PhD Degree Programs in Developmental Psychology

A Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology offers a chance to contribute innovative research work in the field of human development studies. Find out the admission requirements for this program and the common courses offered. Schools offering Developmental Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology: General Information

Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology takes around two years to complete. The program includes coursework in topics like cognitive development, emotional development, psychopathology, and statistical inference.

Cognitive Development

Courses in cognitive development explore the development of cognition in children from infancy to adulthood. Topics on memory, categorization, differentiation, information processing, reasoning and thinking, and conceptualization of space and time are a part of this course. The course typically dives into important cognitive theories and social or cultural approaches to cognitive development and students have a chance to analyze them based on psychological data. It will also familiarize students with real-world experiments on cognitive development and prepare them to design new ones.

Social and Emotional Development

Courses like these examine the theories related to social and emotional development in children and adolescents. It also investigates the role of culture, society, and context in shaping social and emotional development. The topic concentrates on the concepts of social relationships, sex roles, family, morality, and emotional expressiveness. The course may also delve into the links among social identity, schooling, and emotional adjustment.

Language Development

A course on language development traces the stages of language development in children and the role of cultural and linguistic contexts in language acquisition. It might also compare how language and literacy skills, communication skills, and awareness of print are developed in extraordinary learners. Other topics of interest include the impact of early spoken language, schooling, and children's literature in language development. Students may also get a chance to design learning activities for the development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

Developmental Psychopathology

Developmental psychopathology attempts to explore the factors behind the emergence of psychopathology (the study of mental disorders) in childhood and later. The course explores different foundational theories and models on psychopathology and examines the influence of social, biological, psychological, and genetic factors that influence the mental disorder. The course might also examine particular psychological disorders to understand the relationship between adaptive functioning and normal or deviant development. It discusses treatment methods, disorder prevention techniques, and evidence-based intervention used for mental disorders in children.

Psychological Statistics

Psychological statistics course introduces the principles, methods, and techniques of statistics that can be applied to psychological research. The topics of the course include empirical data analysis, variance analysis, parametric and nonparametric statistics, correlation, sampling, hypothesis testing, and statistical inference. The course will help to develop the knowledge and skills related to the application of statistics in psychological concepts and evaluation of psychological theories or approaches. It will also help you to understand when and how to apply statistical inference in psychology.

Adolescent Development

A course on adolescent development focuses on the physical, biological, intellectual, socio-emotional, and cognitive changes that happen during adolescence. It also investigates the formation and development of social identity, morality, family relationships, and peer friendships. The course is concerned with topics in love and sexuality, gender, school and education, media and cultural beliefs, and their link to adolescent development. It also studies the theories and principles related to adolescent development and their application in real-life situations and challenges faced by adolescents.


The final years of a Ph.D. program in developmental psychology are devoted to fieldwork and research. A dissertation is the end product of research work. The statistical methods and the theories and principles related to developmental psychology that students learned in the course work have to be applied here. After the completion of the dissertation, students are asked to present it to a panel.

Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology: Admittance Requirements

To become eligible for admission to a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology program, applicants must possess a bachelor's or master's degree with a minimum GPA. Some schools either prefer or mandate a strong academic background and research experience in psychology, human development, or related fields. Other admission requirements include a few letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. The personal statement is supposed to display your interest in pursuing the program and your career goals and research interest related to the field. The submission of GRE scores is typically also mandatory.

A Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology is a five-year program and includes courses on human psychological development, especially during childhood. The common admission requirements to the program include a bachelor's or master's degree with a minimum GPA and GRE scores.

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