Developmental Psychology PhD

Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology

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.


Developmental Psychology Ph.D. Requirements 23-24

A graduate student smiles while she makes a point in a discussion with her peers at TC.

Admissions Information

Displaying requirements for the Spring 2024, Summer 2024, and Fall 2024 terms.

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Points/Credits: 75
  • Entry Terms: Summer/Fall

Application Deadlines

  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer/Fall (Priority): December 1
  • Summer/Fall (Final): December 1

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

Requirements from the TC Catalog (AY 2023-2024)

Displaying catalog information for the Fall 2023, Spring 2024 and Summer 2024 terms.

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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 5023 Cognitive Development
  • HUD 4120  Methods of Empirical Research
    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 HUD Staff at  for more information. 

  • HUDM 4122   Probability and statistical inference 
  • HUDM 5122   Applied regression analysis
    EDPA5002 - Data Analysis for Policy Decision Making
  • HUDM 5123   Linear models and experimental Design
    EDPE6023 - Advanced Causal Methods 
  • HUDM 6122   Multivariate analysis 

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

  • HUDM 6030   Multilevel and longitudinal data analysis
  • HUDM 6055   Latent structure analysis 
  • ​​HUDM 5133 Casual Inference Program Evaluation

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 degree program core. Students should consult with their advisors about whether specific courses meet program requirements.  Examples of suitable courses are included below.Students 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

  • BBSN 5007 Neuroscience Applications to Education

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 5024 Language development

  • HUDK 5025 Spatial thinking

  • HUDK 5030 Visual explanations

  • HUDK 5090 Psychology of language and reading

Social Cultural Factors & Individual Differences:

  • BBSN 5152  Neuroscience, Ethics and the Law

  • BBSN 5193  Neuroscience of Adversity

  • 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  Small group intervention: Theory and method

  • ORLJ  5106  Psychological aspects of organizations

  • 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 3 credits per semester, totaling 6 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 may 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 dissertation 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 dissertation defense and composition of the dissertation committee 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 the 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 accredited 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.

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