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Academic Catalog 2018-2019

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Developmental Psychology Programs

Department of - Human Development

Contact Information

(212) 678-4190
(212) 678-3837
Professor Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

Program Description

Developmental Psychology focuses on the development of individuals across their lifespan within the context of family, peer groups, childcare and after-school programs, schools, neighborhoods, and larger communities and society. It considers the well-being of children, youth, and adults, vis-a-vis the cognitive, emotional, social, academic, and health domains. Our Program is concerned about disparities among groups (for example, gender, resources such as parental income and education, ethnicity, and immigrant status) as well as the ways in which equity among groups may be promoted. The pathways through which such disparities emerge is our focus of inquiry, as well as the promotion of educational and social strategies for ameliorating them. The Program stresses theory and research in the service of policy and practice.

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 pursue 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. 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; Policy for Children and Families; or Children's Media: Analysis and Evaluation. 

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 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: This area of focus is intended for students who seek to bring knowledge of developmental psychology to future work relating to public and/or education policy. Through coursework, students critically examine federal legislative policies for children and families within the United States with a particular focus on how evaluation studies examining the effectiveness of such policies. Students pursuing this concentration are required to complete a special project that demonstrates their competence in developmental psychology and policy. Examples of acceptable projects include: policy brief or memo, policy analysis, and research proposal for a policy-oriented research study. 
  • Children's Media: Analysis and Evaluation: This area of focus is intended 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. Students pursuing this concentration are requried to complete a special project in which they prepare a proposal, pilot study, or psychological evaluation of a specific media artifact, website, or technical application. 

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The 75-point doctoral degree prepares students for faculty positions in colleges, graduate schools of education, and universities, and for positions as research associates in research laboratories, biomedical schools, foundations, public policy, and arts and sciences, as well as policy research firms, governmental agencies, and NPOs. Throughout their program, doctoral candidates work in a close apprentice relationship with a faculty advisor of their choice. The Ph.D. degree requires completion of 75 points with an empirical research dissertation.

The aim of instruction at the doctoral level is to produce a psychologist who can make a sound and innovative research contribution to the study of human development, who is concerned with the relationship between development and education, and who is equipped to teach about such matters. Students acquire the conceptual background and methodological skills necessary for faculty positions in colleges and universities or for positions as associates and consultants in research laboratories, biomedical schools, and other applied settings.

While consultation between student and faculty advisor is considered to be the best way to decide which steps should be taken towards these goals, there are specific requirements for all students in Developmental Psychology that serve to define the character of the program and to ensure that all students have a common experience and acquire a common level of expertise in dealing with the core issues in the field.

The courses offered through the program provide content in the research and theoretical literature relating to all phases of the psychology of human development. All age groups are covered, from infancy through childhood, adolescence to adulthood, and later life. Coursework in developmental psychology can be supplemented by courses in the other psychology programs at Teachers College as well as by courses in the social sciences, linguistics, and other fields offered at Teachers College and the graduate faculty of Columbia University (including the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons). The doctoral program is focused primarily on training in the conduct of empirical (e.g., experimental, observational, and interview) research. Other types of research (theoretical, descriptive, and historical) may be undertaken in special circumstances of student and advisor competence.

Degree Summary

Psychology-Developmental (DEVM)

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)

Developmental Psychology (DEVD)

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

For a complete listing of degree requirements, please click the "Degrees" tab above

For a complete listing of degree requirements, please continue on to this program's "Degrees" section in this document

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts - 32 points

A. Five CORE courses taken for 3 points each. 

1. The following three courses:

  • HUD   4120 Methods of Empirical Research
  • HUDK 5023 Cognitive Development
  • HUDK 5040 Development and Psychopathology: Atypical Contexts and Populations 

2. One of the following two courses on Social-Emotional Development:           

  • HUDK 5029 Personality Development and Socialization across the Lifespan
  • HUDK 5121 Children's Social and Emotional Development in Context 

3. A fifth course selected from among the following options: 

  • BBS 5068 - 5069 Brain and Behavior I and II (taken for a total of 3 points)
  • BBSN 5193 - Neuroscience of Adversity
  • HUDK 4027 Development of Mathematical Thinking 
  • HUDK 4029 Human Cognition and Learning 
  • HUDK 4080 Educational Psychology 
  • HUDK 5024 Language Development 
  • HUDK 5025 Spatial Thinking 
  • HUDK 5030 Visual Explanations 

B. One of the following three STATISTICS courses taken for 3 points:

  • HUDM 4120 Basic Concepts in Statistics (if no undergraduate statistics)
  • HUDM 4122 Probability/Statistical Inference
  • HUDM 5122 Applied Regression Analysis 

C. Two SPECIALIZED Courses in the Developmental Psychology Program taken for 3 points each.  

  1. HUDK 5324 Research Work Practicum  
  2. One additional course in the Developmental Psychology Program 

D. Additional COURSES OUTSIDE the Developmental Psychology Program taken for 1-3 points each. (To meet the College breadth requirement, students must take a total of six points outside the program, by any combination of courses). 

E. One ELECTIVE COURSE selected in consultation with an advisor.

F. In consultation with an advisor and with permission of the supervising faculty member, a relevant independent study may be taken, but is not required. 

G. Special Project (not taken for points): 
The special project is intended to be a "culminating experience" that allows students to integrate in one paper various aspects of what has been learned at Teachers College. It is an undertaking that carries no credit and does not require payment of tuition. The project does not have to be an empirical study; it can be a literature review, theoretical paper, or an evaluation of an educational program. If the special project involves an empirical study, it does not have to be a complete investigation; it can be a report of a pilot study. Students should aim to generate an organized, scholarly document, reporting thoughtful, careful, and rigorous work. The special project may not be conducted as part of a course, and its content may not be directly connected with any coursework done at Teachers College. Any TC faculty member may be a sponsor for a special project in our department. However, the MA advisor must be informed and grant approval if students wish to work with a faculty member outside the department. 

Optional Areas of Focus: 
Within the constraints described above -- required courses, electives, breadth requirements, research requirement, and special project --students may design their own program of study in coordination with their faculty advisors. 

Another option is to enter one of the five areas of focus -  Risk, Resilience, and Prevention; Developmental Psychology for Educators; Policy for Children and Families; Creativity and Cognition; or Children's Media. 

Details concerning requirements for each area of focus are presented at the Student Orientation at the beginning of the fall semester and are also available in the department office.

Transfer Credit  
For the M.A. degree, no transfer credit is granted for work completed at other universities. 

Satisfactory Progress  
Students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward the completion of degree requirements. If satisfactory progress is not maintained, a student may be dismissed from the program. Where there are concerns about satisfactory progress, students will be informed by the program faculty. If a student is performing below expectations, remedial work within an appropriate timeline may be required. 

Shelinna Balbuena

Academic Secretary 
Cognitive Studies in Education
Developmental Psychology
P: 212-678-4190



Doctor of Philosophy

Courses and Requirements 

Core Courses: 
Students are generally advised to take the following four courses in developmental psychology in their first year of doctoral studies.

  • HUDK 5040 Developmental and psychopathology: Atypical contexts 
  • HUDK 6520 Seminar on lifespan development 
  • HUDK 6523 Seminar in cognitive development
  • ORLJ  5040  Research methods in social psychology I 

Statistics Sequence: 
The following four statistics courses are required, and students are advised to begin enrollment during the first semester of study. HUDM 4122 may be waived for students who have taken appropriate coursework in statistics at the undergraduate/graduate level or who have passed an equivalency examination. Please contact Chanel Harry ( for more information. 

  • HUDM 4122   Probability andstatistical inference 
  • HUDM 5122   Applied regression analysis
  • HUDM 5123   Linear models and experimental Design
  • HUDM 6122   Multivariate analysis 

Once this sequence is finished, students may find it helpful to take one or both of the following courses, which provide instruction on more advanced topics:  

  • HUDM 6030   Multilevel and longitudinal data analysis
  • HUDM 6055   Latent structure analysis 

Breadth Requirement: 
All doctoral students must take at least one course for a minimum of 3 points in each of the following four areas listed below. The courses must be other than courses required as part of the program core. Students should consult with their advisors about whether specific courses meet program requirements.  Examples of suitable courses are included below, you may also consult the TC course catalog for other examples. Note that courses used to fill the Breadth/Foundation course requirements may not be used to fulfill requirements in another area. 

Biological Basis of Behavior:

  • BBS   5068 Brain & behavior I and BBS 5069 Brain and behavior II (total 3 points)
  • MSTC 5000 Neurocognitive Models of Information Processing

Cognitive Basis of Behavior:

  • CCPX 5020 Cognition, emotion, and culture
  • HBSK 5096 Psychology of memory
  • HUDK 4015 Psychology of thinking
  • HUDK 4029 Human cognition and learning
  • HUDK 5023 Cognitive development
  • HUDK 5024 Language development
  • HUDK 5025 Spatial thinking
  • HUDK 5030 Visual explanations
  • HUDK 5090 Psychology of language and reading

Social Cultural Factors & Individual Differences:    

  • HBSK 5031 Family as context for child development
  • HUDK 5029 Personality development and socialization across the lifespan
  • HUDK 5121 Children's social and emotional development in context
  • HUDK 5125 Cross cultural psychology
  • HUDK 6036 Child and family policy I
  • ORLJ  5017  Smalll group intervention: Theory and method
  • ORLJ  5106  Psychological aspects of arganizations
  • ORLJ  5540  Proseminar in social and organizational psychology  


  • HUDM 5059   Psychological measurement 
  • HUDM 6051   Psychometric theory
  • HUDM 6055   Latent structure analysis   

Proseminar Requirement: 
Doctoral Students are required to enroll in proseminar during the fall and spring of their first year. The course is taken for 1-3 credits per semester, totaling 3 credits for the year. This course covers various topics integral to the doctoral experience and is a great way for students to present their work amongst peers and gain feedback. 

HUD 6500 Doctoral Proseminar (2 semesters)

Out-of-Department Requirement:  
Doctoral students must take at least three courses outside the department. 

Course Assistantship Requirement:   
Doctoral students must be a course assistant for two master's-level courses, which can include HUDK 5324, the Master's Practica. For more information, please visit the Department of Human Development located in Grace Dodge Hall, room 453.

Certification Papers:  
The two advanced requirements that are met prior to presenting a dissertation proposal are an original theoretical paper and an original empirical research paper in the student's area of specialization. For more information, please visit the Department of Human Development located in Grace Dodge Hall, room 453. 

Certification Examination: 
As part of their certification requirements, all students must take a three-hour examination in research methods. 

Post-Certification Requirement:
Ph.D. candidates must take a minimum of 15 additional points after meeting certification requirements, including the points enrolled during the semester in which certification occurs.   

Dissertation Seminar: 
For a dissertation proposal to be approved, the student must enroll in Dissertation Seminar (HUDK 7501). Dissertation Seminar is typically taken for one semester-- the semester in which the student wishes to finish the dissertation proposal and have it approved. It can be taken for a maximum of two semesters. If the proposal is not approved in the first semester, the student must register for a second semester. After the approval of the proposal or the completion of the second semester, whichever comes first, the student proceeds automatically into registration for Dissertation Advisement. 

Dissertation Proposal Hearing:
When the student and the advisor have agreed on a proposal for disseration research, a proposal hearing will be scheduled. 

Advanced Seminar: 
After completing the collection of data, the student will request that an Advanced Seminar be scheduled. The purpose of the Advanced Seminar is for the committee to review data and their analysis before the final Dissertation Defense. 

Dissertation Defense:
Requirements for the scheduling of the disseration defense and composition of the dissertation commitee can be found in the requirements bulletin for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (obtainable from the Office of Doctoral Studies). 

M.Phil. Degree:

The M. Phil is an en passant degree awarded to those nearing the completion of the Ph.D. degree. The student contacts the Office of Doctoral Studies to file for award of the degree. 

To receive the M. Phil., the student must satisfactorily complete the following requirements: 

  1. File an approved "Program Plan of Study" with the Office of Doctoral Studies 
  2. Complete at least six courses with evaluative grades under Teachers College registration
  3. Pass the Certification Examination 
  4. Complete an approved empirical research paper 
  5. Complete an approved theoretical research paper 
  6. Complete all 75 points of coursework required for the degree. 

Please note: Students must submit a copy of their Program Plan of Study and both research papers to the Department of Human Development for record keeping purposes. 

Transfer Credit:    
Relevant graduate courses with earned grades of B or higher taken in other recognized graduate schools to a maximum of 30 points, or 45 points if completed in another Faculty of Columbia University, may be accepted toward the minimum point requirement for the Ph.D. degree. For more information, please contact the Transfer Credit Coordinator in the Registrar's Office. 

Satisfactory Progress: 
Students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward the completion of degree requirements. If satisfactory progress is not maintained, a student may be dismissed from the program. Where there are concerns about satisfactory progress, students will be informed by the program faculty. 

Application Information

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Applicants who have undergraduate degrees in fields other than psychology will be considered for admission to the M.A. program, as well as those whose previous training is in psychology.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
This program accepts applications for fall semester only. GRE is required; Subject Test in Psychology is optional. Admission to the program is highly competitive. Primary emphasis in evaluating applicants is given to prior achievements and recommendations, particularly as evidence of a self-motivated research involvement.

Previous work in psychology is highly desirable, but there are no fixed course requirements. Expertise in a related field, such as linguistics, philosophy, anthropology, or biology, may qualify a student as well. At least one year of full-time study in residence, i.e., two semesters of 12 or more points per semester, is required.

Faculty List



Visiting Faculty


Full-Time Instructors


Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child and Parent Development and Education
Visiting Assistant Professor
Jacob H. Schiff Foundations Professor Emeritus of Psychology & Education
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Professor of Psychology and Education
Adjunct Associate Professor
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Adjunct Professor
Ruth L. Gottesman Prof. in Educ. Research

For up to date information about course offerings including faculty information, please visit the online course schedule.

Course List

HUD 4120 Methods of empirical research
An introduction to the methods of scientific inquiry, research planning, and techniques of making observations and analyzing and presenting data.
HUDK 4021 Developmental psychology: Infancy
Review of research and theory in early perceptual, cognitive, and social/emotional development, with particular attention to the interaction of biological and environmental factors in early life.
HUDK 4022 Developmental psychology: Childhood
Children's cognition, perception, representation, language, affect, personality, and sexuality. Family structure and school as they influence these aspects of childhood.
HUDK 4023 Developmental psychology: Adolescence
Theoretical and empirical studies of personality and social development processes in adolescence. An ecological systems approach is emphasized.
HUDK 4027 Development of mathematical thinking

The development of informal and formal mathematical thinking from infancy through childhood with implications for education.


HUDK 4901 Research and independent study
Permission required.
HUDK 5020 The development of creativity
Major theories and contemporary research in creative work, emphasizing case studies of exceptional and historically influential individuals.
HUDK 5023 Cognitive development
Theory and research on the development of cognitive processes across the lifespan.
HUDK 5024 Language development
Survey of research and theory in the development of language, beginning with communication and the origins of language in infancy and emphasizing acquisition of the forms of language in relation to their content and use.
HUDK 5027 Moral development

Investigation of the major theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of how morality develops with particular emphasis on the behaviorist, cognitive, psychoanalytic, and sociopolitical approaches.

HUDK 5028 Spiritual development across the lifespan
This course concentrates on the role of spirituality on human development using a multidisciplinary focus. Spiritual traditions are examined using stage theory and parallel theories from other fields.
HUDK 5029 Personality development and socialization across the lifespan
Theory and research regarding the interaction between naturally developing personality structures and socialization processes throughout life.
HUDK 5040 Development and psychopathology: Atypical contexts and populations

Using contemporary research as the basis, the focus is on the interface between classical developmental psychology theories and patterns of development identified in atypical contexts (e.g., poverty) and among atypical populations (e.g., resilient youth). Implications for interventions and policy are also discussed.

HUDK 5121 Children's Social and Emotional Development in Context

Contemporary theory and research on children adaptation to developmental tasks of childhood. Comparison of typical and atypical pathways in social-personality development. Analysis of the logic and method of empirical studies of development.

HUDK 5125 Cross-cultural psychology

Survey of psychological studies of development in different cultures, with emphasis on perceptual and cognitive issues and methodological problems specific to cross-cultural research.

HUDK 5324 Research work practicum
Students learn research skills by participating actively in an ongoing faculty research project.
HUDK 6036 Child and Family Policy I

Provides a multi-disciplinary perspective on child and family policy. Also provides a foundation of knowledge concerning the role of child and family perspectives in informing policy.

HUDK 6037 Child and Family Policy II
Prerequisites: Any two of the following: HUDF 4000; HUDF 4024; HUDK 4021; HUDK 4022; C&T 4113; C&T 5113. Provides a multi-disciplinary perspective on child and family policy. Also provides a foundation of knowledge concerning the role of child and family perspectives in informing policy.
HUDK 6520 Seminar in social and emotional development through childhood and adolescence
Permission required. How people become socialized and how psychology deals with the process in terms of developmental concepts.
HUDK 6523 Seminar in cognitive development
Permission required. Advanced topics in research and theory in cognitive development.
HUDK 6529 Seminar in risk, resilience and developmental psychology
Permission required. Students participate in ongoing research.
HUDK 6901 Advanced research and independent study
Permission required.
HUDK 7501 Dissertation seminar
Permission required. Development of doctoral dissertations and presentation of plans for approval. Registration limited to two terms.
HUDK 8900 Dissertation advisement - Developmental Psychology

Individual advisement on doctoral dissertation. Fee to equal 3 points at current tuition rate for each term. See the section on Continuous Registration for Ed.D./Ph.D. degrees for details.