Psychology (Developmental) (PhD)

Developmental Psychology

Our work aims at understanding and improving the lives of children, young adults, and of those entering the late life years.

We offer in-depth and cutting-edge scientific training on:

Affluent families

Bio-behavioral markers


Home environment


Theory of mind

Prosocial development

Growth and obesity

Monolingual Language acquisition

Romantic relationships

Fear, anxiety, stress, and courage

Child care


Multilingual language acquisition


Home Socialization


Sleep health

Prevention science

Early education

School Socialization


Disability, disease, and mortality

Rule-breaking behaviors

Our psychology doctoral program offers training on human development and the application of knowledge. By development, we mean the transformations and changes that occur during the life cycle and the processes that influence domains such as the: behavioral, cognitive, social, and emotional. By application, we mean how the knowledge gained from research can be applied to the improvement of developmental outcomes, such as through policy making or within educational, clinical, and social settings.

ASU’s doctoral program in Developmental Psychology program offers the following areas of specialization, all emphasizing developmental psychopathology and community collaborations in interventions and research.

Community-based Interventions. The Community-based Interventions area offers training on understanding theory and mechanisms of change in interventions, with attention to etiology, program design and implementation, as well as outcome evaluations. The emphasis is on delivering interventions in communities (rather than in research labs) using collaborations in “real-world” settings. Themes include academic success, prevention and early intervention of mental health problems, and the promotion of positive adjustment and resilient adaptation across developmental periods.

Community Embedded Basic Science.The Community Embedded Basic Science area offers training on language, social, emotional, and cognitive changes from infancy into childhood, with research being conducted in community-based organizations. Principal settings for the work include families’ homes and educational (preschools, k-12, Children’s Art Museum) institutions. This area offers unique opportunities to build relationships with partners across the university and with local communities and its organizations.

Developmental Psychopathology. The Developmental Psychopathology area of emphasis offers training on the origins, correlates, course, and sequelae of atypical development both negative and positive in nature (disorder and resilience) as well as normal developmental processes. Training in this area is sometimes used to formulate and evaluate treatment and preventive intervention programs. Of interest is the identification not only of risks and vulnerabilities, but the protective mechanisms that promote optimal outcomes and resilience.

COMING IN 2018…Certificate in Applied Prevention Science (CAPS).

Upon completion of the graduate certificate, students will meet the theoretical and foundational curricular requirements for licensure as a Prevention Specialist in the 34 jurisdictions.

The Certificate is a cooperative initiative partially housed at ASU’s REACH Institute. CAPS training will provide the foundational and theoretical knowledge necessary in the field of psychosocial health prevention and promotion. CAPS addresses the fact that while prevention is a cost-effective way to address top public health problems, there is a substantial lack of well-trained professionals. CAPS is 15-credit hours or 5 courses. The graduate certificate can be completed within a one-year period or less. CAPS is a stand-alone graduate certificate. For more information, please contact (Developmental Area head).

Note. Students may choose one or two of these specialty areas for which employment demand exists; however, choosing an emphasis or specialization is not a requirement. Developmental Psychology doctoral students will have opportunities to work in various community settings and across the life span.

Our rankings:
2ndJournal Editing and Editorial Board Memberships*
4th in excellence by Academic Analytics’ Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index
6th out of 97 in Graduate Student Placements in Faculty Positions*
7th out of 97 in Faculty Scholarly Productivity*
17th out of 97 in Research Impact*

*Byrnes & McNamara (2001)

Application requirements are found in the doctoral admissions pages. To apply for doctoral training in Developmental Psychology register with the graduate college HERE.

Current Students

Developmental Psychology faculty attracts the very best and brightest graduate students. Meet current students.


Omar Staben

Omar Staben (Student)

I chose ASU’s Developmental program because I was drawn to its sense of community.

Reagan Breitenstein

Reagan Breitenstein (Student)

I was especially drawn to the Developmental area's diverse and transdisciplinary research interests. ASU has relationships with many community organizations and resources can provide me the opportunity to engage in unique trainings and experiences.

Veronica Oro

Veronica Oro (Student)

I accepted the offer from the developmental psychology program at Arizona State University because of its commitment to training in rigorous research methods and the rich opportunities to learn from accomplished faculty

Ryan Stoll

Ryan Stoll (Student)

I am at ASU because I wanted an environment that emphasizes collaboration and supports students in developing innovative solutions to real-world challenges.

Michael Sladek

Michael Sladek (Student)

I was drawn to the developmental program at ASU because of its interdisciplinary biopsychosocial (and cultural) approach to human development.

Hye Jung Park

Hye Jung Park (Student)

I was drawn to ASU’s vision of the New American University and its goal of promoting inclusivity, accessibility, and equal opportunity is embedded throughout the university.

Gianna Rea-Sandin

Gianna Rea-Sandin (Student)

I chose ASU because of the strong fit with my research interests; although the supportive nature of the area ultimately drew me to the accept the offer.

Saul Castro

Saul Castro (Student)

I chose to attend ASU because it would give me opportunities to learn about how everyday experiences “get under the skin” to impact physical and mental health, as well as how psychosocial elements influence trajectories of change across key developmental transitions.

Prospective Students

We base our selection of new doctoral students on several factors:

  • Academic excellence;
  • Strong undergraduate preparation in psychology or related discipline;
  • Experience in conducting research;
  • Compatibility with research interests of our faculty members;
  • Evidence of strong verbal and quantitative skills; and
  • Characteristics and skills conducive to excellence in teaching, research collaboration, and the representation of the discipline to the public.

Read more about specific application requirements in the doctoral admissions webpages.


Graduate students in Developmental Psychology receive coursework training in the areas listed below. The total number of hours required by the Graduate College for the PhD is 84; 42 of coursework and 42 of research/reading & conference. Other courses offered by developmental faculty, affiliated faculty, visiting professors, or offered in other departments may be substituted by approval of the developmental faculty.

Developmental Theory Courses. Students are required to take at least one course:

  • CDE 531 Theoretical Issues in Child Development
  • PSY 591 Advanced Developmental Psychology
  • PSY 591 Lifespan Developmental
  • PSY 591 Theories of Development

Developmental Methods Courses. Students are required to take at least one course:

  • PSY 600 Developmental Research Methods
  • CDE 533 Research Issues in Child Development
  • PSY 555 Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs
  • PSY 600 Research Methods
  • PSY 536 Methods in Prevention Research
  • PSY 591 Methods in Developmental Psychobiology

Quantitative Courses. Students are required to take at least four of the following courses:

  • PSY 530 Analysis of Variance
  • PSY 531 Multiple Regression Analysis
  • PSY 532 Analysis of Multivariate Data
  • PSY 533 Structural Equation Modeling
  • PSY 591 Multilevel Modeling
  • PSY 591 Longitudinal Data Analyses
  • PSY 591 Statistical Mediation Analyses
  • PSY 591 Missing Data Analyses
  • PSY 591 Multivariate Analysis of Variance
  • PSY 539/540 Meta-Analysis
  • PSY 591 Advanced Regression and Graphics
  • PSY 591 Item Response Theory
  • PSY 537 Longitudinal Growth Modeling
  • PSY 538  Advanced Structural Equation Modeling

Plus others that may be offered outside the Department of Psychology, such as longitudinal modeling, categorical data analysis, qualitative data analysis, time series analysis, subject to approval by the developmental faculty.

Depth Courses: Topical Courses of a Developmental Nature. Students are required to take at least four courses with at least two from developmental faculty:

  • PSY 542 Social Development
  • PSY 591 Social-Cognitive Development—Theory of Mind
  • PSY 591 Language Development
  • PSY 591 Research in Cognitive Development
  • PSY 591 Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood
  • PSY 591 Emotional Development
  • PSY 591 Moral Development
  • PSY 591 Home Impact on Child Development
  • PSY 591 Childcare, Early Education, and Child Development
  • PSY 591/CDE 612 Children’s Peer Relationships
  • PSY 591 Successful Aging
  • PSY 591 Resilience Processes and Development
  • PSY 591 Methods in Developmental Psychobiology
  • PSY 591 Developmental Behavior Genetics
  • PSY 578 Developmental Psychopathology
  • CDE 534 Risk and Resilience
  • CDE 610 Gender and Development
  • CDE 634 Prevention and Child Development

Plus others that may be offered outside the Department of Psychology, such as speech and language development, subject to approval by the developmental faculty.

Breadth Courses: Psychological Foundations. Students are required to take at least two courses from other areas within the department that will provide the student with a broader perspective including the social, cognitive, and/or biological bases of human behavior. These courses are taught by Department of Psychology faculty; coursework from other departments or schools are subject to approval from the developmental faculty.

Professional Development. Students are required to take at least 6 credits:

  • PSY 591 Teaching of Psychology
  • PSY 501 Supervised Teaching
  • PSY 591 Professional Writing and Reviewing
  • PSY 591 Grant Writing/Professional Development
  • PSY 680 Topics in Professional Development (1-3 credit option)

Research: Reading & Conference, Master’s Thesis and Dissertation. Students are required to take 42 research credits and this requirement could be satisfied with some combination of masters, dissertation, RA, and supervised research via the courses listed below. When those 42 credits are completed, there are no more research requirements.

  • PSY 592 Supervised Research or PSY 590 Reading and Conference (at least 9 credits)
  • PSY 599 Master’s Thesis (at least 6 credits)
  • PSY 792 Post-Master’s Research or PSY 790 Reading and Conference (at least 15 credits)
  • PSY 799 Dissertation Research (at least 12 credits)

Transfer students: with the approval of the degree program and ASU's Graduate College, students may include a maximum of 12 graduate-level credit hours with grades of “B” or better that were not used towards a previous degree. Preadmission credits must have been taken within three years of admission to the ASU degree program to be accepted. The PhD program can also accept an admitted students Master’s degree and this would count as 30 credits towards the 84 required  for the program. 


CORE FACULTY:    Benitez    Bradley     Doane     Eisenberg     Fabricius     Ha     Infurna     Lemery     Luthar     Pina   McNamara*

Viridiana L. Benitez, PhD, Assistant Professor. Dr. Benitez’s research is in the area of cognitive development, with a focus on understanding how attention and memory processes affect word learning and language acquisition, how attention and learning interact, and how language experience changes attention and learning processes across development. To answer these questions, Dr. Benitez works with typically developing monolingual and multilingual infants, children, and adults. Projects/Labs: Learning and Development Lab.

Robert H. Bradley, PhD, Professor and Director of ASU’s Family and Human Dynamics Research Institute.  Dr. Bradley's research interests include measurement of the home environment, child care, early education, fathers, family and physical environmental factors that affect child well-being.  His research focuses on children’s competence, adaptive behavior and physical growth, with particular attention to growth problems and obesity. 

Leah Doane, PhD, Assistant Professor. Dr. Doane's research examines the psychophysiological underpinnings of adolescent and young adult every-day stress experiences from a developmental psychopathology theoretical framework.  She utilizes methods that incorporate self-report, health behavior (e.g., objective sleep quality), and  physiological (e.g., stress hormones including salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase) measures from naturalistic settings. Her overarching goal is to understand how day-to-day experiences, ranging from loneliness to coping behavior, “get under the skin” to influence physical and mental health outcomes. Projects/Labs: Adolescent and Emotion Lab

Nancy Eisenberg, PhD, Regents Professor. Dr. Eisenberg's research pertains to two main aspects of children’s functioning: (a) emotionality and self-regulation and their relations to adjustment and maladjustment (including social competence and school adjustment) and (b) prosocial development (e.g., empathy-related responding, prosocial behavior, prosocial moral reasoning). In addition, she is interested in socialization in the family and school of these two domains of functioning and in biological their biological correlates (genetics, physiological responding).

William V. Fabricius, PhD, Associate Professor. Dr. Fabricius' research is in 2 areas: (a) studies of children’s long-term stress-related mental and physical health outcomes in adolescence and young adulthood stemming from parent-child relationships in intact and divorced families, with special emphasis on father-child relationships. The findings have implications for family law policy, and have been translated into reforms to the Arizona Revised Statutes; (b) studies of the development of theory of mind in young children, focused on how children develop the concept of mental representation. His theory of perceptual access reasoning suggests that 4- and 5-year-olds understand much less about mental representation than prior research has led us to believe. Projects/Labs: Theory of Mind / Father and Divorce Labs.

Thao Ha, PhD, Assistant Professor. Dr. Ha’s multidisciplinary research focuses on the development of adolescent romantic relationships. Dr. Ha investigates how partner choices, relationship dynamics, and break-ups affect adolescents’ emotional and behavioral adjustment over time. The goal of this research is to better understand why some adolescents are highly vulnerable to their relationship experiences. A variety of methods are combined in this research, such as observations of adolescent couples’ interactions, ecological momentary assessments, high-density array EEG neurocognitive assessments, and physical and hormonal stress methodologies. Projects/Labs: Healthy Experiences Across Relationships and Transitions Lab.

Frank Infurna, PhD. Assistant Professor. Dr. Infurna studies psychosocial and health development in adulthood and old age from a lifespan perspective, with two intertwined objectives: a) psychosocial determinants (e.g., perceived control) of vulnerability for disability, disease, and mortality, and b) how pathology-related processes influence developmental trajectories of change. Projects/Labs: Healthy Aging and Life Events Lab.

Kathryn Lemery, PhD, Professor. Dr. Lemery examines gene-environment interplay and risk and resilience processes, using both molecular and quantitative genetic approaches.  Lemery-Chalfant brings genetic expertise to three NIH-funded longitudinal studies of behavioral health and has served as co-director of the Wisconsin Twin Project (WTP) since its inception in 1994. The WTP focuses on genetic and family risk for children’s depression, anxiety and antisocial psychopathology and incorporates objective behavioral phenotyping as well as molecular genetic, neuroendocrine and neuroimaging assessments. Projects/Labs: Child Emotion Center.

Suniya Luthar, Foundation Professor. Dr. Luthar's research involves vulnerability and resilience among various populations including families in poverty and those affected by mental illness.  Her recent work has focused on youth in upper-middle class communities, addressing significant problems detected in several areas especially alcohol and drug use, rule-breaking behaviors, and high levels of performance stress and anxiety. Projects/Labs: Luthar Lab.

Armando Piña,Associate Professor. Dr. Pina’s research focuses on the study of risk and resilience in the developmental course of internalizing problems in youth. His efforts have focused on designing streamlined psychosocial interventions for use in the contexts of cultural diversity, in school-settings, and in the context of prevention, dissemination and implementation science. Projects/Labs: The Courage Lab.

*Affiliated Faculty

Danielle S. McNamara, PhD, Professor (affiliated faculty). Dr. McNamara’s research focuses on students’ literacy skills, including research with elementary and secondary school children as well as among adult students. She examines students’ ability to understand challenging text, learn new information, and convey their thoughts and ideas in writing. Her work integrates various approaches and methodologies including the development of game-based, intelligent tutoring systems (e.g., iSTART, Writing Pal), the development of natural language processing tools (e.g., iSTART, Writing Pal, Coh-Metrix, the Writing Assessment Tool), basic research to better understand cognitive and motivational processes involved in comprehension and writing, and the use of learning analytics across multiple contexts. Projects/Lab: Science of Learning and Educational Technology

Developmental Research Laboratories

Child Emotion Center (Lemery-Chalfant)
Luthar Lab (Luthar)

Application requirements are found in the doctoral admissions pages. To apply for doctoral training in Developmental Psychology register with the graduate college HERE.

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Apply for doctoral training with us. Register with the graduate college HERE. Application requirements are found in the doctoral admissions pages.

Degree Offered

Psychology (PhD)
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

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