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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.

What to Expect

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


Classes Start April 9th

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.

Admissions Requirements » | $50 Application Fee

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.

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
$525 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. 

Scholarships for New Students

Capella scholarships, available for qualifying students, aren’t need-based and never have to be repaid. 

10% Military Discount

Military service members and their spouses could be eligible for a discount.

Employer & Association Discounts

Many employers and organizations partner with Capella to offer tuition discounts. Talk to an enrollment counselor to learn more. 

Accredited & Respected

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

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.

Dissertation Research Seminar

Allows you to work extensively on your dissertation topic, methodology, literature review, and research plan from the beginning of your program. 

Support to Reach the Finish Line

Our doctoral curriculum is designed to give you dedicated support early in your program—so you can be confident in the steps to completing your degree. 


Enhance the skills you develop in your program coursework through these intensive, onsite experiences with students and faculty.  

Some of the courses you will take:

Course Number Course Title
PSY7868 Qualitative Design and Analysis
PSY7210 Lifespan Development
PSY7510 Psychology of Personality
PSY7230 Adolescent Psychology
MPA5424 Policy Analysis and Research

Faculty & Support

You’re never going it alone at Capella. Our dedicated faculty and support teams are waiting to guide, help, and advise you through every step of your educational journey.

Enrollment Counselors

These folks are superstars. We hear it from our students (and grads). They’re here to help find a program fit and set you up for success.  


Our distinguished faculty members hold top credentials in their fields. They’re here to teach the knowledge and skills you’ll need, now.

Doctoral Advising

A doctoral degree takes special effort. It's why we offer expert support at every step to keep you moving forward toward your goal.

Dissertation Mentors

During your dissertation, you’ll be matched with an experienced mentor who will help you to succeed. 

Relevant Blog Posts

Whether you’re considering a return to school, exploring new career paths, or seeking ways to improve your job performance, the Capella Blog has relevant articles to support your goals.

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.

Move Forward in Your Career

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 examples are intended to serve as a general guide.  Many factors determine what position an individual may attain, and Capella can’t guarantee a graduate will secure any specific job title.

You May Also Be Interested In

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.