The developmental science PhD concentration is for students who are interested in aspects of social, cognitive, and/or language development and the cultural and family context in which that development takes place. This concentration prepares students for careers in research, teaching, and applied developmental work. It is for students who are interested in typical development or atypical development, and who are interested in either basic research or applied research. Successful applicants have strong academic skills, background in psychology or human development, and a keen interest in research. Each student in the concentration works closely with one of the primary (core) faculty involved in this concentration.

Coordinator: Dr. Ansley Gilpin 

a young blond boy pointing to a drawing in a book; a researcher looks on

Focus Area Option

To develop a specific area of expertise within the developmental concentration, students have the option of choosing a focus area from those that have been approved. Students who opt for a focus area take an additional course related to their focus area (in addition to the coursework required for the concentration) and complete a dissertation on a topic related to their focus area. Many students also complete their first-year project and thesis in their focus area. Current focus areas are as follows:

  • Early Childhood Development: Cognitive, linguistic, and social development from birth through preschool age. The focus is on typical development during this age.
  • Developmental Disabilities: Cognitive, linguistic, and social aspects of intellectual disability, learning disability, and autism. The focus is on atypical development associated with developmental disabilities.
  • Youth Aggression: bullying, antisocial behavior, school and family intervention, substance abuse. The focus is on typical and atypical development that leads to youth aggression.

Dual Concentration Option

Students have the option to complete a dual concentration in developmental science and cognitive psychology or developmental science and social psychology. Students who choose this option complete all requirements for both concentrations.

First-Year Project

Students complete a first-year project in which they conduct a research project designed by their primary research mentor. Students present their research in a mini-conference at the end of the year.

Developmental Proseminar

Developmental proseminar is a weekly research presentation meeting for all faculty and students involved in the developmental concentration.