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Applied Developmental Psychology PhD

Dr. Sarah O’Kelley interacting with young patient playing with toys.

If you enjoyed the research process as an undergraduate and have a strong interest in human development—and want to see how research can be applied in real-world settings—then it is time to think about a career in Applied Developmental Psychology.

An advanced degree (Ph.D.) will bring you one step closer to pursuing a career that fulfills your desire to help others. Our graduate program trains students to conduct rigorous research to discover basic principles of psychological development. Located at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a nationally ranked academic medical center and R1 research institution, we offer our students a unique platform to pursue their ideas. We also offer graduate students a competitive five-year package that includes an annual stipend of $30,000.

Our graduates are competitive in the job market and secure positions in top academic institutions, as well as with government agencies and non-profit organizations.


The Applied Developmental Psychology PhD program is an applied research-training program. All components of the program are geared towards advancing your ability to conduct research. Training in our program exposes our students to issues of development in their natural social contexts — in the school, home, workplace, etc. — as well as in laboratories. Graduate students study developmental aspects of behavioral systems, family systems, and individual capabilities and competencies throughout development and across the lifespan.


Our department culture emphasizes collaboration. Our nationally recognized faculty—whose work have led to policy changes, new research tools, and scientific breakthroughs—are committed to growing and establishing new areas of research, giving our students the opportunity to work in a challenging and exciting environment. They are also dedicated to excellence in teaching and strong, supportive mentorship of students.

Your faculty mentor will be responsible for guiding you through the program and teaching you how to function as a developmental scientist. You will develop a systematic line of research in collaboration with your mentor, and in the process complete the Ph.D. research requirements.

Because of the importance of this relationship, it is crucial that you identify a faculty member whose research is of significant interest to you when you apply to our program. Consult our faculty profiles for more information about current research.

Research Training Areas

Child and Adolescent Development

    Research examples: Cognitive development, technology and behavior, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual and developmental disabilities, socio-emotional development, pediatric psychology, prevention/intervention, developmental psychopathology, injury prevention, youth violence, parent and peer influences, developmental disabilities, child and adolescent health, health disparities, neighborhood effects.

    Applied training examples: Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, Traumatic Brain Injury Program, Autism Society of Alabama, Civitan International Research Center, UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics, UAB Early Head Start Program, UAB Regional Autism Network, Collaborations with the UAB Schools of Medicine, Education, and Public Health, K-12 Schools


      Research examples: Alzheimer’s Disease, applied cognition, successful aging, HIV, pain, health disparities, bio-psycho-social pathways, caregiver support

      Applied training examples: Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Center for Research on Applied Gerontology, Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, Deep South Resource Center for Minority Aging Research


      Please explore our website to see what the Applied Developmental Psychology concentration has to offer. If you have specific questions, contact the director or the graduate programs manager.

      Dr. Olivio Clay.


      Olivio Clay

      Director, Developmental Psychology Program
      Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

      Terri Roberson


      Terri M. Roberson

      Graduate Programs Manager
      Phone: (205) 934-8723
      Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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      Featured Alumni

      Lauren Libero

      Lauren Libero

      PhD, Developmental Psychology concentration, 2014

      Career: Autism Program Specialist, State of California, Department of Developmental Services

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