Developmental Psychology Degree Overview

Updated August 16, 2022

Developmental psychologists help people adjust to change at every stage of life. Learn how these developmental psychology degrees can boost your career opportunities.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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Developmental psychology is dedicated to helping people transition from one stage of life to another, such as childhood to adolescence or adolescence to adulthood. Developmental psychologists address the personal, social, and physiological factors associated with each phase of the human lifespan.

While most developmental psychology degrees focus on issues related to childhood, some prefer to work with adults. This guide explores some options for developmental psychology education.

Degrees in Developmental Psychology

In most states, you must earn a developmental psychology doctorate, pass an exam, and complete two years of supervised practice to get licensure.

Most candidates get started by earning a developmental psychology bachelor's degree or a bachelor's degree in general psychology, child psychology, or another related field.

Bachelor's Degrees in Developmental Psychology

A developmental psychology bachelor's degree includes classes in:

  • Foundational psychology
  • Infant and child psychology
  • Adolescent psychology
  • Developmental phases
  • Language acquisition
  • Neurobiology
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Family dynamics
  • Psychological research methods, with a focus on studying children
  • Psychological assessment tools

In general, a bachelor of arts degree emphasizes theory, while a bachelor of science degree focuses on practicing psychology. Both provide the academic foundation needed to pursue a developmental psychology master's degree.

Many bachelor's programs are also available online.

Master's Degree in Developmental Psychology

Students in a developmental psychology master's program take advanced classes and perform fieldwork under a licensed psychologist's supervision. A master of science degree prepares learners for clinical practice, while a master of arts emphasizes research. Both include courses in research and psychological assessment and treatments.

While master's-level coursework explores every phase of human development, graduate students may choose to specialize in a particular client base, age group, or type of developmental challenge.

Some schools expect candidates to provide their GRE scores when applying to a developmental psychology master's program. However, others do not request scores or waive the GRE requirement for qualified applicants.

Featured Online Psychology Bachelor's Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Doctorates in Developmental Psychology

The doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) and the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology are terminal developmental psychology degrees. A Ph.D. is typically best for candidates who want to focus on research and teaching, while a Psy.D. emphasizes clinical practice. Both degrees qualify graduates for licensure.

Students pursuing a developmental psychology doctorate take advanced courses in psychological research methods and clinical practice. They also perform original research, compose a doctoral thesis, and complete a one-year internship.

Most candidates graduate in 4-6 years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Developmental Psychology

What's the difference between developmental and child psychology?

Developmental psychology focuses on transitions throughout the human lifespan, including adulthood, although many programs emphasize childhood development. Child psychology focuses exclusively on children and covers a broader span of topics.

How much do developmental psychologists make?

The median annual salary for psychologists, in general, is $105,780, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Your salary potential depends on your workplace, specialty, geographic region, and other factors.

Do I have to have a license to be a developmental psychologist?

You must be licensed if you wish to practice as a clinical psychologist. However, you can use a developmental psychology degree to find jobs in other fields, including school administration, counseling, or therapy.

What Does a Developmental Psychologist Do?

Development psychologists work with clients who are experiencing challenges during important life transitions. Most specialize in a particular type of development or life stage.

For example, a developmental psychologist might work primarily with infants who struggle to bond with their parents, toddlers who are slow to develop speech, or adolescents facing challenges related to physical or psychological maturation.

They conduct tests and assess patients for developmental issues, and they provide psychological interventions as needed.

What Else Can I Do With a Developmental Psychology Degree?

A developmental psychology education can lead to other career opportunities in developmental psychology such as:

  • Counseling or therapy
  • Social work or casework
  • Education or education administration
  • Early childhood programming
  • Youth development organizations
  • Preretirement coaching
  • Assisted living for people with disabilities

While many of these positions require a developmental psychology master's degree, some entry-level roles are open to those with an undergraduate education.

You can also use a developmental psychology bachelor's degree as a psychologist's aide, research assistant, or psychometrician (person who administers testing). Other graduates become consultants for toy or game developers, youth media creators, or social service and government organizations.

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