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College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Psychological Science

The Developmental Psychology Subprogram

Educating Outstanding Teachers and Researchers

The subprogram in Developmental Psychology focuses on teaching and research on human development. The goal of this subprogram is to educate outstanding teachers and researchers regarding the origins and development of human thought, emotion, and behavior. Faculty members have expertise in the developmental periods of infancy, middle childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Faculty and student interests include basic research, community psychology, and prevention efforts to promote healthy development. The central focus of the subprogram is on normal development; however, a number of faculty and students also examine the role of developmental processes in adjustment and psychopathology. Developmental faculty members adopt an interdisciplinary perspective and some engage in active collaborations across clusters and departments.

Graduate students have opportunities for training in a variety of developmental methods and techniques, including longitudinal study design, statistical methods for analyzing longitudinal data, study of normal and at-risk populations, and research involving the home, school, and community contexts in human development. In recent years, graduate courses have included seminars on the self and social cognition, gender, emotion regulation, adolescence, and adult developmental psychology.

Student-Mentor Model

Graduate students conduct independent research in a student-mentor model. Students are accepted into the graduate program with the expectation that they will work closely with a particular faculty member. This is often, although not always, the faculty member with whom the student is in contact prior to accepting our offer of admission to the graduate program and whose scholarly interests match the student's. Students have the option of changing mentors during their early career should their interests change.

woman playing with infant
Parent-Child Interactions in the UVM Baby Laboratory
Graduate students obtain a master's degree en route to the Ph.D. and then complete a preliminary project that involves a comprehensive literature review, a grant proposal, or an independent research project designed to provide breadth of training (outside the student's major area of research). Students have a number of options in designing their individualized program of study. In addition to standard seminars and required M.A. and Ph.D. research credits, students may choose to pursue readings in a specialized area under supervision of one or more faculty members, or to design and carry out a project to develop other professional skills (Advanced Readings and Research). Other nontraditional curricular options can be arranged at the student's request and with the agreement of the advisor and graduate committee. Students are funded through graduate teaching fellowships or research assistantships. We do not admit applicants who are seeking a terminal master's degree.

The Developmental Subprogram prepares students for teaching, research, and applied positions in academic institutions, research and service organizations, policy institutes, and governmental agencies. Recent graduates have gone on to: post-doctoral fellowships at the University of California-Santa Barbara and Pennsylvania State University; tenure track academic positions at University of North Carolina, Greensboro and the State University of New York/New Paltz; and positions in the public and private sectors, including state and federal government agencies, community mental health agencies, and private research institutes.

Developmental Psychopathology Concentration

Developmental psychopathology is concerned with the origins and progression of patterns of adaptive and maladaptive behavior across the lifespan. Training in this concentration at UVM is based on the following principles:

  1. Maladaptive functioning or disorder results from a failure to successfully negotiate developmentally-appropriate tasks.
  2. The behavioral difficulties resulting from a particular stressor may differ depending on when the stressor happens.
  3. Knowledge of normal developmental processes is essential for understanding the emergence of a disorder, associated impairments, and accumulating comorbidities over time.
  4. Understanding adaptation over the life course requires the integration of several scientific traditions, including developmental psychology, clinical psychology, and psychiatry.

Last modified February 22 2011 12:41 PM

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