Overview of Developmental Psychology Courses
Developmental psychologists study emerging behaviors and knowledge in developing individuals and groups, usually from infancy through adolescence. Courses in developmental psychology may be available to both undergraduate and graduate students; however, those seeking to become developmental psychologists must work to earn their master's or doctorate degrees. Through these studies, candidates will better understand psychological behaviors and tendencies within developing individuals. Before taking a course in developmental psychology or pursuing a program of study, candidates must be sure they meet their schools' specific admission requirements.
Aspiring psychologists may be able to take courses in developmental psychology at the undergraduate level, with some institutions offering a Bachelor of Science in Developmental Psychology. For these programs, admittance requirements include a high school diploma or GED and at least a 2.0 GPA in good standing. For those interested in pursuing a master's or doctoral degree, candidates must have already earned a bachelor's degree in psychology or a similar field. Additionally, they must have held at least a 3.0 GPA during their undergraduate studies and possess passing scores on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and any relevant GRE subject tests required for admission.
Common Course Descriptions
Developmental psychology coursework will vary depending on the specific institution where candidates are admitted. However, the following courses are regularly available through programs in developmental psychology:
Everyone's personality is different and thus, develops differently. During their course of study, candidates will learn modern theories, research, and interventions in personality development psychology. Not only will program participants learn the history of personality theory, but they will also understand how changes in the definition of personality theory have impacted the field of psychology as a whole.
Aspiring psychologists will need to learn the quantitative methods used by professionals for understanding their patients' cognitive and behavioral psychology. Quantitative psychology provides candidates with the skills and knowledge necessary to implement psychometric techniques and analyze them accordingly. Those seeking to apply their degrees to clinical practice will especially need this course in order to better understand the measurements needed to effectively evaluate treatments.
Social interactions have an incredible impact on how cognitive and behavioral psychology are developed in growing individuals. As such, aspiring psychologists must understand the specific ways in which societal influences can impact their clients' psychological development and the necessary interventions for effective treatment. Social psychology not only demonstrates how person-to-person interaction affects overall psychology, but explores the effects that environment, technology, and society at large can have on one's psychological development.
Coursework in cognitive psychology must be completed in order for developmental psychologists to gain a true understanding of their future careers. These courses analyze how memory, language, attention, learning, and decision-making impact individual development. Understanding how these cognitive processes operate on an individual level within developing children and adolescents will allow candidates to be more impactful in their treatment plans with future patients.
Culture, Development, and Psychology
Similar to social psychology coursework, classes in culture, development, and psychology explore how cultural influences impact psychology. Themes of oppression, racism, prejudice, socioeconomics, and value differences are often explored here in the context of their impact on developing individuals. Aspiring psychologists will also learn how changing cultural values can make a big difference in the behavioral and cognitive development of children and adolescents.
How to Choose a Developmental Psychology Program
Programs in developmental psychology must be robust in nature in order for candidates to get the most value out of their education. Aspiring psychologists should be exposed to numerous elements of the psychological field beyond just child and adolescent psychology. Additionally, program participants should have easy access to things like internships, practicum placement, clinical experience, and research through the school's network of professional development resources. Candidates should also research the possibility for online course completion — especially for adult learners seeking graduate degrees.
Many people graduating with a degree in developmental psychology will go on to become clinical psychologists. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projected job growth for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists is 15% between 2018 and 2028 — much higher than the national average for careers overall. Additionally, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earned a median salary of $76,990 annually in 2018. However, graduates can select from a number of career paths with their degrees in developmental psychology, including the following: