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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 (or two-year, part-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 – During your time at HGSE, you will have the opportunity to learn alongside a diverse group of peers who have a shared passion for education and an intellectual curiosity that will help transform the field. You will develop strong bonds and a supportive learning community through participation in various cohort and community-building, virtual activities hosted by your program, student organizations, and HGSE faculty and staff. 

Curriculum Information

HGSE and its faculty are launching a series of schoolwide courses, designed to take advantage of active learning and the latest research findings about how to nurture powerful learning experiences online. These schoolwide courses address a range of critical topics that respond to today’s societal circumstances, including leadership and organizations, inclusive and effective teaching, education policy, and more. Your courses are being redesigned to provide the best that digital learning has to offer, combining asynchronous and synchronous learning experiences and an unparalleled curriculum. Program-specific courses will be offered in a variety of formats: seminars, tutorials, classes of varying sizes and models for collaboration and learning, field-based experiences, and more.

The HDP curriculum balances structure and flexibility. Courses available 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. We remain committed to these features of HDP. For students in the child advocacy strand, courses are designed to empower you to influence systemic change on the institutional and policy levels and craft study plans that reflect your individual backgrounds and goals. 

Read the June 18, 2020 curriculum update for academic year 2020-2021.

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:

Internships and Fieldwork

Internships provide a lot of value to your academic experience while providing you excellent knowledge to build your resume and experiment with jobs to test your interests. While Field Experiences will continue to be an important part of the HGSE learning experience, logistical and other program details are subject to modification for academic year 2020-21. 

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.

Phoebe Co

Toward a Just and Loving World: Phoebe Co, HDP'20

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

Konstantin Offer

Changing the World with Empathy: Konstantin Offer, HDP'19

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

Apply to HGSE’s Master’s in Education online degree program, for fall 2020 enrollment.

Online Ed.M.

Learn more about our online Ed.M. and submit your information to receive updates about events and key dates. You may also explore frequently asked questions about the 2020-2021 academic year.

Connect with Admissions

We invite you to connect with our admissions team to learn more about applying for enrollment this fall. Join our virtual office hours or attend a weekly webinar. You may also email admissions for more information.