Program

Developmental science is concerned with the description and explanation of change over time in humans and other organisms. The Developmental Science area integrates a life-span orientation toward developmental science in an international and interdisciplinary multicultural urban context. Students are expected to master a series of core course requirements designed to facilitate a thorough grounding in theory, methodology, and content in both basic and applied research in developmental science. A number of seminars reflecting the specialized foci of the program are also offered. Students have the opportunity to specialize in any phase of the lifespan or on any issues or topics that span phases of the lifespan and to focus on basic or applied research.

Students admitted to the program are expected to maintain full-time status throughout their four years in the doctoral program and to become involved in research at an early point in their graduate training by participating in faculty research projects and by carrying out individual research under the guidance of one or several faculty members. Students are also guided and encouraged to publish their individual research projects and to present their work at professional conferences. They are provided opportunities for teaching as part of their graduate training.

The Ph.D. in Psychology with a major in Developmental Science requires a minimum of 75 semester credits of graduate work beyond the baccalaureate, including a dissertation based on the student's original research. A maximum of 36 credits may be transferred from a completed masters degree program with the approval of the program director. For more information, visit the current Psychology Graduate Catalog page. 

Current trainees and potential applicants are invited to download the Developmental Science program handbook, which is updated annually.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Developmental Science Graduate Syllabi DEI Initative

    The Developmental Science program implemented a policy in Spring 2021 to review graduate syllabi for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Faculty can opt-in their course as it comes up in the graduate teaching rotation. Participating faculty conduct a self-evaluation of how DEI is represented in their course. The self-evaluation is discussed alongside the syllabus in a meeting with all program faculty and materials are posted online for transparency. Graduate courses taught by Developmental Science faculty that have completed the DEI syllabus review process appear in the list below. Courses that are not listed have either not come up in the teaching rotation since the policy was implemented or the faculty member teaching the course chose not to participate.

Required Courses
  • Common Core Courses in Statistics/Methodology (9 credits)

    Developmental Science doctoral students are required to complete 9 credits of departmental core courses in statistics/methodology comprised of the following 3 credit courses:

    1. PSY 5939 Special Topics in Psychology Quantitative Methods I (Fall Year 1)
    2. PSY 5939 Special Topics in Psychology Quantitative Methods II (Spring Year 1)
    3. PSY 5246C Multivariate Analysis in Applied Psychological Research (Fall Year 2)
  • Developmental Science Theory and Methods Requirement (9 credits)

    Developmental Science doctoral students are required to complete 9 credits in developmental science theory and methods comprised of the following 3 credit courses:

    1. DEP 5608 Theoretical Perspectives in Developmental Psychology (Spring 2024)
    2. DEP 5796 Developmental Methods (Spring 2023)
    3. PSY 5605 History & Systems (Offered every Fall) 
  • Developmental Science Breadth Requirement (3 credits)

    A developmental science breadth course is offered annually. Developmental Science doctoral students must take 1 course drawn from the following list of 3 credit courses, or another course approved by the program director:

    • DEP 5099 Proseminar in Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence (Spring 2023)
    • DEP 5405 Proseminar in the Psychology of Adulthood and Aging
    • DEP 5936 Integrating Theory and Research in Developmental Science
    • PSY 5939 Cross Cultural Perspectives of Emerging & Established Adulthood (Fall 2023)
  • Biological Breadth Requirement (3 credits)

    A biological breadth course is typically offered every other year. Developmental Science doctoral students must take 1 course drawn from the following list of 3 credit courses, or another course approved by the program director:

    • DEP 5058 Bio-Behavioral Development (Spring 2023)
    • EXP 5667 Cognitive Neuroscience 
  • Cognitive Breadth Requirement (3 credits)

    A cognitive breadth course is typically offered every other year. Developmental Science doctoral students must take 1 course drawn from the following list of 3 credit courses, or another course approved by the program director:

    • DEP 5065 Cognitive Development (Fall 2022)
    • DEP 6645 Cognition and Language
  • Social Breadth Requirement (3 credits)

    A social breadth course is offered annually. Developmental Science doctoral students must take 1 course drawn from the following list of 3 credit courses, or another course approved by the program director:

    • DEP 5725 Seminar in Psychosocial Development
    • DEP 7096 Seminar in Psychology of Life-Span Social Development (Fall 2022)
    • SOP 5058 Proseminar in Social Psychology (Fall 2022)
  • Electives (6 credits)
    Developmental Science doctoral students must take 6 electives comprised of two 3 credit courses. Selection of the electives should be done in consultation with student's major professor and approved by the program director.
  • Supervised Research/Independent Study/Field Experience/Internship Requirement (18 credits)
    Developmental Science doctoral students must take 18 credits of supervised research, independent study, field experience, or internship credits as appropriate to their plan of study. 
  • Master's Project (6 credits)

    En route to a PhD, all psychology doctoral students complete a master's degree, which includes a thesis project based on original scholarship conducted under the direction of a faculty advisor. A master's thesis should be a publishable research article based on empirical research conducted by the student. The Master's Project requires 6 credits of Supervised Research. For additional details about the process and paperwork in Psychology, please visit the Master's Thesis Process for Doctoral Students page or navigate to Psychology Resources.

    Specific benchmarks for Developmental Science students include:

    • Oral defense of Master's Project proposal no later than Fall of Year 2. 
    • Oral defense of Master's Project paper no later than Fall of Year 3. 
  • Comprehensive Exam

    Developmental Science doctoral students must sit for a closed-book essay-based comprehensive exam on Nov 1st (or next business day) in Fall of their 3rd year in the program. The exam retake is Feb 1st (or next business day) every year.

    Introduction: 

    The process of preparing for the Qualifying Exam in Developmental Science provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate, synthesize, and extend their general and discipline-specific knowledge in Developmental Science Theory, Developmental Science Methods, and Developmental Science Specialty area, and to apply their expertise acquired through coursework and research to generate an original answer to the exam questions.

    1. The purpose of the Qualifying Exam taken by Developmental Science graduate students is:
      • To examine the student’s general and discipline-specific knowledge in the competency domains of theory, methods, and specialty area.
      • To test the student’s ability to identify, articulate, present, and defend (in written form) an original answer to questions in each domain.
      • To examine the student’s ability to formulate cogent and articulate arguments/answers and support them with relevant scholarship demonstrating an understanding of the relevant published literatures.
      • To test the student’s ability to write an advanced theoretical argument that directly answers the specific examination questions.
    2. The Qualifying Exam should demonstrate that the student has mastered the critical theory, methods, and specialty content to earn a doctoral degree in the field.
    3. Passing the Qualifying Exam is a requirement for admission to Candidacy for the Ph.D.

     

    Format:

    Students are required to answer questions in three competency domains: (1) Developmental Science Theory, (2) Developmental Science Methods, and (3) Specialty. A list of questions in each competency domain will be prepared by the Program Director. The list is not available in advance to students sitting for the qualifying exam or their major professors. If the Program Director has a student taking the exam that year, a faculty member who does not have a student taking the exam will select the questions.

    Scoring: 

    Each of the questions is scored individually using the Developmental Science Doctoral Training Program Qualifying Examination Rubrics. Questions in the Developmental Science Theory and Developmental Science Methods competency domains are scored by all Developmental Science faculty. A Developmental Science faculty member may abstain from scoring a Specialty area domain question depending on his/her/their expertise. If a Developmental Science graduate student is working closely with a faculty member outside of the program, the Program Director (or faculty member supervising the exam) may ask that external faculty member to evaluate the Specialty question only. On each question, scores range from 0 – 25.  The lowest and the highest scores are dropped. The remaining faculty scores are averaged for a single score per question per student and divided by 5 to determine pass – fail on each question. A passing score per question is “4”. If a student scores less than “4” on one or more questions, question(s) in the deficit competency domain(s) may be retaken once in the following semester. Students who score less than “4” on any question on the retake exam will be formally dismissed from the doctoral program per FIU UGS policy. 

  • Ph.D. Dissertation (15 credits)

    All doctoral students are expected to complete a doctoral dissertation: a supervised original research project that makes a novel and substantive scientific contribution to the student's area of interest or specialization. 

    Students qualify to begin their dissertations after successfully completing the comprehensive exam. While completing the dissertation, students must be continuously enrolled in a minimum of 3 credits of PSY 7980 PhD Dissertation each semester they are completing their PhD. For more information about the process and paperwork in Psychology, please visit the Doctoral Dissertation Process page or navigate to Psychology Resources.