Child Psychology PhD Programs

Get information about the classes offered in a child psychology doctoral program, as well as the requirements for admission and to complete the degree. Learn about options for employment upon graduation. Schools offering Child Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Academic Requirements for a Ph.D. in Child Psychology?

In most cases, schools give doctoral students enrolled full-time five years to complete the Ph.D. in Child Psychology program. In addition to the required coursework, you'll complete research projects and possibly participate in student teaching experiences. Some schools have clinical practicum requirements, where you will work with children to assess their development and provide treatments using standard psychological practices. You may address problems that include toilet training, abuse, depression, obesity or problems at school. Before earning your doctorate, you will likely have to write and present a doctoral dissertation, complete a master's thesis and pass a comprehensive examination.

Program StructureCoursework, research projects, student teaching experiences, clinical practicum, dissertation
PrerequisitesBachelor's degree, prerequisites courses, standardized test scores, sample research paper, letters of recommendation
Course TopicsChildren's mental health, techniques for interviewing children, intelligence testing, children's memory evaluation, psychopathology treatments
Career OptionsResearcher, child psychologist (requires licensure), college professor

What Are the Prerequisites?

To be admitted into a Ph.D. in Child Psychology program, you must have at least a bachelor's degree that includes three semesters of psychology. You must have also completed undergraduate courses in statistics and research methodology. If you didn't complete an undergraduate degree in psychology, you typically need to take an advanced test in psychology and submit the scores along with your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. You may also need to submit a sample research paper, preferably in psychology, a statement of goals and letters of recommendation.

What Courses Will I Take?

Usually for the Ph.D. program, you'll complete two years of courses, though in some cases you may take a few classes during your third or fourth year. The final year may involve a clinical internship or working on your dissertation. Most schools do not make doctorate-level child psychology courses available online, but select schools offer basic psychology courses pertaining to teenagers and families in an online format. Other topics you might study include:

  • Ethical and professional issues in child psychology
  • Techniques for interviewing children
  • Determining and treating psychopathology
  • Prenatal development
  • Evaluating children's memory
  • Testing intelligence
  • Children's mental health

How Can I Use This Degree?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, to practice psychology you must first pass a licensure exam administered by your state ( You can also earn voluntary specialty board certification in child psychology. The American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, a division of the American Board of Professional Psychology, administers the clinical child psychology certification examination.

With a Ph.D. in Child Psychology, you could research new ways to help children with physical, mental or social development issues. You could also become a child psychologist, working with children and teenagers to help them overcome common problems, such as family issues, eating disorders, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Teaching psychology at the university level is also an option.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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