There are a number of schools offering online programs in developmental psychology - usually awarding a master's degree, though Ph.D. programs are also available. Some programs permit students to take all of their coursework online, while others require a combination of online coursework, classroom hours and/or community-based fieldwork.
Degree Program Overview
An online master's degree in developmental psychology usually takes one to two years to complete, depending on whether or not students choose to work while studying. Students are expected to complete around 36-55 credits, often culminating with a capstone project designed to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. The majority of these credits usually involve core courses, such as the following:
Using standard concepts, theories and research methods, this course typically covers topics essential to understanding childhood and adolescent development such as biology, social factors, emotion and cognition. Sometimes, it will address human growth and developmental changes from conception through death. This course could also focus on concepts specific to particular stages of development, such as identity, sexuality and puberty in adolescence.
Research Methods in Psychology
This course provides students with the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to design and analyze research at a graduate level. Students are often introduced to quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods, as well as experimental and quasi-experimental designs. They also explore subjects such as data collection, confounding factors and assessment strategies, and learn to apply statistical techniques.
Social & Emotional Psychology
Students learn how development occurs throughout a lifespan through the study of contemporary social and emotional psychological issues, theory, research and methods. Some subject areas they may explore include temperament, attachment, conformity, obedience, identity, gender differences and intimacy. They are often encouraged to relate these studies to real-world situations, and explore the impact of social and emotional changes into late adulthood.
This course explores cognitive psychological processes including language, attention, memory, creativity and decision-making. Students examine theories and research related to cognitive development, in both typical and atypical situations. Sociocultural and neurobiological perspectives are employed to obtain a greater understanding of these processes.
Ethical Practices in Psychology
An ethics course typically provides students with a framework for understanding the accepted norms and codes of conduct within the field of psychology. Students often analyze case studies involving issues such as informed consent, confidentiality, boundary issues and diversity issues. They then discuss the best manner of resolving such ethical dilemmas.
Admission Requirements for Developmental Psychology Programs Online
Students applying for an online master's degree in developmental psychology are expected to hold a bachelor's degree - ideally, in psychology or a related field. However, some programs will accept students from other disciplines who have met, or are willing to meet, minimum coursework requirements. Many programs expect incoming students to have achieved an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. Typically, they do not require any GRE or GMAT scores.
Important Considerations When Choosing Between Degree Programs
When selecting an online graduate program in developmental psychology, it's important to consider your research interests and career goals. While most programs cover a similar range of core coursework, there are also many differences. Students are sometimes offered the opportunity to specialize in areas such as administration & leadership, adult development & gerontology or health & human development. Some programs focus more on scientific or experimental aspects of psychology, while others emphasize counseling or clinical work. Meanwhile, hybrid programs that require fieldwork in organizations such as schools, community centers or residential facilities provide opportunities to gain hands-on experience.
Various schools offer a master's developmental psychology online, which usually takes one to two years to complete. Some allow students to take a single course to explore the field, while others require students to be on campus for a portion of their studies or volunteer in the community. Upon graduation, students can seek work in schools, hospitals, advocacy organizations, nonprofits, correctional facilities, research institutions or other similar settings.