The child development emphasis in Human Development and Family Sciences provides preparation for professionals who serve infants, toddlers, young children and their families in child life, early intervention, and early childhood education programs, and in leadership/advocacy positions. The emphasis also provides excellent preparation for those wishing to pursue advanced degrees in child development, infant mental health, human development and family sciences, and related fields. Recent graduates are employed in various settings from hospitals and childcare centers to community agencies.
As a graduate of the child development emphasis, you are eligible to apply for a level V Illinois Gateways Early Childhood Educator Credential. This credential allows you to be a competitive applicant for teaching positions in licensed early childhood programs (childcare centers) in Illinois.
Our unique areas of study in child development are aligned with additional state and national certification programs that prepare you to teach, work and lead in a variety of settings with young children and their families.
If you are interested in careers serving very young children (birth to three) and their families, coursework within the parent/infant area of study prepares you for careers such as in home visiting, developmental therapy, state child welfare agencies, child and family information and advocacy agencies and in early childhood/childcare programs. This area of study also provides excellent preparation for graduate level coursework leading to a career in infant and early childhood mental health. In addition to the ECE Credential Level V, students who graduate with the parent/infant area of study are eligible to apply for a Level V Gateways Infant-Toddler Credential. This credential allows you to be competitive applicants for infant-toddler specific positions in Illinois early childhood programs.
If you are interested in working with young children and their families in health care settings you can choose the child life area of study, which equips you with the knowledge required to become a Certified Child Life Specialist. This area of study is aligned with the coursework requirements set forth by the Association of Child Life Professionals necessary for certification and prepares students for addressing the complex play, learning, well-being and family/community supports necessary for children to thrive in settings such as hospitals, clinics and child advocacy centers.
The leadership area of study prepares you for leadership and advocacy positions in various settings serving young children and their families such as in early childhood/child care programs, child and family information and advocacy agencies, child welfare agencies, early intervention and other public or private child and family-focused programs. In addition to the Gateways ECE Credential Level V, students who graduate with the leadership area of study and complete the required administrative practicum can choose to apply for the Level II Illinois Gateways Director Credential. This credential allows you to be competitive applicants for childcare director positions in Illinois.
Child development students learn from expert faculty and gain real-world experience in our award-winning Child Development and Family Center — accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and rated at the highest level of distinction from the state’s ExceleRate program.
Northern Illinois University is proud to be a member institution for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship (ECACE) program. The ECACE scholarship program was created to address the shortage of qualified early childhood professionals in Illinois. Recipients are expected to continue to return to teaching or direct services in early childhood care and education in Illinois after completion.
Current and prospective students can apply for the ECACE scholarship which can cover your total cost of attendance (e.g., tuition, fees, books, etc.) for a full academic year (including fall, spring and summer semesters). To be eligible for the scholarship, you must have earned at least 60 credit hours and currently work or have experience working with young children (ages birth-five) in a professional setting (e.g., licensed childcare). Contact Magaly Mleczko at email@example.com with questions or for more information.
Students in child development at NIU have many options to connect and learn across campus and within their home communities. The college is home to a variety of student groups and activities, including those focused on philanthropy as well as on family and child development. We encourage you to become involved early in your college career, and you can work part-time at the Child Development and Family Center (CDFC) or in local early childhood or after-school programs. In addition, you will have opportunities to pursue further study in child development each year through the University Honors Program, Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning (OSEEL) and NIU minors and certificates, such as adolescence or Black, Latino/Latin American or Southeast Asian studies.