Developmental Psychology MA

Master of Arts in Developmental Psychology

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.

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.


A student is engaged in conversation with one her peers at a study group at Teachers College.

Admissions Information

Master of Arts

  • Points/Credits: 32
  • Entry Terms: Spring/Summer/Fall

Application Deadlines

  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer/Fall (Priority): January 15
  • Summer/Fall (Final): Rolling

* For details about rolling deadlines, visit our admission deadlines page.

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

  • None

Course 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



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