Child and Adolescent Development, B.A.

Program Overview

Do you love children? Are you fascinated by human development and relationships? If you've always wanted to work with children or on their behalf, consider a degree in child and adolescent development.

During your journey to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development at PLNU, you will explore the ways children grow and form relationships on a physical, emotional, social, and intellectual scale. This program will prepare you to serve children, adolescents, and families in numerous vocations, such as education, counseling, ministry, social work, child care administration, and child advocacy in hospitals. You will come away with a strong understanding of family systems and child intervention programs, as well as typical and atypical biological, cognitive, and psychosocial development. You will also be coached and scaffolded by passionate professors who care deeply about the success of their students.

“I’ve benefited 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.” 

Courtney Busick, Class of 2016
Child and Adolescent Development, B.A.

Each major program within the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Family Sciences strategically combines theory with practical application centered around professional preparedness. Your studies will introduce you to the concept of vocation and living out your calling through the integration and refinement of your passions and talents to meet the needs of others. You’ll work on developing an innovative professional portfolio and personal code of ethics, and articulating what you believe and how you want to serve. Other specialized learning opportunities include networking events, internships, practicums, and fieldwork in diverse settings. This combination of professional development and practical, experiential learning will equip you to confidently step into the changing world of tomorrow.

Andie Sherman holds a children's book that talks about human anatomy.

Student Profile

Andie Sherman

Pediatric doctors and nurses treat children when they are in the hospital, but as a Child Life Specialist, Andie Sherman helps patients and families in the hematology and oncology unit at Rady Children’s Hospital cope with the physical and emotional challenges that come with a medical diagnosis.

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Child and adolescent development majors are involved with an interactive laboratory experience at the Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) on campus that starts freshman year and continues through senior year. This classroom within a classroom provides you with practical skills as you interact with preschool children and learn from master’s level teachers about human growth and development. Through the ECLC, you will be able to participate in observations and demonstrations, and integrate what you are learning in class with real-life situations.

The Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Family Sciences also has opportunities to engage your passions outside the classroom. You can choose to participate in Phi Upsilon Omicron, and enhance your leadership skills through service events. Or you can sign up as a "buddy" for the Special Olympics and cheer on athletes in their quest for a medal.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Child and Adolescent Development, B.A. program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Start Application

Are you ready to take the next step to begin your PLNU journey? Whether you’re a high school senior, college transfer student, or international student, find out what we’re looking for in our applicants and how you can apply.

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This program is approved by the Community Care Licensing Division of California, which means the program meets the requirements for graduates preparing for a child care license in the state of California. However, because a license in California is earned by more than meeting the educational requirements, successful completion of this program by itself does not fulfill all of the requirements to become a licensed child care professional.

Please note: The Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Family Sciences will notify students when changes in requirements occur. Outside California, PLNU cannot confirm whether its program meets credentialing requirements in your state of residence. Upon completion of the program, and should you earn a license, Point Loma Nazarene University does not guarantee that the program requirements for licensure in the state of California will transfer to another state where you may want to be employed. Additionally, if you currently reside or plan to reside outside California, PLNU cannot confirm whether its program meets licensure requirements in your current or intended state of residence.

Student Support

For most students, the transition into college life is one full of adjustments. There is the excitement of newfound freedoms, but also some uncertainty as you begin to make choices and take responsibility for your own future. 

At PLNU, we’re committed to supporting you — academically, professionally, spiritually, personally — so that you may be successful both in your time as a student and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Student Support

"I am so grateful for the education and guidance I received through the child and adolescent development major. I am currently nearing the end of my first trimester in OT school and have been amazed by how prepared I have been compared to my peers. The education I received through the department prepared me far more than I could have ever imagined."

Caitlin Brandt, Class of 2015
Child and Adolescent Development, B.A.

Career Opportunities

PLNU child and adolescent development graduates are trained to develop a multicultural perspective, embrace the importance of serving others in diverse environments, and hone their skills to meet the demands of life in an ever-changing society. Alumni are sought after for their knowledge of the intangible aspects of their discipline that allow them to confidently evaluate, identify, and describe the relationships between individuals, families, communities, and the environments in which they function.

A Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development can lead to a career as a:

  • Child life specialist
  • Early childhood teacher
  • Marriage and family counselor
  • School administrator
  • Social worker
  • Early childhood director
  • Child and youth minister
  • Childcare consultant
  • Early intervention specialist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Behavioral analyst
  • Family support specialist

What can you do with a child and adolescent development degree?

The field of child development has a large variety of opportunities and specialties you can pursue. Just a few of the many positions recent PLNU child and adolescent development alumni have gone into are: preschool teachers, postsecondary teachers, teaching assistants, tutors, social and human service specialists, and childcare workers. PLNU child and adolescent development alumni work with a varied set of employers, such as: Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, San Diego Unified School District, Action Without Borders, Inc., and Early Childhood Learning Center, Inc.

The following elaborates on certain positions that PLNU child and adolescent development alumni currently hold:

Social Workers

2020 Median annual salary $51,760

Social workers' primary job is to evaluate their patients and develop goals and plans to reach said goals based on patients’ needs, wants, and limitations. Social workers work with individual case workers to develop care plans for patients and their families if necessary. Their duties include meeting with clients to discuss recent successes or setbacks with their individual situations and developing treatment and goals for clients with mental illnesses or clients recovering from traumatic events. Social workers must have strong communication skills as they must frequently check in with clients about their physical and mental health.

What it takes to be a social worker: 

  • Compassion
  • Patience
  • Organization skills 
  • Ability to manage stress

Social and Human Service Assistants 

2020 Median annual salary $35,960

Social and human service assistants work with clients to determine what type of aid (psychological, medical, financial, addiction recovery, etc.) they need. They then help acquire said aid through research and finding services and benefits that can provide the client with said assistance. Social and human service assistants often work alongside social workers to develop and coordinate programs and treatment plans to provide clients with what they need.

What it takes to be a social and human service assistant: 

  • Communication skills
  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time-management skills

Preschool Teachers

2020 Median annual salary $31,930

Preschool teachers are childcare professionals who educate and care for children who typically range from 3-4 years old. Their main responsibilities include teaching children about basic education concepts like colors, shapes, numbers, rudimentary reading comprehension, and social skills. Preschool teachers must also be able to stay organized and keep their classrooms clean and safe for their students.

What it takes to be a successful preschool teacher: 

  • Patience
  • Creativity
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Organization

Alumni listed the following skills as the top strengths they acquired as a child and adolescent development student at PLNU: 

  • Child development
  • Preschool education
  • Event planning
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Lesson planning
  • Curriculum development

Making a difference with your degree: 

The future is shaped by those who work with and support the children of today. By graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development, you’re taking steps to aid the next generation in creating a world that’s ready to excel and prosper like never before. 

Apply to PLNU today or get connected with one of our counselors for additional support and answers to any questions you may have.

The oldest greek amphitheatre in the western hemisphere during sunset at PLNU in San Diego.

Student Profile

Quinton Reed

Quinton Reed, a Los Angeles native, chose to attend PLNU because he had heard positive things of the university’s child and adolescent development major; he’d been working with kids since he was fifteen years old as a camp counselor and wanted to pursue a career in child development.

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