Child Development Major

Our mission is to prepare students to become early childhood educators and professionals who work with children and families in their schools and communities. The focus of the department is on the study of social-emotional development as the underlying foundation for all other areas of development including physical, cognitive, motor, and language. The program represents an interdisciplinary field of study with the basic assumption that development takes place across the lifespan in the context of the family, community, and public policy.

Our department’s emphasis on primary prevention prepares students through hands-on, community-based learning experiences. Field experience programs offer students supervised work in community agencies, children's programs, the SDSU Children's Center, as well as multiple school districts across San Diego.

What Can I Do With This Degree?

The interdisciplinary Child Development Major, Bachelor of Science in Applied Arts and Sciences (major code 08231/330909) in child development prepares students for a variety of professional career specialties. Graduates with competencies in this major find positions in:

  • Early care and education settings
  • Schools
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Residential facilities
  • Counseling and mental health centers
  • Public welfare and family service agencies
  • Family planning clinics
  • Community programs
  • Business, industry, and government agencies

Students can enter teaching credential programs (single/ multiple subject, elementary or secondary) upon graduation. See below for more information about credential programs.

Descriptions of career opportunities of the major and ways to meet credential and certification requirements are available from the Undergraduate Advisor, Alison Sternal ([email protected]).


Q: How do I know if I should select the Child Development Specialization or the Family Development Specialization?

  • A: Students who want to be a preschool teacher or administrator in a private, publicly funded, or religious institution should select the Child Development Specialization. All other students, including those who want to teach elementary school, should select the Family Development Specialization.

Q: I plan to teach preschool or be a preschool director. Do I need a Child Development Permit?

  • A: State-licensed, publicly-funded, center-based childcare and child development programs will typically require a Child Development Permit. Information on the California Child Development Permits is available at (under CA Educators, click Credential Requirements and Child Development Permits).

Students may prepare for teaching credentials and specialized certification (e.g., a teacher of single/ multiple subjects in elementary or secondary education, or a family life educator by completing a 15-unit certificate program).

A child development major provides preparation for graduate study in child or family development, developmental or school psychology, social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy, special education, law, social emotional behavior modification, and other social sciences.

The CFD Department provides an ideal curriculum for undergraduates preparing to enter graduate programs in the College of Education. Individuals with a B.S. from the CFD department enter graduate school prepared to become professionals who have a comprehensive understanding of child development in the context of family and schools within a cultural and global context. CFD shares COE’s mission to prepare SDSU students to help develop, implement and evaluate services for children and families. Both value practicum and fieldwork as an essential component of developing knowledge and skills in working with children and families.

The special skills, experiences, and areas of knowledge gained by the Child Development major are varied and include:
  • Developmental perspectives
  • Knowledge of the development (physical, psychological, emotional, social) of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adolescents, and adults
  • Knowledge of family violence and child maltreatment
  • Developmentally appropriate curriculum
  • Inclusion, team-teaching, interagency community networking, cross-discipline experiences
  • Atypical development
  • Advocacy and public policy
  • Knowledge of dating, marriage, parenting, parent-child and peer relationships, family development, adulthood and aging
  • Early intervention skills
  • Community engagement and research skills

Degree Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Map

Please see Degree Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Map document for our degree learning objectives and curriculum map. 

Admission and Academic Requirements

Note: This is an impacted major. An undergraduate major is designated as impacted when the number of applications received from fully qualified applicants during the initial filing period exceeds the number of available spaces. Such majors are authorized to use supplementary admission criteria to screen applications.  (Source: CSU Student Academic Services.)

To be admitted into the interdisciplinary Child Development Major, Bachelor of Science in Applied Arts and Sciences (major code 08231), students must meet the following supplementary admission criteria:
  • Complete with a grade of C or higher:
    • Child and Family Development 135, 270, 270L, 272, 275, 278
    • Biology 100; Psychology 101; Sociology 101; and Psychology 280 or Sociology 201 or a 3-unit elementary statistics course
  • Complete a minimum of 45 baccalaureate-level semester units (a minimum of 60 units is required for all transfer applicants)
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.40 or higher.

Q: May I take a CFD class if I don’t have the prerequisites?

  • A: No, prerequisites are strictly enforced in the CFD Department.

Q: May I take a CFD class if I am concurrently taking the prerequisite class/classes?

Q: How do I know if a class I took at a California community college or university is accepted for a class at SDSU?

  • A: Students should visit the website, ASSIST is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California’s public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California.

Q: What do I do if a class I took at a community college or other university is not included in ASSIST?

  • A: The CFD Undergraduate Advisor can accept a course taken at another institution if the coursework is the same as the SDSU course. Students need to meet with the advisor with a catalog description of the course and the course syllabus. If accepted, the advisor will complete the paperwork to accept the course.

    Transfer Admission Planner (TAP)

    This program is provided to help you identify courses required to meet transfer admission requirements for SDSU. It contains information about transfer courses that may be used to meet General Education Requirements and Preparation for the Major. It can also be used to help you identify individual courses that are equivalent to courses offered at SDSU.

Q: How do I know what CFD classes to take every semester?

  • A: The SDSU catalog indicates the required CFD classes. Also, the student's Degree Audit Report is helpful. 

Note: Please follow the instructions in Enrolling in a Course Through Taskstream to self-enroll in each CFD course.

CFD Undergraduate Degree (BS) and Coursework

  • CFD 135: Principles of Family Development
  • CFD 270 Human Development across the Lifespan
  • CFD 270L: Principles of Child Development Lab
  • CFD 272: Children, Families and Communities
  • CFD 275: Developmentally Appropriate Practices
  • CFD 335: Interactions in Families
  • CFD 353A: Parenting the Young Child
  • CFD 353B: Parenting the School Aged Child
  • CFD 353C: Parenting Teens and Young Adults
  • CFD 370: Research and Evaluation
  • CFD 375A: Infant/ Toddler Development
  • CFD 375B: Early Childhood-Middle Childhood
  • CFD 375C: Adolescence-Adulthood
  • CFD 377: Adult Supervision in CFD Programs
  • CFD 378A: Laboratory Experiences: Infants
  • CFD 378B: Laboratory Experiences: Preschool/Kindergarten
  • CFD 378C: Laboratory Experiences: Age 6 Through Adolescence
  • CFD 378D: Laboratory Experiences with Children and Families
  • CFD 380: Early Literacy Development & School Readiness
  • CFD 390: The Hospitalized Child
  • CFD 437: Violence in Relationships
  • CFD 475: Promoting Behavior Support & Classroom Organization in Early Childhood Settings
  • CFD 477: Administration of Child Development Programs
  • CFD 536: Divorce & Remarriage
  • CFD 537: Child Abuse & Family Violence
  • CFD 560: Theories in Socio-Emotional Development
  • CFD 575: Public Policy & Professional Ethics
  • CFD 577: Advanced Administration of CD Programs
  • CFD 578: Conflict Resolution along the Lifespan
  • CFD 590: Children with Special Needs
  • CFD 590L: Children with Special Needs Laboratory
  • CFD 597: Field Experience in Child & Family Development Programs
  • CFD 598: Reflective Portfolio

Please visit the SDSU General Catalog for more specific information and course descriptions.

Q: What do I do if I earn a grade lower than a C in the “Preparation for the Major” classes?

  • A: The student must retake the class and earn at least a C. 

Q: Must I retake an upper division CFD class if I earn a grade lower than a C?

  • A: No, the class does not need to be repeated, but in order to graduate, the Major GPA cannot fall below a 2.0. 

Q: Can the “Preparation for the Major” classes be taken credit/no credit?

  • A: No. 

Q: Can upper division CFD classes or classes in the Master Plan be taken credit/no credit?

  • A: No.

The Child Development major requires a minimum of 49 upper division units to include:

Child and Family Development 335, 353A, 353B, 353C, 370, 375A, 375B, 375C, 537, 560, 575, 578, 590, 598, and one of the 2 specializations below:

  • Child Development Specialist: Child and Family Development 377; 378A, 378B, or 378D; 380; 477; and 577
  • Family Development Specialist: Child and Family Development 378C, 378D, 536, and 9 units selected with the approval of the program advisor

Education Plan

Q: What is an Education Plan?

  • A: The Education Plan is a semester-by-semester guide that includes the student’s CFD Specialization and other courses required for graduation. 

Q: When do I file an Education Plan?

  • A: Students will typically file an Education  after the “Prep-for-the-Major” classes are completed. 

Q: Where do I get an Education Plan?

  • A: Your advisors will revise and update your education plan at every academic advising meeting and share a copy with you.  You can also request a digital copy at any time.


Q: How do I file an Education Plan?

  • A: Students will meet with the CFD Undergraduate Advisor to file an Education Plan. Together they will complete the paperwork to declare the student’s specialization and select (if applicable) the coursework. 

Q: The Family Development Specialization allows students to select 9 upper division units for the Education Plan. What classes should I select?

  • A: Typically, students will select classes that are prerequisites for the teaching credential program or the graduate program they plan to attend. Students also select classes that pertain to their career goals or their interests within CFD. All classes must be approved by the Undergraduate Advisor.

Major Academic Plans (MAPs)

Visit for the recommended courses needed to fulfill the major requirements.

Q: What are the requirements to move from the “pre-major” to the “major?”

  • A: All students must complete a series of “Preparation for the Major” classes (see catalog) and earn at least a C in each class. Students must also have a cumulative GPA of at least a 2.4 and have completed a total of no fewer than 45 units. Once this is done, students will move from the “pre-major” to the “major” and may begin taking upper division CFD classes. 

Q: How do I move from the “pre-major” to the “major?”

  • A: At the end of each semester, after grades have been processed, students will automatically be changed from the pre-major to the major if they have met the impaction criteria. Students will be notified of the change via email. When students take classes at other institutions, this process may not happen automatically. If so, students should meet with the CFD Undergraduate Advisor to expedite the process.

In order to graduate, all Child and Family Development majors are required to complete the equivalent of 3 units or 120 hours (minimum) in one of 3 study areas with the pre-approval and written consent of the undergraduate advisor. The 3 areas are:

  1. Study Abroad: Courses taken as part of study abroad may count toward the completion of the child development degree. Students need to work with the undergraduate adviser to make sure their selection of classes will qualify. Learn more about the Study Abroad / Global Cultural Experience requirement.
  2. Research: Selected topics are determined by the Department of Child and Family Development. Contact department for directions to register in research laboratories (Child and Family Development 499). Assignments will be made after an interview with the department chair. 
  3. Community-Based Learning: Students work directly with children and service providers in preselected community outreach programs/agencies to further their career and professional development. Students register in Child and Family Development 597 and work under supervision of faculty as well as service partners.

All students will enroll in CFD 598 to develop their reflective learning portfolios to demonstrate the ways in which they are meeting the program goals and learning outcomes.

G.E. Requirements

Follow the appropriate catalog for General Education (G.E.) graduation requirements and the requirements of the Child Development major:

  • You may follow the G.E. requirements in effect during the year entered SDSU or another campus in the CSU system or a California Community College, provided that continuous attendance, (as defined in the SDSU General Catalog) was maintained.
  • You may follow the General Catalog that is currently in effect at the time of entrance to SDSU or the General Catalog that is in effect at the time of graduation.
  • You may follow the Child Development major requirements of the General Catalog that is current (in effect) at the time of the declaration of the major or that is in effect at the time of graduation.

Note: Students need to work with the Undergraduate Advisor and/or Department Chair to make sure that they are meeting graduation requirements.

For more information

Alison Sternal and Christine Cortez
Undergraduate Advisors, Child and Family Development

Phone: 619-594-6320
Email: [email protected]