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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology



The developmental psychology program offers broad training in theory and research. As a student, you'll work closely with faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and undergraduate students.

In addition to the developmental area, we have a strong history and tradition across the department devoted to the study of developmental processes. Many faculty in all other areas have projects with developmental populations or questions and our clinical program is Child Clinical.

Research and Training

The program has a focus on research and a long-standing commitment to multidisciplinary work.

Students in our developmental research labs use structural and functional MRI, eye-tracking, psychophysiological markers of stress and health (hormones, antibodies), genotyping, cognitive testing, and video recording and analysis to answer questions about developmental processes in typical and disadvantaged environments.

In addition, cross-area emphases in developmental cognitive neuroscience and developmental psychopathology—as well as ongoing collaborations with scientists at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, and the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado, Boulder— provide unique collaborative opportunities for students.

Students can train in social-emotional, cognitive and physical development, with an emphasis on incorporating biological processes. Specific areas of expertise of the developmental faculty include:

  • poverty
  • family processes
  • parenting
  • prenatal development
  • attention
  • memory
  • executive functions
  • stress
  • health
  • child care
  • deviance
  • the influence of genetic, social and cultural factors

In addition, several developmental faculty members participate in the developmental cognitive neuroscience (DCN) program and thus offer a cognitive neuroscience perspective in each of the content areas. Developmental students can opt in or out of participation in the DCN program, depending on the focus of their interests.

Professional Development

In addition to coursework and research, the developmental program offers opportunities for intellectual and professional development in a variety of formal and informal settings.

For example, students, faculty and post-doctoral fellows in the developmental program meet weekly to discuss their research. These meetings give students the opportunity to develop their ideas and presentation skills in a supportive environment as well as providing fun intellectual interactions.

To jump-start participation in research, students must develop a guided first-year project before progressing to a master's and, ultimately, a dissertation project.

Developmental students also can participate in other research meetings in the department, such as the Neuroscience Research Group and the Cognitive Research Group. Several of our faculty and students also participate in the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

We have a formal buddy program that pairs incoming graduate students with more senior students for mentoring. Because our program is small, numerous informal mentoring opportunities arise naturally through shared interests.

Student Research

Students in our program regularly present their research at conferences (for example, the Society for Research in Child Development, the Society for Research on Adolescence, and the International Society of Developmental Psychobiology). Students are supported and encouraged in obtaining prestigious external grants to support their work and advance their careers such as through the National Science Foundation, the NIH pre-doctoral National Research Service Award, (NRSA), and Head Start and Child Care Scholar grants through the Administration for Children & Families. Further, students are active collaborators with each other and with faculty in diverse projects.

Post-training Success

Graduates of the developmental program are well prepared for independent research, scholarship and teaching careers. For example, all of our graduates from the past five years have successfully obtained postdoctoral, research or faculty positions.

Core Faculty

Janette Benson
Elysia Davis
Julia Dmitrieva 
Jena Doom
Pilyoung Kim
Rob Roberts
Sarah Watamura