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Developmental Psychology Specialization Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Harold Abel School of Psychology

Open Doors to Understanding

The advanced study of how and why people change and develop can open doors to understanding human beings throughout their lives. Capella’s online PhD in Psychology, Developmental Psychology degree offers you the opportunity to pursue a career in teaching; child, adolescent, and adult development; policy and advocacy; or research. In this rigorous academic program, you can choose to pursue an emphasis in areas such as child and adolescent development, adulthood and aging, and lifespan. The coursework focuses on critical skills that provide in-depth study in your chosen field of interest.

At a Glance

  • Online & In Person
  • 7 Core Courses
  • 6 Specialization Courses
  • 3 Dissertation Research Seminar
  • 4 Emphasis Courses
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Dissertation

Classes Start April 8th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 Application Fee (waived w/promo WINTER)

What You’ll Learn

Think Critically

Apply critical thinking skills to challenges and issues in developmental psychology.

Conduct Valid Research

Design, plan, and conduct research and/or evaluation to advance knowledge and practice in developmental psychology.

Apply Your Knowledge

Apply scientifically established knowledge from the study of human development and policy.

Evaluate Processes

Discern and evaluate policy and advocacy processes regarding issues across the life span to effect change.

Meet Diverse Needs

Evaluate developmental processes and theories that address the needs of individuals and diverse populations.

Follow Ethical Standards

Adhere to ethical standards and guidelines in professional interactions.

Our Unique Doctoral Structure

Our PhD in Psychology, Developmental Psychology program is designed to remove roadblocks for you and demystify the dissertation process. This unique approach centers on supporting you in three ways: through program structure, a dedicated faculty and support team, and online resources. To help generate momentum toward graduation, you’ll begin your dissertation early in the program. Our faculty, support team, and online resources will help guide you every step of the way.

PhD in Psychology, Developmental Psychology Program Features

Our program offers additional benefits you might be interested in.

Relevant, Real-World Learning

Get real-world skills. Our Research in Psychology course allows you to conduct research alongside Capella faculty.

Prepare to Teach

Our applied teaching track program helps you gain experience as a teaching assistant or tutor to build your vitae and help your career.

Scholar-Practitioner Faculty

Learn the latest in theory and practice from experienced doctoral faculty who are actively engaged in their professions.

Professionally Credible, Professionally Aligned

Capella’s PhD in psychology is competency-based, integrating common core psychology and research coursework with relevant and topical specialization content, providing alignment to the profession and an in-depth focus on your discipline.

Cost & Learning Format

Online education isn’t one-size-fits-all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

Our original learning format offers extra structure for those who want it. We'll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$530 per credit, 107 total quarter credits, 25 max transfer credits

Get the Details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Ways to Save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

Reduce Your Tuition with $5K

Enroll in your doctorate degree, apply for the scholarship, meet eligibility requirements, and receive up to $5K.

10% Military Discount

If you're an active-duty military service member, spouse, or veteran, discounts may be available.

Employer & Association Discounts

If your employer or organization is a partner with Capella, you may be eligible for a tuition discount.

Accredited & Recognized

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

PhD in Psychology Sample Courses

The online PhD in Psychology, Developmental Psychology curriculum features a foundation of the science of psychology, while specialization coursework provides depth. Specialize in child and adolescent development, adulthood and aging, or lifespan. The program includes dissertation research seminars which allow you to get an early start on your dissertation.

Show course with description
Qualitative Design and Analysis

Learners in this course assess the fundamental concepts needed to conduct qualitative research. Learners practice qualitative research techniques; appropriate applications of qualitative research; the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research design, sampling, and analysis and their associated interdependencies; and leverage technology when applicable. Learners also determine the steps necessary to ensure human subjects protection, and consider methodological adaptations when conducting research with vulnerable and diverse populations. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

5 quarter credits
Lifespan Development

In this course, learners gain and apply knowledge of lifespan development from infancy through adulthood, including human development processes and milestones. Learners evaluate theories and approaches for examining human development and analyze human development processes related to their specialization.

5 quarter credits
Psychology of Personality

This course is an examination of personality development from the perspective of several theoretical orientations: psychodynamic, humanistic/ existential, dispositional, and learning theory. Learners analyze and evaluate these theories and consider how other factors such as culture and gender contribute to personality development. This course also allows learners to apply personality theory to their professional practice.

5 quarter credits
Adolescent Psychology

In this course, learners gain and apply knowledge of the developmental stages from early adolescence to emerging adulthood. Learners evaluate and articulate the physical, psychosocial, emotional, sexual, moral, and cognitive changes associated with adolescent development and examine the ways in which adolescent development is influenced by family, society, and culture. Learners also assess the evolving needs of adolescents and apply theory and research in order to recommend appropriate responses to those needs.

5 quarter credits
Policy Analysis and Research

In this course, learners examine the concepts, principles, and stages of public policy analysis and development. Learners study the models and tools used by policymakers and policy analysts to evaluate the effect of programs and projects on societal problems. Topics include political, legal, economic, and social institutions and processes; the impact of policy on public value; policy assessment; and global complications of policy processes.

4 quarter credits

Developmental Psychology Career Insights

Developmental Psychology: Making a Difference Through Advocacy

Faculty member Jessica Emick, PhD, discusses the field and her own experience in advocacy.

PhD in Psychology vs. Doctor of Psychology

Need help deciding between a PsyD and PhD? Learn the differences between these doctoral degree programs.

PhD in Psychology: Which Is Right for You?

Learn more about Capella's PhD in Psychology program and available specializations.

PhD in Developmental Psychology Professional Paths

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with our online developmental psychology doctoral degree.

Related Job Titles to Explore*

  • Adjunct or part-time faculty
  • Full-time, part-time, or adjunct faculty
  • Instructor
  • Developmental psychologist
  • Consultant
  • Researcher
  • Policy consultant/advocate
  • Program administrator/director

Related Employment Settings to Explore

  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Community college
  • Nonprofit organization
  • Health care/medical center
  • Consulting firm
  • Government—local, state, federal
  • Group home
  • Social service agency
  • Early childhood education program
  • Child and family service agency
  • Research and assessment organization
  • Advocacy organization

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other Programs to Explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

Ready for the Next Step?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.