Human Development

Human Development

The Human Development specialization/track at Indiana University is a concentration that leads to a PhD in Learning and Developmental Sciences. The program offers work across the life span from infancy, childhood, adolescence, adult development and aging.

The Human Development track takes a multidisciplinary perspective that applies contextual and systemic frameworks to the study of individual development and relationship processes across the life span. 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.

Within the larger Learning and Developmental Sciences degree, five faculty specialize in Human Development. 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.

We limit the number of doctoral students entering the Human Development program to typically 4 students each year in order to facilitate close mentoring relationships between faculty and students. Our department is firmly committed to mentoring and supporting ethnic minority graduate students. Our faculty recently have been awarded mentoring and teaching awards. Students are assigned an advisor with similar research interests when they begin the program but are free to switch advisors as interests change. All new doctoral students have the opportunity to become familiar with faculty in the department in an introductory course their first semester, Theory and Method in Educational Psychology (P526), in which members of the department present their research. This allows students to refine their own interests and begin the process of tailoring their course work and training to best realize their own professional and academic ambitions.

We encourage students in the program to begin their research program during their first year. A faculty member works individually with each student to develop the first step of the student’s research program, an early inquiry project, (similar to a master’s thesis). This first study provides the student with training in research design, methods, and analysis and should lead to a publication for the student.

In the later years of their program, students are given the opportunity to be instructors for undergraduate human development courses. In addition, the department supports the development of students’ teaching skills with a 2 year course, College Instruction (P650). This course aims to improve instruction among graduate student instructors by helping them to construct syllabi and lessons and by leading students in discussion of the theoretical and empirical literature regarding effective teaching and assessment practices at the college level. It also provides a forum for discussing issues which arise or may arise when teaching undergraduates.

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).

GPA & GRE Averages for All Enrolled Students by Program

Ph.D. Educational Psychology/Learning Sciences/Human Development
Ug GPAGrad GPAVerbalQuantitativeAnalyticalTotal

Students training in the human development program is supported by other areas of the department including inquiry, learning and cognition, learning sciences, school psychology, and counseling psychology.

The current HD offerings are:

  • P513 Gerontology: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
  • P514 Life Span Development: Birth to Death
  • P515 Child Development
  • P516 Adolescent Development
  • P517 Adult Development and Aging
  • P518 Social Aspects of Aging
  • P521 Emerging Adulthood
  • P622 Social Development
  • P624 Brain Research Applied to Educational and Clinical Practice
  • P625 Family Processes and Child/Adolescent Development
  • P652 Family Transitions
  • P683 Developmental Epidemiology