Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology

Program Overview

The Graduate Training Program 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. Recently, our program was ranked 9th in the nation on student outcomes by the National Research Council (NRC).


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: Bilingual and second language learning; Connection between language and literacy; Parent/teacher talk and oral language and reading development.
  • 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: Autobiographical and event memory; Parent-child conversational interactions; Narrative development; Learning in informal educational environments (e.g., museums)
  • 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.

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 advantages 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
  • 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

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

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