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Why apply to Clark’s developmental psychology doctoral program?

Clark University’s developmental psychology doctoral program at the nationally-renowned Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology is dedicated to studying human development in societal and cultural contexts. The program has a long and distinguished history, including the work of developmentalists such as G. Stanley Hall, the first president of the University and founder of the American Psychological Association at Clark in 1892.

Continuing in a tradition of innovative theory and research pertaining to the study of human development, our faculty examine issues like bilingualism, racial experiences, and factors influencing learning and achievement — all with a focus on how the topics intersect with development and well-being.  Designed to help students join an ongoing program of research, our program emphasizes scholarship at the forefront of interdisciplinary theory and practice linking human development to other disciplines.

The program’s intimate size, as well as its setting at a small urban research university, allow for close student-faculty relationships while providing opportunities for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates to collaborate within the department and across the campus and Worcester communities. All full-time graduate students are guaranteed tuition remission and graduate assistantships are available. This arrangement fosters a collegial, supportive intellectual community.

Psychology Graduate Handbook

Our Community

The developmental psychology program seeks talented students who are able, through initiative and intellectual curiosity, to advance research interests among our dedicated, collaborative community. Though many different methodological approaches are represented, we are committed to unity of psychology, not fragmentation, and it’s common for graduate students across our three graduate specializations to share ideas in the classroom, research groups, and laboratories. Our department intentionally structures courses to let students focus on the topics at hand, not competition among peers. As a community, we embrace a non-competitive, respectful and supportive learning environment. As part of a broader department-wide commitment, the developmental psychology program is actively working towards the inclusion of marginalized populations and to enhancing diversity within the field.

Meet our faculty     Meet our graduate students

Our Research in Developmental Psychology

A core part of graduate training in developmental psychology involves participation in one of the active labs or areas of research described below. Students join one or more of these groups and remain active throughout their graduate studies. Click on the individual labs or research groups to learn more about the topical focus and students, postdocs, and visitors involved.

Note as well that the developmental forum provides an opportunity for all members of these groups (as well as other interested individuals) to regularly come together to discuss current research and salient issues pertaining to developmental psychology of interest to all in the program.

Faculty Expertise           Research groups, labs, and forums

Key Details

Unifying interests across Clark’s developmental program are a focus on the inclusion of underrepresented populations and studying the development of psychological processes in societal and cultural contexts. To achieve this, we provide a strong foundation in general psychology, theory, and research, as well as specialist training in developmental psychology.

Our expertise

Specific faculty interests include topics such as bilingualism, pretend play, racial experiences, and narrative. We also study socio-emotional factors as predictors and outcomes, as well as malleable factors influencing learning and subsequent academic achievement in schooling and college populations.

With expertise in a wide range of developmental phenomena, faculty all examine the links between intra-individual and inter-individual change over time. Our training emphasizes a deep understanding of social and cultural factors and processes within developmental psychology, which assists students in developing quality research that contributes in significant ways to this important area of developmental scholarship.

Our training

Training exists through student participation in foundational psychology seminars on theory and methods, as well as topical graduate seminars in areas of developmental psychology (for example, cognitive, social-emotional, cultural). Developmental students typically register for the developmental forum (a seminar-style meeting of all members of the developmental program and others) while in residence. In addition, consistent with our developmental framework, students complete an individual portfolio instead of the traditional qualifying examinations. Under the guidance of a three faculty member portfolio committee, students gain professional skills that prepare them for a range of research, teaching, and mentoring opportunities, skills that will be necessary and position the students competitively for their future careers.

Our connections

Not limited to the classroom or lab, our program’s size and partnerships provide opportunities for interdisciplinary training and experiences through Clark’s research centers, such as the Hiatt Center for Urban Education and the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise. In addition, research takes place with and among our partners in the Worcester community such as the Worcester Public Schools. Faculty members also have national and international affiliations that link the developmental students to broader networks and opportunities around the globe.

Explore courses in developmental psychology

females behind computer in lab

Research Facilities

Clark’s Psychology Department has more than 35,000 square feet dedicated to learning, research, and laboratory work. Graduate students have semi-private offices and access to dedicated lab clusters, which include the Bliss Child and Family Study Center and a psychotherapy research lab. The psychological services area contains two therapy suites that allow for observation and recording of clinical sessions.

Student in front of white board with words Congratulations

Alumni Careers

Clark’s psychology Ph.D. programs train scholars to work in academic and professional fields, and produces distinguished alumni who become valuable members of their professions. Their extensive training and research experience prepares them for fulfilling positions in academia and other organizations.

Contact Information

Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology

Office Location
  • Jonas Clark Hall, 3rd floor
    950 Main Street
    Worcester MA 01610
  • 1-508-793-7274
  • 1-508-793-7265 Fax