Training philosophy

Research training

Upon entering our program, you begin work on research under the supervision of a faculty member. This may be in the faculty member's ongoing research or on a problem mutually agreed to with the faculty member. This initial participation in research enables you to become proficient in specific research methods, develop expertise in a content area, and establish a monitoring relationship with an advisor.

In your first year, you also participate in a seminar with entering graduate students from all areas of psychology. As part of this seminar, you will write an application for a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship. It is not unusual for several members of the incoming class to receive these very prestigious fellowships—even more receive honorable mention awards.

As you advance, you are encouraged to seek out the expertise of other laboratories whose work relates to your own research questions. Cross-laboratory interaction is fostered by a continuing weekly developmental seminar, open to all developmental graduate students and faculty.

Our goal in research training is not to clone images of ourselves. Rather, we seek to train the next generation of scientists. Scientists with the skills and experience to redefine the forefront and to go wherever advances in knowledge may lead.

Teacher training

Scholars and scientists have the responsibility to disseminate knowledge as well as to create it. An important way to achieve this is by teaching at a university or college. Our graduate training program prepares students for eventual teaching at a university. As part of this training, all graduate students—regardless of the source of their financial support—take a practicum in teaching, usually in their fourth semester in residence. They also teach a one-semester undergraduate laboratory course in their fifth or sixth semester of the program.

Interdisciplinary programs affiliated with the department include the Program for Neuroscience, the Program for Cognitive Science, the Center for Infant Perception and Action, and the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior.

Students with strong interdisciplinary interests can also pursue a degree through the Multidisciplinary Training Program in Developmental Process. This program joins faculty and students from the Departments of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Kinesiology, and Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences who share a common interest in the integrative study of change in infancy and early childhood. Training can focus on either basic or applied research across a range of diverse areas such as neuroscience, biomechanics, perception, action, affect, language, speech production, and higher cognition.

In-depth training

Generally speaking, most major scientific advances occur when investigators commit themselves to working systematically and persistently on a particular problem. Our program encourages you to become an expert in at least one research area, and to experience the satisfaction of pursuing a research problem in-depth over an extended period. In developmental psychology, expertise in an area usually means mastering the literature in another area. A student who seeks to understand cognitive development must know cognitive psychology. A student who seeks to understand social development needs to know social psychology.

Many of our students’ qualifying exam committees and dissertation committees are composed of one or two developmental faculty members and one or two faculty members from other areas in psychology or allied departments.