Developmental Psychology

The Developmental Psychology Area comprises a group of faculty and doctoral students who are addressing questions involving cognitive, social, or emotional development within and across various phases of the lifespan. The rationale for our graduate training program is the core assumption that the consideration of developmental processes is a invaluable part of understanding any psychological phenomenon. Although developmental students often specialize in one phase of development and a particular content area, each student is encouraged to explore the general nature of the change process across the lifespan. With that goal in mind, developmental students take graduate courses on a variety of topics, including the option to pursue advanced statistical training.

Each student also works closely with a faculty advisor to develop a programmatic line of research which would provide a foundation for obtaining a postdoctoral position. There is a strong emphasis on presenting work at major academic conferences as well as publishing in top peer-reviewed journals. For more details, prospective applicants are encouraged to explore the web pages of developmental faculty (see below) to get a closer look at the research topics that are being explored across the area. Envisaging a good fit between an applicant’s research interests and those of a specific developmental faculty member is a very important aspect of the admissions process. Students also have the option of taking a concentration in Developmental Psychopathology (see below).

For further information or questions concerning the Doctoral Program in Developmental Psychology, contact:

Dr. Hongling Xie
Director of Graduate Area of Developmental Psychology

Primary Developmental Area Faculty

Developmental Psychopathology Concentration

In recognition of the growing popularity of the area of developmental psychopathology, the department provides graduate students the option of pursuing a concentration in Developmental Psychopathology as part of their graduate training. The concentration in Developmental Psychopathology is neither a separate program nor a subdivision of any of the specific programs (e.g., clinical, developmental), but an approach to coursework, research, and other graduate activities that reflects a developmental psychopathology framework. There are a variety of ways that students can meet criteria for the Developmental Psychopathology concentration.

All students interested in the Developmental Psychopathology concentration should meet the requirements of their individual programs and plan electives to ensure that the following courses are taken:

  • developmental psychopathology
  • core course in developmental psychology
  • core course in psychopathology
  • one additional elective in developmental psychology
  • one additional elective in clinical psychology
  • advanced statistics beyond multivariate regression

Students’ independent research (e.g., dissertation) should reflect the application of a developmental psychopathology perspective in the research questions, methods, analytic approach, and interpretation of findings. At least one of the students’ core committee members should identify with the developmental psychopathology approach.

Students also should attend talks (e.g., department colloquia, conferences) that permit further application of the developmental psychopathology framework.

Many of these experiences are easily achieved within the department and through consultation with students’ mentors. Criteria for the Developmental Psychopathology concentration are intended to be flexible, and it is expected that students will meet these criteria in a variety of ways. If you have questions about this concentration, please contact Dr. Deborah Drabick,

For information on how to apply to the Developmental Psychology program, please visit the Psychology Graduate Bulletin.