Degrees & Programs

Human Development

Explore how biological, cognitive, social and emotional development affects learning at every stage of life. The Human Development track of the Ph.D. in Learning and Developmental Sciences offers you a multidisciplinary perspective on individual development and relationship processes. Apply online today!


We explicitly recognize that individuals are dynamic beings in dynamic environments. Studying development in context is an important component of our program, leading to research that contributes to the understanding of human behavior while addressing the practical concerns of educators, parents, and others interested in the developing person.

Our faculty are guided in these endeavors by the following objectives:

  • To give students a strong grounding in concepts, theories and empirical studies of individuals' biological, cognitive, social, and emotional development across the life span
  • To help students build an expertise in one or more specific aspects of human development
  • To involve students in faculty-guided and independent research experiences that promote the development of strong research skills
  • To help students attain other experiences (e.g., teaching, program development) that help them meet their particular career objectives
  • To allow flexibility in course work and other program requirements in order to meet the specific needs and interests of individual students
  • To help students place their specific interests within the larger contexts of human development, with an emphasis on implications of developmental processes for educational programs and practice

The IU School of Education offers the following degrees in Human Development:

Ph.D. in Learning and Developmental Sciences (Human Development Program)

Why are certain subjects easier for young people to learn, and what effect does this have on curriculum development? As more individuals live longer and experience mental and physical changes associated with aging, what implications does this have for society?

The study of human development has practical implications for everything from preschool curriculum development to geriatric care. At Indiana University, you’ll study human development to understand how individuals develop biologically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally and the impact this has throughout their entire life span. You’ll also conduct independent research, develop your teaching skills, and prepare for a career as a faculty member, institutional researcher, or education consultant.

This 90-credit hour program includes a strong grounding in all of the concepts and theories of human development, plus the opportunity to become an expert in one or more aspects of human development that specifically interest you.

Detailed degree requirements may be found in the Bulletin section of the Human Development Student Portal. Course descriptions can be found in the current School of Education Graduate Bulletin.

Doctoral Minor in Learning and Developmental Sciences (Human Development Program)

Doctoral Minor Overview

The course of study for a Minor in Learning and Developmental Sciences (Human Development Program) is determined by the student and the minor representative on the student's committee early in the student's tenure at IU. No more than 6 hours of course work completed prior to approval of the minor program may ordinarily be counted toward the minor.

Any member of the Human Development faculty may be invited by the student to serve as the minor representative.

Course of study:

  • A minimum of twelve credit hours of Human Development courses approved by the minor representative are required. At least one of these courses must be a 600 level course. 
  • No more than 3 hours may be from outside the Human Development program.
  • Detailed requirements may be found in the Bulletin section of the Human Development Student Portal. Course descriptions can be found in the current School of Education Graduate Bulletin.

Procedures for the Minor Qualifying Exam in Human Development

(Approved March 2012)

There are two options for the minor qualifying exam in Human Development.

Paper Option:

You write a 10-page literature review on a topic relevant to both your dissertation and development. A human development faculty member (Drs. Estell, Waldron, or Stright) must approve your topic.

Exam Option:

The minor qualifying exam is given 2 times a year in October and February. Please see the department secretary for the exact dates and times. You must sign up with the secretary in advance in order to take the exam. In the months before the exam, you will create two essay questions that focus on your area of study (for example, your dissertation) and that also have something to do with development. Hopefully, the 2 questions will be part of your literature review for your dissertation or for article that you are working on. Then you email the two questions to your minor advisor. Your minor advisor must approve them before the exam. Then on the exam day, you will answer one of the questions while being proctored by the department secretary. You will not know which of the 2 questions will be the chosen for the test so you should prepare answers to all 2 of the questions. Your answers should focus on theory and research (including citations -not full citation but at least the last names of the major theorists or empirical study authors). You will have 2 hours to complete the exam so your answer will be quite thorough. You will not be able to use notes or books during the exam.

Doctoral Minor in Gerontology

The Human Development Area offers three courses focusing on adult development and aging: P513 Gerontology, P517 Adult Development, and P518 Social Aspects of Aging & Aging Families. 

In addition to the 3 courses offered within the Human Development Area, the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology is an interdisciplinary minor in gerontology in cooperation with the School of Public Health (SPH). This minor consists of 4 courses in gerontology and a paper/proposal. Please direct any questions about the minor to Dr. Lesa Huber, the minor faculty advisor at


Detailed requirements and course descriptions can be found in the current School of Education Graduate Bulletin.

Other courses may be substituted if approved by the minor advisor, Dr. Huber.

Procedures for the Minor Qualifying Exam in Gerontology

In lieu of a written qualifying exam, the student will complete an alternate assignment. The alternate assignment may be a paper or a funding proposal either real or simulated. Dr. Huber, the minor advisor, must approve the alternate assignment.

Doctoral Minor in Family Psychology

Family Psychology is one of the recognized specialty areas of practice in Professional Psychology, as designated by the American Psychological Association and as represented by the Society for Family Psychology (Division 43 of APA). Family Psychology is an approach to understanding human functioning and treating problems that is based on general systems theory. The premise of practice in this specialty is that family dynamics play a vital role in the psychological functioning of family members. This applies to extended families as well as nuclear families. The practice of family psychology takes into consideration as well the family's history and current environment (e.g., family history, ethnic culture, community, school, health care system, and other relevant sources of support or difficulty). Family psychologists strive to understand issues presented by persons to be served not only from the perspective of the presenter(s) but as well through understanding the contexts in which these issues have developed.

The Minor in Family Psychology is a joint one between members of the Counseling Psychology and the Human Development Programs in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology at Indiana University. The purpose of the minor is two fold: Develop knowledge of family systems in order to impact researchers and educators by expanding their focus to include the “family perspective,” and, to provide a set of organized knowledge and learning opportunities for practitioners that builds on the core practices of counseling to include the specialty of family psychology. Because the minor is intended to reach many different audiences, it has a common core with two potential themes from which to select. The minor is intended to meet the needs of students who seek an organized course of study in an area that is not available from any one program at Indiana University. Doctoral students focusing on family psychology in Counseling Psychology, Human Development, School Psychology or any other associated area may take the minor. Currently there is no organized course of study in this area in any area at Indiana University. It is important to note that although the doctoral programs providing courses for the minor, Counseling Psychology and Human Development, are in the same department, they are separate programs. For example, students majoring in one program, may minor in the other. While the course in the minor may be in the same program or department as the student’s major they are not available any where except in this department. Furthermore, these courses are not typically part of a student’s major course of study. Finally, the minor is important for counseling students in that it will allow them to take an organized course of study in the area and it will prepare them to apply for Board Certification once they graduate. Without an organized minor in the area of Family Psychology, students will not be eligible this important clinical practice designation.


The minor consists of 12 credits.

All students take two courses from the Counseling and Educational Psychology department which form the common core focusing on family systems from research and applied perspectives. The two courses are:

  1. Educ-P625 Family Processes and Child/Adolescent Development (3 credits - spring odd numbered years)
  2. Educ-G568 Advanced Marital and Family Therapy (3 credits – Fall in even numbered years)

Students select courses for the remaining 6 credits based on two themes:

  • A. Researcher/Educator. This theme is aimed at educating those who may enter an academic or research career. The courses are oriented to obtaining a systems view that may serve as the foundation for thecurrent family psychology oriented research techniques and approaches. Dr. Sexton is the minor advisor for this theme.
  • B. Practitioner/Research. This theme is aimed a building on the family psychology knowledge to incorporate the unique and specialized methods of practicing family psychology. Dr. Stright is the minor advisor for this theme.

Approved Family Psychology Minor Courses for both Themes

Detailed requirements and course descriptions can be found in the current School of Education Graduate Bulletin.

Contributing Faculty
The Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology is unique in that it has a collection of faculty who are experts in the Family Psychology Field. In the Development area, Dr. Anne Stright and Dr. Mary Waldron are experts in the study and understanding of family processes and development. Dr. Thomas Sexton (Emeritus) was a Diplomat in Family Psychology (ABPP), former president of the Society for Family Psychology (Division 43 of APA), and has also published extensively in the current treatment approaches and research in the area of family psychology. This core group and other interested faculty coordinate the minor collaboratively.

Our Faculty

Faculty areas of research in human development include: child, adolescent, and adult development; and both cognitive and social development. Some of our research programs focus on basic processes of development, (such as family processes, parenting, scaffolding, peers, social status; social networks, the development of aggression, violence, emotional and academic self-regulation, play interests, expertise, metacognition, children’s thinking, gerontology, physical activity and aging, and creativity and aging). Faculty also focus on applied programs of research such as child care and development, family/school connections, adolescent deviancy and risky behaviors, and geriatric education for health care professionals. A wide range of research methods are used by faculty and included as part of the training program, including laboratory based experimental studies, longitudinal naturalistic studies in homes and schools, and secondary data analysis. 




Our students complete their Ph.D. and enter the job market with at least 2 years of teaching experience, presentations at national conferences such as the Society for Research in Child Development, and publications in refereed journals. They are competitive for a variety of positions in academic institutions, private or non-profit institutions such as research foundations, and government agencies. Our graduates are working as professors of human development in departments of educational psychology, human development and family studies, and psychology (for example, at Vanderbilt University, Auburn University, Hofstra University, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Missouri, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte), and as directors of research (for example, at High Scope Foundation and the Alliance for School Choice), and for departments of education (for example, the Indiana State Department of Education).


For detailed program information, please contact:

Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology
201 North Rose Avenue, Suite 4000
Bloomington, Indiana 47405-1006
Phone: (812) 856-8300