Overview of Developmental Psychology
Developmental psychology is an area of study devoted to understanding how behaviors and knowledge emerge in individuals and groups. Those pursuing a career in developmental psychology may choose to do so through an online developmental psychology course or program resulting in a master's or doctoral degree. By the end of their studies, aspiring psychologists should achieve a full understanding of psychological behaviors from infancy through to adolescence. In addition to understanding psychology in the context of younger individuals, candidates must find programs that can further enrich their knowledge by addressing additional psychological components, including cognitive, social, language, and emotional development. Candidates must also possess certain requirements before applying to an online program in developmental psychology as most of these courses are designed for adult learners who already possess a bachelor's degree or its international equivalent.
Candidates interested in applying to an online developmental psychology course must possess certain requirements in order to be considered. Many programs are highly competitive, with some only selecting as few as three new students per admissions cycle. Most programs will result in either a master's or a doctorate, and aspiring developmental psychologists are required to hold at least a bachelor's degree in order to be considered. In addition, some candidates may be required to hold at least a 3.0 GPA during their undergraduate studies and present passing scores on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Depending on the specific program to which candidates apply, they may be required to have passing scores on GRE subject tests specific to their psychological studies.
Common Course Descriptions
While there is some variation in the coursework required of program participants, developmental psychology programs typically feature the following classes within their curricula:
Theories of Personality Development
Coursework in personality development theory involves the study of modern theories, research, and interventions in personality psychology. The most commonly studied theorists within this segment include such psychology pioneers as Sigmund Freud. Aspiring psychologists will not only learn the history of personality theory, but will understand how these changes in its definition over time have impacted the field of psychology overall.
Psychologists use special measurements and assessments with their patients in order to provide them with the highest quality of care. Quantitative psychology teaches aspiring developmental psychologists how to implement psychometric techniques and analyze them. This understanding is fundamental for those seeking to pursue clinical practice upon graduation.
Much of our psychology depends on social interactions with others, which is exactly what this course is designed to study. By understanding how social issues impact psychological development, candidates can apply this knowledge to future interventions used with their clients. Social psychology not only analyzes how people interact with one another, but also provides valuable insight about how people interact with their environments, technology, and society as a whole.
Cognitive psychology is a crucial component to any online developmental psychology program. This study includes understanding how memory, language, attention, learning, and decision-making impact psychological development. As candidates work towards their developmental psychology degrees, their coursework in cognitive psychology will give them a greater understanding of how cognitive processes within the brain impact developing individuals' psychological makeup.
Culture, Development, and Psychology
Much like social psychology, candidates must understand how cultural influences impact developing individuals. Such studies include evaluations of oppression, racism, prejudice, socioeconomics, and value differences and how each impacts one's psychology. Candidates will evaluate how changing cultural values can make a significant impact on one's psychological tendencies — especially in developing populations, such as children and adolescents.
How to Choose a Developmental Psychology Program
Those interested in pursuing a degree in developmental psychology should thoroughly research the programs to which they wish to apply. Some programs can be quite competitive, so candidates should understand how they stack up against others who have applied and been admitted to the program to better gauge their chances at admittance. Additionally, aspiring psychologists should apply to programs that are able to accommodate their busy schedules and offer online support materials for their coursework. Finally, program participants should have plenty of opportunities to fulfill requirements such as practicum placement, research, and clinical experience through their program's network of professional development resources.
Those who graduate from a program in developmental psychology typically go on to become clinical psychologists. Projected job growth for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists between 2018 and 2028 is estimated to be 15%, which is much faster than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in America earned a median of $76,990 annually in 2018, also according to the BLS. In addition to clinical psychology, program participants can pursue a number of alternative career paths, including the following: