Developmental Psychology

The Developmental area studies social-emotional and cognitive development, from infancy through late life.

Additional Information

Requirements for Graduate Students: Developmental Program

During the first year, each student should formulate a general plan of study with their advisor. In addition to departmental requirements, program requirements are as follows:

Students must take two graduate-level methods or statistics courses. These can be in any department, but they must be approved by the program (submitted to head of program).

Developmental Courses
Students must take three graduate-level courses taught by faculty in the developmental program. These can be either regular courses or seminars. Substitutions (e.g., a course in developmental psychopathology or developmental neuroscience taught by faculty outside the program, including at UNC) must be approved by the program (submitted to head of program).

Other Requirements
Students are expected to regularly attend the developmental working group meetings. They are required to give at least two talks in this meeting: prototypically one on their masters work early in their tenure, and one on their dissertation work later in their tenure.

Students are required to complete a research practicum in a lab other than their advisor’s by the end of their third year. This is prototypically with another developmental faculty, but exceptions are possible with approval. The practicum can be method- or content-based, and students are expected to continue their work in their primary lab (to some degree) during this time.

Students are required to fill out a Graduate Student Activities Report at the end of each school year. Early in the summer they will receive written feedback from the developmental faculty on their progress for the year.


This is a possible scenario conforming to the P&N requirements and developmental area requirements:

  Fall Spring
Year 1
  • First Year Seminar
  • Concentration/Core Class 1
  • Practicum Project 1
  • First Year Seminar
  • Concentration/Core Class 2
  • Practicum Project 2
Year 2
  • Concentration/Core Class 3
  • Stat or Method Course
  • TAship 1
  • Concentration/Core Class 4
  • Stat or Method Course
  • TAship 2
Year 3*
  • Stat or Method Course
  • TAship 3
  • Defend "Major Area Paper" (MAP)
  • TAship 4
  • Brownbag Lecture 1
Year 4
  • Defend Dissertation Proposal
Year 5  
  • Defend Dissertation



UNC-Duke Collaborative Graduate Certificate Program in Developmental Psychology

The faculties in developmental psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University offer a collaborative approach to graduate training in developmental psychology: the UNC-Duke Collaborative Graduate Certificate Program in Developmental Psychology. Graduate students at Duke in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and students in UNC's Department of Psychology & Neuroscience can apply to this program that offers training opportunities in addition to those of their home department. Students in the certificate program attend developmental talks at both universities and have opportunities to take developmental seminars or engage in supplemental research training with the faculty of their non-home university. Among the research emphases of the participating faculty are cognitive development, social development, applied development, and developmental psychobiology. Students apply to the program by the beginning of their third year of graduate study.

Faculty from other areas of P&N or other departments may be involved in some way in graduate student training.  However, only the following faculty have the ability to admit Ph.D. students directly to this training program:

Please contact individuals for more information about admissions plans for the upcoming year - they may or may not be admitting!

If you wish to be in the Developmental area but your desired mentor does not appear on this list, please contact the area head Mike Tomasello to discuss your application.

Spring 2017

Meetings are held on Thursdays at 1:30-2:30 in Soc/Psych Room 329, unless announced otherwise

January 12: Paula Yust

Children's friendship beliefs: How do they relate to friendship experiences?

January 26: Wouter Wolf Joint attention and social bonding in children
February 2: Sarah Gaither

Multiple identity mindsets boost children’s flexible thinking

February 9: Charlotte Moore

What do infants know about phonological properties of nouns and verbs?
February 23: Steven Asher The social tasks of friendship: Do boys and girls excel in different tasks?
March 2: Kimberly Chiew

Investigating development of cognitive and affective processes with pupillometry methods

March 23: Shannon Dailey (note: room 319) Semantic relatedness effects in early word comprehension
March 30: Rita Svetlova Thinking about others: What can help children to be considerate?
April 6: No meeting - SRCD  
April 13: Reiko Mazuka Taking cross-linguistic differences seriously in infant speech perception: Acquisition of the Japanese sound system

April 20: SRCD round-up

May 4: Peter Ornstein  
May 18: open  
Please contact Rita Svetlova ( with any questions about the Developmental Brown Bag series.