Developmental psychology focuses on teaching and research on human development. The goal of this focus is to educate outstanding teachers and researchers regarding the origins and development of human thought, emotion and behavior.

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 developmental psychopathology and family relationships.

Multiple Career Pathways

A developmental psychology focus 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; tenure track academic positions; and positions in the public and private sectors, including state and federal government agencies, community mental health agencies, and private research institutes.

Faculty interests

Developmental faculty members adopt an interdisciplinary perspective and some engage in active collaborations across clusters and departments.

Jamie Abaied’s lab uses both biological and behavioral measures to investigate how parents and children interact when coping with stressful situations. For more information see:

Dianna Murray-Close’s lab examines gender differences in social development in children and adolescents with an emphasis on the development of aggressive behavior. For more information see:

Alice Schermerhorn’s lab focuses on how family relationships shape socio-emotional development and adjustment in children, and how temperament alters those associations. For more information see:


Individualized Programs

Graduate students obtain a master's degree en-route to the Ph.D. and then complete a preliminary exam. 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.

Developmental Psychopathology Specialization

Students focusing in developmental psychology  may elect to specialize in the area of psychopathology. Developmental psychopathology is concerned with the origins and progression of patterns of adaptive and maladaptive behavior across the lifespan.