The undergraduate program in Child Development is designed for students who wish to gain a solid understanding of development from conception through emerging adulthood. Particular emphasis is given to helping students appreciate the broad ecological contexts in which development occurs, including family, school, technology, community and culture. A strong focus on hands-on experiences throughout the program provides students with a rich set of opportunities to enhance their understandings of child development.
We invite students interested in the intellectual and socioemotional development of children and adolescents to consider completing a major or a minor in Child Development. We also offer a variety of introductory classes that students from other majors can use as electives to pursue their interest in child development. Our faculty are scholars committed to quality undergraduate teaching, and we look forward to helping students discover the diverse worlds of childhood.
Descriptions of Child Development courses may be found in the Cal Poly Catalog 2011-2013. We do not offer all courses every quarter. For planning purposes, consult our tentative course offerings (pdf) for the academic year.
I. Appreciation of the importance of scientific research for addressing human concerns
II. Develop skills as critical consumers of research
III. Knowledge of various theoretical perspectives on development from conception through adolescence (e.g., biological, cognitive, environmental, cultural/contextual)
IV. Ability to apply developmental knowledge to current practice
V. Ability to think critically and problem-solve regarding important issues in the CD field
VI Ability to use various methods appropriate for child study and assessment
VII. Understanding of the role of technology in developmental science
VIII. Demonstrate skills as a developing professional (e.g., interpersonal, oral and written communication, leadership) and awareness of ethical standards
IX. Appreciation of human diversity and multicultural perspectives
The curriculum of the Child Development major is both rigorous and flexible. Child Development majors at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo receive a broad education in child and adolescent development through a sequence of required courses, and obtain a minor in psychology as part of the program of study. Majors can also focus on areas of particular interest by choosing specific advisor-approved electives and through their choice of internships, senior projects, and other elective courses. We welcome students from all cultural backgrounds and with all levels of experience with children and youth. Please see the Cal Poly Catalog for a description of our major.
To apply to Cal Poly as a first-time freshman or transfer student, go to the Cal Poly Admissions web site. If you are currently a Cal Poly student seeking to change your major to child development, see our internal transfer information below.
Courses required of all Child Development majors may be found under the major courses heading on the CD curriculum sheet (pdf). Required support courses as well as general education requirements may also be found on this sheet. Note that 16 units of advisor approved electives are needed to complete the requirements for the major. All Child Development students are eligible for a Psychology minor with no additional coursework. In order to receive this minor a student must complete a Psychology Minor application (pdf) prior to graduation.
Please see an advisor for further information about course requirements and choices. A peer or faculty advisor can assist in developing plans for courses.
Course descriptions may be found in the Cal Poly Catalog (pdf). We do not offer all courses every quarter. For planning purposes, consult our tentative course offerings for the academic year. Click here for a hypothetical 4-year plan.
The Child Development major allows students to choose 16 units of Advisor Approved Electives related to their professional aspirations. These electives must be approved by a Child Development faculty advisor. A list of courses to consider for the requirements of Advisor Approved Electives is available (pdf). Students are welcome, however, to consider other Cal Poly courses not on the list. All courses must be approved and signed by a faculty advisor on the advisor-approved elective Form (pdf) (and submitted to Cal Poly's Evaluations office at least 1 year prior to graduation). Students may request approval of any coherent set of 300-400 level classes at Cal Poly to assist with their professional development goals (100-200 level courses in Spanish or another language are also approved). Advisor-approved electives might be taken to partially fulfill requirements for a second minor.
Experiential learning is one of the hallmarks of our program. Internships provide additional opportunities to link developmental theory, research, and practice; investigate career options; build a resume; and prepare for graduate school. Fieldwork internships offer students opportunities to volunteer in local social service and governmental agencies, schools, and business organizations. Alternatively, some students elect to pursue research internships in which they work closely with a Child Development or Psychology professor as a member of a research team. For more information on research internships go to our Research Opportunities page. Child Development faculty can help students choose the internship that best suits their career goals.
Child Development majors are required to complete two quarters of internship (CD330, CD430, CD432), typically in their junior or senior year. In each quarter of internship, the student puts in about 120 service hours, maintains regular contact with a Cal Poly faculty advisor, and provides written documentation of the experience as assigned by the faculty supervisor. The student also provides the site supervisor with the Evaluation of Intern form (pdf) to submit to the faculty supervisor
General guidelines for CD internship placements are available here. Further information about field sites and requirements are provided at quarterly CD Internship placement meetings. Students can also select to do an internship at one of the approved Psychology internship sites (pdf). Students are required to complete a pre-registration form (pdf) and attend the placement, no later than the quarter prior to enrolling in internship.
Senior projects can be a significant individualized learning experience and an important marketing tool after graduation and should be chosen wisely. The senior project is completed in two quarters (CD461 & CD462) after prerequisites are satisfied (pdf).
Senior projects can take several different forms but all involve an approximately 20-page written product in APA format. There are four common types of senior projects: 1) a service project consisting of such activities as creating a manual for a community organization, creating/organizing an event or workshop for a community organization, or making an educational product; 2) an empirical project where the student collects data to test a research hypothesis, analyzes it, and writes it up in APA style; 3) a large-scale review of the research literature on a topic of interest; and 4) a creative project such as a book or multimedia project. It is important to note that different faculty members may have different specific requirements (e.g., a section on cultural differences, specified meeting times, etc.). When choosing an advisor, these requirements should be discussed.
Students are responsible for consulting the senior project handbook (pdf), a valuable resource throughout the Senior Project process. Academic faculty advisors are also good sources of information about the senior project. Most students submit their finished senior project to the library and some faculty advisors require this.
Our Child Development minor can complement many majors, help students reach career goals, and promote personal and intellectual growth. Many employers such as social service agencies, schools or professional graduate programs such as social work, law, nursing, and medical school view a Child Development minor as an asset. They seek applicants with knowledge and skills relevant to human service, understanding cultural differences, and experience in designing educational and technological systems based on the science of human growth and development.
To become a Child Development minor, students complete a Child Development minor application form (pdf) and meet with a Child Development faculty advisor (pdf). Child Development minor requirements are listed on the application form, and in the Cal Poly Catalogue (pdf).
Students may find that the Child Development major is a better fit for them personally and professionally than their current major. Please check with the department office for eligibility requirements and additional information. Contact Dr. Gary Laver, Department Chair of Psychology and Child Development, if you have questions about the internal transfer process (email@example.com, 756-2033, Bldg. 47-24).
Getting advising helps students graduate on time and make choices that will help enhance learning experiences and build career opportunities. Students are assigned to a Child Development faculty advisor (in our CD102 orientation-to-the-major course taken in the first quarter).
Child Development faculty serve as academic and career mentors; their signatures are often needed for important paperwork. Students are encouraged to talk with academic advisors on a regular basis. It is a good idea to come prepared to these meetings with appropriate paperwork.
All faculty members have scheduled office hours each week for students to drop in without an appointment. The department chair is also available to help and has drop-in office hours. A current list of faculty office hours can be found on the website or a printed copy can be found in the department office.
The College of Liberal Arts has an advising web page. Additional useful academic resources can be found on Cal Poly's Enrolled Students web page, including links to the Cal Poly Catalog, registration information, academic records and evaluations, finals schedules, etc.
The Poly Child Development Club is open to all students on campus. It is a great way for students to learn more about career and educational opportunities in child development. PCDC members are actively involved in organizing several events each year that promote professional development, community outreach and networking. Being involved in the club provides opportunities to gain leadership experience and meet other students in the department and interact with professors in a small group setting. For more information contact Dr. Jasna Jovanovic or Dr. Jennifer Jipson, faculty advisors to PCDC.
Within the department, students may join a chapter of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society for psychology students.
Psi Chi membership provides many advantages including:
Criteria for Undergraduate Psi Chi Membership:
Applications are accepted in early spring for the coming year (there is only one application cycle per year). Contact our department office (47-24; 805-756-2033) for the current Psi Chi faculty advisor and club officers.
There are hundreds of student clubs at Cal Poly. For example, there are clubs for students sharing a cultural or ethnic identity and clubs for students sharing political views. See a listing of all student clubs at Cal Poly.
When earning B.S. in Child Development, students open doors to possible careers in a wide variety of fields. These fields include: education, community services, social services, medical, government, communications, and business. Some occupations require an advanced degree to enter the field.
Faculty advisors and Cal Poly's Career Services Center assist students in identifying career interests and associated career paths. Our department and alumni board host a career symposium every Fall, and the university also hosts several career fairs throughout the year. The online psychology career information center also provides useful information to students and graduates.
Earning a bachelor's degree in Child Development prepares students for many different types of graduate programs at both the masters and doctoral level. Child development graduates, can apply to graduate programs in many fields, such as human development, family studies, psychology, education, social work, law, business, and sociology. With additional course work students can also apply to nursing and medical schools.
A degree in Child Development is extremely versatile. As students identify possible occupations of interest they can learn more about education and training requirements, the nature of the work, and the employment outlook related to their choices by visting Career Services