The Catholic University of America

Ph.D. in Human Development


The Department of Psychology formally established a Ph.D. program in Human Development in 1965. Areas of study include the full spectrum of the human life span. This program has produced nearly 75 Ph.D. graduates, most of whom are now active researchers in university or government laboratory settings. Graduates can be found at colleges such as Lafayette or Smith and at universities such as Rutgers or Kansas State. Many are at government laboratories such as the National Institute of Mental Health, and others do policy studies for private sector firms.


The Human Development PhD program provides students with a broad base of knowledge in the science of psychology, and human development in particular. Students learn to conduct cutting edge developmental research, understand and analyze developmental change within complex systems, work with diverse populations, and appreciate both basic and applied research. The program prepares students for careers as researchers, teachers, advocates, and more.

Specific requirements include successful completion of the following: (1) Human Development core classes, plus those recommended outside the program; (2) Suggested sequence of courses in statistics-methods in order to develop competence to design, collection, and analyze complex developmental data; (3) Research apprenticeship; (4) Empirical MA thesis; (5) PhD Comprehensive examination; (6) Dissertation; (7) Completion of all other University and Departmental requirements.

Resources and Experiences

Students may earn a concentration in Children, Families, and Cultures (CFC), which prepares them to contribute to the welfare of children and families within our multicultural society. Our mission is to assist students in becoming well informed about the developmental and sociocultural issues impacting children and families today, design and conduct theoretically grounded research, and translate knowledge into useful applications and policy. The CFC faculty is committed to progressing towards these goals by providing quality training, coursework, research and mentorship.

Students in the program will be expected to be actively involved in developing their research interests and working with their mentors on research projects. There are many opportunities to become involved in research and these efforts are supported at the departmental, school, and university levels, such as travel to present research findings at conferences.