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The Applied Developmental Psychology PhD program is a 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.

The program is designed to be completed in four to five years of full-time studies. We only admit students who can commit to full-time studies throughout the duration of the program.

Faculty Mentor

Group photo of 2021 Developmental Psychology PhD studentsA critical feature in our training program is that each student has a faculty mentor. This mentor is 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. Students are actively engaged in research every semester, including summers.

The faculty mentor/doctoral student relationship is formed by mutual consent, usually upon admission to the program. This relationship may continue throughout the training program, though some students change mentors or add a co-mentor at some point in their studies.

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 and our research section for more information about current research.

Major Concentration Requirements

Students enter the program with either a Bachelor's or Master's degree. If you do not hold a Master's degree, you will complete a thesis research project (to be submitted for publication) during the first or second years of the program. You will then complete the qualifying exam/admission in the form of a written literature review to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

The final requirement is a completion of a doctoral dissertation — an independent, substantial scientific contribution to knowledge in a specific area of inquiry.

While most students will complete two required research projects (thesis and dissertation), you are expected to be continuously involved in research in collaboration with your mentor and complete projects that can be published.

Course Curriculum

Our students complete a core curriculum in addition to the theses, dissertation, and research requirements. Through courses in developmental psychology, statistics, research design, and general psychology, you will develop a solid foundation in the history, methods, theory, and current research in developmental psychology.

Since the advancement of developmental psychology as a science and as a long-term solution to applied developmental problems requires contributions from a variety of disciplines, training occurs in an interdisciplinary context, and students often complete coursework in other departments (e.g., education, public health).

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