Developmental Psychology (Ph.D.) Program Details

Degree Requirements

    ❱   Required coursework
    ❱   Qualifying or comprehensive examination
    ❱   Graduate School writing proficiency requirement
    ❱   Graduate School Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement
    ❱   Dissertation  
    ❱   Final oral examination/Dissertation defense

Breadth and Minor Areas 

    ❱   Personality Psychology
    ❱   Neuropsychology
    ❱   Social Psychology

Research Areas & Interests

Faculty Research Interests

 A sampling of research interests

  • Culturally-responsive pedagogy
  • Relationship between psychosocially toxic environments (poverty, violence, discrimination, trauma, etc.) and their impact on psychosocial factors among youth
  • Cultural socialization and its influence on psychosocial and academic outcomes among minority children placed in out-of-home care
  • Psycholinguistics, sentence comprehension, and literacy
  • The influence of contextual diversity on eye movements in reading
  • Influence of bilingual language experience on executive control
  • Examining the effects of contextual diversity, word frequency, and semantic diversity in reading
  • Impact of parent-adolescent communication on adolescent development and academic achievement
  • Impact of self-efficacy on childhood and adolescent development
  • Influence of parental involvement and cultural socialization on the social skills and academic achievement of African American adolescents
  • Talent development model of education
  • Comparative influence of individual, peer tutoring, and communal learning contexts on the text recall of African American children
  • Mediating effect of cultural learning orientations on opinions of academic achievement
  • The role of cultural factors in school-relevant cognitive functioning

Faculty Areas of Specialty

Dr. Debra D. Roberts is primarily interested in research examining various aspects of culture and ethnicity as they impact the relationship between psychosocially toxic environments, otherwise known as PTEs (poverty, violence, discrimination, trauma, etc.), and psychosocial well-being among children and adolescents.  She has worked with diverse populations and has unique research experience with programs that target marginalized, vulnerable children and adolescents of color. 

Program of Study* 


PSYC 203 First Year Research I

PSYC 219 First Year Research II

PSYC 207 Statistics I

PSYC 208 Statistics II

PSYC 206 History & Systems

PSYC 205 Research Methods

PSYC 228 Personality & Social Development

PSYC 240 Research Methods in Developmental Psych

PSYC 225 Cognitive Development

PSYC 248 Practicum in Developmental Psychology


Select three breadth courses (9 credits).  One breadth area course should be taken in each of the other Psych tracks.

Select three minor area courses (9 credits). One minor area course should be taken in each of the other Psych tracks.


PSYC 237 Seminar in Developmental Psychology

PSYC 260 Topics in Developmental Psychology

*Topics for these courses have included: Race and Racism; The Black Child; and Life-Span Development. 


PSYC 500-508 Dissertation

*Courses included in the sample program of study are subject to change. Students should consult with their programs regarding their required program of study. 

Admission to Candidacy 

Students are admitted to formal candidacy by the Graduate School when they have completed the required coursework, passed the qualifying or comprehensive examination, submitted an approved topic for research, and been recommended by the Department. Candidates must also have satisfied the Graduate School writing proficiency requirement and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement.

Graduate Funding 

Admitted students may be eligible to compete for Graduate School competitive awards, which provide tuition remission and a stipend during the academic year. Additionally, graduate research or teaching assistantships may be available at the department level. Research assistants and teaching assistants work no more than 20 hours a week under the program's direction, usually in support of faculty research (research assistants) or in support of assigned courses (teaching assistants). Please see the Funding website for more detailed information.