College of Education and Human Development

Institute of Child Development

Infant and early childhood mental health track

Online applied child and adolescent development MA

Infant and early childhood mental health professionals support the social-emotional development of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Drawing on development theory, infant and early childhood mental health professionals address the needs of young children by assessing family needs and recommending developmentally-appropriate prevention strategies and interventions. Infant and early childhood mental health professionals also lead programs or craft policies that promote healthy early development. This program offers an option for students living in Minnesota to become licensed clinical professionals.

Find what drives you - join us!

  • Gain the knowledge in typical and atypical early development needed to understand and support the development of young children ages birth to five.
  • Study the role of relationships and explore how factors like family, culture, individual history, and socioeconomic status impact a child’s health and well-being.
  • Learn how to apply infant and early childhood mental health principles in a variety of professional and practice settings.
  • Reside in Minnesota? Take in-person courses through the University of Minnesota (U of M) College of Continuing and Professional Studies concurrently with your MA coursework to complete the licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) licensure application requirements.

We're driven to make a difference

Quote from Andre Dukes

I am grateful to the Institute of Child Development for their support and commitment to my work and for expanding the field to promote the healthy development of all children in our communities.

Andre Dukes Graduate of the infant and early childhood mental health track Recipient of the Irving B. Harris Foundation Diversity Scholarship

About this program

Core coursework

Take foundational online courses in child and adolescent development:

  • CPSY 5301: Advanced Developmental Psychology
  • CPSY 5302: Cognitive and Biological Development
  • CPSY 5303: Social and Emotional Development
  • CPSY 5304: Research Methods in Applied Child and Adolescent Development
  • CPSY 5306: Ethics and Professionalism in Applied Child and Adolescent Development

Track coursework

In addition to the program’s core online courses, you'll take:

  • CPSY 5503: Development and Psychopathology in Early Childhood
  • CPSY 5506: 5508, 5511: Infant Observation
  • CPSY 5513: Early Childhood Assessment
  • CPSY 5518: Prevention and Intervention in Early Childhood: Principles
  • CPSY 5521: Prevention and Intervention in Early Childhood: Practice
  • CPSY 5996: Field Experience with Reflective Practice


With an MA in applied child and adolescent development with a specialization in infant and early childhood mental health, advance your career as a mental health provider or practitioner in a variety of fields that serve young children and their families. If you reside in Minnesota, you can choose to pursue an option that would lead to LPCC licensure.

Infant and early childhood mental health fields include:

  • social work
  • psychology
  • family and marriage counseling
  • nursing and related disciplines
  • early care and education
  • advocacy or policy
  • licensed clinical professional

Prepare to pursue


If you reside in Minnesota, you can take an additional 28 credits concurrently with your MA coursework through the U of M College of Continuing and Professional Studies' Integrated Behavioral Health program to complete LPCC licensure application requirements. LPCC licensure courses are primarily in-person courses offered on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus.

Although the University does not award licensure this option would allow you to meet the requirements to apply for licensure through the state of Minnesota. For current requirements, visit the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy website.

Taken together, infant and early childhood mental health and licensure courses will prepare you to apply a two-generational approach to your counseling work with infants and young children in high-risk caregiving environments, such as those who have caregivers with histories of mental illness, substance use, or related risks like homelessness or extreme poverty.


Minnesota is one of 31 member states of the global organization, the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health®, that offers the credential for Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health®. Our online MA program meets the theoretical foundations and competencies for the Alliance endorsement process.

Endorsement levels include:

  • Infant Family Specialist (Prevention/Early Intervention)
  • Infant Mental Health Specialist (Treatment/Intervention)
  • Infant Mental Health Mentor (Clinical, Faculty, or Policy Leadership)

More information on the endorsement process is available through the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health-Infant and Early Childhood Division or through your state’s infant mental health association listed under the Alliance member states. Don't live in Minnesota? Learn if your state is a member of the Alliance.


How to apply

    Admissions requirements and deadline

    Deadline: February 15

    If admitted, you'll start the program in the summer semester. The summer semester begins in early June. View the University of Minnesota's academic calendar for specific summer session dates.

    We invite applications to our online MA program every year. You’re eligible to apply if you’ve completed:

    • a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, earned prior to the summer start of the MA program. Preferred GPA: 3.00.
    • at least one psychology course (lifespan, child, or developmental psychology preferred) or human development course, grade B or higher. If you're a student at the University of Minnesota (U of M), we encourage you to take CPSY 2301: Intro to Child Psychology.

    There are additional admissions prerequisites for the child life track. Please visit Application instructions-child life for details. 


    Review application instructions before beginning your application. To apply for our program, submit all materials electronically through the University’s online application system. Please don't submit materials via mail. We can't review your application until you submit all of the materials listed.

    Test scores

    We do not require GRE scores.

    Information for international students

    • English Language test scores (TOEFL): For students whose first language is not English, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required. The exception is for non-native English speakers who completed their undergraduate degree in an English-speaking country within the last five years. For the TOEFL, we require a score of 79 or above, with section scores of 21 on writing and 19 on reading. We must have an official copy of your scores on file. Send test scores to institution code 6874. View the U of M’s TOEFL score guidelines and expectations.
    • Visas: This program is designed to be completed entirely in your home country. This program does not provide visas to come to the United States to study or complete internship requirements.

    For any questions, please contact

    Tuition and funding

    Students who take all their courses online qualify for the Minnesota resident tuition rate. Tuition for our MA program follows the University’s general resident graduate tuition rates. Full-time enrollment is 6 to 14 credits per semester. Each track in our MA program has its own course and credit requirements.

    Additional resources

    Infant and early childhood mental health track application instructions

    Before you begin the online application, gather the following materials:

    • Unofficial transcripts: You must submit an unofficial transcript or academic record for each institution you’ve attended.
    • Resume or CV (do not fill out the employment section in the application, you'll be asked to upload a resume/VS later in the application.)
    • Personal statement: Address our personal statement prompts in your statement.
    • Diversity statement: Enrolling and graduating a diverse student body is central to the U of M’s mission. Complete a one-page statement that identifies the distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would contribute to your graduate program. Include examples that address your contribution to the diversity of the student body and illustrate your motivation to succeed. Please do not exceed one page in length.
    • Three letters of recommendation: Identify and get contact information for three people who will serve as your recommenders. Share our letter of recommendation prompts with them. We suggest that you seek recommendations from the following:
      • College instructor, advisor, or mentor
      • Employer
      • Another academic reference or, if that’s not possible, a personal reference from someone who has known you for five years or longer but is not a family member
    • Application Fee: $75 ($95 for international applicants). Must be paid online with credit card.
    • Optional diversity scholarship statement: The Irving B. Harris Foundation promotes equity of academic and life outcomes for all children by enabling access to comprehensive, high-quality care in nurturing environments for pregnant women, very young children, and families. To apply for a Harris scholarship, write a statement on how your background and experiences will support their mission (Limit 500 words). This scholarship is only available to Minnesota residents. If you’d like to be considered for the Irving B. Harris Foundation Diversity Scholarship, upload your scholarship statement in the section “Graduate Program Additional Material”.


    Email our admissions staff at

    Are you interested in taking a graduate course but aren't a student at the University of Minnesota? Visit OneStop Student Services to learn more about how to register.