If you’re interested in studying how people grow over the course of their lives, you may enjoy pursuing a masters in developmental psychology.
By choosing a specialization, you can focus on the one area of developmental psychology you’re most interested in. Students may delve into child psychology, human development, international perspectives, and more.
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Professionals in this field can help people improve their lives and overcome mental and behavioral challenges, whether in a one-on-one or group setting.
Masters in Developmental Psychology Programs Online
An online masters in developmental psychology program will teach you how to aid the mental and behavioral development of children, adolescents, and adults. These programs typically show you how to identify, work with, and treat disordered behavior.
While enrolled in a master’s degree in developmental psychology program, you may study topics like the following:
- Child development
- Peer influence
- Administration and leadership
- Behavior analysis
- Cognitive development
- Infant mental health
- Behavior in schools
- Psychology research
In addition to coursework, masters programs may offer you the chance to take part in internships and fieldwork. In general, students enrolled in developmental psychology masters programs have already completed a bachelor’s, oftentimes majoring in a similar field of study.
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You can typically choose which area of developmental psychology you’d like to specialize in, such as adolescent development or leadership. A concentration could help you develop specialized skill sets and stand out in a specific area when looking for jobs down the line.
Graduates often pursue careers where they can work with clients one-on-one, such as mental health counselors, behavioral specialists, or school counselors. They may also work toward careers in developmental psychology leadership.
Careers in developmental psychology can take place in a variety of settings, usually within the healthcare field. These can include hospitals, private practices, healthcare facilities, and more. For those who want to become clinical or counseling psychologists, it’s necessary to pursue an on-campus or online PhD in Developmental Psychology degree.
Common Online Masters in Developmental Psychology Specializations
While pursuing a master’s degree in developmental psychology, you may have the chance to choose a specific area of study to focus on. Here are a few specializations you may consider:
- Child and Adolescent Development. You’ll delve into theories, research, and behaviors that you can use to help children and adolescents succeed in their daily life.
- Health and Human Development. This specialization focuses on practical applications of developmental psychology theories in the healthcare world.
- International Perspectives in Developmental Psychology. You’ll learn about how different cultures influence developmental psychology in populations across the globe.
- Administration and Leadership. This specialization teaches students leadership and managerial skills in addition to psychological theories.
- Adult Development and Gerontology. You’ll learn about how to use developmental psychology to help improve adults’ mental well-being.
The topics you study through your specialization may help prepare you for a specific career path. Some programs may also allow you to opt out of specialization or let you design your own.
Developmental Psychology Careers and Salaries
Professionals with a masters in developmental psychology often work with children, adolescents, and families. They may have studied a certain specialization, such as research or child development, that can determine which career path they choose.
Many of these roles for professionals with traditional or online developmental psychology degrees help clients address behavioral, cognitive, or practical issues they may be facing in their daily lives. These jobs include mental health counselors, behavioral specialists, and school counselors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of some potential careers associated with developmental psychology.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Training and Development Managers||$120,130|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|Training and Development Specialists||$61,570|
|Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers||$61,350|
|Health Education Specialists||$60,600|
|School and Career Counselors and Advisors||$60,510|
|Social Science Research Assistants||$49,720|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$48,520|
|Preschool and Childcare Center Directors||$47,310|
Another career path graduates may pursue is a managerial role in a community or healthcare organization. Specialists in developmental psychology may also choose to work directly with their community. They may accomplish this in roles like health education specialists or social workers.
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Licensed school teachers may also choose to pursue a masters in developmental psychology in order to advance their qualifications and better understand and help their students
Developmental Psychology Masters Curriculum & Courses
The curriculum in a master’s in developmental psychology program can vary, but here are some examples of classes you may take:
- Assessment of Children’s Development in Real-World Contexts: You’ll learn how to identify and assess child behaviors and how to compare them to best practices.
- Themes and Theories of Developmental Psychology: This class will cover a multitude of theories related to developmental psychology and teach you to critically analyze them.
- Development: Conception Through Early Childhood: You’ll learn about developmental pathways and how they can affect children’s social lives.
- Gender and Human Development: This course looks at the differences between genders as they are relevant to personal development in today’s society.
- Developmental Psychopathology: You’ll learn how to identify, prevent, and treat various behavioral disorders.
- Development in the Digital Age: This class covers the history of technology, how it’s prevalent today, and the effects it can have on people at different life stages.
- Psychosocial Aspects of Illness: You’ll learn how a long-term illness can affect a child’s mental well-being.
- Foundations for Graduate Study in Psychology: This course introduces advanced-level psychology and teaches you critical thinking skills.
- Child Life Practice in Hospitals: You’ll learn different approaches to helping a child in a hospital environment, including helping their family cope.
- Applied Research Design: This class focuses on researching, defining, and questioning psychological principles and methods.
In addition to classes like these, masters programs in developmental psychology may offer opportunities for capstone projects, fieldwork, and internships.
The admissions requirements for masters in developmental psychology degrees may vary, but a few common ones are listed below:
- Bachelor’s degree
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
- GRE test scores (only some schools require this)
GRE test score requirements are becoming less common, but you may still find them at some schools. Applications typically require an application fee and undergraduate transcripts. Some schools may also want to see an undergraduate degree in a major related to psychology.
Developmental Psychology Graduate Programs Accreditation
When browsing developmental psychology masters programs, there are advantages to choosing one that is regionally accredited. This means that the school and its educational programs have met a series of academic quality standards.
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Many companies and employers look for regionally accredited schools on potential employees’ resumes. Attending a regionally accredited school may also be required to receive financial aid. To find out if the school you’re interested in is regionally accredited, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
For qualifying students, financial aid can be a worthwhile option to explore. Financial aid may be granted in the form of loans, grants, scholarships, and more.
Graduate students may be able to apply for Direct PLUS loans as well as direct unsubsidized loans. The latter does not require you to show financial need, and the amount of money loaned is typically determined by your school. Work-study programs may also be available to students who qualify.
With these programs, students can find work and earn at least the federal minimum wage while in school. To explore financial aid options and apply for federal aid, you can visit the Federal Student Aid website.
What Can I Do with a Masters in Developmental Psychology Degree?
Graduates with a masters in developmental psychology degree pursue work in a variety of careers, generally ones that help people grow over the course of their lives. They may choose to primarily work with children, adolescents, or adults.
Professionals may work in roles like school counselors, mental health counselors, behavioral specialists, or training and development specialists. They can also work in roles that service the community, such as health education specialists, social workers, and social and community service managers. School teachers may also pursue a masters in developmental psychology to further their expertise.
What Do Developmental Psychologists Do?
Developmental psychologists focus on helping people grow throughout the course of their lives. This may happen through research, health education, or working with clients one-on-one.
On a daily basis, developmental psychologists may try to identify mental and behavioral disorders, research disabilities and treatment plans, or conduct sessions with clients. Their responsibilities vary depending on their specialization.
Developmental psychologists may work in schools, hospitals, healthcare facilities, and clinics, among other settings. Their workplace may determine the type of work they do and the type of clients they see.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Developmental Psychology Online?
The timeframe for completing an online masters in developmental psychology program can vary by school and program. In general, most masters programs can be completed in 1 to 2 years.
If your program requires completing a thesis, or if you enroll part-time, it may take longer to get your degree. If you enroll in school full-time and take courses during the summer, you may be able to complete a masters program in less time. As long as your program doesn’t require a thesis, it may be possible to finish it in as little as 1 year.
What’s the Difference Between Clinical Psychology vs. Developmental Psychology Masters Programs?
While there is some overlap between clinical psychology and developmental psychology, there are a few key differences between the two.
During a masters in clinical psychology program, you may study:
- The identification and treatment of mental disorders
- Emotional trauma
In a masters in developmental psychology program, you may study:
- Individual growth and development over a lifetime
- Cultural influence on behaviors
Typically, clinical psychology programs focus more on learning how to identify and treat mental and behavioral disorders. Developmental psychology programs study the development of a person over the course of their life.
Is a Masters in Developmental Psychology Worth It?
Yes, a masters in developmental psychology is worth it for many professionals. Not only is developmental psychology a rewarding field that involves helping people throughout their lives, but many roles in this field are also projected to grow faster than average.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, community and social service occupations are expected to grow by 10% over the next ten years. This job category includes mental health counselors, behavioral disorder counselors, health education specialists, social workers, and community health workers. A masters degree can also help you prepare for academic and research positions.
Universities Offering Online Masters in Developmental Psychology Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
American Public University offers a fully online program for an MA in Psychology with concentrations in Developmental and Personality Psychology and Cyberpsychology. The program requires the completion of 39 credits and allows up to 15 qualifying transfer credits. Classes start every month and are either 8 or 16 weeks long. The program doesn’t prepare students for licensure.
APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Bay Path University offers an MS in Developmental Psychology. The program is fully online, and classes are offered every October, February, and June. The program requires the completion of 36 credit hours and 120 hours of community-based fieldwork. Applicants are not required to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Bay Path offers tutoring services to online students.
Bay Path University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Capella University offers an MS in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. The program is fully online. Students may choose between Guided Path, which follows a set online schedule, and Flex Path, which lets students work at their own pace. The program can potentially be completed in just 15 months.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
City University of New York offers an MA in Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology that can be earned fully online. The program doesn’t prepare students for licensure or clinical practice but may serve as a bridge for a doctorate. It requires the completion of 36 credits, and students may transfer in up to 6 qualifying credits.
CUNY is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Liberty University offers an MA in Applied Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology. The program is fully online and can potentially be completed in just 1.5 years. Students must complete 36 credits to graduate and may be able to transfer in up to half of their credits from accredited institutions. Classes are 8 weeks long. There are several start dates offered throughout the year.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
National University offers an MS in Child and Adolescent Developmental Psychology. The program is fully online. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for a career with or advocating for, children, adolescents, and their families. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours.
National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an MS in Child Psychology and Development that can be completed fully online. Students must complete 36 credits to graduate and may transfer in up to 12 qualifying credits. The program doesn’t prepare students for licensure, but many graduates go on to get their doctorates. There are several start dates offered each year.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.
Texas Woman’s University offers an MS in Child Development. The program is available fully online, but it does offer the option of taking in-person classes at the Denton campus. Students must complete 31 credit hours to graduate and may choose a thesis or professional track. The program can potentially be finished in just 12 months. Classes are 7 weeks long.
Texas Woman’s University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Minnesota as the top developmental psychology program in the country. UM offers an MS in Applied Child and Adolescent Development. Students may complete the program fully online. The program offers specializations in Child Life and Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health. Courses start in the fall, spring, and summer.
The University of Minnesota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Walden University offers an MS in Developmental Psychology. The program is fully online and can potentially be finished in just 15 months. It requires the completion of 48 quarter credits. There are six specializations offered, including Adult Development and Gerontology and Administration and Leadership. Students may be able to apply credits toward a doctorate through Walden.
Walden is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Master in Developmental Psychology Online
If you are interested in the study of how the human mind grows and develops, you may enjoy pursuing a masters in developmental psychology. Careers in this field may help people at any stage of life, from childhood to adulthood.
Many developmental psychology programs allow you to choose a specialization based on what interests you, from child development to leadership. An online psychology degree program may allow added flexibility when building your schedule, which could be especially helpful for students who already have established careers.
To get started on your journey toward a graduate degree in developmental psychology, you can begin exploring programs from accredited universities today.