Apply the latest theories, research, and best practices in human development to promote positive change in the lives of individuals, families, and communities with our PhD in Developmental Psychology program.
Automatically waive up to six courses1 if you have earned a master’s degree in a related field2, shortening your journey to a PhD.
Gain a broad understanding of developmental psychology and how you can apply its principles across the lifespan. In the General Program, you’ll develop an understanding of psychopathology, including emotional and behavioral disorders, and the classification systems of infants, children, and adolescents. You’ll also develop the skills necessary to apply a multidisciplinary approach to the study of aging. You may choose to focus on one of the following:
Walden students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.
In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.
To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.
This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an enrollment advisor at 844-398-6088.
|Course Code||DPSY 8002||Course||Foundations for Graduate Study in Psychology||Credits||(3 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8111||Course||Themes and Theories of Developmental Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8215||Course||Lifespan Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8245||Course||Social Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8110||Course||Research Theory, Design, and Methods||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8701||Course||Culture and Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8210||Course||Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8121||Course||Development in the Digital Age||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8310||Course||Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8218||Course||Gender and Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8360||Course||Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8227||Course||Language and Cognitive Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8260||Course||Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8228||Course||Social and Emotional Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8700||Course||Literature Review||Credits||(2 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8719||Course||Developmental Psychopathology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8115||Course||Writing a Quality Prospectus in Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8815||Course||Contemporary Gerontology/Geriatric Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8718||Course||Psychology of the Exceptional Individual||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 9000||Course||Dissertation||Credits||(5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)†|
Students in this course are introduced to Walden University and to the requirements for successful participation in an online curriculum. Students work toward building a foundation for academic and professional success as scholar-practitioners and social change agents. They assess the relationship of mission and vision to professional goals, and they develop a program of study, a professional development plan, and strategies for online success. Students also explore resources used throughout the program, such as the online Walden University Library. They engage in course assignments focused on the practical application of professional writing, critical-thinking skills, and the promotion of professional and academic excellence.
Students in this course are introduced to concepts and theories that form the basis of developmental psychology. Developmental theories will be reviewed, including psychoanalytic, behaviorist, cognitive, social, and ecological theory. Students will critically examine the strengths and limitations of each theory in the context of the psychologists and the research that contributed to each theory. Contemporary applications of developmental theories will be explored, with an emphasis on applications designed to produce positive social change.
Students in this course are provided with an advanced overview of human development through the lifespan, including prenatal, childhood, adolescent, adult, and late-adult phases. Students examine and apply basic processes and theories to developmental milestones that occur within these phases of development. They explore factors of heredity and environmental elements on human development, and they consider ethical issues, research considerations, and global perspectives as they assess strategies to promote optimal development. Students also engage in coursework and discussions that highlight themes of diversity and social change.
Factors of cognitions and social behavior are at the root of nearly all experiences pertaining to individuals in society. In this course, students use the lens of social psychology to examine perceptions, attitudes, relationships and attraction, motivation to help others, prejudice and aggression, conformity and obedience, group behavior, and the influence of culture. Students apply knowledge and skills gained in the course to a final project in which they develop a plan for using social psychology research to address a significant social problem. Moreover, students consider ways to extend lessons learned to their personal and professional lives to effect positive social change as scholar-practitioners.
In this research course, students are provided with core knowledge and skills for understanding, analyzing, and designing research at the graduate level. Students explore the philosophy of science, the role of theory, and research processes. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research designs and data collection methods are introduced. The alignment of research components is emphasized. Students also explore ethical and social change implications of designing and conducting research. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing an annotated bibliography.
Culture often has a profound influence on individual beliefs, personality development, and social behavior. Therefore, mental health professionals must have a fundamental understanding of the impact and psychological implications of culture. In this course, students focus on core themes of cross-cultural psychology—specifically, cultures representing different parts of the world and cultural influences on human psychology. Students explore the cultural components, research, and theory of cross-cultural psychology, and they assess the overall impact of culture on the field of psychology around the world. Additionally, they engage in readings and practical assignments to gain a better understanding of human development and the interactions between culture and social behaviors, health, mental health, and mental illnesses.
In this research course, students are provided with the opportunity to develop core knowledge and skills for designing and carrying out quantitative research at the doctoral level, including the application of statistical concepts and techniques. Students explore classical common statistical tests, the importance of the logic of inference, and social change implications of conducting quantitative research and producing knowledge. Students approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting appropriate statistical tests for a research design. Students use statistical software to derive statistics from quantitative data and interpret and present results. RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110.)
In this course, students will examine the impact of social media and other digital technology on children, teens, and adults and at different stages of cognitive, social, and emotional development. Students will also examine how identity development, relationships, and socialization can be affected by the use of digital and social media. A historic review of electronic media research, including the effect of violent television on viewer behavior, will provide a foundation for examining the current impact of digital media. Current issues such as sexting, online harassment, cyberbullying, and cyberstalking will be explored, along with strategies for mitigating these issues. Similarly, positive impacts of social media such as building social groups, finding community, overriding generational gaps, seeking health and mental health support and resources will also be explored. Students will also examine generational, socioeconomic, and multicultural differences in access to and use of digital media. Digital media literacy and public policy will be explored, with an emphasis on positive social change.
Students in this research course are provided with the opportunity to develop basic knowledge and skills for conducting qualitative research at the doctoral level. Students explore the nature of qualitative inquiry, how theory and theoretical and conceptual frameworks uniquely apply to qualitative research, data collection procedures and analysis strategy, and how the role of the researcher is expressed in the ethical and rigorous conduct of qualitative research. Students practice collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data, and they develop a detailed research topic for conducting a qualitative study. RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110.)
Students in this course examine biopsychosocial theories of sex differences and conceptions of gender. Topics include history and theoretical perspectives on gender, differentiation of sex versus gender, gender similarities and differences, gender identity, and transgender psychology. Students will also learn about stereotypes, socialization and culture-appropriate social roles, and influence of socialization agents, such as family, schools, peers, and media on gender role development. Through the course, students will address important developmental issues as they relate to gender, such as body image, sexuality, emotion, communication, and cognition, and also examine ethical considerations with regard to policy making and training on gender sensitivity.
Students build upon the knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis. and have experience applying them. Students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the theoretical antecedents and practical applications of eight contemporary qualitative approaches. Students gain experience developing qualitative interview guides, collecting data, and managing the process from transcription through analysis. The unique challenges of confidentiality and ethical issues are explored as well as implications for social change. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a qualitative research plan using a topic relevant to their capstone.
Students in this course are introduced to theories and research related to the development of cognition and language acquisition. Both normative and individual differences will be explored. Students will examine basic concepts in cognitive development in addition to problem solving, decision making, and creativity. Piagetian cognitive theory will be examined, as well as sociocultural and neurobiological perspectives. Students will also learn about psycholinguistics, including the structure of language, stages of language acquisition, and multilingualism. Theories of language acquisition will be reviewed, including behaviorist and conditioning perspectives, Chomsky's perspective, neural networks, and linguistic relativity. Students will examine atypical development, such as cognitive delay, language disorders, and autism.
Students in this research course build upon knowledge and skills acquired in the prerequisite quantitative reasoning course and are presented with opportunities to apply them. They are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for conducting quantitative research at the doctoral level, including understanding multivariate data analysis and applying more advanced statistical concepts, such as factorial ANOVA, mediation, moderation, logistic regression, ANCOVA, and MANOVA. Students explore existing datasets and apply suitable statistical tests to answer research questions with social change implications. In this course, they approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting the appropriate statistical tests for more complex research questions and social problems. Students use statistical software to perform analyses and interpret and present results. They will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by carrying out a quantitative research project. RSCH 8110.)
Students in this course review contemporary theory, research, and methods relevant to understanding social and emotional development through the lifespan and the way in which culture and context shape developmental processes. The focus of the course is on both normal and abnormal development and the emphasis on individual differences, and social and cultural diversity. Topics include early interaction, emotion and its expression and regulation, temperament, attachment through the lifespan, social cognition, family and peer relationships, prosocial and antisocial influences on human development, social identity, development of gender differences, and intimacy. Students will also explore topics in social-emotional development that are particular to middle and late adulthood, including the impact of retirement, changes in health, and dying and bereavement.
The purpose of this course is to help students prepare to write a well-structured, soundly presented, critical literature review. Students will cover topic selection, research analysis, writing, and editing. Upon completing the course, students produce an annotated bibliography and outline of a literature review using a minimum of 10 self-selected research articles. This course is appropriate for doctoral students who are preparing for their dissertation research.
In this course, students learn about formal psychopathology, including emotional and behavioral disorders and classification systems of infants, children, and adolescents. Students examine contrasting models of psychopathology, classification and epidemiology of childhood psychopathology, co-morbidity rates, differential issues from the current diagnostic manual's outcome of childhood disorders, therapeutic approaches and their efficacy, and developmental resilience. They examine and discuss literature and topics related to assessment, diagnosis, and treatment; a wide range of disorders and disruptive behaviors; and abuse and neglect. Applying course concepts, students assess case studies of diagnostic issues for a contemporary and practical understanding of psychopathology.
Students in this course focus specifically on the process of writing the dissertation prospectus. Students develop a problem statement to be used in the dissertation. The prospectus is a brief paper, typically between 6 and 12 pages in length, that helps students articulate, organize, and begin to align the key steps in the academic argument for their proposed research. Students create a prospectus draft to establish the background for the problem statement, the problem statement itself, an initial survey of the relevant literature, and a research, implementation, and evaluation plan for the solution of the problem that will culminate in the formulation of a draft dissertation prospectus.
Statistical data indicate that people are living longer, and the number of older persons is continually increasing. As the population ages, society must prepare to address their needs. Students in this course are provided with a multidisciplinary approach to the study of aging in contemporary societies. Students examine the biological, psychological, social, and societal contexts of aging. They also explore the historical and cross-cultural perspectives on aging, social theories of aging, managing chronic diseases, cognitive changes associated with aging, mental health issues, sexuality, and social interactions. Through a series of taskforce reports on various topics, such as sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, and elder abuse, students apply course concepts and critically examine current issues in gerontology.
Students in this course examine the cognitive, social-emotional, and psychomotor characteristics of individuals significantly deviating from the norm in behavior and/or adjustment. They learn ways to understand and work with individuals with learning disabilities (including emotional, behavioral, and intellectual disorders; autism; brain injury; hearing and vision loss; physical disabilities; and health disorders) and those who are gifted and talented. Students explore topical issues, including inclusion, transition to adulthood, and multicultural diversity. Through this course, students work toward gaining the knowledge and skills for developing research-based educational and therapeutic interventions.
Doctoral students are provided with the opportunity to integrate their program of study into a research study through which they explore a specific area of interest in this course. Students complete the dissertation with the guidance of a chair and committee members through a learning platform classroom in which weekly participation is required. Students work with their dissertation chair to write the prospectus, complete an approved proposal (the first three chapters of the dissertation), complete an application for Institutional Review Board approval, collect and analyze data, and complete the dissertation. During the final quarter, students prepare the dissertation for final review by the university and conclude with an oral defense of their dissertation. Once students register for DPSY 9000, they are registered each term until successful completion of the dissertation for a minimum of four terms. Students take this course for a minimum of 4 quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their Dissertation with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval. To complete a dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook. Foundation and core courses and designation of an approved dissertation committee chairperson. Students engaging in a qualitative or mixed-methods dissertation study must also complete PSYC 8310. Students completing a mixed-methods dissertation study are strongly encouraged to also complete PSYC 8320.)
Completing the program may require enrollment for additional terms and cost if the student petitions to extend the 8-year maximum time frame.
†20 credits is the minimum requirement for DPSY 9000 – Dissertation I–IV. Actual time to complete your dissertation depends on numerous factors and while some students complete with 20 credits, some take longer. Please contact your enrollment advisor.
|Course Code||DRWA 8000||Course||Doctoral Writing Assessment||Credits||(0 cr.)|
This course is part of Walden's commitment to help prepare students to meet the university's expectations for writing in courses at the doctoral level. In this course, students write a short academic essay that will be scored by a team of writing assessors. Based on the essay score, students will be guided toward any further recommended or required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it after they complete their first term of their doctoral program.
Note: Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic, such as tuition and fee increases; transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; use of external data for the doctoral study/dissertation; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities, or health issues; leaves of absence; or other personal circumstances.
1DPSY 8111 Themes and Theories of Developmental Psychology, DPSY 8215 Lifespan Development, DPSY 8245 Social Psychology, DPSY 8701 Culture and Psychology, RSCH 8110 Research Theory, Design, and Methods, RSCH 8210 Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
2Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology or Master’s Degree in Psychology