Clinical Developmental Psychology Graduate Programs

Aug 06, 2019

Perhaps you're thinking about a career working with children as a psychologist. Find out what it takes to get into clinical developmental psychology and what you can expect to study in this type of graduate program.

Studying clinical developmental psychology will typically require a doctorate. Your time throughout your doctoral studies often trains you to focus on the cognitive processes taking shape in the minds of children and adolescents. In some cases, you could earn your PhD through a joint program that combines clinical and developmental psychology.

Courses in Clinical Developmental Psychology Graduate Programs

Your study of clinical developmental psychology might place equal emphasis on the practice of psychology and the developing mind of the human brain. You'll probably select from many different traditional seminar and lecture-style courses before beginning work on your research and dissertation.

Biological Bases of Behavior

This foundational type of class could help you establish the reasons behind human behavior, including normal and abnormal decisions that people make. You might examine the biological systems throughout the body to see the roles they play in everyday decision making. Different methods for analysis may be covered, including neuropsychology and behavioral comparisons among groups of animals. You might look at current research and how the field can be expanded with more knowledge and study.

Psychological Assessment

You might see lectures combined with supervised experience in this kind of course that typically covers established methods for evaluation and intervention with children and their families. You might study risk assessment, how to interview patients, and the proper way to observe your patients during sessions. Ethics can be covered, along with the proper ways to interact with different client populations.


Before you become a practicing psychologist on your own, you can participate in a supervised experience during your time as a student. This usually involves multiple stages and sections of a similar course. You can get first-hand experience while observing a licensed supervisor, helping with clinical evaluations and assisting during behavioral observation. Throughout your practicum experience, you may develop a portfolio that shows your progress throughout the program.

Statistical Methods

This type of course could be important for your progress as a researcher. You may get to employ many methods with data, including logistic regression and elementary distribution, exploring these methods in psychology and other sciences. You could also spend time in lectures as well as a lab setting to employ what you learn.

Professional Issues

The problems that arise when dealing with young patients and their families can be covered in this course. You could learn about the conflicts that arise when observing patients and how to establish a professional voice when explaining diagnoses and treatments to patients and their families. Topics might include ethical and legal issues that stem from psychological treatment, as well as the clinical portions of research.

Admissions Requirements for Clinical Developmental Psychology Graduate Programs

Any student wishing to earn a PhD in clinical developmental psychology must first have at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in psychology. Admissions may be competitive, and certain types of background experiences might be preferred for successful applicants. You should include your transcripts that highlight your existing degree with your application, and official copies are required if you are accepted into a program. You can send your GRE scores from the General Exam; most of the time, the Psychology Subject Test is not a requirement. Your personal statement could explain what previous experience you have in psychology, including any internships or professional development you've earned. Your letters of recommendation might come from those most familiar with your previous work in psychology, whether they are former supervisors or instructors.

Graduate programs in clinical developmental psychology focus on direct interaction with young patients and their families. Your time in classes and lab settings will also include field experiences before you are qualified to practice on your own.

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