Master of Arts (M.A.) | Developmental Psychology Programs | Human Development

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Developmental Psychology

The Department of Human Development

Master of Arts (M.A.)

The Master of Arts in developmental psychology typically requires completion of 32 points. In accordance with individual interests and objectives, students acquire familiarity with basic theoretical and research orientations as well as exposure to substantive knowledge in the areas of cognitive, language, personality, and social functioning and development. Opportunity exists for the study of deviant as well as normal psychological functioning within a developmental framework.

Students may register for independent study in order to undertake theoretical or empirical research projects or fieldwork. Students whose goal is to acquire professional skills in clinical or counseling psychology may enroll in introductory course offerings, which in many cases can be applicable if the student is later admitted to one of the more advanced master's or doctoral programs in these areas.

In order to accommodate the diverse aims of individual students, a considerable degree of flexibility has been built into the course of study leading to the M.A. degree. An attempt has been made to minimize specific course requirements, and the student will find that there is a good deal of freedom to choose from among the many offerings provided by Teachers College and the Columbia University Graduate Faculties. In consultation with an advisor, students may create an individually tailored program of study or may enter an area of focus in Risk, Resilience, and Prevention; Developmental Psychology for Educators; Creativity and Cognition; or Children's Media.

The course of study has these main components:

  • A basic course in methods of research.
  • Required courses in cognitive development, personality development in atypical populations, and social and personality development.
  • A basic course in statistics.
  • Research practicum.
  • Electives in developmental psychology plus relevant electives offered by other Teachers College and Columbia University programs.
  • A special project.

Students completing the M.A. degree accept positions in research laboratories or field settings, biomedical institutions, educational and child care agencies, foundations, public policy settings, state and local governments, community programs, and as instructors in community colleges, or they go on to pursue more advanced degrees in particular areas of specialization.

Students may elect, but are not required, to focus study in one of the following areas:

  • Risk, Resilience, and Prevention: This area of focus brings knowledge of developmental psychology to future work relating to competence and maladjustment among at-risk children and families. Diverse areas are considered, ranging from intellectual giftedness/mental retardation and academic achievement to child poverty, cross-cultural differences, resilience, and different domains of psychopathology.
  • Developmental Psychology for Educators: This area of focus helps to promote an understanding of development in varying social contexts and cultures, ethnic and racial groups, and social classes. It focuses on how knowledge about development, thinking, and learning can be applied to educational practice and to educational policy.
  • Creativity and Cognition: Focusing on the importance, development, and influence of creativity, this area is designed for those interested in creative problem-solving and multi-modal thinking as it affects the classroom, curriculum development, community organizations, therapeutic settings, and business.
  • Policy for Children and Families: Through coursework, students will critically examine federal legislative policies for children and families within the United States with a particular focus on evaluation studies examining the effectiveness of such policies. Students will gain an understanding of how politics (e.g., opportunities in the political climate, constraints in the political climate, and dilemmas in the country) affect the relationship between developmental research and theory and public and/or educational policy. 
  • Children’s Media: This area of focus is for students interested in applying cognitive and developmental psychology research and theories to the development/production of educational media for children.  Educational media is examined as wide ranging:  print, television, hand-held devices, and internet based applications.  The culminating experience for master’s students is preparing a proposal and psychological evaluation of a specific media artifact, website or technical application. Please contact Dr. Jamie Krenn for more information.

Core Courses (five courses, 15 points): M.A. students take five core courses.

  • HUD 4120              Methods of empirical research (must be with Developmental Psychology Faculty) (3)
  • HUDK 5023            Cognitive development (3)
  • HUDK 5040            Development and psychopathology: Atypical contexts and populations (2-3)

Either one of the following two courses:

  • HUDK 5121             Personality development and socialization in childhood (2-3)               
  • HUDK 5029             Personality development and socialization across the lifespan (2-3)

For the fifth course, there are several options:

  • HUDK 4027             Development of mathematical thinking (3)
  • HUDK 4029             Human cognition and learning (2-3)
  • HUDK 4080             Educational psychology (3)
  • HUDK 5024             Language development (2-3)
  • HUDK 5025             Spatial thinking (3)
  • HUDK 5030             Visual explanations (3)
  • BBS 5068-5069       Brain and behavior I and II (1-2 each)

Specialized Courses (two courses, 6 points): Two courses in developmental psychology taken for 3 points each:

  • HUDK 5324             Research work practicum (2-3)           
  • HUDK 6539             Research practicum in educational psychology, cognition, and learning (1-3)

Plus one additional course in developmental psychology         

Breadth Courses (6 points minimum): Teachers College courses outside of developmental psychology taken for 1-3 points each (in consultation with your advisor). (To meet the College breadth requirement, students must take a total of six points outside the program, by any combination of courses). 

Statistics Course (one course, 3 points):

  • HUDM 4120             Basic concepts in statistics (if no undergraduate statistics) (3)
  • HUDM 4122             Probability and statistical inference (3)
  • HUDM 5122             Applied regression analysis (3)      

Elective Course: One course selected in consultation with an advisor.

Special Research Project: The special research project is a research paper written under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The project can be an empirical research study, an evaluation of an educational program, or a research review article.

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