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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 course in Developmental Psychology (4 credits)
    • H206 Developmental Theories of Change (fall)  
    • H250 Developmental Psychology (fall)   
    • H236 Adolescent Development (fall)  
    • T006 Adult Development (spring)  
  • One course in Research Methods and Data Analysis (4 credits)
    • A162 The Art and Science of Portraiture, Lawrence-Lightfoot (fall)
    • S010B Designing Surveys and Questionnaires (spring)
    • S010C Large-Scale Data Analysis for Complex and Weighted Survey Designs (spring)
    • S012 Empirical Methods: Introduction to Statistics for Research (fall)  
    • S040 Introduction to Applied Data Analysis (fall)  
    • S063 The Meanings Children and Youth Make of Stories about Relational, Social and Civic Topics: Methods of Thematic Analyses (fall)  
    • S510F Qualitative Research Methods in Practice Duraisingh (fall)
    • S030 Intermediate Statistics: Applied Regression and Data Analysis (spring)  
    • S513 Introduction to Qualitative Program and Policy Evaluation (spring)  
    • S527 Ethnographic Methods, Gonzales (spring)
    • S529 Case Study Research Methods (spring)
    • S515 Emancipatory Inquiry: Listening, Learning, and Acting for Social Change (spring)
  • Three additional courses related to Human Development and Psychology (12 credits) One of which must have a strong focus on diversity and equity.
    Two of your "HDP" courses can be any courses in the HGSE catalog listed with an "H" before the course number (including AH or HT courses). Two 2-credit modules can be combined to create one full course.
    The following courses may also count as an "HDP" course:
  • T440 Teaching and Learning: "The Having of Wonderful Ideas" (fall)  
  • T543 Applying Cognitive Science to Learning and Teaching (spring)
  • T560 Universal Design for Learning: Meeting the Challenge of Individual Differences (fall)  

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

  • Child Advocacy Seminar (4 credits)
    • H387Y Child Advocacy Seminar (fall) 
  • Child Advocacy Internship (2 credits)
    • H388Y Child Advocacy Internship (spring) 
  • One course in Research Methods and Data Analysis (4 credits)
    • A162 The Art and Science of Portraiture, Lawrence-Lightfoot (fall)
    • S010B Designing Surveys and Questionnaires (spring)
    • S010C Large-Scale Data Analysis for Complex and Weighted Survey Designs (spring)
    • S012 Introduction to Statistics for Educational Research (fall)
    • S030 Intermediate Statistics for Educational Research (spring)
    • S040 Introductory and Intermediate Statistics for Educational Research (fall)
    • S063 The Meanings Children and Youth Make about Relational, Social and Civic Topics (spring)
    • S510F Qualitative Research Methods in Practice Duraisingh (fall)
    • S513 Introduction to Qualitative Program and Policy Evaluation (spring)
    • S527 Ethnographic Methods, Gonzales (spring)
    • S529 Case Study Research Methods (spring)
    • S515 Emancipatory Inquiry: Listening, Learning, and Acting for Social Change (spring)
  • One overview course related to Child Development/Risk and Resilience (4 credits)
    • H126 Typical and Atypical  Neurodevelopment (fall) 
    • H250 Developmental Psychology (fall) 
    • H382 The Challenges Kids Face: Developmental, Cultural, and Contextual Perspectives on Risk and Resilience (fall) 
    • H389B Supporting Adolescents in Schools: Integrated Academic and Social-Emotional Supports for Students (fall) 
    • H392 Childhood Trauma: Dynamics, Interventions, and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (fall) 
    • H236 Adolescent Development (spring) 
    • H208 Empowering Human Relationships Across Development (spring)
  • Two courses related to Systems that impact children and families (4–8 credits)
    • A024 Politics and Education Policy in the United States (fall)
    • AH125 Mobilizing the Science of Early-Childhood Development to Drive Innovation in Policy and Practice (Shonkoff, 4 credits) (fall)
    • H307 Institutional and Community-Based Strategies to Support Children and Strengthen Families (Wilson, 4 credits) (fall) 
    • HT500 Growing Up in a Media World (Blatt, 4 credits) (fall) 
    • S521 Qualitative Investigations of Educational Inequalities  (fall)
    • H310N A Place to Call Home: Developing and Advocating for Community Youth Program (fall)
    • T-510Q Youth, New Media, and Participatory Politics: Theories and Encounters (fall)
    • T410B Educating Incarcerated Youth: Practice, Research, and Policy (Tannis, 2 credits) (fall) 
    • A111R Elements of Effective Family-School Partnerships (Mapp, 2 credits) (January)
    • H310M Establishing Safe Spaces for Adolescent Learning: Preventing Bullying and Victimization (Brion-Meisels, 2 credits) (January)
    • A108 Strategies and Policies for Narrowing Racial Achievement Gaps (Ferguson, 4 credits) (spring)
    • A111C Politics and Education Change: A Case Study (Gabrieli, 2 credits) (spring)
    • A122 The Why, What, and How of School, Family, and Community Partnerships (Mapp, 4 credits) (spring) 
    • A129 The Federal Government in the Schools (spring)
    • AH103 Educational Outcomes in Cross-National and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (Harris, 4 credits) (spring) 
    • S515 Emancipatory Inquiry: Listening, Learning, and Acting for Social Change  (spring)
    • T014 Educating to Transform Society: Preparing Students to Disrupt and Dismantle Racism (El-Amin, 4 credits) (spring)
    • Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education and Juvenile Justice (cross-registration through HLS)

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.

  • A024 Politics and Education Policy in the United States (West, 4 credits) (fall) 
  • A111P Public Narrative: Self, Us, Now (Ganz, 2 credits) (fall) 
  • A111Q Public Narrative: Conflict, Continuity, Change (Ganz, 2 credits) (fall) 
  • A117 Implementing Inclusive Education (fall)
  • A501 Negotiation Workshop (Todd/Goldstein, 4 credits) (fall) 
  • H327 Individual Counseling and Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents (Zeller, 4 credits) (fall) 
  • H340 Preventative and Developmental Group Counseling (Kim, 4 credits) (fall) 
  • H517 Contemporary Immigration Policy and Educational Practice (Gonzales, 4 credits) (fall) 
  • A111R Elements of Effective Family-School Partnerships (Mapp, 2 credits) (January) 
  • A132 Educational Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in Comparative Perspective (spring) 
  • A406 The American School and Racial Formation (spring)
  • A612 Organizing: People, Power, Change (spring)
  • A826 The Politics of Education in the Developing World (spring)
  • H137 Emotion in Development and Learning: Usable Knowledge, Variability, and Context (spring)
  • H180 Cognitive Development and Trust in Testimony (spring)
  • H371 Theories and Methods of Child/Adolescent Cognitive and Psychological Assessment (spring)
  • T010T Helping Others to Make Transformational Change: The Immunity to Change (spring)
  • T810A Cultivating Public Engagement with Science: Challenges and Opportunities for Educators (spring) 

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.

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.

Najwa Elyazgi

Locked In

How the travel ban affects one HGSE student.

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.