Ph.D. in developmental psychology
Developmental science track

Interested in conducting research or teaching in the field of developmental psychology? Look no further. In our developmental science track, you can explore your research interests and gain the classroom experience needed for a career in research or academia.

As a developmental science student, you'll study human development across the lifespan and build your expertise in an area of research. Conduct research on topics including cognitive development, language development, executive function, social-emotional development, or neuroscience. If your interests span across topics, choose a research focus that's unique to you and work in collaboration with multiple Institute of Child Development (ICD) faculty members.

Continue building your resume by taking electives or declaring a doctoral minor. You’ll also have the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research with experts from across the University of Minnesota (U of M), a top public research university.

The developmental science track takes five years to complete.

Find what drives you: Join us

  • Study alongside award-winning faculty in the #1 ranked developmental psychology program in the nation (Ranked in 2017 by U.S. News and World Report)
  • Explore your research interests and define an area of focus that's unique to you.
  • Complete a teaching practicum and gain experience developing a course and leading a classroom.
  • Have the flexibility to add electives or a doctoral minor to complement your degree in developmental psychology.

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.


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 needed to be a leader in higher education or research settings. The developmental science track takes five years to complete.

Year 1

Take foundational courses in cognitive, social-emotional, and biological development processes, ethical conduct of research, and statistical methods. Begin conducting research and identifying your area of specialty. Work with faculty to learn how to craft competitive fellowship applications.

Year 2

Take advanced developmental psychology courses and choose special topics courses that interest you. Continue to deepen your research interests and learn how to effectively disseminate research information by presenting your first-year research project to the ICD community.

Years 3-5

Hone your teaching skills by developing and teaching your own section of Introduction to Child Development. Continue working with faculty members to define your research expertise and prepare your prelim and final dissertation defense.


Upon graduation, you'll be prepared for careers in research, higher education, or applied research in developmental psychology. The U of M 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.

Below are examples of the types of organizations where our alumni currently work:

  • 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

We're driven to make a difference

Brie Reid
I’ve loved my experience at ICD. I’ve been able to work with people and projects that prior to graduate school I would have never thought were possible, and it’s helped me to develop my research niche and ask research questions that are really meaningful to me.

Brie Reid
Developmental science track graduate

Read more about Brie and her research


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 laptop (Dell or MacBook Air) at the start of the program that you may borrow during your PhD studies. 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 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.

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