Developmental Psychology Bachelor's Degree Guide

Earning a bachelor's degree in developmental psychology prepares graduates for in-demand careers in psychology, counseling, mental health, education, and healthcare. These growing fields hire developmental psychology majors because of their training and skills. Developmental psychology majors study lifespan development, child psychology, and group dynamics. Students learn the methods of psychology to understand human development from infancy through old age. The degree fosters valuable skills in research, analytical thinking, and abstract reasoning.

Professionals with a background in developmental psychology work as school counselors, behavioral therapists, and caseworkers. Others pursue a master's degree or a doctorate to become developmental psychologists. This guide explains how to become a developmental psychologist, and it showcases other career paths for those with a degree in developmental psychology.

Degree Snapshot

Typical Admission Requirements:
High school diploma or the equivalent; SAT or ACT scores; high school transcripts; college transcripts; letters of recommendation; admission essays.

Time to Completion:
A bachelor's degree typically takes four years for full-time students.

Why Get a Bachelor's Degree in Developmental Psychology?

Developmental psychology majors study an exciting subject that builds professional skills for careers in education, psychology, mental health services, and other fields. Here are some benefits of earning a developmental psychology degree:

  • A degree in developmental psychology can prepare students for careers in fields like educational research. A background in psychology leads to opportunities in a wide range of fields.
  • A developmental psychology degree covers compelling topics like child psychology, lifespan development, and abnormal psychology.
  • Graduates with a developmental psychology degree who want to become licensed developmental psychologists can apply for master's and doctoral programs. They meet the qualification for graduate programs in developmental psychology.
  • The field builds strong research and analytical skills. Developmental psychology majors strengthen abilities that benefit professionals in several fields.
  • A background in developmental psychology trains graduates to help people. Graduates pursue opportunities as case workers, childhood development specialists, and other career paths that support people in need.

Example Courses

Students earning a developmental psychology bachelor's degree complete coursework in their major and in their concentration area. In addition to general psychology courses, developmental psych majors study lifespan development, social psychology, and childhood psychology. These courses build strong research, analytical, and assessment skills, which prepare graduates for multiple career paths after graduation.

The specific curriculum for a developmental psychology degree, including general education requirements, varies depending on the program. Many programs also let students choose elective courses to specialize their degree. While not all programs offer the following courses, this section introduces common classes in a developmental psychology degree.

Psychology of Childhood

Courses on the psychology of children provide an overview of human development from birth through adolescence. Students examine research on cognitive and psychosocial development, with an emphasis on normal and abnormal child behavior. The course prepares graduates for careers in psychology, education, and social work.

Social Psychology

Social psychology classes examine the roles social context and group dynamics play in individual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. To strengthen their skills, students study social psychology research and apply theories to practical problems. The coursework may cover topics like social influence, group behavior, gender roles, persuasion, discrimination, and prejudice.

Lifespan Development

Developmental psychology majors study lifespan development to understand the physical, cognitive, and socioemotional changes across the human lifespan. Students explore human development from infancy through old age, including language formation, family building, and identity. The course prepares developmental psychology graduates for human services, psychology, or social work careers.

Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence

Courses on disorders of childhood and adolescence examine psychological disorders that affect young people, including the diagnosis and treatment process. The course may focus on common disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, learning disorders, and attention deficit disorders. Students learn how psychological disorders like anxiety and depression manifest in children.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Developmental Psychology?

A bachelor's degree in developmental psychology prepares graduates for careers in social services, healthcare, and the mental health field. For example, graduates pursue job titles like behavioral therapist and psychiatric technician. Practicing psychologists generally hold a doctoral degree; developmental psychology majors can prepare for the career path with a master's in psychology.


Where Do Forensic Psychologists Work?

Developmental psychologists work for early childhood education organizations, elementary and secondary schools, local and state government, healthcare and social assistance services, and as independent consultants.

Career Advancement

Professionals with a bachelor's degree in developmental psychology pursue several avenues for career advancement. Many earn a graduate degree to meet the educational requirements for developmental psychology jobs. Earning a state license usually requires a graduate degree. Developmental psych majors can also join professional organizations for career advancement opportunities.

Graduate Programs

After earning a bachelor's degree in developmental psychology, graduates can pursue a master's or doctoral degree in the field. In general, professional psychologists earn a graduate degree as part of their training. During a graduate program in developmental psychology, students complete advanced coursework on theories of development, developmental psychopathology, and language development. Students specialize their training through focused work with a faculty advisor.

A master's in psychology prepares graduates for careers in counseling, psychology, and the mental health field. However, most licensed developmental psychologists complete a doctorate as part of their professional training.

Licensure

Developmental psychologists may need a license to practice, depending on their position and state of residency. In most states, practicing psychologists must hold a Ph.D. in psychology and meet professional experience requirements. Some states grant licenses to candidates with a master's in psychology. Candidates typically must pass an examination and meet continuing education requirements to maintain their license. However, some roles, including those in research and academia, may not require a license.

Each state sets its own licensure process and requirements. The number of supervised experience hours varies by state, for instance. Students considering developmental psychologist positions should carefully research the requirements in their state.

Professional Organizations

  • American Psychological Association APA provides a career center for job-seekers, professional development resources, and publications. The association also offers awards, grants, and funding opportunities.
  • Association for Behavior Analysis International ABAI publishes journals, hosts a career center, and holds events around the world that offer networking opportunities for professionals. Members receive discounts on continuing education and access to a membership directory.
  • American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry AACAP offers professional resources for child psychiatry residents and early career psychiatrists. The academy also provides professional resources for families and youths.

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