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Master's Programs

Human Development and Psychology

Knowledge of human development is highly gratifying and valuable in itself; it can also greatly enhance your ability to make a meaningful difference in children's lives. In the Human Development and Psychology (HDP) Program, you will join a cohort of students with diverse interests and a shared passion for better understanding how children and adults develop and grow. And you will work closely with an extraordinary faculty comprising prominent voices in early childhood development; organizational psychology; emotional, cognitive, and moral development; developmental psychology, trauma and child advocacy; and much more.

We are proud of the ways in which HDP researchers have contributed to advances in understanding how children learn and grow, and we are proud of the courses we offer that help students acquire strong research skills and apply them to practice.

Senior Lecturer Rick Weissbourd, faculty co-director

HDP is a one-year, full-time master's program that immerses future practitioners and researchers in the latest theories and discoveries related to child, adolescent, and adult development. The many strengths of HDP include:

  • Applied Research – Effective research doesn't occur in a vacuum. As an HDP student, you will consider continually how research can strengthen practice.
  • World Class Faculty – HDP is one of the longest-running programs at HGSE, recognized globally for the influential research and writing of our faculty, which includes Guggenheim Fellows, MacArthur Prize recipients, and award-winning authors. Our faculty members' expertise is matched only by their accessibility to students as mentors and advocates.
  • Cohort and Community – You will join an extraordinary cohort of students representing a rich diversity of personal and professional backgrounds. The energy, curiosity, and compassion of HDP students, and their common commitment to understanding the deepest puzzles of development, create an exhilarating learning environment that forms the basis of lifelong friendships and professional relationships.

Curriculum Information

Over two semesters, you are required to complete courses for a total of 32 credits.

Generalist Strand

The HDP curriculum balances structure and flexibility. Courses cover subjects as varied as language and literacy development, developmental psychology, educational neuroscience, prevention science and practice, early childhood education policy, assessment, gender and relationships, moral and civic development, and development across cultures.

View Requirements

One of your “HDP” courses should be a 4-credit course (or two 2-credit modules) from the following list with a focus on equity and inclusion: HDP Course with a focus on diversity equity inclusion (pdf)

  • Electives: courses either at HGSE, Harvard, or MIT through cross-registration (12+ credits)

View all courses and information on cross registration.

Child Advocacy Strand

This strand is designed for students who want to influence systemic change on the institutional and policy levels and craft study plans that reflect your individual backgrounds and goals. You will complete eight courses (32 credits). 

View Requirements

View Electives

Three electives (10+ credits) Please note: students may select electives not included on this list, with permission of the Program Director. Courses on the lists above can also count as electives.

View all courses and information on cross-registration.


Program Faculty

HGSE consists of a faculty of the whole and students work with and take courses with faculty at HGSE and Harvard. The faculty that HDP students most often work with include:

Fieldwork & Internships

Students in the HDP Program have opportunities to do internships and research that will enable them to better integrate theory and practice and to become more effective teachers, leaders, researchers, and advocates. The Cambridge/Boston area is a hub for innovative organizations doing important work in child development and advocacy. Recent HDP internship sites include:

Alumni & Student Profiles

HDP graduates are putting their Harvard degrees and experience to work at all levels of the education sector — public and independent schools, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies — as well as pursuing careers in public health, social services, child advocacy, and social policy. HDP alumni are in a range of roles including kindergarten teachers, doctoral students, public television producers, admissions directors, school-based child advocates, and education policy analysts.

Najwa Elyazgi

Locked In

How the travel ban affects one HGSE student.

Bene Webster

Changing the Troublemaker Narrative: Bene Webster, HDP'18

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Human Development and Psychology reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.

Connect with Admissions

More information about our admissions application requirements and instructions, tuition and financial aid, and answers to frequently asked questions is available on our website. If you have additional admissions-related questions, please contact Ernald Furxhi or call 617.495.3414.

Introduce Yourself

Receive tailored admissions information about upcoming programs, events, and opportunities to connect with us.

Connect with Program Staff

If you have remaining program-specific questions, reach out to the HDP Program Administrator, Mandy Farhoodi-Moberger.