With a focus on human development, this doctoral degree can lead to a rewarding career as a developmental psychology professional.

Developmental psychologist looks directly at the camera.While most of us live our lives unaware of it, human beings are in a constant state of psychological change. If you’re passionate about these changes across the human lifespan, and you already have a background in psychology, you may be interested in pursuing a doctorate in developmental psychology.

What is developmental psychology?

Developmental psychology is the study of human development and how we develop across the lifespan. It studies human growth and behavior during infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and older adulthood.

Why is developmental psychology important?

From cognition and emotions to personality and socialization, developmental psychology professionals study how people learn, develop, and adapt throughout their lives. Their work promotes healthy development in people of all ages, helping others to understand important developmental milestones, overcome developmental obstacles, and achieve their full potential.

The program’s coursework addresses many of today’s most relevant issues and covers such topics as development in the digital age, gender role development, and critical issues faced by children, the LGBTQ community, and the elderly.

You may also gain a global perspective as you study human development in a diverse community of faculty and students and explore relevant international issues such as mass migration and refugee crises.

What can I do with a PhD in developmental psychology?

Equipped with a PhD in developmental psychology, you can apply the latest theories, research, and best practices in human development to promote positive change in the lives of individuals, families, and communities as a researcher, consultant, teacher, or administrator.* Developmental psychology careers are found in a variety of settings, including but not limited to:

  • Academic institutions
  • Advocacy and policy organizations
  • Community youth organizations
  • Crisis intervention programs
  • Early childhood and other education centers
  • Entertainment industry (toy/game or media)
  • Individual and family services
  • Nonprofit human service organizations
  • Nursing, residential care, or mental health facilities
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Rehabilitation and senior centers

What will I study in a developmental psychology doctoral program?

From psychopathology to developmental needs of an aging population, the curriculum in a developmental psychology doctoral degree program can strengthen your understanding of the interaction between the cognitive, physical, emotional, social, health, and cultural aspects of development.

A general program curriculum provides a broad foundation in developmental psychology and how you can apply its principles across the human lifespan. Some programs, such as the one offered by Walden University, offer various specializations so you can focus your studies on what you’re most passionate about. Specializations include Administration and Leadership, Child and Adolescent Development, Health and Human Development, International Perspectives in Developmental Psychology, Research, Teaching, and a Self-Designed specialization.

Should I study developmental psychology online or on campus?

The decision to study on campus or online is a personal one that often comes down to scheduling and time commitments. Since online learning doesn’t require traveling to class, many working professionals prefer online graduate programs—which feature everything traditional, classroom-based programs do—in order to balance work and family obligations.

With seven specializations and the General Program to choose from, Walden University’s online developmental psychology PhD program features leading experts and diverse, cutting-edge curriculum designed for today’s world. Discover how Walden can help you achieve your personal and professional goals in a flexible online format that fits your busy schedule.


*Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

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