picture of vpac

Child and Adolescent Development

Download (.pdf)

College of Health and Human Development



The Department of Child and Adolescent Development offers an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary undergraduate degree program focusing on the study of human development from conception through emerging adulthood. The degree program leads to a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development.

The degree program emphasizes the use of research- and evidence-based knowledge to empower students to become critical consumers of theories and content—knowledge regarding the development of children, adolescents and young adults. This foundation allows students to develop content-knowledge and skills essential for participating in informed public dialogue, social policy and best practices facilitating the positive development of children, adolescents and young adults. Students learn ways to use basic and applied research to explore educational, physical health and mental health issues. These issues include cultural processes, atypical developmental trajectories, resiliency, developmental transitions, motivationand physical and psychological well-being as they intersect the major developmental milestones. The Department is committed to an ecological model that examines developmental changes and processes across multiple contexts to identify human universals as well as context-specific differences in human development. The domains of cognitive and social development receive particular emphasis throughout the degree program. The program also emphasizes practical applications of theoretical and research-based knowledge. Students are provided the opportunity to complete a Department-sponsored year-long internship with selected community organizations and schools throughout the San Fernando Valley and greater Los Angeles area.

Students in the major complete course work from multiple academic departments across the campus that center around:

  1. (a) general foundations of the field of human development;
  2. (b) in-depth exploration of social and cognitive development;
  3. (c) ways in which practitioners and scholars conduct and use research;
  4. (d) best-practices for practitioners;
  5. (e) exploration of cultural and linguistic influences throughout development;
  6. (f ) identifying academic and professional pathways to pursue upon completion of the B.A. degree; and
  7. (g) developing breadth and/ or depth of study through a robust menu of elective course work.


The major will be of interest to a wide range of students, including those who are interested in direct-service careers with children and families (e.g., teaching, counseling, therapy, social work, medicine, nursing, law, etc.), as well as indirect-service professions (e.g., educational researchers, policy analysts, lobbyists, consultants, school administrators, politicians).

Given the broad interdisciplinary focus of course work leading to the degree, students can tailor their course work to prepare for a host of professional programs.

Most professional careers in the field of child and adolescent development require advanced degrees and/or credentials and/or licenses as well as relevant work experience. After completing the Bachelor of Arts degree, many students are well-situated to pursue advanced degrees and credentials leading to careers, including but not limited to early childhood education teachers, elementary and secondary school teachers, special education teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, school administrators, school board members, educational researchers, child and family attorneys, child psychologists and therapists, licensed clinical social workers, pediatricians and obstetricians, registered nurses, child life specialists, genetic counselors, occupational therapists, college/university professors, career counselors, community/youth agency administrators, educational consultants, policy and legislative analysts, and politicians.

Academic Advisement

The Department of Child and Adolescent Development is committed to students achieving their personal and professional goals and graduating in a timely manner. Electronic versions of forms, worksheets and advisement materials can be found at the Department website. Students are strongly encouraged to use the University’s advising resources, such as “My Academic Planner” (www.csun.edu/ anr/degreeprogress/map.html) and “Degree Progress Report” (www. csun.edu/anr/degreeprogress/dpr.html) in order to plan course work for the major. The Department encourages students to meet with faculty members outside of class (i.e., during posted office hours and by appointment) to discuss their academic progress and post-graduation career plans. Three courses in the Department (i.e., CADV 250, 495A and 495B) provide students opportunities to develop personalized post-graduation pathways.

Students are encouraged to use the list of degree requirements in the Catalog in planning and selecting course work for the degree. One advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of the major is that students often have multiple options for courses that meet the same degree requirement. To select the best course, students should carefully read the Catalog descriptions of each available option to ensure the best match between their interests and the course work description.

Department-Sponsored Internship

Students may choose to complete a year-long academic internship at an approved local community agency contracted with the Department. The community agencies represent a broad spectrum of settings and career opportunities in the field of child and adolescent development. Students who choose to complete the internship must successfully complete two courses taken over two consecutive semesters. The assignments and activities in internship courses support students’ experiential learning through self-reflection and the application of theory/ concepts. In these courses, students earn a grade of Credit/No Credit.

In addition to the on-campus seminars, students complete approximately 180 hours of service over two semesters in a community-based setting serving children and adolescents (approximately 6-7 hours per week). The Department holds a Pre-Internship Information Session and Internship Fair each Spring semester that provides students opportunities to learn more about the Department-Sponsored Internship program.

Affiliated Student Organization

The Child and Adolescent Development Association (CADA) is a student organization affiliated with the Department of Child and Adolescent Development. CADA strives to enrich the lives of its members by providing career, academic and professional development activities. The Association also provides opportunities for students to develop social and professional networks within the field of child and adolescent development, education and child psychology. All students on campus regardless of major are welcome to join. For more information, visit www.csun.edu/cada or send email to cada@my.csun.edu.

Relevant Professional and Scholarly Organizations

Students are encouraged to explore regional, national and international organizations in and related to the field of child and adolescent development. Many professional and scholarly organizations allow undergraduate students to join as student members. Becoming a member of a professional organization can increase networks necessary for future employment and future graduate schooling. In addition many organizations provide specialized training opportunities and/or scholarships for undergraduate students. Department faculty members are actively involved in many of the following professional organizations, includingbut not limited to the Society for Research in Child Development, the Society for Research on Adolescence, the American Educational Research Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Council on Family Relations, the American Psychological Association, the Western Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.