Developmental Psychology PhD Program @ UC Merced

Five developmental psychology labs at UC Merced are recruiting graduate students for Fall 2022. We offer an interdisciplinary training program with a strong emphasis on conducting original empirical research related to the development of children, adolescents, and families, especially in diverse, underserved populations. Students have the opportunity to work closely with internationally recognized faculty in Health and Quantitative Psychology and form interdisciplinary collaborations with other departments on campus is highly encouraged. Students in good standing are eligible for year-round financial support, including payment of fees and tuition.

Applicants are encouraged to contact faculty members that they are interested in working with. The following research groups are recruiting students for Fall 2022:

Mayra Bámaca-Colbert ( The Impact (Immigrant Parents, Adolescents, and Children Thriving Lab aims to enhance our knowledge at the intersection of culture-context in development and adaptation of ethnic-racial minoritized youth, children, and families, with a focus on Latinx populations. Collaborations have expanded this work to topics related to Black families and homeless youth. Among topics researched are parenting and parent-child relationships, school/peer contexts, and cultural factors as they pertain to the psychological and behavioral patterns of youth.

Heather Bortfeld ( The Bortfeld Lab ( pursues two lines of research on language development. One line examines the mechanisms that underlie typically developing infants’ ability to recognize words in fluent speech, while the second line examines the influence of perceptual, cognitive, and social factors on the language development of individuals with cochlear implants.

Alexandra Main ( The Family Development Lab ( focuses on the social and emotional development of children and adolescents within the family context. Specific interests include the development of empathy and emotion regulation and how these processes are shaped by temperament, family, and culture.

Rose Scott ( The Center for Early Cognition and Language ( examines the development of language and social cognition in the first four years of life, with a focus on the role of parent-child interactions and socioeconomic status in the development of these abilities.

Eric Walle ( The Interpersonal Development Lab ( explores emotional development in infancy and early childhood, particularly how children understand and respond to others’ emotions. Additional interests include how developmental transitions, such as the onset of walking, impact social, emotional, and language development.

The application deadline is December 1, 2021. For more information about the application process or to submit an application, please see For additional details on the Psychological Sciences program, visit our website or contact our graduate group chair, Martin Hagger ( We will also be hosting several webinars about our program over the next several weeks. Interested students are encouraged to attend!

  • Professional development
  • Post-graduation