2024 Best Online PhD in Developmental Psychology Programs [Doctoral Guide]

By David Garcia
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on May 22, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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A PhD in Developmental Psychology program teaches you how to investigate, utilize, and teach concepts in human development.

Best Online PhD in Developmental Psychology Programs

You can learn how to treat patients as well as how to teach psychology students. Professionals with a PhD in Developmental Psychology are often prepared for a variety of research and interpersonal settings.

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Many graduates go on to become postsecondary teachers, researchers, and policy and care advocates. Others pursue certification and become licensed practicing psychologists.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate 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.

California Institute of Integral Studies

The California Institute of Integral Studies offers a PhD in Psychology with concentrations in Integral Transpersonal Psychology and Somatic Psychology. This online, part-time program is designed so that students can spend the first 3 years on coursework and then begin their dissertations. The curriculum emphasizes a holistic approach to the field of psychology.

California Institute of Integral Studies is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges – Senior College and University Commission.

Capella University

Capella University offers a PhD in Psychology with a specialization in Developmental Psychology. The program offers virtual residencies and opportunities to work on research with faculty. The curriculum consists of 85 credits of coursework. Potential courses in the program include Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology, Child Psychology, and Lifespan Development.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Fielding Graduate University

Fielding Graduate University offers a PhD in Clinical Psychology. The program is mostly online but does require some in-person seminars and residential sessions. It also requires the completion of a dissertation and a clinical practicum. Potential courses in the program include Developmental Bases of Behavior, History and Systems of Psychology, and Research in Psychotherapy.

Fielding Graduate University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers an online PhD in Psychology with an emphasis in Cognition and Instruction (Qualitative Research). The program requires the completion of 60 credits’ worth of 8 week courses. Potential courses include Introduction to Behaviorism, Cognitive Science, and Introduction to Research. Students may begin their dissertations in their very first term.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a PhD in Psychology in Developmental Psychology. This online program is designed to provide rigorous research training. Courses may be taken in a fully online, 8 week format, but the program also offers the option to come to campus for intensive courses to connect with classmates and instructors. All courses are taught from a biblical perspective.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Pacifica Graduate Institute

Pacifica Graduate Institute offers a PhD in Depth Psychology with a specialization in Jungian Psychology and Archetypal Studies. Pacifica uses a quarterly calendar, with each term about 11 weeks long. Students typically take two courses each quarter for 3 years, coming to campus for one weekend each term but otherwise studying online.

Pacifica Graduate Institute is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Regent University

Regent University offers an online program for an EdD in Educational Psychology. It requires the completion of 61 credits of coursework. Potential courses include Advanced Human Learning and Motivational Development and Psychological Underpinnings of Learning. All courses are taught from a Christian perspective.

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University offers a PhD in Educational Psychology that can be earned on-campus or in a hybrid format. Some classes meet on the weekend. The program is designed to prepare students for research or teaching positions in academia. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and GRE scores are currently optional.

Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Touro University Worldwide

Touro University Worldwide offers a Doctor of Psychology in Human and Organizational Psychology. The program requires the completion of 66 credit hours and usually takes 3 years to finish. Classes are conveniently available in a fully online, 8 week format. There are no campus residency requirements.

Touro University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Walden University

Walden University’s PhD in Developmental Psychology is available online. There are seven specializations to choose from. These are General, Administration and Leadership, Child and Adolescent Development, Health and Human Development, International Perspectives, Research, Teaching, and Self-Designed. Classes are mostly asynchronous, but classmates can still communicate through discussion forums.

Walden is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

PhD in Developmental Psychology Programs Online

Man pursuing PhD in Developmental Psychology online

Developmental psychology is the branch of psychology that studies the different stages of human development across a lifespan. This discipline focuses on cognitive, intellectual, biological, cultural, familial, environmental, and physical changes. All of these factors are examined for how they affect a person’s evolution throughout their life.

Through your studies, you can gain a deeper understanding of human development through a psychological lens. An online developmental psychology PhD program is designed for students with a master’s degree, often in a related field, or with a masters in developmental psychology online or on campus. Some programs, though, accept applicants with a bachelors degree.

To mold you into a knowledgeable developmental psychology professional, your program will likely include courses across subjects like:

  • Lifespan development
  • Cognitive development
  • Theories of development
  • Issues in child development

These represent only a few of the subjects you may encounter. Upon graduation, you will likely have accumulated a wide breadth of knowledge that you can use in your chosen career.

Because a deep knowledge of psychology can be applied to various industries, professionals with a PhD in Developmental Psychology may go on to many different career paths. Some potential career paths include:

  • College professor
  • Developmental psychologist
  • Research consultant
  • Policy researcher
  • Early childhood education consultant
  • Program director

These are only a few examples of potential career paths. Your degree specialization can also help you develop the necessary skill sets for your preferred career trajectory.

Common Online PhD in Developmental Psychology Specializations

Psychologist specializing in Child and Adolescent Development

A doctoral degree in developmental psychology gives you the option to focus your studies on a specific aspect of the field. Below is a list of some common specialization options:

  • Administration and Leadership. Students apply their knowledge of developmental psychology to organizational behavior and leadership and consulting.
  • Child and Adolescent Development. Students study the latest research on child development, behavior analysis, and health as they affect adolescents.
  • General Program. This specialization teaches a broad understanding of how developmental psychology plays a role across the human lifespan.
  • Health and Human Development. This specialization teaches students how to apply research on human behavior and development to healthcare, social services, and more.
  • International Perspectives. Students learn about how culture and crises play a role in human development and how they can treat global populations.

While not always necessary for graduation, choosing a specialization can be a strategic way to deepen your knowledge of the field and develop specialized skill sets. You can often choose a concentration that aligns with your interests and career goals.

Developmental Psychology Careers and Salaries

Developmental Psychology Careers and Salaries

Professionals with a PhD in Developmental Psychology may work in a variety of careers. Many graduates pursue licensure to work as developmental psychologists. These professionals may choose to work with a specific age group.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some potential career paths, along with their median salaries, that are associated with the field of developmental psychology.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Training and Development Managers $120,130
Psychologists $81,040
Postsecondary Psychology Teachers $77,860
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000
Training and Development Specialists $61,570
Health Education Specialists $60,600
School and Career Counselors and Advisors $60,510
Survey Researchers $59,740
Social Workers $50,390
Marriage and Family Therapists $49,880

Outside of psychology, graduates may use their skills to further the field of developmental psychology as researchers. Researchers are responsible for the latest innovations and discoveries in any given field.

Some graduates become educators or counselors. This allows them to teach subsequent generations of psychologists or make a daily difference in the lives of the youth. It should be noted that a PhD in Developmental Psychology does not guarantee a specific career or salary.

Your qualifications may also depend on your degree specialization, chosen industry, level of experience, and prospective employer.

Developmental Psychology PhD Curriculum & Courses

People pursuing PhD in Developmental Psycholog in a group work

A developmental psychology PhD program will expose you to many interesting courses. These courses can build your expertise and show you how developmental psychology plays a vital role in various aspects of society. Below is a list of courses you may encounter in your program:

  • Foundations of Theory and Practice for Doctoral Psychology Learners: Students will discover the educational steps that will lead them to the completion of the program and work in various professional roles.
  • Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology: This course teaches you about how ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and more affect the behavior of psychology professionals.
  • Research Foundations of History and Systems in Psychology: You’ll learn various schools of thought—including behavioral and humanistic—to make you a better researcher.
  • Quantitative Design and Analysis: You’re taught how to utilize quantitative research techniques to conduct proper research.
  • Quantitative Research Methods in Psychology: This course prepares you for your dissertation, teaching you how to combine quantitative research and quantitative research design.
  • Culture and Psychology: This course places a specific emphasis on how culture affects the development of an individual.
  • Social Psychology: You’ll learn how social factors influence development and how psychologists can consider these factors in their treatment.
  • Social and Emotional Development: This course introduces you to contemporary theory, research, and emerging methods for understanding social and emotional development.
  • Language and Cognitive Development: This course teaches you about how cognition and language develop.
  • Gender and Development: You’ll study the difference between gender and the many factors that affect gender identity.

Your specific coursework will depend on your program, but you can expect to encounter similar topics while obtaining your degree.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for Developmental Psychology PhD

Below is a list of admission requirements you’re likely to encounter while searching for a developmental psychology program.

  • Online application
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • GRE or GMAT scores (not required by all schools)

Admissions criteria for a PhD in Developmental Psychology program can vary depending on the school. It’s beneficial to research your specific program to ensure you can meet its specific requirements.

Developmental Psychology Doctoral Programs Accreditation

University offering PhD in Developmental Psychology

There are many benefits to enrolling in a PhD program that comes from a regionally accredited school. Regional accreditation is the process by which a college or university passes a series of evaluations that testify to its high standard of education.

Only students from accredited universities may receive federal financial aid. Additionally, having a degree from an accredited university demonstrates your ability to excel in a rigorous environment. Many employers only recognize degrees from accredited schools. If you’re considering receiving a PhD, it could help to research accredited institutions to give yourself an added advantage.

Developmental Psychology Licensure and Certifications

Developmental Psychologist talking to a child

If your goal is to work as a developmental psychologist, then it’s necessary to obtain state licensure after receiving your degree.

Some basic requirements for licensure include:

  • Hold PsyD or PhD in Developmental Psychology
  • Complete 2,000+ hours of internship experience
  • Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
  • Complete continuing education every 2 to 3 years to renew your license

The specific requirements for licensure vary by state, so it’s beneficial to research the specific requirements of the state in which you plan to practice.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Developmental Psychology financial aid

Many students require financial aid to help them meet the cost of their education. The first choice for many students is federal student aid administered by the government. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for student loans and other forms of need-based aid.

Scholarships and grants are forms of aid that students don’t have to pay back. They’re offered on both a state and federal level as well as through postsecondary schools and outside organizations. You can also see if your school offers any fellowship or assistantship programs for doctoral students.

What Can I Do with a PhD in Developmental Psychology?

Training & Development Manager discussing to the team

Many graduates obtain a PhD in Developmental Psychology with the intention of becoming licensed and practicing developmental psychologists. These graduates may take their skills and join an established organization or start their own practice.

Other PhD graduates pursue work in academia, as researchers and postsecondary teachers. A degree in developmental psychology, though, is relatively versatile. It’s possible to use this PhD in service of many fields, from businesses to nonprofit organizations.

Some graduates become counselors, policy consultants, and program administrators. Your chosen degree specialization may impact your career trajectory as well.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online PhD in Developmental Psychology?

Man taking Online PhD in Developmental Psychology

Obtaining a PhD in Developmental Psychology online generally takes between 3 and 5 years of full-time study. These programs typically require the completion of anywhere between 75 and 85 credits.

Most PhD programs require the completion of a dissertation. This is why some students may take as much as 7 years to fully complete their program. Ultimately, the amount of time it takes you to earn your degree depends on how long it takes you to complete your dissertation.

What’s the Difference Between a PhD in Developmental Psychology vs. Child Psychology?

Developmental psychology and child psychology programs bear some similarities, but these disciplines do have notable differences.

PhD in Developmental Psychology PhD in Child Psychology
  • Focused on development throughout the lifespan
  • Explores the development of children, adolescents, and adults
  • Can be used to enrich your skills outside of psychology-related fields
  • Focused on the psychology of children as a whole, including their development
  • Covers therapy strategies for children and families
  • Mostly leads to job opportunities in the psychology field

Having a clear idea of your academic and career goals can help you determine which program best fits your needs.

Is a PhD in Developmental Psychology Worth It?

Psychologist in a session with a teenager

Yes, a PhD in Developmental Psychology is worth it for many professionals. This degree can help you qualify for a range of positions in the field of psychology. You can choose to pursue licensure to become a developmental psychologist, but you’re not limited to this profession.

For instance, some graduates pursue careers as nonprofit program administrators, postsecondary teachers, researchers, or policy consultants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6% job growth for psychologists and 10% job growth for psychology teachers over the next ten years.

Getting Your Doctorate in Developmental Psychology Online

student taking doctorate in Developmental Psychology online

Pursuing a PhD in Developmental Psychology degree online can be a strategic way to increase your knowledge of psychology and further your career. Much like with an on-campus or online social psychology degree, through your advanced studies in developmental psychology, you can learn how to apply these psychological principles in clinical, research, and educational settings.

Many graduates go on to become practicing psychologists, educators, or researchers, but the developmental psychology field is quite broad. Many doctoral programs allow you to choose a concentration to develop specialized skills and knowledge in an area that interests you. Your chosen specialty could also impact your future career path.

You can begin researching online psychology programs at accredited universities today to find the PhD program and specialty in developmental psychology that’s right for you.

Ready to start your journey?