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Child Development and Early Education: Birth to Kindergarten and Special Education

 A student pursuing a child development degree sits with a young child who points to the letter ‘M’ on a teaching card.

The child development degree program primarily focuses on child development and family studies. It also the highlights the areas of special education and early childhood educational practices. This program considers the life experiences and contexts that influence the development of children, including culture, education, family, community and biology.

This major is perfect for students who would like to work with young children, from birth through kindergarten. You’ll gain practical experience working directly with children and families from diverse backgrounds. This firsthand learning is conducted at MSU Child Development Laboratories and other community-based early childhood settings, including home visit programs.

Completing the child development degree leads to teacher certification for children from birth to kindergarten in the state of Michigan. You also have the option to complete requirements for an additional teaching certification for children from birth to third grade.

With this major, you will have the knowledge and skills to promote the comprehensive well-being of children and families.


Child development degree graduates excel at working with young children, including infants and children with special needs, in a variety of settings.

Alumni work at: 

  • Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Head Start
  • Great Start Readiness
  • Elementary schools and preschools
  • Child development centers
  • Non-profit agencies
  • Hospitals and health care agencies

Alumni work as: 

  • Applied behavior analysts
  • Behavior treatment specialists
  • College advisors
  • Family support workers
  • Preschool teachers
  • Research assistants
  • Resident advocates
  • Youth care workers

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