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.
With the Health and Human Development specialization, you’ll gain an understanding of the relationship between health, health behavior, and human development. You’ll learn to apply the latest theories and research in developmental psychology to real-world situations in the healthcare industry or within human and social services. You have the option of choosing courses in an area that interests you, such as child and adolescent health, women’s health, or geriatric health.
Track I is a program of study for students who have a master’s degree in developmental psychology or psychology. If you have a master's degree in an unrelated discipline, see Track II.
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.
Please refer to Walden’s catalog for more information about degree requirements.
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 844-768-0629.
|Course Code||DRWA 8880G||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 complete or be exempted from additional required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required assessment course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it at the beginning of their doctoral program.
|Course Code||DPSY 8002||Course||Foundations for Graduate Study in Psychology||Credits||(3 cr.)|
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.
|Course Code||DPSY 8121||Course||Development in the Digital Age||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8218||Course||Gender and Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8227||Course||Language and Cognitive Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8412||Course||Research Foundations||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8228||Course||Social and Emotional Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
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 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 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 course examine and receive support for student readiness regarding the use of quantitative and qualitative research approaches. They study research fundamentals, including the distinction between social problems and research problems, the functions of research problems versus research purpose statements, and the role of theory and conceptual framework in informing research. Students examine quantitative and qualitative concepts central to research methods, design, and analysis. They also study how research design, methods, and analyses properly align for both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Students demonstrate their knowledge by creating two research outlines, using quantitative and qualitative approaches, which they develop throughout the course. They determine appropriate conditions for the use of mixed-methods approaches and differentiate between types of mixed-methods research designs. Students engage in pre- and post-assessments of skills and knowledge.
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.
|Course Code||DPSY 8745||Course||Health Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8242||Course||Changing Health Behavior: Theory and Practice||Credits||(5 cr.)|
Child and Adolescent Health
Contemporary Gerontology/Geriatric Psychology
Health psychologists work toward positive change in healthcare and health behavior through the study of relationships between patients and providers, how individuals and groups adapt to illness, damaging health behaviors, health cognitions, and many other related issues. In this course, students explore the field of health psychology with a focus on the biopsychosocial model. They discuss behavioral and biomedical theories as well as the effect of psychological (personality), behavioral (health behaviors and coping), and social factors (stress and physician-patient relationships) on physical health and wellness. Through the examination of current literature and peer discussions, students explore and address issues related to cardiovascular and immune health, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. They demonstrate their understanding of course material and consider how topics apply to their personal and professional life through the development of taskforce papers, a health brochure, and a final essay.
Students in this course will review past and current models of health behavior change, disease prevention, disease management, and relapse prevention. Coverage of health-related issues includes dietary needs, tobacco and drug use, safer sexual practices, and stress management. In addition, students will examine the analysis of behavior change within specific populations (young, elderly, cognitively impaired, etc.) and factors that predict or serve as obstacles to lifestyle change and adherence. PSYC 6745/8745.)
Students in this course cover diseases and disorders in children and adolescents. Topics include diabetes, anorexia, headaches, epilepsy, burn injuries, cystic fibrosis, asthma, addiction, and adolescent obesity. Health promotion for children and adolescents is discussed, including cardiovascular health, nutrition, and exercise. Also covered are insights into special issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, daily stress, sexually transmitted diseases, sleep disorders, and ethical and legal issues in pediatric and adolescent health psychology. PSYC 8745.)
Students in this course examine healthcare issues in women and girls. Topics include healthy development, trauma, coping, self-esteem, resilience, self-care, well-being, sexual health, relationships, roles, family, schooling, careers, motherhood, transitions, violence, security, bereavement, and positive aging. PSYC 8745.)
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.
|Course Code||RSCH 8260||Course||Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8360||Course||Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
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 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.
|Course Code||DPSY 8185||Course||Writing a Quality Prospectus in Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||DPSY 8700||Course||Literature Review||Credits||(2 cr.)|
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.
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.
|Course Code||DPSY 9000*||Course||Credits||(5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)†|
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.)
*Students are continuously enrolled in DPSY 9000 for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion of their dissertation with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval.
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.
8-Year Maximum Timeframe
Students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral degree requirements. See the policy in the Walden University Student Handbook. Students may petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe, but an extension is not guaranteed.
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.