Birth to Three: Infant, Toddler and Family Specialist Graduate Degree Program
Research underscores the importance of the critical developmental changes taking place in a child's first three years, clearly indicating that this early growth sets the foundation for life-long learning and healthy development. As a result, demand is growing for professionals who hold advanced degrees and have experience providing early education for infants, toddlers, and their families.
Wheelock's 30-credit Birth to Three: Infant, Toddler & Family Specialist master's degree program is designed for professionals who are interested in the in-depth study of infant and toddler behavior and development, learning environments, and curriculum development for infant, toddler, and family-supported programs in a variety of settings. These include early care and education, early intervention, early head start, research, parent support, and clinical environments.
Here are just a few reasons to choose Wheelock's Birth to Three program for your graduate studies:
- Wheelock College has been a national model for training graduate students in programs for children from birth to three years since the 1970s.
- All faculty in the Birth to Three Program have extensive experience working in a variety of birth to three settings in educational, clinical, and administrative roles.
- Classes are offered conveniently in evenings and weekends.
Birth to Three Program Overview
The Birth to Three master's program features a transdisciplinary approach to considering the context and development of infants, toddlers, and their families. Knowledge from the fields of developmental psychology, early childhood and special education, neuroscience, social work, and parenting support inform the course work and practicum experiences.
The 30-credit master's program is based on a set of competencies that are embedded in coursework, assignments, and practicum experiences. Upon entry into the program, with guidance from an academic advisor, each student develops an individualized study plan that outlines his or her professional goals, timeline for program completion, area of focus for coursework, and practicum experiences. Every study plan incorporates the Birth to Three program competencies, which are focused in these six areas:
- Infant Development
- Assessment and Curriculum
- Interpersonal Communication/Collaboration (Teaching)
- Program Development and Advocacy
- Family Support and Education
Throughout their course of study, each student develops a portfolio with evidence for each of the competencies. Portfolios are reviewed regularly by faculty.
Skills You'll Learn
Through this program, you will gain in-depth knowledge of development for children aged birth to three years, coupled with assessment and program planning grounded in relationship-based and family-centered practice. You will also gain skills in the following areas:
- Culturally responsive support and collaboration with families, caregivers, and professionals who provide education and care to families
- Knowledge and competence to be a member of a transdisciplinary team
- Competence and confidence to be a leader and advocate for infants, toddlers, and their families, and to implement recommended practices in this field
- Understanding of the factors that can affect and support the early development of vulnerable infants and their families
- How to apply current research, recommended practices, and policies that impact services to children from birth to three in diverse settings in the US and globally
- Infant and Toddler Behavior and Development
- Supporting Families with Infants and Toddlers in Home and Community Settings
- Assessment of Development in Infants and Toddlers
- Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers
- Developing Infant and Toddler Programs
As part of their studies, students complete two field placements/practica chosen in consultation with their academic advisor. Each practicum is 300 hours, 20 hours per week; they take place during semesters two and three of the program. The first practicum will be in a community program for infants, toddlers, and families. The second practicum will focus on developing leadership skills and competence in a birth to three setting.
Career options for graduates of the Birth to Three Master of Science degree include infant and toddler specialist or consultant, early intervention specialist, administrator of early care and education, early intervention or Early Head Start, public policy advocate and analyst, environmental designer, and college instructor.