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Human Development Graduate Group

Ph.D. in Human Development

The primary goal of the doctoral program in Human Development is to educate students in the theories, methods, and research that provide the basis for expanding knowledge and understanding of human development from an interdisciplinary perspective. Consistent with this goal, the program has a tripartite emphasis:

  1. It incorporates study in three domains of human development: biological, social-emotional, and cognitive;
  2. It organizes the study of human development across the lifespan from conception to death; and
  3. It emphasizes the context within which human development takes place, including cultural institutions such as families, schools, and hospitals; the environmental conditions related to nutrition, health, and disease; and the social and legal policies that affect development.

The core program is intended to be comprehensive in scope with students' individual programs of study becoming more specialized as they advance beyond required coursework and begin to focus on their own independent research. The degree prepares students for university teaching, research, administration of programs, consultation, program development, etc., in a variety of settings including those in education, medicine, mental health, public health, social services, government, etc.

Within the general HDGG graduate program, students elect to follow one of five focal programs that provide additional academic preparation within an area of specialization by focusing on specific aspects of developmental research: biological; cognitive; social-emotional; family, culture, and society; and research methodology.

Biological Focal Program

This focal program track is intended to broaden opportunities for students to study development of the biological substrates of human behavior. Possible emphases of this track include brain development and cognition and/or social behavior, or the effects of nutrition on cognition.

Cognitive Focal Program

This focal program track is intended to broaden opportunities for students to study human cognitive development. Possible emphases of this track include the development of long-term memory, discourse processing, problem-solving strategies, or social cognition.

Methodology Focal Program

Students in this focal program will advance and apply sophisticated methodology to address developmental questions. Possible emphases of this track include optimization of research designs, measurement of complex developmental constructs, methods for modeling change, and methods for modeling interdependent data (e.g., parent-child, siblings, couples).

Social-Emotional Focal Program

This focal program track is intended to broaden opportunities for students to study social-emotional development. Possible emphases of this track include the development of individual differences in temperament or the effects of siblings on the development of self.

Family, Culture, and Society Focal Program

This focal program track is intended to broaden opportunities for students to study development in familial, cultural, and societal contexts from an interdisciplinary perspective. While the other domains emphasize individual-level investigation of development, this track involves more molar and systemic levels of inquiry. Possible emphases of this track include developmental issues around family, government policy and programs, the school/educational system, race/ethnicity, and/or gender/sexuality.