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Developmental Psychology Specialization Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Harold Abel School of Psychology

Advance with a developmental psychology PhD

You want to make a difference in people’s lives. We can help you gain the skills you need, and still fit school into your busy life, with the Capella PhD in Developmental Psychology.

This online doctoral program is designed to give a deep understanding of how people grow and change. You’ll learn ways to encourage well-being and psychological health as a teacher, researcher, or policy and care advocate. And you can choose an emphasis to focus on topics such as child and adolescent development, adulthood and aging, and lifespan.

At a Glance

  • Online & in person
  • 7 core courses
  • 6 specialization courses
  • 3 dissertation research seminar
  • 4 emphasis courses
  • comprehensive exam
  • Dissertation
  • 107 total quarter credits
  • 25 max transfer credits

Classes Start June 3rd

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 SPRING)

PhD in Psychology, Developmental Psychology program highlights

Scholar-practitioner faculty

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

Prepare to teach

Our applied teaching track program helps you gain experience as a teaching assistant or tutor.

Relevant, real-world learning

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

Complementary coursework approach

Your online coursework is enhanced by face-to-face residencies designed to give you intensive, hands-on experience to successfully complete your program.

Comprehensive doctoral support

Experts will support you throughout your coursework, residencies, and dissertation to keep you moving toward your goal of a PhD.

Convenient & flexible learning

Access your learning environment at anytime, anywhere, on any device so you can learn on your schedule.

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.

Meet Your PhD in Psychology faculty

Our distinguished psychology faculty are industry leaders, bringing real-world relevance into the courseroom to enrich your education, and career.

Jessica Emick-Seibert, PhD, MA

Core Faculty

Get the support you need for success

Our dedicated support teams guide and advise you through every step of your educational journey.

Enrollment counselors

These experts will set you up for success. They’ll help you find the right degree and program, and answer all your questions about Capella.

Doctoral advising

Doctoral programs are specific and challenging. That’s why you’ll have access to expert support at every step along the road to your degree.

Financial aid counselors

Our team knows how to run the numbers and help find ways to save on costs.

Cost & learning format

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.

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

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 by $5K

Enroll in a qualified program, apply for a $5,000 scholarship, and meet eligibility requirements.

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.

Developmental Psychology PhD sample courses

Your doctoral-level coursework in developmental psychology offers a foundation of the science of psychology, while you also 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
PSY7868
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
PSY7210
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
PSY7510
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
PSY7230
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
MPA5424
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

What you’ll learn

  • Apply critical-thinking skills in response to challenges in developmental psychology.
  • Design, plan, and conduct research and/or evaluation to advance knowledge and practice in developmental psychology.
  • Communicate professionally in the discipline of developmental psychology.

  • Discern and evaluate policy and advocacy processes regarding issues across the life span with the goal of effecting change.
  • Evaluate developmental processes and theories related to meeting the needs of individuals and diverse populations.
  • Promote ethical standards and guidelines in professional interactions.

Developmental psychology PhD 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.