PhD in developmental psychology

For us, community is a key word. At the Institute of Child Development (ICD), 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 together 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 an ICD student, you'll be free to explore different topics in the field of developmental psychology 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 PhD 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 2022 by U.S. News and World Report

Choose your specialization

Developmental science

Study human development across the lifespan and build your expertise in an area of research that aligns with your interests. Gain the classroom experience you need to prepare you for a career in research or academia.

Developmental psychopathology and clinical science

Blend research and clinical practice. Study psychopathology in the context of development, build a foundation in developmental research, and earn APA-accredited clinical training.


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 a tight-knit network of scholars that will continue to support you, no matter what career path you choose.

Graduates of the developmental science track now work at organizations, including:

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

Graduates of the clinical science 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 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 laptop at the start of the program to use during the duration of your time here. You’ll receive $850 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 find funding opportunities throughout the PhD program.

Each year, the U of M Office for Diversity in Graduate Education awards the Diversity of Views and Experience Fellowship (DOVE) to about 20 first-year students from underrepresented groups. 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. You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to be eligible for this award.

We're driven to make a difference

Jyothi Ramakrishnan
In order to learn how human flourishing might be promoted on a policy level, I realized I first needed to learn about how change occurs on the individual level.

Jyothi Ramakrishnan
Ph.D. in developmental psychology student

Meet more of our current PhD students