Psychology, PhD (Developmental)

The PhD in Psychology with an emphasis in Developmental psychology aims to understand and improve the lives of individuals and families across the lifespan.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: Psychology, PhD

The PhD in Psychology with an emphasis in Developmental psychology aims to understand and improve the lives of individuals and families across the lifespan. Faculty in the Developmental Psychology Program study infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and midlife into old age. Through the innovative combination of basic science, community-based interventions, and use of contemporary methods of analysis, the Developmental Psychology training area offers unique opportunities for students to build both skills and relationships across the university and local communities. Your research at ASU will have practical applications and you will be able to see the difference that you make in the lives of real people. For a full list of labs, visit the Developmental Labs section of the website here.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in psychology with an emphasis on developmental psychology offers training in the theories and methods of developmental psychology and how they are applied in real-world settings. By development, we mean the transformations and changes that occur across the lifespan and the processes that influence not only behaviors, emotions, and cognition, but also the underlying genetic and biological mechanisms.

Developmental psychologists work in a variety of settings, including academia, government agencies, health care facilities, and schools. Those working at universities tend to focus primarily on research and teaching. Others work in applied settings, such as nonprofits and health care facilities. Developmental psychologists may work with individuals at any age. The majority of the graduates of our Developmental Psychology program have gone on to research and teaching careers in academia or government and industry.

IMPORTANT: To be considered for PhD program, you must complete the application through ASU's online portal AND submit your material through Slideroom.

Explore the Developmental Faculty Here

Current Developmental Students

Developmental FAQs

Developmental Research Laboratories

Adolescent Stress and Emotion Lab (Doane)

Child Emotion Center (Lemery-Chalfant)

Courage Lab (Pina)

Lifespan Developmental Lab (Infurna)

Emerging Minds Lab (Lucca)

Science of Learning and Educational Technology (SoLET) Lab (McNamara)

Genes, Environment, Youth and Development (Su)

Theory of Mind / Father and Divorce Labs (Fabricius)

Heart Healthy Experiences Across Relationships and Transitions Lab (Ha)

Learning and Development Lab (Benitez)

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

Faculty Fingerprint

Fingerprint comes from data mining our scientific contributions. Learn more about us. Check out our global fingerprint and enjoy the visualizations:

Viridiana Benitez

Robert Bradley

Leah Doane

Nancy Eisenberg

William Fabricius

Thao Ha

Frank Infurna

Kathryn Lemery

Kelsey Lucca

Armando Pina

Danielle McNamara

Jinni Su

Student Handbook


Graduate students in the Developmental Psychology training area 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.

Requirements and electives


Core courses








Total hours required


Courses and electives

Expand the options below to see what courses are available in each required area. Graduate students are expected to complete 84 credit hours. 

+ Core Courses (24 credit hours)

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.

+ Electives (6 credit hours)

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.

Professional Development. 

  • 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)

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.

+ Research (42 credit hours)

Research: Reading & Conference, Master’s Thesis. 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)

+ Dissertation (12 credit hours)

  • 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. 

At a Glance

Degree Requirements

The 84 credit-hour program of study includes a master’s thesis, comprehensive exam, and a dissertation. Coursework covers theory, methods, advanced statistics, professional development (e.g., grant writing and teaching), general psychology breadth courses, and developmental psychology depth courses. Prospective doctoral candidates should have a passion and interest in developmental psychology, have demonstrated research skills through experience in a research lab or senior thesis, and have a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA. 

The FAQ tab on the left contains more information on the graduate program and application process. The faculty take a holistic approach to evaluating applications of prospective students, including the review of their written statement, research experience, GPA, and letters of recommendation. We also understand that applying to graduate school can be an expensive process. Please contact us if you have financial need and/or assistance with application fees.

Applicants who are interested in learning more about the faculty’s current research projects and whether they are accepting students are encouraged to reach out to them or a member of their lab directly. Click to read about faculty who are accepting graduate students for the 2024-2025 academic year and contact information for current graduate students in their lab.

Admission Requirements

The Department of Psychology application process is completed online through ASU Graduate Admissions. Prospective students must submit the admission application form along with the fee and official transcripts.

For the department’s doctoral programs, students must submit supplemental application materials through SlideRoom, which requires an additional fee. For complete instructions for applying to the PhD program, visit our Doctoral Admission requirements page.

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