Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology

PhD in Developmental Psychology

The Graduate Training Track in Developmental Psychology prepares developmental scientists whose training and research is aimed at understanding and supporting the healthy development of children, youth, and families. Our seven Core faculty, and other faculty affiliates, specialize in the cognitive, social, emotional, cultural, physical, neurological, and spiritual factors that promote typical development and learning in infancy through adolescence. Through research training, coursework, and teaching, students gain the professional skills they need for non-clinical academic or professional careers.


Our Seven Core Faculty cover a broad range of areas of emphasis in their research, including:

  • Amy Bohnert: Contextual influences on development, especially organized extracurricular activities; Social emotional adjustment; Developmental psychopathology; Obesity.
  • Denise Davidson: Language development; Second language development and reading; Impact of emotion on cognitive processes; Social cognition and stereotype formation.
  • Perla B. Gámez: Language development; Bilingual and second language learning; Connection between language and literacy; Classroom talk; Language input; Syntactic priming.
  • James Garbarino: Violence, poverty and trauma in the lives of children and youth; Issues of meaning and spirituality in the lives of youth.
  • Catherine Haden: Learning in museums; Parent-child conversational interactions; Autobiographical and event memory; narrative development
  • Kathleen Kannass: The development of attention and learning in infancy and early childhood; The influence of nutrition on cognitive development.
  • Christine Li-Grining: Self-regulation, school readiness, and academic achievement in early and middle childhood; Child care, education, intervention, and policy; risk and resilience; Ethnic minority, immigrant children.

Other affiliated faculty from the Psychology Department, School of Education, and the Erikson Institute, contribute to our strengths in offering excellent training in basic and applied research, longitudinal methods, developmental neuroscience, development in the context of schools and out-of-school educational settings, and family and community influences over the life course.

More information about our faculty can be found here http://www.luc.edu/psychology/developmental_facult.shtml

Graduate Training

We emphasize research, training, scholarship, and teaching. Students select a faculty research mentor and a supporting faculty advisor who help ensure that students take advantage of the broad set of training and research opportunities that are open to them. As part of students’ ongoing research training, they will complete:

  • A critical review paper (i.e., First Year Paper)
  • A Master’s thesis
  • A Written Qualifying Exam (i.e., mock grant proposal)
  • An Oral Qualifying Exam
  • The PhD dissertation

En route to earning the PhD degree in Psychology, students in the Developmental Psychology Training Track complete a Master's degree in our program (24 hours), or enter with a Master’s in Developmental Psychology or in a closely related field from an accredited institution. An additional 36 credit hours are required beyond the Master's degree for the doctoral degree, for a total of 60 credit hours. Course work includes:

    • Advanced Statistics (482) and Multivariate Statistics (491)
    • Research Methods (420)
    • One of two Neuroscience courses (435 or 552)
    • Cognitive Development (475) and Social Development (473)
    • Four Developmental Topics Courses
    • One Social or Clinical Topics Course
    • Four Research/Readings Courses (599, 598, 597, 599)
    • Three Electives
    • Two Minor Area Courses
    • More information about program requirements can be found here

Student Admissions

We seek strong students who are driven by a curiosity about developmental phenomena. Successful applicants typically have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, GRE scores of 600 or higher, and strong letters of reference from faculty who know them well.

Considerable attention is also given to applicants' ability to articulate their research interests and career plans in their personal statements. A match between student and faculty is a key determining factor for admission as well. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to describe how their interests coincide with the interest of particular faculty member/members they wish to work with.

We matriculate two to three students each year out of approximately 40 to 50 applicants. Students are funded through Merit Awards from the Graduate School, fellowships, and faculty grants.

More information about our current students can be found here http://www.luc.edu/psychology/currentdevelopmentalstudents/

Educational Outcomes

Students who complete the PhD training track in Developmental Psychology will: 

  • Acquire broad understanding of psychological concepts, and advanced knowledge of the cognitive, social, emotional, cultural, physical, neurological and spiritual factors that promote the learning and development of children and youth.
  • Become versed in various data gathering methods, the ethical conduct of research, and the use of sophisticated statistical techniques.
  • Conduct original research that contributes new knowledge and can ultimately support the healthy development of children, youth, and families.
  • Learn about available research funding opportunities, and obtain experience with grant writing.
  • Produce high quality oral and written presentations, including posters at conferences, and publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Recent Graduates

Laura Stockdale
Research Professor
Brigham Young University
Maria Guzman
Program Evaluation Specialist for Afterschool Programs
YMCA of the USA
Erin Wilkerson Jant
Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Penn State York
Vanessa Raschke Rainey
Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of West Florida
Nancy Miller Wyss
Assistant Professor
City Colleges of Chicago


For more information about the Developmental Training Track, please contact Dr. Catherine Haden at chaden@luc.edu or 773.508.8226.