Developmental Psychology

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Students who are looking to apply for a master’s or doctoral degree in developmental psychology will most likely want to take some time to understand what will be expected of them as they progress through their studies. It is not only important that individuals know what to expect from a postgraduate course in this subject, but also what they can expect from a career in this field. This will usually go a long way in helping individuals pick their specializations correctly while they are still in school, rather than have them unexpectedly change direction later on in their careers because the realities of a position didn’t match with their expectations.

The Basics Of Developmental Psychology

Many undergraduate students will most likely have received a basic overview of developmental psychology while still completing their bachelor’s degree, while others might have specialized in this field at that stage already. Those who did not specialize will have the opportunity to do so once they enroll for their master’s, and furthermore once they complete their doctorate.

Basically, the aim of developmental psychology is to understand how both children, as well as adults, develop over time. This course often covers everything from conception, right through to death, and it covers not only the biological changes that individuals undergo, but also the emotional changes along the way.

Theories on Human Development

One of the main features of any course on human development is the study of the theories that underpin development. Anyone completing a master’s in this subject will most likely need to familiarize themselves with names such as Piaget, who were pioneers within this field. It is very likely that a large section of the course will focus on theories surrounding child development, because this tends to be that period of a person’s life where the most change will occur.

Areas of Study

While a student is completing their master’s, they will most likely end up studying a broad range of subject material, including cognitive, social, biological and emotional processes. A lot of the research that will be studied throughout the courses will revolve around those collected within western cultures. It was only in the 1980s when researchers from the east began contributing quite substantially to the field.

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The goal of any professional who will be entering into the field of developmental psychology is to describe and explain development with the hopes of optimizing it. Professionals within the field often have to come up with theories of normative patterns of behavior so that they can then compare these with their test subjects to determine what has changed with regards to their development. These normative patterns of behavior can be studied because human beings’ DNA guides individuals through the same patterns of development at various phases in our lives.

Become a Registered Professional

In order to become a registered developmental psychologist, individuals will need to be registered with the American Psychological Association (APA). This registration is dependent on whether the individual has obtained their master’s or doctorate within their chosen field from an accredited institution. The accrediting institutions are responsible for laying down standards to which all accredited schools will need to adhere. This institution will need to be approved by the APA, otherwise the student will not be eligible for membership.

Once a student is able to apply for membership, they will be able to register themselves as developmental psychologists and begin practicing within their field.

Job Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor, individuals looking for a career in developmental psychology will be able to look forward to an average growth in job prospects over the next few years.

Some of the more common fields in which professionals with a master’s or doctoral degree will be able to find employment include; child abuse prevention organizations, child care, adoption agencies, government policy making, welfare organizations and even toy and game development. This field is extremely broad and incorporates just about every facet of human existence. This means that the job prospects are broad, but it also means that individuals should consider specializing early on.

Personality Traits

Those who are looking to complete a master’s or doctorate within the field of developmental psychology will most likely want to make sure that they are not only able to meet with the educational challenges that come their way, but that they understand what sort of professionals usually thrive within this position.

Individuals in these positions will most likely be expected to work with people on a regular basis, whether this involves children or aging adults, so they should have the abilities to do that. They should communicate well, display tact and be assertive when necessary. Time management skills, negotiating skills and administrative abilities will all work in favor of someone looking to establish a career in this field.

Duration of Study

A master’s degree will usually take about two years to complete full time, although individuals might be expected to complete an internship to allow them to build up practical experience within this field. Those who are considering completing the course on a part time basis will need to be prepared to add on one or even two years to the duration of the course.

Those studying for a doctoral degree should expect the course to last for a minimum of three years on a full time basis, although there are many individuals who complete the course over a period of seven years.

When applying for a doctoral degree, individuals have the option of choosing between a PhD and a PsyD. The former is a research-oriented qualification, while the latter much more experience based. When completing a PhD, students might be expected to complete a thesis before being able to graduate.

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Developmental psychology is a very interesting field that allows individuals the chance to gain a much better understanding of the functioning of their fellow man. This is a challenging and exciting field for any master’s or doctoral student to consider entering into, which only makes it all the more appealing.



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