College of Education and Human Development wordmark.
Institute of Child Development wordmark.

Ph.D. in child psychology

For us, community is a key word. At the Institute of Child Development, you'll join a close-knit group of faculty, staff, and peers who are driven to make a difference and who will support you as you grow as an academic and researcher. For more than 90 years, our faculty and students have worked hand-in-hand to make discoveries that increase knowledge about human development and improve lives.

In our program, you'll not only study what you love, but also develop the skills needed to teach others and translate science into practical solutions for children, youth, and families.

The structure of our program reflects our community-based philosophy. We offer guaranteed full funding for five academic years and embrace an academic community mentorship model, which means that students apply to our department instead of to work with a particular faculty member. As a student at ICD, you'll be free to explore different corners of the developmental psychology field and to follow your research and academic interests, no matter where they lead you.

Find what drives you: Join us

  • Study with award-winning faculty, who are leaders in the field of developmental psychology.
  • Receive guaranteed financial support for five academic years.
  • Choose to pursue either our developmental science or developmental psychopathology and clinical science track.
  • Join a close-knit community of scholars who are dedicated to understanding and supporting how children learn and grow.
  • Earn your degree at a top public research university located in an urban center, offering diverse opportunities for interdisciplinary and community-based research.

How to apply

Are you interested in taking a graduate course but aren't a student at the University of Minnesota? Visit OneStop Student Services to learn more about how to register.

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developmental psychology program in the nation

source: Ranked in 2017 by U.S. News and World Report

Developmental science track

Our program is designed to prepare tomorrow's leaders in the field of developmental science. Study human development across the lifespan and prepare for a career in academics or research.

Choose to conduct research in areas including cognitive development, language, learning, executive function, social development, or developmental psychobiology and neuroscience. You also can choose to combine your interests and work alongside multiple ICD faculty members to define a research area that's unique to you.

As an ICD student, you'll have the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research in collaboration with experts from across the University of Minnesota, a major public research institution. Learn more about our faculty and research.

The developmental science track takes five years to complete.

Developmental psychopathology and clinical science track

We offer a joint track in collaboration with the Department of Psychology focused on the study of psychopathology in the context of development. To prepare you to become a leader in the science and profession of clinical child psychology, you'll take developmental psychology courses with your cohort at the Institute of Child Development, as well as clinical-based courses in the Department of Psychology.

As a student in the clinical science track, you'll complete coursework in clinical psychology, practicums, and a year-long internship. You'll also receive APA-accredited clinical training through the psychology doctoral program.

The joint track takes six years to complete, including the internship.


Our curriculum is structured to support you as you grow as an academic and researcher. You'll build your expertise, explore your interests, and acquire the skills you need to be a leader in higher education, research, or clinical settings.

Year 1

Take foundational courses in cognitive, social, and biological development processes, ethical conduct of research, and statistical methods. Begin conducting research and identifying your area of specialty.

Year 2

Take advanced developmental psychology courses and choose from special topics courses, depending on your interests. Explore research opportunities and topics. If you're a clinical student, start taking courses in clinical psychology.

Years 3-5

Work in partnership with one or multiple faculty members as you define your thesis and develop your own research studies. Hone your teaching skills by completing a teaching practicum course and developing and teaching your own section of Introduction to Child Development.


Upon graduation, you'll be prepared for careers in research, higher education, or applied research in developmental psychology. The University of Minnesota Graduate School provides programs, resources, and events to help you with every step along the way—from identifying potential career paths, to developing skills to compete for them, to managing your career.

ICD alumni are leaders in the field of developmental psychology. As a graduate of ICD, you'll join an internationally recognized and tight-knit network of scholars that will continue to support you, no matter what career path you choose.

Recent graduates now work at organizations, including:

  • public and private research universities
  • liberal arts colleges
  • the National Institutes of Health
  • non-profit organizations that address issues like social policy
  • education publishing and assessment corporations
  • public broadcasting networks

Graduates of the clinical track have pursued careers at:

  • children’s hospitals
  • medical schools
  • outpatient clinics
  • stress and anxiety clinics
  • institutions of higher education
  • elementary schools
  • domestic violence prevention organizations

We're driven to make a difference

Michelle Brown
Children are our future. We need people with an in-depth understanding of child development in every aspect of society to ensure we provide children with all they need to flourish.

Michelle Desir
Ph.D. in child psychology student

Meet more of our current Ph.D. students


We guarantee full funding for each student for five academic years. Funding includes a monthly stipend, health insurance, and a full tuition waiver. Stipends vary based on the type of financial support each student receives. Types of financial support include graduate assistantships (RA/TA), fellowships, traineeships, or scholarships.

As a student at ICD, you’ll receive a brand-new MacBook Air at the start of the program. This laptop comes with a three-year warranty and is yours to keep when you graduate. You’ll receive $500 to use for professional development purposes during your time in the program. You'll also be eligible for $500 in travel funding annually to present at conferences.

We have a long track record of our students securing fellowships from prestigious agencies like the National Science Foundation. As an ICD student, we'll work with you to seek out such opportunities throughout the Ph.D. program.

Each year, the UMN Office for Diversity in Graduate Education awards the Diversity of Views and Experience Fellowship to approximately 20 first-year students from underrepresented groups (U.S. citizens or permanent residents). The fellowship provides a living stipend, tuition, and subsidized health insurance for one academic year. If you wish to be considered for the DOVE Fellowship, please note your interest on your application.

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