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Earning a PhD in Developmental Psychology: Where Can It Take You?

This school of psychology offers career paths across all stages of the human life span.

Where can an online degree in developmental psychology take you? Almost anywhere. Because when you choose developmental psychology for your PhD studies, you’re opening doors to a field rich with opportunity.

What Is Developmental Psychology?

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines developmental psychology as “the branch of psychology that studies the changes—physical, mental, and behavioral—that occur from conception to old age and investigates the various biological, neurobiological, genetic, psychological, social, cultural, and environmental factors that affect development throughout the life span.”1

Earning a PhD in Developmental Psychology: Where Can It Take You?

In the field’s earliest days, developmental psychologists focused on infant, child, and adolescent development. “Beginning in the 1920s, that [field] also accounted for adult development and the aging process and, more recently, prenatal development. As such, the term developmental psychology is now often considered virtually synonymous with life span developmental psychology,” the APA explains.1

What Can I Do With a PhD in Psychology?

Earning a degree in developmental psychology can prepare you for a career as a researcher, consultant, teacher, or administrator. As a graduate of an online PhD psychology program, you may work in settings that include:

  • 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
  • Public and private hospitals
  • Rehabilitation and senior centers

The APA offers this illustration of what a developmental psychologist’s work may entail:

“Developmental psychologists … conduct research designed to help people reach their full potential. For example, babies who are not walking by 15 months may be demonstrating a developmental delay or signs of a more serious health condition. Developmental psychologists work with parents and doctors to understand the situation and detect and treat any resulting psychological or health problems. By intervening early, developmental psychologists work to help a child get on track to normal development.”2

Developmental psychologists also may work in academia, where they typically focus on research or teaching.2

How Can I Earn a PhD in Developmental Psychology?

As a working professional, you will find abundant and flexible educational opportunities in an online PhD psychology degree program from an accredited university. And, as the No. 1 granter of doctoral research degrees,3 Walden University is a top choice.

In Walden’s online PhD in Developmental Psychology degree program, you can gain the advanced knowledge and skills you need to understand and address the issues that impact human growth and development. And, Walden offers a general program and seven specializations so you can engage in coursework that is most relevant to your interests.

These diverse fields of study can help distinguish you as a developmental psychologist with the most relevant and current knowledge. Topics include human development in the digital age and the issues children, the LGBTQ community, and older citizens face. As a global institution, Walden offers a singular perspective on topics such as mass migration and refugee crises.

With a doctoral degree in psychology, you can make your mark by promoting positive change in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. And where can it take you? With so many options, the choice is yours.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online PhD in Developmental Psychology degree program with seven specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.



3Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Database (IPEDS). Retrieved July 2018; includes 2017 preliminary data and all classifications of instructional programs (CIP) codes. A doctoral research degree is a PhD or other doctoral degree that requires advanced work beyond the master’s level, including the preparation and defense of a dissertation based on original research or the planning and execution of an original project demonstrating substantial artistic or scholarly achievement. Some examples of this type of degree may include EdD, DMA, DBA, DSc, DA, DM, or others, as designated by the awarding institution.

Note on licensure: The PhD in Developmental Psychology is not a licensure program and does not prepare an individual to become a licensed psychology professional.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,