Best Developmental Psychology Programs

This article provides students with information about what the best developmental psychology programs entail in terms of common currculum and admissions standards, in addition to covering what careers are available to students with these degree and how to choose a program.

Overview of the Best Developmental Psychology Programs

Students who are interested in the field of developmental psychology may want to learn more about what universities offer the best undergraduate psychology programs. Students are often able to pursue a major in psychology and then further specialize their studies by enrolling in developmental psychology courses. These programs are generally offered as Bachelor of Science degrees and take four years to complete. With a degree like this, some students may seek entry-level positions, though students who are interested in working as licensed counselors or psychologists will need to pursue graduate study in the field. Below, we will explore undergraduate developmental psychology programs in greater detail.

Admission Requirements for Developmental Psychology Programs

In order gain admission into a bachelor's degree program in developmental psychology, students must submit an application file to each program they are interested in. A completed application file will usually include results from the ACT or SAT, high school transcripts, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and a completed application form. Depending on the program, students may gain initial admission to the university and then may have to officially declare that they intend to pursue a psychology major, which typically entails the completion of some additional forms.

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Common Courses in Developmental Psychology Programs

Introduction to Developmental Psychology

Undergraduate psychology programs invariably require that students take a course that provides them with a foundation in developmental psychology, which will be of particular interest to students who want to study this subfield. In such a course, students will track how an individual develops from before birth until adulthood. The course will likely focus specifically on key developmental years and milestones in the human lifespan which occur during childhood and adolescence.

Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience

A course in cognitive psychology is also commonly required and will cover topics related to how the human brain is able to process information. Students will not only learn about this process, they will also learn how researchers and psychologists employ various methods to study this process and the theory behind these methods. Some topics that may be covered in this course include cognitive control, motor processes, and social cognition.

Statistical and Quantitative Methods

Because degrees in psychology often involve conducting research in order to prepare students for their future careers, it is also common that students will be required to take a course that focuses on different types of statistical and quantitative methods that can be used in research. Some topics that will likely be covered in this course include probability, data description and analysis, confidence intervals, significance, and graphing of data. This course will likely also instruct students in how to use various statistical software programs to analyze and organize data.

Child and Adolescent Development

These programs also often include coursework that focuses on more specific aspects of developmental psychology by focusing on different subgroups of the population, like children and adolescents. In a child and adolescent development course, students will learn about the various challenges that adolescents go through, both socially and biologically, that affect their development. Students will learn how the period of late childhood and early adolescence is pivotal to an individual's psychological and biological development.

Sensation and Perception

It is also common that programs in psychology will require students to take a course that covers how the human body senses and perceives various stimuli. In this course, students will study the neural response to phenomena like color and sound as well as movement and more complex stimuli. This course is intended to provide students with an overview of how humans perceive and interact with the world around them.

How to Choose a Developmental Psychology Program

Because there are many undergraduate psychology programs available at universities around the country, students may have a hard time determining which schools offer the best programs. One factor that students may want to take into consideration when determining which program interests them most is an outside ranking. For example, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the top five undergraduate psychology programs in the U.S. in 2019 could be found at Stanford University, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Duke University. Of course, students will want to do further research into these programs to see if each program's curriculum and structure fits well with their goals and interests. Students will likely also want to consider the location of each of these programs as well as the cost of attendance.

Career Options with a Degree in Developmental Psychology

Students who obtain a degree in developmental psychology may be interested in a career as a psychologist after they obtain a graduate degree. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists in 2018 earned a median annual salary of $79,010 and the field was projected to grow by 14% between 2016 and 2026. Other options for students who obtain degrees in psychology are listed below.

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