About Human Development
The Human Development program adopts a life-span approach to individual change. Studying development in context is an important component of the program, so that research can make conceptual/theoretical contributions to the understanding of human behavior and can address practical concerns of educators, parents, and others concerned with the developing person.
Our graduate training program emphasizes six objectives:
To give students a strong grounding in concepts, theories, and empirical studies of individuals' cognitive, language, personal, and social development across the life span - emphasis on implications of these developmental processes for educational programs and practice.
To help students build an expertise in one or more specific facets of human development.
To involve students in numerous faculty-guided and independent research experiences so they can acquire strong research skills.
To help students obtain other experiences (e.g., teaching, program development) consonant with their particular career objectives.
To allow flexibility in course work and other program requirements in order to meet the specific needs and interests of individual students.
To help students place their specific interests in developmental processes within the larger contexts of human development, educational psychology, and the psychology of human behavior.
The Human Development area focuses on the dynamic nature of human behavior, the fact that individuals are changing beings in a changing environment. Because developmental processes occur across the life span, the graduate training program emphasizes the life-span nature of individual change.
The program also emphasizes that Human Development involves the study of social contexts, as well as individual maturation. For example, patterns of cognitive change have clear implications for the structuring of school programs, and the way schools are organized also may affect the timing and tempo of cognitive development.
Studying development in context is an important component of our program so that research can make conceptual/theoretical contributions to our understanding of human behavior and also address the practical concerns of educators, parents, and others concerned with the developing person.
Course work is structured to encourage breadth and depth of knowledge, to provide a good general working knowledge of Human Development and Educational Psychology and to encourage more detailed study of specific interest areas.
The heaviest concentration of course work is in the first two years of the graduate program. During this time students are exposed to general theories and issues in human development, as well as more specific developmental processes in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age.
In preparation for the master's thesis and other research endeavors, course work in statistical methods and research design also is emphasized.
In subsequent years, students exercise more choice in selecting courses that will acquaint them with the subject matter of the various program areas in the Department and courses that broaden or deepen their understanding of human developmental processes.
Course work extends beyond the Department so that students can take advantage of the wealth of well-known researchers of Human Development (and other aspects of human behavior) who are part of the university faculty. For example, to fulfill the requirements for a graduate minor, a student interested in family influences on cognitive development might take several courses in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
Visit the Course Information page for details on course requirements, course announcements, and other resources.
Visit the Course Syllabi page to view our archive of Department syllabi.
Students are encouraged to become involved in research activities early in their graduate training program. Some work closely with faculty members on research grants, often as a research assistant or in some other paid staff position. Others elect to work more independently on a project of their own design, but still with close guidance from their advisor and other faculty members.
As part of the master's degree, students will undertake a small-scale empirical research project, the results of which are often submitted for publication. Students who enter the program with a master's degree that did not involve an empirical research study will be asked to do a small-scale study before attempting their PhD dissertation.
For those whose dissertation is not part of a faculty research study, there are several funding sources to help defray the costs of doing the dissertation study.
Several research centers across campus provide faculty and students with excellent resources for conducting research, all of which are sources of research assistant positions for students in the Human Development program:
Most students in the program pursue a PhD degree. A majority of graduates seek academic positions in a college or university setting, involving research and teaching. We are proud of our record of placing graduates in excellent positions.
To learn more about the research, teaching, and other career information of the area faculty, visit the Faculty & Staff directory page.