More DEV Program Information

The Developmental Psychology program draws upon a rapidly expanding area of interdisciplinary developmental research linking psychophysiological, social, emotional, and cognitive development. Because human development encompasses a wide range of psychological processes, and because developing individuals function in a wide range of settings that influence them and which they influence, the full study of development requires an integration of multiple approaches, analyses at multiple levels, and exposure to a wide range of research methodologies and tools of data analysis.

Our research spans social, individual and neural levels of analysis to investigate the emergence of basic human emotional and cognitive capacities, including engagement in close interpersonal relationships, regulation of affective and cognitive processes, memory, social reasoning, conceptual development and language acquisition. Our laboratories engage state of the art observational tools, behavioral experimental techniques, and neurophysiological approaches (EEG, ERP) to investigate both typical and atypical developmental pathways. Doctoral and post doctoral students receive broad training across these levels of analysis, content issues and empirical techniques.

Faculty and students in the program draw on and contribute to the vibrant University-wide communities in developmental science, cognitive science and neuroscience, including the Field Committee in Developmental Science, the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences, the Child and Infant Studies Consortium, and the Cognitive Science Colloquium Series.

Developmental Program Requirements 

Requirements for graduate study in Developmental Psychology at the University of Maryland are structured as follows:

A. Departmental Requirements (20 cr.)

1. Core courses (9 cr.): All Psychology doctoral students are required to take 3 core courses outside their area of specialization.  The Developmental faculty recommend that the student’s courses span at least two of the following levels of analysis

  • Physiological level
    • PSYC 606 Neurobiology of Behavior
  • Individual level
    • PSYC 607 Cognitive Science
    • PSYC 612 Theories of Personality
    • PSYC 623 Child Psychopathology OR
    • PSYC 624 Adult Psychopathology
  • Social level
    • PSYC 604 Social Psychology
    • PSYC 603 Organizational Psychology

The department permits two non-core courses in the same training area to be taken in lieu of a core course. 

2. Statistics courses (11 cr.): All Psychology doctoral students are required to take PSYC 601, PSYC 602 (or equivalent), plus a third statistics or methodology course to be selected in consultation with the advisor. The area strongly advises you to take further statistics/methods courses to the extent that they would be helpful to your area of study.

B. Area Requirements (27 cr.)

1. Basic courses (12 cr.)

  • PSYC 611 Advanced Developmental Psychology (Area faculty)
  • Research Methods in Developmental Psychology
  • 1 seminar in social development 
  • 1 seminar in cognitive development 

 Given that the lines between social and cognitive development are not rigid (e.g., social cognition, the impact of poverty on child       development, moral development, social development with a focus on cognition as a mechanism for outcomes), considerable flexibility in course selection, in consultation with the advisor, is permitted. The goal is for breath within developmental psychology.


  • 2. Specialization course (3 cr.): Students are to take an additional advanced course (3 cr) that provides breadth in developmental science and/or builds expertise relevant to the student’s program of research. This must be a content course (not a brown bag), and can include additional statistics/methodology courses.  Below are listed several possible courses. There are many additional possibilities.  Check also the listing of the Field Committee in Developmental Science
  • EDHD 720 Social Development (M. Killen)
  • EDHD 850 Social Cognition and Moral Development (M. Killen)
  • EDHD 835 Achievement Motivation (A. Wigfield)
  • KNES 603 Advanced Motor Development (J. Clark)
  • LING 859 Seminar in Language Acquisition (J. Lidz)
  • NACS 642 Cognitive Neuroscience (E. Lau)
  • NACS 645 Introduction to Cognitive Science (Y.T. Huang & R. Slevc)
  • NACS 728F or T Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (L. Pessoa)

3. Electives (12 cr.): Students should take 12 elective credits to fulfill the 65 credits needed for graduation.  These can include additional coursework, Developmental Area seminar (PSYC888A), brown bags, and research credits.

4. Developmental Area Seminar: The Developmental Seminar brings together the students and faculty in the area throughout the academic year. Activities include discussions of important theoretical and empirical papers, research presentations by area faculty, students and post docs, discussions concerning professional development, and occasional presentations by visiting scholars. All students and faculty are expected to participate and (when possible) register for the seminar each semester in which they are in residence at the University. Students may register for one or two credits.  Students in their first year may not have enough available credits to register, and occasionally advanced students may have already reached an enrollment of 10 credit hours; in these cases, please speak with the instructor.

C. Research Requirements (18 cr.)

D. Comprehensive ExaminationDevelopmental: Comprehensive Examination

E. Interface with the Developmental Science Field Committee.

The Developmental Science Field Committee is designed to provide a common set of training resources for the broad set of developmental science training programs across campus. It is not a formal program itself.  Students in the Developmental Psychology program are encouraged to apply for affiliate status in the Field Committee (see for details). As affiliates, students will have access to graduate courses across departments and will be able to participate in the Committee’s activities (e.g., meeting with visiting speakers). 

F. Interface with Ph.D. program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science.

Because the NACS program is a Ph.D. degree granting program it establishes its own requirements for students seeking to obtain the Ph.D.  That program stipulates that each student has an academic “home” department -- i.e., the department in which the student’s primary mentor is housed -- and that the student’s mentor and advisory committee work together with the student to develop a suitable academic/research plan to meet the student’s long-term objectives.  Students in the Developmental program who wish to transfer into the NACS program can do so only with the support of his/her mentor, the Developmental Area faculty, and the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.  Alternatively, Developmental Psychology students have the option of completing a certificate in NACS.  Interested students should refer to the NACS website for details (

G. Timeline for completion of requirements

The Psychology Department specifies department-wide expectations for the timely completion of graduate requirements, grades, research competency and the completion of the dissertation. The Developmental Area faculty expect that students in this program will meet or exceed those standards. We suggest the following timelines as guideposts to students in Developmental Psychology. Students are expected to work closely with their advisors in planning a schedule for completion of the requirements.

1. Coursework

  • Years 1 and 2:  Students should complete between 8-10 courses in total (distributed over the two years).  These should include the departmental statistics requirement and the Developmental Area basic courses, if they are offered.
  • Years 3 and 4:  Students should complete the remaining required course and 12 elective credits.

2. Research Requirements

  • Research Competency/Masters Degree – To be completed during the second or third year.
  • Comprehensive Examination – To be completed during the third or fourth year.
  • Dissertation – To be completed in the fourth and fifth years.