development from birth through adolescence, PLNU’s degree completion program offers you career flexibility and a deep understanding of kids and families that isn’t limited to a single age group.

Receive personal mentorship and career support

Our hybrid learning format has a strong face-to-face component where you will be known and cared about. PLNU has a reputation for the lasting relationships that form among faculty and students

Grow as a whole person

You want to help children develop and reach their full potential. As a Christian university, PLNU wants the same for you. We’ll help you pursue a meaningful career and a balanced life.

With a B.A. in child development from PLNU, you will be prepared for meaningful work. Options for serving children and adolescents include:

  • Preschool teacher or director at a public, private, or charter school
  • Child life specialist
  • Head Start teacher
  • First Five specialist or care coordinator
  • Early intervention specialist
  • Behavioral therapist
  • Children’s or youth ministry leader
  • Parent educator
  • Foster care provider
  • Social service worker for children and adolescents

You will also be prepared for graduate-level study to be a family and marriage counselor, speech pathologist, child life specialist, educational specialist, social worker, early interventionist, and more.

Expected Completion Time

As few as 15 months

Program FormatHybrid (online and face-to-face instruction)
LocationMission Valley
PLNU at Cuyamaca
PLNU at MiraCosta
PLNU at Southwestern
Needed Units to Graduate

120 units
36 units must be taken at PLNU
up to 84 units may be transferred

Program Start Date

Spring 2017: Week of January 23, 2017
Summer 2017: Week of May 29, 2017
Fall 2017: Week of September 11, 2017


$500 (per unit) for the 2017-2018 academic year

Quality and Experience

Child and Adolescent Development

The Center for Student Success and Career Development provides financial, academic, and career support for students, giving them the tools they need to be successful at PLNU and beyond.

Learn More

Susan DeCristofaro Rogers

Susan Rogers

M.A., Chair, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences |

"With this degree, you will be uniquely prepared to meet the needs of children, adolescents, and families. You will be equipped with practical application to address needs in a wide variety of professional settings." 

Ready to get started?

Program Outcomes

A graduate of the Child Development degree completion program will be able to do the following:

  • Identify and describe intellectual, emotional, social and physical theories at each developmental stage from prenatal through adolescence
  • Evaluate the effects of family systems on the development of children and adolescents
  • Understand different philosophical views of growth and development, both historic and current
  • Assess research of theoretical and appropriate practical elements of parenting to facilitate decisions for a healthy environment for children and adolescents
  • Evaluate the effects of society and culture upon the family microsystems, family types and the subsequent macrosystems with which they co-exist
  • Identify a career path

Important Dates

Program Start Date(s):

Spring 2017: Week of January 23, 2017

Summer 2017: Week of May 29, 2017

Fall 2017: Week of September 11, 2017

Priority Application Date(s):

Can Apply Anytime Before Start of Program

All applications submitted after this date will be reviewed based on availability of space.

Courtney Busick

Current Child and Adolescent Development student Courtney Busick

Current Child and Adolescent Development program student |

“I’ve benefitted from discovering my gifts, strengths, and talents. There is a real servant mentality here, and I have relationships with people who honestly care about me as a whole person.”

The Selection Process

We understand that your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it’s a reflection of you as a person. That’s why we are committed to reviewing your application thoroughly and giving it the individual care and attention it deserves. We believe you have more to offer than just a GPA, which is why there is no numeric formula that determines admittance. Rather, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admittance into the program. We strongly encourage you to apply, even if you’re unsure of your qualifications.

To be admitted into PLNU's degree completion program, you must have completed at least 40 semester hours with a minimum cumulative GPA of at least a 2.75 from an accredited institution as evidenced by an official transcript sent directly from each college or university attended.*

You must also have attained the minimum age of 23, OR minimum age of 21 with an associate’s degree, OR minimum age of 21 with significant work experience.

Application Checklist

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  • Submit online application for admissions 
  • Submit official transcripts from each institution attended.
    • Official transcripts must be sent to: 
      Point Loma Nazarene University 
      Office of Graduate Admissions 
      3900 Lomaland Dr. 
      San Diego, CA 92106
    • Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:
  • Submit a 500-600 word essay with your online application in APA Format including the following:
    • Why you wish to join the Child Development degree completion program 
    • Your relevant academic and professional experience
    • Your future career or life goals
  • Complete an interview with your enrollment counselor.

NOTE: All students are expected to have some proficiency with computer technology (email, Internet, word processing, etc.).

*Prospective students who meet the other criteria but do not have the required semester hours for entrance or are lacking in the core requirements will be advised how to correct any deficiency. An enrollment counselor will assist these students with the development of a written pre-admission educational plan, which may include bridge courses taken at PLNU. Only courses from an accredited institution where at least a grade of a “C” has been earned will be accepted by transfer. Prospective students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement can be considered for admission under exception. Contact your enrollment counselor for details.

**General education deficiencies may be completed after admittance, but at least 20 hours must be completed prior to starting the program cohort. Three hours of appropriate prior learning credit (see below) may be used to meet one of the general education areas—with the exception of English Composition and Math.

***The PLNU General Education Learning Outcomes (GELO’s) will be addressed and measured within the PLNU degree program to ensure the GE outcomes that we value are demonstrated.

Financial Aid

The Center for Student Success and Career Development is committed to assist you throughout your educational journey. Your Student Success Advisor will walk you through your payment options, which may include federal student loans, grants, employer tuition reimbursement, military benefits, and the Tuition Installment Plan. We encourage you to reach out to your Student Services Counselor to learn about the financial opportunities available to you.

Still have questions? Our enrollment counselors are here to help.


Adjunct Professor
Professor Slater also teaches in the Family and Consumer Sciences department at PLNU
Associate Professor, Director of Dietetics
Cindy is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes instructor
Laboratory Teacher
Emma has enjoyed a teaching career working with preschool through 12th grade students in a variety of teaching roles for the past 22 years. She speaks and teaches Spanish and knows some sign language.
Professor of Theology and Christian Scriptures
Dr. Wright is also Senior Pastor of The Church of the Nazarene, Mid-City in San Diego, and invites you to browse his personal writings at:
Instructor for Child Development Degree Completion
Stephanie teaches the capstone professional development class for students in the Child Development program.
Associate Professor
Susan teaches Early Childhood courses for the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. She teaches Early Childhood Education, Administration in Early Childhood Education, and Development of Children with Special Needs.

List of Courses

Term 1

CDV320: Development of Children and Adolescents (4)

This course is the study of physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth in the development of the child, from prenatal months to adolescent years. Through individual projects, students design a research project using the theoretical framework of a theorist studied in this course. Practical application is developed through field experience, journaling and observations.

CDV350: Parent Education and Family Development (1)

This course provides students with a comprehensive study of family development. Students will explore family education models including an understanding of diversity among families and childrearing practices. Students will strengthen their ability to meet needs of families by developing a parent education workshop and handbook.

CDV325: Child and Adolescent Nutrition and Health (4)

This is a comprehensive study of the effect of nutrition on the development of the child, pre-natal through adolescent. This study focuses on nutrition and related health problems. Practical application will be developed through dietary planning and creating lesson plans to teach important nutritional and health concepts to different age children.

Term 2

CDV313: Adolescent Development in the Family Context (1)

This course focuses on the developmental changes and challenges of adolescents and their families as they deal with current societal issues, divorce, autonomy, peer relationships, sexuality, parent-adolescent communication, values, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and adolescents as parents. These major issues affecting adolescents and their families are examined using data from a variety of theoretical, empirical, and clinical viewpoints. Fieldwork is required.

CDV403: Development of Infants and Toddlers (4)

This is an interdisciplinary study of physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development from birth to two years old which will include: exploration of the impact of culture, atypical behavior and development, socialization techniques, interpersonal relationships of infant-todder and caregivers, suitable environments for health and safety, and legal requirements for infant-toddler care. This course also includes an in-depth study of attachment and focuses on recent research identifying the importance of intellectual development in the first two years of life. Classroom lecture and course readings are supplemented by required observation and field experience.

BST304: Biblical Perspectives (4)

This course reflects PLNU’s commitment, as a Christian liberal arts college, to nurturing an appreciation for Scripture as the basis for creative personal faith and human life in the modern world. It is designed to foster knowledge and understanding of the literature and history of the Bible and to integrate faith, learning and living.

Term 3

CDV355: Development of Special Needs Children (4)

This course is the study of developmental stages and strategies of guiding children and adolescents with special needs. A wide variety of children’s exceptionalities including autism spectrum disorders, giftedness, physical challenges, learning disabilities, and behavior disorders will be covered. This course will examine the role of the adults influencing the child’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical growth. Family system theories and educational methods, environments and programs are explored as they relate to the special needs child’s developmental stages. Observation, field experiences, and visitations to community educational facilities are required.

CDV475: Internship in Child Development (1)

This practicum will provide the opportunity for career-related work experience in which students observe and actively participate using their acquired skills and knowledge. Students are under the supervision of a department faculty supervisor and a qualified on-site supervisor.

CDV310: Early Childhood Curriculum and Learning Theory (4)

This course examines early childhood education theories and philosophies. Practice of principles, curriculum, methods, material and special needs of preschool and children in first through third grade are discussed. Students gain experience in appropriate lesson plan writing with developmentally appropriate practices. Assessment of typical and non-typical learners as well as designing an emergent literacy plan is included. This course also focuses on meeting social/emotional needs of children and developing social/emotional competencies. A supervised field experience is required.

Term 4

CDV485: Child Development, Family Systems and Social Change (4)

This course is the study of the development of the child as influenced by the family, school, and community. Emphasis is placed on analyzing the social influences on family systems, child care, schools, divorce, poverty, peer groups, mass media, diverse cultures and community services on children’s development. Visitation of centers and programs for children and adolescents required.

CDV460: Administration and Supervision in Early Childhood Education (4)

This course is the application of basic principles in the guidance of young children, parent education, and staff development. This course focuses on the multidimensional roles of the early childhood program director/administrative styles, management tools and interpersonal skills that contribute to effective leadership. The learner will review the American Academy of Pediatric standards and NAYEC standards in this course. The California licensing requirements will be reviewed throughout the course. Visitations and observations of early childhood centers are required.

CDV495: Capstone Professional Development (1)

In this capstone, the student will create a professional eportfolio including introduction, professional statements, personal assessments, achievements, community service, practical application and work samples will be included. Each student will present his or her personal eportfolio to a panel of interested parties for assessment. This capstone gives students the opportunity to develop a professional voice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many hours of transferable college credit are required for admissions to the program?

40 semester hours are required with at least a 2.75 GPA from an accredited institution. Applicants who do not meet the minimum standards for admissions, but who can demonstrate an exceptionally rich experiential background and/or have shown a dramatic change in academic performance, may petition PLNU for a special review of their status.

What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available to me? 

You will have the option to apply for a number of scholarships through our Office of Student Financial Services. This program qualifies for state and federal financial aid options. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.

What’s the difference between this degree completion program and a traditional undergraduate program?

The Child Development degree completion program is designed for students who’ve already completed some 4-year or community college coursework and are looking to continue their education and earn a bachelor’s degree. The program provides greater flexibility and affordability than most traditional undergraduate programs while maintaining high academic quality by integrating evening courses. The program is ideal for students looking to advance in their career while balancing their work and family life. 

Can I be part of the program as I work full time?

Absolutely. The Child Development degree completion consists of face-to-face evening courses that allow for a flexible class schedule so you can continue to work full or part time.

What if I’m deployed or have work commitments that interfere with my class schedule?

We understand that work commitments might make it difficult to complete your degree in the typical time frame. We'll work to accommodate you as best as possible to ensure you finish your degree while fulfilling your work obligations. For specific questions related to your circumstances, please reach out to your enrollment counselor. 

Why PLNU? No matter which PLNU program you decide is right for you, you'll discover the hallmark PLNU experience is designed to give every student the clear framework and professional tools to stand out in his or her field.

Established in 1902, PLNU is located in beautiful San Diego. Our small class sizes, focused faculty attention, and convenient online offerings are just a few of the powerful ways PLNU delivers real value to every student, no matter which physical or virtual campus he or she chooses.

Child Development Degree Completion


Brigitte "Bri" Maheu
PLNU Program Advisor
Cuyamaca College
(619) 563-2833

Elias Garcia
PLNU Program Advisor
Southwestern College
(619) 201-3362

Miles Scott
PLNU Program Advisor
Cuyamaca College
(619) 288-7791