Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated September 2010
Humans begin developing in the womb and continue to develop until the day they die. Mankind has always found this development fascinating, which is why graduate developmental psychology (sometimes referred to as “human development”) curricula are so popular with students. The most marked, as well as researched, developments take place during the first 13 years or so of life, so many developmental psychology courses will cover these pivotal years.
The developmental psychology curriculum examines the changes in personality, cognitive ability and behavior throughout the lifespan. Therefore, in addition to preparing themselves for a rewarding career, students enrolled in developmental psychology curricula will also learn and understand more about themselves as they study the scientific conclusions made by experts in the field.
Graduate level developmental psychology curricula are offered to students at the masters level, doctoral level and through graduate certificate programs. Each of these levels determines the psychologist’s permissible role within the industry. Doctoral level developmental psychology curricula prepare students for independent practice and offer eligibility for state licensure. Students are also afforded the opportunity to receive full membership in local, state and national associations.
Many students with a masters or PhD degree in developmental psychology work in educational settings as school psychologists, which makes sense when considering the emphasis placed on the formative years. However, there are several developmental psychology concentrations available on which students can focus:
Fundamental developmental psychology courses will cover such developmental stages as pregnancy, infancy, early childhood, adolescence and aging. More specifically, students will explore the concepts of sensation and perception, nature versus nurture, identity formation and moral understanding. Students enrolled in a developmental psychology curriculum will study the differences in human development based on ethnicity, socioeconomic class and environment, and gender.
Courses in developmental psychology will provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge, and students will study such pioneers in the field as Freud, Erikson, Piaget, Vygotsky and Ginzberg. Most courses will explore the functions of language, personality and cognizance. Other possible developmental psychology courses include child protection and advocacy, developmental disabilities, and parenting and childcare.
At the masters level, students in developmental psychology courses are trained to work with teachers, parents and other professionals working within the educational system, with the chief goal of resolving leaning and behavior problems. At the certificate level, students are often certified as school psychologists, performing similar functions of those at the masters level. However, the certificate holder is not legally qualified for independent or unsupervised practice, and cannot practice within private agencies.
No matter where their interests lie, students can work toward a PhD (if interested in teaching or research) or PsyD degree (if interested in practice) in developmental psychology, and choose a specific research area or topic. They may decide to focus on a certain population, age range or even on the relationship between development and education. This is a fantastic basis for research on special education, as well as for students who aspire to become the professors who teach the next generations of special education teachers.
Developmental psychologists are currently employed in various educational settings as researchers, teachers or practitioners. Some of these settings include schools, clinics, community mental health centers and child or adolescent units of hospitals. One can also find developmental psychology careers with child and pediatric services connected to federal, state and municipal agencies. Visit the sites of our sponsoring programs for more specific information and to learn about particular programs and areas of focus.
Some choose developmental psychology careers in individual/family services, a position that commands an average annual salary of $50,000, while others work at outpatient care centers and make about $51,000 a year. Others choose jobs with the government and make roughly $59,000 annually. Developmental psychology careers in schools tend to rake in about $62,000 per year, while researchers with a PhD can earn an average annual salary of $68,000.
There are also developmental psychology careers to be had in mental health offices, whether government-run or private, and practitioners make about $70,000 per year. Those who become professors can except to earn upwards of $71,000 each year. The highest-paying developmental psychology careers are in private practice, where one can make $80,000 or more a year, and as consultants, who earn an average of $82,000 annually.
Developmental psychology careers are both popular and lucrative. Students can choose to work in many settings and with different groups of patients. They will find that their careers are not only important to the world, but also very rewarding. And various developmental psychology programs are available within the GradSchools.com directory.