Master of Arts in Child Development
at Sarah Lawrence College



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Children, Childhood, and Education at Sarah Lawrence College

Relationship, connection, and collaboration are at the core of life and learning at Sarah Lawrence College – academic, social, students, faculty, staff, on campus and with our community partners. Despite, or perhaps because of, the need for physical distancing and the ever-changing times we find ourselves in, now more than ever we all need to steep ourselves in what we value - relationship, connection, and collaboration.

Read the full message at our Child Development Institute website, and learn how you can get involved.

Study child development in a program that offers a flexible course of study and well-established resources for hands-on learning.

In the Master of Arts in Child Development program, students explore the lives of children as the interaction of intellectual, emotional, social, and imaginative streams. The program combines in-depth study of primary theoretical perspectives with practical fieldwork, and encourages students to study children in a wide range of social contexts and environments.

Academic Program

In close consultation with faculty advisors, students develop a plan of study individualized to their academic interests and long-term goals.

All courses are taught as seminars with no more than 15 students. In conjunction with each course, students meet biweekly with their instructors for individual conferences, during which they design independent projects that often draw on fieldwork experience.

Program Overview

  • The program offers immersion in child development theory through small seminars and one-on-one conferences with faculty.
  • Through a partnership with the NYU Silver School of Social Work, Sarah Lawrence offers a dual degree in social work and child development.
  • Specialized resources available to students include the Early Childhood Center and the Child Development Institute, which offers lectures, conferences, activities, and outreach programs.

Program Requirements

A total of 48 credits are required for an MA in Child Development. The program can be completed on a full-time basis in two years or part-time in three years.

  • Graduate course work (30 credits)
  • Graduate seminar (4 credits)
  • Fieldwork (2 credits)
  • Master’s thesis (12 credits)

Typical Course of Study

While most students will follow the program outlined below, in some cases students may take courses in a field other than psychology, such as anthropology or biology, or take elective courses for credit.

Year One
  • Theories of Development (5 credits)
  • Observation Workshop (0 credits)
  • Other Psychology courses (15 credits)
  • Graduate seminar (2 credits)
  • Fieldwork (2 credits)
Year Two
  • Psychology courses (10 credits)
  • Graduate seminar (2 credits)
  • Master’s thesis (12 credits)


Fieldwork provides opportunities for observation, research, and practicum experience with children.

  • First-year placements are at the Early Childhood Center, the campus laboratory school that allows students to study typical development of children from ages 2 through 6.
  • Advanced field placements are optional and include research and clinical settings such as therapeutic preschools, community programs, and elementary or secondary schools.
  • Additionally, students have the opportunity to work alongside Center for the Urban River (CURB) education staff to learn about environmental education and gain firsthand experience with students of various ages as they engage in natural environments.

Master’s Thesis

In the second year, students develop a thesis project that culminates in a master’s essay. Students design original research projects, which are often qualitative studies in naturalistic or fieldwork settings, and present their ongoing and completed work to their peers in graduate seminars.

NYU Dual Degree in Social Work and Child Development

In cooperation with New York University, Sarah Lawrence College offers a joint degree in Social Work and Child Development. Students in this program can pursue study leading to a master’s degree in Social Work and a master’s degree in Child Development.

Learn more