PhD in Child Development: Program and Degree Overview

Essential Information

Ph.D. programs focused on child development might include a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies with a specialization in child development or a Ph.D. in Child Development with a concentration in areas such as language and literacy, children with special needs or cognitive development. Programs generally take up to six years to complete; however, in some instances, coursework can be completed in as little as three years, with the remainder of the time devoted to working on one's dissertation.

Ph.D. in Child Development

To gain admission into a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in child development, child psychology or human development, most individuals are required to have either a bachelor's or a master's degree, as well as GRE scores. Such programs may require them to fulfill an internship or residency, and most require the completion of a dissertation. Students who complete a doctoral program in child development might go on to teach the subject at the university level, or might become child psychologists or clinical researchers. Students interested in applying to a Ph.D. in Child Development program should have a master's degree in child development or a related field, such as psychology, social work or education. Some programs also might require submission of a resume and Graduate Record Examinations scores. Additionally, applicants might have to sit for an interview.

Generally, the curriculum for a doctoral program in child development is focused around students developing the ability to conduct research efficiently. In addition, students are often exposed to theories in emotional, social and intellectual development. Course topics studied as a part of a program might include:

  • Designing, evaluating and implementing early childhood intervention programs
  • Advanced statistics in the child development field
  • Research and practice of language and literacy
  • Cognitive development
  • Language development
  • Personal development

Popular Career Options

Ordinarily, students seek a career that involves serving children and their families. Graduates may find themselves working in an academic institution or an applied research setting. A graduate of a Ph.D. program in child development might consider the following professions:

  • Teaching Administration
  • Early childhood educator
  • Children's occupation therapist
  • Child development policy coordinator

Anyone with a passion for working with children should consider applying to a Ph.D. program in child development. These degrees will allow students to specialize in specific areas of child development, such as language, cognition, special education and literacy.

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