Masters in Child Psychology & Developmental Psychology Programs
Masters in Developmental Psychology programs could enable students to more deeply understand how humans learn, mature and adapt from infancy to adulthood and old age. Participants might study the ways children develop, thrive, and learn in the context of their family, culture, and community. Or, focus more narrowly on developmental disability viewed from the lens of lifespan development and the family life cycle.
written by Rana Waxman
Masters in Developmental Psychology : Basics
Most Masters in Developmental psychology programs help students use scientific methods to study human growth, change and patterns. In tandem with courses, some programs engage students through case study analyses, research papers, and in-class assignments.
Students might learn how to design action and outcome-based research studies through data collection and analysis. Modern topics of inquiry include questions about whether there are harmful effects of video game violence and whether children with high levels of lead have lower IQs, but this is only the tip.iAdditionally, many Developmental Psychology Masters programs have students undergo mentored fieldwork where they could gain hands-on experience through practice and observation.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2016, 309 people graduated with a Masters in Child and Developmental Psychology. ii
Application Information for Developmental Psychology Masters Programs
Students who want to apply into a Masters in Developmental Psychology program typically need a Bachelors degree (in any field or a school-specified major) from a regionally accredited college or university.
A minimum 2.75 – 3.0 GPA is preferred at some universities, but standards vary and should be checked. International students must usually demonstrate English language proficiency. Other material that students might furnish with a completed form could include the following.
- Letters of recommendation
- GRE scores
- Statement of Purpose
What is Developmental Psychology?
Developmental psychology is defined as the scientific methods to study human growth, change and patterns. As a field of study, it aims to describe, explain and optimize growth. With its focus on how thinking, feeling, and behavior change throughout a person’s life, empirical data from developmental psychology is often applied to help people in practical situations.
What Could You Learn in a Developmental Psychology Masters?
Participants in Masters in Developmental Psychology programs might study brain patterns, physical growth, genetics, social and life cycle changes. Some of the topics associated with developmental and child psychology could include the following.iii
- Effects of Biological Maturation on Behavior
- Theories of Cognitive Growth
- Perceptual Development
- Research on Child and Adolescent Behavior Therapy
- The Psychology of Aging
- Personality Development
What is the Difference Between Child and Developmental Psychology?
One could think of developmental psychology as the parent of child psychology although there is certainly more to it. Essentially, developmental psych carefully examines and documents physical, mental and emotional changes from infancy to childhood to adulthood. Every stage is seen as critical to understand how reactions are experienced. By comparison, child psychology more narrowly examines the growth stages of infancy, toddler and the young child which are seen as quite formative.
Childhood Psychology Masters Programs
Students who are enthusiastic about the early years of growth might study to earn a Masters in Child Psychology. Childhood psychology masters programs could help students understand these years and how they affect things like learning styles, identity formation and behavior in general.
Choose a Focus for a Masters Degree in Child Psychology
Students typically undertake core courses and may choose a program emphasis to tailor studies and associated internship(s).
- Administration: Students might explore organizational development and the ethical duties of an administrator. Through associated courses, students might enhance their ability to supervise, implement programs, budget, evaluate, manage organizational resources, and resolve conflicts
- General: A more general Masters degree in Child Psychology might prepare students to pursue a career that involves work with children birth to age 8 and their families in a wide range of non-clinical settings. Examples of this might span early childhood care and education programs, informal education programs within museums and zoos, and early childhood research, policy and advocacy organizations
- Child Life: Participants might learn to advocate for children and their families in health-care settings as they cope with things like chronic and acute illness, injury, or trauma. Students might also cultivate skills to help them understand complex health care challenges and ways to lessen the stresses brought on by medical procedures and being in a hospital at such a young age
- Children with Special Needs: Students could build the skills needed to work effectively with young children who suffer from developmental delay/disabilities and their families in early education, community, and home environments
- Children’s Law and Policy: Study the ways and means to effectively advocate for young children and families impacted by the legal system. In this emphasis, students might also learn about the law and how it affects your work with and on behalf of children and families
- Infancy: In some universities, students might be able to work towards a state Early Intervention credential. Or, prepare for administrative and leadership roles in infant/toddler programs. Another option might be to learn about culturally and linguistically diverse infants and toddlers
Sample Child Development Courses
Each university comes with its own syllabus, and a course list is a great way to inform oneself. Use the topics below as examples, then make sure to refer to each graduate school to see what they offer.
Social and Emotional Development (Infancy to Early Childhood): Students may focus on the biological, social and psychological factors that impact growth from birth through age 8. As part of their studies, learners might integrate natural observations of infants, preschoolers, and school-aged children with relevant theory and research.
Physical Growth and Development: Participants might examine the physical, neurological, motor, and sensory processes of growth and maturity from the initial prenatal development through to age 8. Within this framework, students could learn how to identify atypical patterns and events that lead to developmental disabilities and delays.
Family and Culture: This type of course could take a deeper look at social science research on child development, child rearing across cultures, and issues of equity, power, and privilege. Students might acquire a solid grasp of diversity as they examine social social science research on child development, child rearing across cultures, and issues of equity, power and privilege.
Other Types of Developmental Psychology Masters Programs
Developmental Psychology Masters programs offer the opportunity for students to streamline interests with professional goals. This could be accomplished through an emphasis on childhood and adolescent disorders, applied behavior analysis, professional counseling or a related topic.
MS in Professional Counseling/ Childhood and Adolescence Disorders
A Master of Science in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders program could highlight advanced study of adolescent-focused health sciences and leadership techniques needed in the behavioral health workforce.
In universities where the program has been aligned to the standards established by the National Board for Certified Counselors, it may be a suitable course of study for the student who wants to pursue a career as a professional counselor.
Participants in this type of MS program could study to gain the knowhow and key skills to identify and assess disorders from both these life stages. This could include issues that related to developmental delays, child-parent relationships, school and family life. Also, the disorders specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Check out some sample courses below.
- Developmental Disabilities
- Childhood and Adolescent Trauma
- Pharmacology and Addictions
- Spousal and Child Abuse
Apart from courses, there may be a practicum and internship experience. Supervised fieldwork could help to help increase students’ knowledge base and enhance their counseling skills for diverse real-world settings. Graduates may take away a broader grasp of family structure and dynamics with needs for intervention and counseling.
MS in Developmental Disabilities
In a Master of Science in Developmental Disabilities program, students might focus on the different types of abnormal patterns that are experienced throughout the lifespan as well as issues that stem from them. For instance, how health disparities impact individuals with developmental disabilities and what this means for healthcare and human services organizations.
While foundational and required courses might delve into the elements of program design, family life cycle and ethics, students could tailor studies through an emphasis.
- Early Childhood: Explore risk factors and early warning signs of atypical growth. Students might also study behaviors such as aggression, self-injury, tantrums and modes of intervention. As well, there could be a discussion of the disabled child and related topics such how to design individualized education plans, inclusion and the role of play
- Adult Services: Examine the challenges faced by young adults, middle age individuals, and older adults with developmental disabilities. This could include employment and successful integration into one’s community
- Applied Behavior Analysis: Study behavioral intervention strategies and change procedures. Coursework might go into depth about the different delivery models for services within the ABA model. Areas of focus might thus include the behavioral models of development disabilities, treatment of autism, organizational behavior management, school psychology, sports psychology, and education.
- Leadership/Advocacy: Students might gain insight into disability policies and policy making. Coursework could include how to engage in public outreach, lobbying and negotiation as well as the basic principles of grant writing
Graduates may also take away a more functional grasp of how family, the educational system, and community services impact on the successful integration of individuals with developmental disabilities into their daily settings. For instance, they might be versed in how to apply effective administrative and leadership skills to their field through a course plan that may be devoted to case study analyses, research papers, and in-class assignments.
What Could One Do with a Developmental Psychology Degree?
A doctoral degree and board licensure is typically required for a career in developmental psychology.iv If this is the goal, a Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology might provide a suitable platform for continued study such as a PhD in Developmental Psychology.
What Does a Developmental Psychologist Do? Developmental psychologists study the psychological progress and growth that take place throughout life. Some choose a focus such as childhood, adolescence or old age and the specific concerns of their chosen developmental stage.v Per the BLS, the average annual salary for psychologists was $77,030 in May 2017.vi Overall, employment projections indicate a 14 percent growth from 2016 to 2026.vii
However, just as there are a variety of programs, there are other potential career paths that students could prepare to pursue. That stated, other certifications, licensures or credentials maybe necessary, so make sure to speak with an academic advisor to sort out these details.
- Special Education Teacherviii
- Applied Behavior Analystiv
- Behavioral Disorder Counselorx
- Family Therapistxi
Earn a Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology Online or On-campus
Both online and on-campus formats allow students to choose a Developmental Psychology Masters program that lines up with location preference, study-style and timetable needs. Filter on this directory to find graduate schools in a city, state and country or choose ‘online’.
Online formats engage students in a virtual classroom and may suit the busy or at-work professional who wants to further their education but is hard-pressed for time. That stated, many universities want to encourage students and offer evening and weekend classes. Plus, there’s the element of interaction.
Apply to the Perfect Masters in Developmental Psychology Program
Find your perfect Masters in Child Psychology or Masters in Developmental Psychology program. Pick the format to review programs from partner schools, then easily contact them right away with the on-page form.
[i] apa.org/action/science/developmental/index.aspx?tab=2 | [ii] nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d17/tables/dt17_318.30.asp | [iii] nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=88056 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-4 | [v] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-2 | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-5 | [vii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-6 | [viii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm | [ix] onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3031.03| [x] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1011.00| [xi] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1013.00